John Dwaine McKenna’s

2018 Best Books of the Year

Season’s greetings and Merry Christmas to all our fans, followers and crime fiction enthusiasts!  Here’s the MBR’s gift to one and all with our bakers dozen of the Best Books of the Year.  Time is short and Santa will be here soon, so here’s the list:

Best Books of the Year 2018

MBR # 316                                                                                 The Downside, by Mike Cooper                                                                      Mysterious Book Report The Downside

One of the best caper novels since dirt was discovered.  Finn is one of the most unique protagonists in crime fiction, because he takes bad-assiveness to a whole new level who only steals big things like a tractor-trailer load of new luxury automobiles.  He’s a guy who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, knows how to operate any kind of machinery and will keep you so entertained, you’ll forget to eat dinner.


MBR # 318                                                                              Paradise Valley, by C.J. Box      Mysterious Book Report Paradise Valley

Female detective Cassie Dewell is trying to catch a serial killer known as The Lizard King.  He’s a long-haul tractor-trailer driver killing truck stop prostitutes, and he’s been impossible to catch.  This one’s a nail-biter from start to finish.


MBR # 322                                                                                   False Flag, by John Altman                   Mysterious Book Report False Flag

In the world of espionage, the business of spies is lies, and that makes it nearly impossible at times, to distinguish friends from foes.  No one can be trusted in the spy world because they all lie all the time.  In this thrilling and propulsive spy novel, a trusted ally and friend becomes a deadly enemy when a rogue Israeli agent plots a terrorist attack on the United States.


MBR #324                                                                             Illegal Holdings, by Michael Neiman      Mysterious Book Report Illegal Holdings

Features a fraud investigator from the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services.  His name is Valentin Vermeulen who’s in Mozambique to audit a non-governmental organization.  He’s there to make sure that they’re spending the UN grant money as promised.  But when he discovers a huge discrepancy . . . the gunfire begins, alarm bells ring and the killing starts.  You’ll love this ordinary hero just trying to survive in a nest of vipers.


MBR # 327                                                                                     Light It Up, by Nick Petrie       Mysterious Book ReportLight It Up

Peter Ash an ex-marine warrior, is in Denver doing a favor for a friend, working as an armed escort for the cannabis industry.  Federal law prohibits the use and sale of marijuana and banks—which are federally insured—refuse to deal with any of Colorado’s licensed pot dealers.  Therefore they only accept cash lots and lots of cash, which attracts lots and lots of robbers and stone cold killers in this one!

MBR # 328                                                                          The Bomb Maker, by Thomas Perry                                                                 Mysterious Book Report The Bomb Maker

One of my favorite authors and one of my favorite books of the year . . . because the wickeder the villain . . . the more courageous the protagonist.  In this one, the reader is looking over the shoulder of one of the most diabolic and murderous characters since Hannibal Lecter.  He’s known as the Bomb Maker and his goal is to kill every member of the Los Angeles Police Department Bomb Squad.  This stunning novel evolves at 27,000 feet per second into a page turner you won’t be able to resist.

MBR # 330                                                                   Blood on the Tracks, by Barbara Nickless         Mysterious Book Report Blood On The Tracks

Sydney Rose Parnell and her K-9 companion, a Belgian Malinois war dog named Clyde, are two of the toughest and most endearing characters in modern crime fiction.  They’re both ex-marines who saw war service in Iraq, and each suffers from PTSD.  They see the ghosts of their dead comrades-in-arms, which makes it hard for them to police the Denver Pacific Continental Railway property, where Sydney Rose is a Special Detective tracking a disfigured vet known as the Burned Man, who may be a serial killer.

MBR # 332                                                              Down The River Unto The Sea, by Walter Mosley                                                  Mysterious Book Report Down The River Unto The Sea

A-list writer Walter Mosley has graced us with a brand-new character named Joe King Oliver.  He’s a former NYPD cop, who was falsely imprisoned ten years ago, and longs to be reinstated.  Now, he ekes out a living as a Private Eye.  Oliver takes on a paying job,  trying to exonerate a radical black journalist who sits on death row for killing two cops.  Joe decides to try to solve both cases simultaneously in this eloquent and compelling novel from one of America’s best writers.

MBR # 334                                                                                  Green Sun, by Kent Anderson

Green Sun is the story of Officer Hanson, a Vietnam Special Forces veteran who gives up a college professorship in order to return to life as a cop in a city awash in strife and racial conflict.  It’s summertime in Oakland, California, where the streets are boiling hot, armed and angry, gang and dope infested, seething, mean and set to explode at any moment.  Hanson, who sees death following him around, is unconventional, thirty-eight years old, and realizes that justice is an elusive commodity.  This lone ranger in hostile territory is an electrifying and compulsive novel that will keep you reading long past bedtime.

MBR # 336                                                                                      The Hush, by John HartMysterious Book Report The Hush

A southern gothic thriller by an author whose awards and accolades are piling up at an astonishing rate.  In The Hush, Johnny Merrimon is trying to put the past behind him and simply live his life in the small North Carolina town where he was born and raised.  It’s been ten years since he returned from prison, and the publicity has finally died down.  Johnny has taken up residence in the middle of a 6000 acre swamp that’s known as the Hush Arbor.  It’s been in his family since the Civil War but it seems there’s a problem with the title.  It first gifted the acreage to some freed slaves, and then reverted back to Johnny due to a certain clause that’s being contested by the descendants of the freed men.  This novel has paranormal undertones and you have to read it to find out if Johnny made a deal with the devil.  An awesome and astonishing novel!

MBR # 344                                                                                Blood Standard, by Laird Barron                                                               Mysterious Book Report Blood Standard

Crime fiction at its best.  It features an individual named Isaiah Coleridge who’s half-Maori and half-Irish.  He’s witty, well read, and an enforcer for organized crime in Anchorage Alaska, who takes bad-assery to a whole new dimension in a whole new universe.  His good self fights his inner demons, and cause him to run afoul of a mafia Don in Nome, Alaska, when he saves some wild animals and breaks up a money-making scheme.  Coleridge flees to a farm in the Catskills in upstate New York where he tries to survive and out run his past in this explosive and finely crafted novel.

MBR # 345                                                                                              Rip Crew, by Sebastian Rotella                                                         Mysterious Book Report Rip Crew

This novel is about the southern border of the United States and the people trying to cross it from south to north.  It begins in Guatemala where a man named Valentine Pescatore, an undercover agent for a private security firm, is looking for a human smuggler named Chiclet.  Chiclet’s the witness to the massacre of several women in San Diego, California where he and a pair of girls are the only survivors in a case that’s drawn world-wide attention.  It’s caught the eye of a high-ranking member of Homeland Security and she has hired Pescatore to investigate using only back channels to avoid publicity.  This explosive mystery leads from the barrio to the boardroom, where the lines between mobsters and moguls has blurred.  Rip Crew is one of the most intense thrillers of the year.

MBR # 351                                                                                  Some Die Nameless, by Wallace Stroby                                               

Sometimes our past just won’t stay in the rearview mirror.  Sometimes it drives up, cruises on by, then cuts in front and runs you off the highway of life.  That’s what happens to an ex-Airborne Army ranger named Ray Devlin, who’s in Florida, semi-retired, living on his boat and off the grid.  He works odd jobs to make ends meet and trying his damnedest to put his past as a mercenary soldier behind him, but alarm bells are set off when an old brother-in-arms shows up and tries to kill him in this fast-paced and dynamic novel with hitmen and killers on every page.


That’s it.  That’s our list of Best Books for the year 2018.  We hope you get a chance to read some, or all of them, and look forward to 2019, when we’ve got a whole new and exciting list of crime fiction, thrillers, spy yarns and whodunnits to explore together as well as in-depth interviews with just about every one of the wordsmiths who wrote them.  Stay tuned, it’s gonna be awesome!  Until then . . . Merry Christmas, Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all.

John Dwaine McKenna

Colorado Springs

December 2018