We review around 9,000 books a year, covering everything from small press gems to mega-blockbuster titles. Here are the reviews of adult titles that were read the most on publishersweekly.com this year—an intriguing mix of backlist titles and contemporary hits.
10. The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman (Berkley)
Buehlman offers up a colony of fierce, brazenly unscrupulous vampires who reclaim the genre from angsty goths and return it to its fearsome and ferocious origins.
9. The Good Girl by Mary Kubica (Harlequin/Mira)
At the outset of Kubica's powerful debut, free-spirited 24-year-old Mia Dennett, an art teacher and a member of a well-heeled, well-connected Chicago family, goes missing. As puzzling as Mia's presumed kidnapping initially appears, things turn infinitely stranger after her eventual return, seemingly with no memory of what happened to her.
8. The New Atkins Made Easy by Colette Heimowitz (Touchstone)
Heimowitz, vice president of nutrition and education at Atkins Nutritionals Inc. has been employed by Atkins for more than 20 years. Her mission here is to bring a new generation into the fold, and help readers navigate the Atkins diet. The result is a worthy addition to the evolving Atkins library.
7. God Help the Child by Toni Morrison (Knopf)
In Morrison's short, emotionally-wrenching novel, her first since 2012's Home, a mother learns about the damage adults do to children and the choices children make as they grow to suppress, express, or overcome their shame. This haunting novel displays a profound understanding of American culture and an unwavering sense of justice and forgiveness.
6. Sandrine's Case by Thomas H. Cook (Atlantic/Grove/Mysterious)
In this slow-burning, intricate thriller from Edgar-winner Cook , Sam Madison and his wife, Sandrine, both professors at Georgia’s Coburn College and parents of a grown daughter, appear to have a solid marriage. But below the surface there are problems, which culminate in Sandrine’s death from a cocktail of Demerol and vodka. This crime novel, one of Cook's best, builds to an unforeseen, but earned, climax.
5. Lila by Marilynne Robinson (FSG)
This third of three novels set in the fictional plains town of Gilead, Iowa, is a masterpiece of prose in the service of the moral seriousness that distinguishes Robinson’s work.
4. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami (Knopf)
Murakami’s latest is a vintage Murakami-esque struggle of coming to terms with buried emotions and missed opportunities, in which intentions and pent up desires can seemingly transcend time and space to bring both solace and desolation.
3. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell (Random)
Is The Bone Clocks the most ambitious novel ever written, or just the most Mitchell-esque? With its wayward thoughts, chance meetings, and attention to detail, Mitchell's novel is a thing of beauty.
2. White Bird in a Blizzard by Laura Kasischke (Hyperion)
Four crucial years in a troubled teenager's life are the focus of this eloquently written, suspenseful second novel by the author of the praised Suspicious River.
1. A Walk Among the Tombstones by Lawrence Block (Morrow)
Despite their dark titles, Block's splendid, award-winning Matt Scudder novels are by no means unrelievedly bleak. His latest—as well as offering the customary skillful plotting, adroit pacing and sure sense of New York character—features a wry humor all its own, along with a particularly ingratiating and convincing pair of computer hackers.