John Dwaine McKenna’s

Mysterious Book Report

2020 Best Books of the Year

The year 2020 has been unusual to say the least.  We’ve gone from a world class economy to a world class pandemic and thrown in a contested presidential election for good measure.  These are indeed interesting times, and one of the best ways to cope is by reading good books and escaping into literature.  With our warmest holiday greetings, and sincere hopes for a fabulous, happy and prosperous New Year . . . here are our Best Books of 2020.

Best Books of the Year 2020

MBR #404                                                           The Last Hunt by Deon Meyer                                                       

An intricate, well-plotted suspense novel full of twists and turns. It begins when a cold case file is given to the Hawks, the Serious and Violent Crimes Unit of the South African Police Force.  It involves the assassination of a private detective on the world’s most luxurious train . . . and a deep dive into murder, political intrigue and a nation’s awakening to the notion that their ideals, which sparked a revolution and set them free from apartheid, have been highjacked and sold for greed.

MBR #405                                           The End of October by Lawrence Wright                                                       

A stunning bit of drama that feels like today’s news!  The novel opens with the discovery of a new and previously unknown virus that’s highly contagious and almost always fatal.  When the epidemic is unknowingly spread to Mecca during the Hajj, three million are exposed from all corners of the world and the pandemic is on.  And then, it gets even scarier!

MBR #412                                             A Private Cathedral by James Lee Burke                                                     

A genre-jumping, mind-bending, captivating yarn—and possibly the best of his twenty-three novels—featuring an imperfect and tortured detective named Dave Robicheaux.  In the late 1990s, Dave is out of work, trying to get his badge back, fighting alcohol addiction and mourning the deaths of two wives.  That’s when he gets sucked into one of the oldest, most bloody and deadliest criminal feuds in Louisiana history.

MBR # 411                                                 Clean Hands by Patrick Hoffman                                                               

A mega-merger between two multi-billion dollar banks collapses and lawsuits have been filed with claims and counter claims.  It’s the highest stakes lawsuit a prominent Wall Street law firm has ever filed, and its survival—as well as the personal wealth of the partners—hangs in the balance.  That’s when a junior associate loses his cell phone, with most of the firm’s secret case files on it.  Then a high-priced fixer and ex-CIA officer named Valencia Walker is called in, and the real action begins and never stops in this propulsive thriller.

MBR # 413                                                Assassin’s Strike by Ward Larsen                                                              

A kinetic and attention-grabbing thriller.  It begins with a secret meeting between the presidents of Russian and Iran, to discuss the transfer of some outlawed, secret technologies, the use of which is a war crime, as well as crime against humanity.  The two presidents and two interpreters are the only witnesses.  But shortly after the meeting concludes, the Iranian interpreter is thrown to her death from a tall building by Iranian Revolutionary Guards.  The Russian interpreter goes on the run to save her own life, and contacts the Americans for help.  It becomes a desperate race of time for legendary assassin David Slayton to rescue the middle-aged woman in this pulse pounding adventure.

MBR # 415                                               The Bone Hunger by Carrie Rubin                                                           

An electrifying medical thriller, murder mystery and paranormal hair-raiser all rolled into one, featuring orthopedic surgery resident Benjamin Oris.  He is the star pupil on a hip and knee replacement team under Dr. Kent Lock.  The trouble begins when Ben discovers the severed leg of one of his patients while running in the park.  This one has more twists and turns than the Alaskan Iditarod race!  It will keep you guessing to the last page.

MBR #414                                We Are All The Same In The Dark by Julia Heaberlin                                         

Begins in North Texas with the discovery of a nameless, wounded and mute young girl.  She’s missing her left eye and found lying in a pasture, surrounded by dandelions she’s picked and placed there as a talisman to protect herself.  Her discovery reignites the cold case disappearance of Trumanell Branson, and re-inflames the small Texas town where anger, suspicion and mob-mentality still seethe just beneath the veneer of a quiet, peaceful small town.

MBR # 423                                                Dear Child by Romy Hausmann                                                              

Already a runaway best-seller in Europe.  It’s the tale of a woman who’s been kidnapped, held in a hovel and forced to act as a wife and mother in an insane pseudo-family.  She manages to overcome her captor and escape, “But the end of her ordeal is only the beginning of her nightmare.”  The story is told in three first person points-of-view: by a young girl, whose entire life has been lived in the windowless cabin; the abducted woman; and the missing woman’s elderly father.  One of the most compelling, engaging and page-turning psychological thrillers ever!


MBR# 421                                                      Cold Millions by Jess Walter                                                             

The Labor Wars of the early twentieth century in Spokane Washington is the backdrop for narrators Rye and Gig Dolan, a pair of train-hopping drifters and hoboes. They’re part of the International Workers of the World and their fight for free speech.  It’s a struggle between the haves and the have-nots to see who’s going to get a bigger slice of the economic pie during a time, like now, of extreme income disparity.  It begins in 1909 with a full-on riot, where the cops are busting heads and hauling the battered working stiffs off to jail.

MBR# 425                                                The Red Horse by James R Benn                                                         

The Red Horse is World War II historical fiction combined with a terrific murder-mystery.  It’s shortly after D-Day and Paris has just been liberated, but Captain Billy Boyle has paid a heavy price.  He’s hallucinating from stress, lack of sleep and the overuse of methamphetamines.  He comes to at St. Albans, a secret convalescent hospital in the English countryside that’s geared to handle high-value war-wounded patients with knowledge of Allied secret information.  Boyle thinks he sees a murder when a high-ranking clandestine warrior leaps to his death from the hospital’s clock tower.  But did he? This one will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

That’s it.  Those are the best from our 2020 reviews and we hope you get a chance to read some, or all of them, and look forward to a better 2021, when the Mysterious Book Report will once again bring you some of the most exciting mysteries, thrillers, and crime fiction in print.  Happy holidays to one and all and Merry Christmas from all of us, here at the MBR!

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