It’s been a dark year, judging from my 10 picks from 2012’s crop of crime fiction. Complicated, often unreliable or unlikable narrators populate many of these novels, and every one has at least one twist to surprise even the most jaundiced reader.
And When She Was Good
By Laura Lippman (Morrow)
Helen Lewis escapes from a controlling, abusive father. Supported by a pimp whom she loves and fears, she reinvents herself as a high-priced suburban hooker, her clients a who’s who of local politics. It works until she gives birth to a son. This story of the transformative power of motherhood is as compelling as any thriller.
The Art Forger
By B. A. Shapiro (Algonquin)
Painter Claire Roth has been reduced to copying great works of art in order to pay the rent on her SoWa studio. A prestigious gallery owner offers her a Faustian bargain: a solo show of her paintings if she’ll copy a work that turns out to have been stolen from the Gardner Museum. Local settings, a delicious series of letters from the real “Belle” dishing on her friendship with Degas, fascinating detail about art forgery, and an unexpected plot twist make this irresistible.
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