Caught Stealing - Hank is a bartender in New York City and a (mostly) high-functioning alcoholic. When his neighbor asks him to watch his cat while he goes out of town, things very quickly get very out of control. With a cast of misfit gangsters, Russian mobsters, and dirty cops all after him, Hank has to adapt to his new lifestyle of being on the run. This novel is fast-paced, well-written, and tells an incredible story. I couldn't put this one down.
The Luminaries - Want to feel unaccomplished? Read a Man Booker prize-winner written by a 26 year old. The Luminaries is epic. It's a huge, sprawling novel with a dozens of characters and points of view, all taking place in one small New Zealand town during the gold rush. I'd share a plot summary, but there's really too much. It's a rich, deep story based on a death, an attempted suicide (seemingly), and the discovery of a hidden bonanza. There is identity theft and murder, espionage and a love story. I really loved the book, but I was amazed that a) it was written by someone so young; and b) that it was written so recently. It reminded me of a much older style of writing and story-telling. I need to seek out more of Eleanor Catton's work immediately.
A Drink Before the War - Talk about ultra-violence. Patrick is born and raised in Southie and has since become a private investigator, partnering up with his childhood best friend Angie. When a state senator brings them what appears to be a simple case, they take it. It quickly becomes a much more complicated situation. Lehane is smart, clever, witty, and perfectly captures the corruption that spreads from the top down. But damn, there was so much blood. Brutal, but brilliant.
Mr. Mercedes - Early in the morning, before the sun has even risen, a crowd of people in line for a job fair are run down by a monster of a car. Almost a dozen die and many more are injured. The driver is unknown. Recently retired cop Bill Hodges has this blemish on his record - that he let the Mercedes killer get away. Deep into the monotony of his retirement (daytime tv, microwave dinners, etc), Hodges begins getting a feel for putting his gun in his mouth. That is, until he receives a letter from someone claiming to be the Mercedes killer. What follows is an intense cat and mouse game. Interestingly, King chooses to give us both the perspectives of Hodge and of the killer himself. The killer's identity is never a mystery to us, the readers. To watch these two circling each other was an intense, deeply satisfying story.