John Dwaine McKenna’s

2019 Best Books of the Year

It’s time for our annual Best Books of the Year . . . the MBR’s Christmas gift for all good readers and crime fiction enthusiasts everywhere.  It was a year full of outstanding novels and exciting new authors, as well as some tried and true old friends.  Here then, in no particular order, is our Best Books of the Year 2019.

Best Books of the Year 2019


MBR # 362                                                                                     Cherry, by Nico Walker

Not for the faint-hearted, this is the story, told in the first person, by the person, of a young man’s descent into drug addiction hell and ultimately, prison.  Written with no-holds-barred and no expletives left out, this is a revealing look at a life turned upside down and inside out.  A story you’ll never forget.


MBR # 376                                                                     Charlie 316, by Colin Conway & Frank Zafrio

One of the best police procedurals the MBR has encountered.  It’s written by two real cops, with an amazing, twisted plot and serious racial undertones that grab the reader. and don’t let go.


MBR # 366                                                                           The Night Agent, by Matthew Quirk

About a man in a dead end job, who works in the situation room at the White House.  His only responsibility is to answer a telephone that’s never expected to ring . . . until it does.  That sets off a chain of events that will keep the reader on the edge of her seat until the very last page.  Don’t say we didn’t warn you . . .


MBR #368                                                                              The Border, by Don Winslow

The culmination of twenty years and three novels, The Border wraps up the saga of one man’s fight to stem the flow of drugs across the border and beat the Mexican drug cartels at their own game.  If you only read one single book on the list, this is the one.


MBR #377                                                                       American Spy, by Lauren Wilkenson

What’s not to like about a novel that combines Africa, spies, treachery, back-stabbing, violence, love, lust, and revenge.  This is a debut novel from a woman with lots to say, lots to write about,  and from whom we’ll be hearing much more in the future.


MBR# 379                                                       Red Metal, by Mark Greaney and H. Ripley Rawlings IV

This novel posits an invasion of Europe by Russian tank battalions as a ruse to a simultaneous invasion of a sovereign African nation where rare earth minerals are being mined.  The hour-by-hour war progress reports will put you at the tip of the spear of both the Russian invaders and the NATO defenders.  This is a sprawling war yarn, similar to The Winds of War.


MBR# 381                                                                           This Storm, by James Ellroy

Takes place in 1942, just after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  The action takes place between Los Angeles and northern Mexico and continues Mr. Ellroy’s monumental series of novels centered in Southern California in the 1940s and 50s.  Accurately portrays the hysteria in the days and weeks after President Roosevelt asked for a declaration of war in his immortal “Day Of Infamy” speech.


MBR#386                                                                  The Korean Woman, by John Altman

Another great spy thriller in which a seemingly ordinary urban housewife, mother and civic volunteer is really a North Korean sleeper agent.  Mayhem begins when she’s activated without warning, and the action continues on every page until the stunning conclusion.


MBR# 389                                                                    Hudson’s Kill, by Paddy Hirsch

New York City in 1803 was no place for the faint of heart.  That’s where a young Irishman named Justy Flanagan, the city’s only Marshal, finds himself battling to catch the killer who stabbed a young biracial girl to death.  The city is teeming with political, social and racial tension as the city expands uncontrollably and criminals vie for supremacy in this electrifying historical thriller.


MBR# 391                                                                       Miraculum, by Steph Post

A traveling carnival in 1920, out near the Texas-Louisiana border . . . that’s where Ruby, the tattooed snake charmer, first notices Daniel, an out-of-place dandy, smoking a cigarette on The Midway.  But, when he looks at her, his gaze is so intense and powerful that she passes out at the start of this paranormal thrill ride.


MBR# 392                                                                    The Warehouse, by Rob Hart

The Cloud Corporation has squirmed its tentacles into all aspects of American life in this searing look into our near future when big corporations control the world.


MBR# 394                                                                This Side of Night, by J. Todd Scott

Out of control gangs and drugs on the Mexican side of our southern border spill over into the small Texas town of Murfee, where sheriff Chris Cherry and two of his deputies are trying to save the town.  One of the most honest looks at the problems facing those who live on or near the US/Mexican border.

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That’s it . . . our twelve best reads for the year.  We hope you’ll take a look, maybe even read a few.  The MBR wishes everyone a happy, peaceful and joyous Christmas, and a book-filled, well-read and prosperous New Year!


Just to encourage everyone to take a closer look, we’ll be running the full review of all our Best Books of the Year 2019 while John Dwaine McKenna takes a short sabbatical to develop a new series of novels featuring a hard-boiled detective named Jake McKern.

We’ll send more news as we get it . . .