Traditionally I'm not up on the newest books so I give you my favorite books I've read each year, regardless of when they were published. This year, though, my favorites are all from 2011:
COUNTY LINE by Bill Cameron continues his loose series of linked novels (Lost Dog, Chasing Smoke, Day One). I enjoyed the cross-country trip that delved into one of his characters' pasts.
LIQUID SMOKE by Jeff Shelby was the anticipated return of San Diego P.I. Noah Braddock after five years. When last we saw Noah and friends (Wicked Break), they fit snugly in the tradition of Parker and Crais, but in this third novel, Shelby takes his P.I. to a dark place Parker never (and Crais so far hasn't) dared.
LASSITER by Paul Levine was the even more anticipated return of ex-Miami Dolphins linebacker-turned-lawyer Jake Lassiter after fourteen years. Some months earlier, I read Flesh & Bones, the immediately previous Lassiter novel, and could detect no rust in the new release. It's everything a fan wants in a return.
THE RANGER by Ace Atkins is the start of a new series by the author tapped to take over Robert Parker's Spenser. This novel gave me confidence Atkins could write like Parker, but, as curious as I am about the continuation, I'm more engaged by ex-Army Ranger Quinn Colson and the characters and past to which he comes home.
My favorite short story read this year was "Blind Date" by Scotti Andrews from the ebook anthology West Coast Crime Wave. Andrews expertly built on the premise of mistaken identity to keep me guessing to the end.