2020 Must Read Books | More2Read
 

2020 Must Read Books



 

2020 Must Read Books

More2Read Reviews

 


 

 

Hard Cash Valley by Brian Panowich

Review

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“Mr. Panowich, as he did in his previous novels, depicts his Southern terrain well…. There is more mayhem to come, as well as jaw-dropping twists.”
– The Wall Street Journal

“[D]electable rural noir . . . Panowich’s prose is languid and easygoing as a back-county road . . . Good rural mysteries excel at showing how both the land and the law that governs it are deeply personal, and Panowich knows the residents of the Georgia foothills down to his bones. Perfect for fans of Attica Locke or Laura McHugh.”
– Library Journal (starred review)

“Early in Panowich’s gritty, pull-no-punches third thriller set in Georgia’s McFalls County (after 2019’s Like Lions), two thugs corner Arnie Blackwell, who has just arrived in Jacksonville, Fla., with a suitcase full of cash, in Arnie’s motel room . . . The violent search by Arnie’s killers doesn’t end with his death. The suspenseful plot is enhanced by Panowich’s gifts at making even walk-on characters memorable. Fans of Ace Atkins’s Quinn Colson series will be pleased.”
– Publishers Weekly

“With main the protagonist’s past events to deal with I found myself reading on with need to answers in Dane’s days ahead with his past and future in the balance, a reader hooked with empathy and the unfolding drama with mystery and thrill and a case where he needs to find an end to the trail of dead and safety of one vulnerable brother caught in this web of missing money, dead people and carnage.”
– More2Read (Lou Pendergrast)


 

 

The Loop by Jeremy Robert Johnson

Review

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“The Loop is the Cronenberg film we never got. It’s a volcano of a book: violent, compassionate, relentless, and opulently strange.”
—Nathan Ballingrud, author of North American Lake Monster and Wounds

“Jeremy writes like his brain is on fire and he’s in no rush to put it out.”
—Paul Tremblay, author of Survivor Song

“The Loop is hilarious and horrifying.”
—Brian Keene, author of The Rising

“The Loop is a wild and wonderfully scary novel—a genuine thrill ride stuffed with conspiracy theories, science gone wrong, and brutal terror.”
—Richard Chizmar, author of Gwendy’s Magic Feather

“Visceral, visionary, and surreal, free-flowing nicely crafted dialogue and scenes with the horrifically challenging prejudices and human intolerance in all of which lives just got whole new injection of infectious cacophony of hypnotic directives with murder mayhem madness and chaos imminent, things falling apart with trouble in little Turner Falls.”
– More2Read ( Lou Pendergrast )

 


 

 

Worse Angels by Laird Barron

Review

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“Intricate and deftly written.”
-BookPage

“The writing is as fresh as always…Fast-paced, atmospheric, and dark enough to satisfy fans of Barron’s previous work in horror, Worse Angels is a crime thriller with a heart full of black magic; a meaty novel full of creepy moments in which the threat of violence is constant.”
-Criminal Element

“Great plot, but the true treasure is Barron’s astoundingly wonderful and distinctive prose style. His descriptions and dialogue are sublime and, overall, he’s a beautiful, witty writer whose allusions to or forays into philosophy, archaeology, science and history are enough to make the reader smile with delight.”
-The Day

“The realm that contains Isaiah coupled with the unique prose style, a page turning fusion with reverence to arcane things, the third eye interpretations interjecting reader amidst cosmic noirness.”
-More2Read ( Lou Pendergrast )

 


 

 

Lady Chevy by John Woods

Review

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“If Cormac McCarthy wrote women, he’d write them like Amy ‘Chevy’ Wirkner of Ohio. This is a stark, beautiful novel about a devastated land and its devastated people. From end to end, it’s terrific, haunting and precise, deft and damning. A great new voice.”
-Tom Franklin, New York Times bestselling author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter and Poachers

“John Woods’ Lady Chevy is a hard-bitten work of the heart. He knows his people and their widely-neglected corner of America, knows their language, undying hopes and relentless fears. And knows how to bring them all to energetic life on every page.”
-James Carlos Blake, author of In the Rogue Blood, winner of the L.A. Times Book Prize

“Reading Lady Chevy by John Woods reminds me of my first encounters with the work of William Gay, Larry Brown, and Donald Ray Pollock. It’s poetic and visceral, full of characters I won’t soon forget, the place deeply alive on the page. It’s a book of great emotional power, a book that’s built to last. Searing, humane, and truly haunting.”
-William Boyle, author of Gravesend, The Lonely Witness, and A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself

“Fracking, and the unwanted, dispossessed souls, bad sentiments, bad words, hate and racism awaits, all told through walking of one complicated young woman Amy…It is all in here “ethnic hatred, police corruption, environmental decay, and gun violence” and dealt with great care in being evoked through young Alma’s eyes a Juxtapositioning with words and a new voice from Ohio Valley in a potent noir debut.”
– More2Read  ( Lou Pendergrast )

 


 

 

Velocities: Stories by Kathe Koja

Review

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“A modern genius of weird and dark fiction, Kathe Koja once again proves with Velocities that she’s adept at plunging the reader into strange and unexpected places. One of my favorite collections of the year.”
– Jeff VanderMeer, NYT-bestselling author of Dead Astronauts, Borne and the Southern Reach trilogy

“Velocities is prime Kathe Koja, with all that that entails: supercharged, dense as hell, oblique, glorious. Every story is a lesson in how to write faster, more intensely, from angles other people never seem to think of: industrial poetry, word mosaics like insect eyes, multifoliate as the insides of flowers, every image a scattered, burrowing seed, spreading narrative like a disease. I’ve loved her work since long before I ever aspired to produce anything like it—in fact, I’m still not sure anyone else is capable of doing what she does, of coming close, let alone hitting the mark. But damn, it’s equally so much fun to admire the result as it is to even vaguely try.”
– Gemma Files, award-winning author of Spectral Evidence

“These.. were intriguing and vivid with the strangeness and horrors along with eloquent sentences in places, all combined together to stories that kept me reading on.”
– More2Read ( Lou Pendergrast )

 


 

 

grotesquerie by richard gavin

Review

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“Welcome to Richard Gavin’s “grotesquerie,” where fear and the numinous converge in eerie and nightmarish tales of transcendent horror from a truly visionary writer.”
-Publishers Weekly on “grotesquerie”

“With the debut of Richard Gavin’s first collection, it seems clear that a renaissance of the horror story has secretly been taking place in the small presses. These are stories that bear witness to a Golden Age of the past and evidence a new resolve in the present. Gavin’s writing serves as a testament that great masters once crafted great stories…and as evidence that they shall do so again.”
— Thomas Ligotti

“The seeking out of and allegiance to sources of truth or falsehood, divination, darkness, the uncanny and occult laced together with the right words to set the scene and mood.”
– More2Read ( Lou Pendergrast )

 


 

 

Wet Juju by Joe R. Lansdale

Review

“Stories inspired from his own dreams onto the page evident right of the bat with first story in this collection Mr. Bear, onwards down the rabbit hole Lansdale takes you page after page into realms new, fun, and dangerous.
– More2read ( Lou Pendergrast )


 

 

 

Of Mice and Minestrone – Hap and Leonard: The Early Years

by Joe R. Lansdale

Review

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“In these character studies of his two most charismatic protagonists, Joe Lansdale takes us to the dark side of Mayberry-authentic tales of small town life in the heart of the twentieth century that also provide an unflinching look at the violence that charged the last gasps of Jim Crow, with all the force of the Sabine River at flood stage.”
-Christopher Brown, Campbell and World Fantasy Award-nominated author of Tropic of Kansas and Rule of Capture

“There’s a place in East Texas where story shades into memory, where violence and tenderness are just part of the wonder of living, and that’s precisely where Joe Lansdale lives, and writes from, and we’re all the better for it. The eating’s pretty good there, too, as Hap’s recipes more than attest. You leave this book hungry, both for food and to start the whole series all over again, live through it one more time, maybe just live there a while.”
-Stephen Graham Jones, author of Mongrels and The Only Good Indians

“Of Mice and Minestrone is the last bit of connective tissue missing from the Hap and Leonard Mythos, which is one of the most entertaining series in modern literature. This book, which deals with abuse, friendship, violence, growing up, race, food, and justice, is full of the wit that’s made Lansdale a star.”
-Gabino Iglesias, author of Coyote Songs

As always Joe Lansdale signature telling with characters, actions, and words, potent and vivid, ones to crack a smile on a dull day and stir a heart with nostalgic immersion in a scene.”
-More2Read ( Lou Pendergrast )

 


 

 

Armageddon House by Michael Griffin

Review

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“Every story in The Human Alchemy is a finely-wrought tapestry, containing many shades of darkness and light. Michael Griffin deftly weaves together threads of loss, mysticism, and creeping fear to create a truly remarkable collection. His tales usher the reader through the familiar world, then reveals to them the infinite.”
–Richard Gavin, author of Sylvan Dread

“Griffin’s characters often live in the aftermath of loss and, deeply wounded, they search for something to make them whole or to make them feel the world is not an arbitrary place. From cult followers awaiting enlightenment, to believers in mystical texts, to a mathematician who tries to formulate the structure of the world, to a woman who thinks she’s entering a threesome but ends up getting (and losing) so much more, Griffin’s characters pursue the lure of enlightenment into places that are very dark indeed–and once they’re inside, chances are they won’t be able to get out. A strong collection that makes us understand the weird in a powerful new way.”
–Brian Evenson, author of A Collapse of Horses

“Michael Griffin’s The Human Alchemy is fine art dripping slime from another dimension. This is cool, strange, creepy, elegant fiction. Think Iceberg Slim in a tailor-made Italian suit channeling the best of Lovecraft while dragging it, kicking and screaming, into our time. Throw in crackling dialogue and an Escher-like ability to bend time and space while forging new realities and what you have is a collection that cements Griffin as one of the most stylish, unique, and entertaining voices in contemporary weird fiction.”
–Gabino Iglesias, author of Zero Saints

“The author has nicely conjured a utopian work of speculative fiction for the reader to be lost in its depths for a short vivid visceral slot of minutes of existence.”
-More2Read  ( Lou Pendergrast )

 


 

 

 

Shadows & Tall Trees, Vol. 8 Edited by Michael Kelly

Review

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“Shadows & Tall Trees is a smart, soulful, illuminating investigation of the many forms and tactics available to those writers involved in one of our moment’s most interesting and necessary projects, that of opening up horror literature to every sort of formal interrogation. It is a beautiful and courageous series.”
-Peter Straub

“Shadows & Tall Trees epitomizes the idea of and is the most consistent venue for weird, usually dark fiction. Well worth your time.”
-Ellen Datlow

“The uncanny and weird, there will be tales bewitching with maleficence, macabre and poet prose, tales within a prism of deciphering and ones with trepidation in a hypnotic tale, many with melancholy and haunting Intriguing seconds of entertainment.”
– More2Read ( Lou Pendergrast )

 


 

Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 07 January 2021