When I began assembling a list of the best books I read in 2012, I ran into a problem. What would be the limit on the number of titles? Last year, I listed 45 books in total, but I read plenty of good books this year (which will come as a shock to anyone who has only read my review of the worst books of 2012). I finally decided to do something a bit different this year – start with a hangman’s dozen of books – thirteen, in case you’re wondering – and then list “honourable mentions” of books that I felt were equally deserving to be among the hangman's dozen, the ones that I felt were among the best of 2012. (I couldn't come up with a catchy name for this award, but I have a feeling nobody will be putting it on their curriculum vitae.) If I really and truly felt that a book deserved a spot on the list, I placed it there, although for the initial hangman’s dozen I gave preference to any novel I haven’t recapped over the last few days.
Best Books Read in 2012
Mischief by Charlotte Armstrong
This one is really damn good. I thought The Dream Walker was a minor masterpiece, but Mischief made it look like kids’ stuff. This is a taut novel of suspense, as two parents leave their child in a hotel suite with a strange babysitter, who then begins to do increasingly dangerous things. Soon enough, a man is lured to the suite and thus begins a deadly game of cat-and-mouse, with one of the most thrilling climaxes I’ve ever read. Everything slowly builds up to it, as misunderstandings, delays, and bad timing all contribute to help load the dice squarely against the main characters. One of the best-written books I’ve read this year and one of the finest plots as well.