Best Fiction of 2012


Elaine Szewczyk, Editor

The 100 books on this year's fiction list encompass a range of categories. Debuts, story collections, thrillers, mysteries, translations, science fiction, fantasy, romance, historical fiction—there's something for every taste. Among the highlights of 2012: Ben Fountain's superb first novel Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (read this book, tell your friends!); French author Philippe Claudel's The Investigation, a moody (and funny) tale for Kafka fans; and master artist Chris Ware's Building Stories, a gorgeous book that you'll piece together like a detective. We hope you enjoy them all.

ISTANBUL PASSAGE by Joseph Kanon
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 29, 2012

"With dialogue that can go off like gunfire and a streak of nostalgia that feels timeless, this book takes its place among espionage novels as an instant classic."
In 1945 Istanbul, Allied veteran Leon Bauer is running spy missions under the cover of a U.S. tobacco-importing business. Read full book review >
THE INFINITE TIDES by Christian Kiefer
Released: June 19, 2012

"A wonderfully executed debut novel, so rich as to inspire rereading, right down to its inevitable resolution, both ironic and existentialist."
In Kiefer's debut literary novel, astronaut Keith Corcoran returns from the International Space Station to a house populated by a bare mattress, random canned goods and a gray leather sofa. Read full book review >

I'VE GOT YOUR NUMBER by Sophie Kinsella
Released: Feb. 14, 2012

"Screwball romance with a likable and vulnerable heroine."
Plucky bride-to-be makes an unexpected connection after she appropriates a stranger's cellphone. Read full book review >
RAINSHADOW ROAD by Lisa Kleypas
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 28, 2012

"Strengthened by characters with depth and something interesting to say, this winning first installment in a trilogy is sure to thrill fans of modern romantic fiction."
A little romance and a little magic make for a surprising page turner as a glass artist falls for a vintner on an island in the Puget Sound. Read full book review >
DEAD ANYWAY by Chris Knopf
Released: Sept. 15, 2012

"An absorbing update of the classic film, D.O.A., that finds its author so completely in the zone that not a word is wasted, and the story seems to unfold itself without human assistance."
Nothing in Knopf's reflective, quietly loopy Hamptons mysteries starring Sam Acquillo and Jackie Swaitkowski (Ice Cap, 2012, etc.) will have prepared his fans for this taut, streamlined tale of a man investigating his own murder. Read full book review >

THE PROPHET by Michael Koryta
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Aug. 7, 2012

"A compulsively readable novel about brothers on opposite sides of life."
Friday Night Lights meets In Cold Blood in this powerful tale of distant brothers whose torment over the murder of their sister when they were teens is compounded by the murder of another targeted teenage girl—a killing one of the brothers is determined to avenge even if that means committing murder himself. Read full book review >
DEFENDING JACOB by William Landay
THRILLERS
Released: Feb. 1, 2012

"Landay is yet another lawyer-turned-writer, and it's inevitable that he'll be compared to Scott Turow, but this novel succeeds on its own merits."
Landay does the seemingly impossible by coming up with a new wrinkle in the crowded subgenre of courtroom thrillers. Read full book review >
EDGE OF DARK WATER by Joe R. Lansdale
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 25, 2012

"The river, the raft, a stash of money coveted by bad guys, nonstop adventures that edify, terrify and deepen the bond between Sue Ellen and Jinx. A highly entertaining tour de force. "
The author of the prize-winning Hap and Leonard series (Devil Red, 2011, etc.) charts a course that may remind you of a distaff Huck and Jim. Read full book review >