The year is half over. Hereis a quick post with my 6 favorite books of the year so far.
Half World by Scott O'Connor
The CIA ran the MKUltra project, officially, from 1953 to 1973. During that time the Government took citizens off the street and drugged and abused them in order to find ways to control their minds. This was done all over the country and in parts of Canada. Perhaps the most well known of these sites was in San Francisco where some have argued that CIA administered LSD started the counter culture. A quick Google search shows that notable test subjects include Ted Kaczynski, Ken Kesey, and Whitey Bulger. The official documents pertaining to the project were destroyed. You can see from this reductive summary that this has all the ingredients of a potent brew. O'Connor makes the most of it. Half World is scary, and paranoid and haunting. The first part is like a great paranoid 70's movie and the actions will cast a shadow over the rest of the novel.
The Contractors by Harry Hunsicker
The Contractors is a crime thriller that takes place along the Texas-Mexico border. It has non-stop action, morally compromised characters, and a real world setting, what's not to love?
The Fix by Steve Lowe
There have been a number of great boxing novels over the years (The Professional, Fat City) and boxing and noir have long gone hand in hand. Boxing is described as The Sweet Science. If you apply yourself to the strict and rigorous study of this science you can succeed and, through, hard work, make it to the top. It has meritocratic elements and anyone can make it regardless of race, economics, personal history, etc. But because it is also a kind of food chain there can only be one at the top. As such someone is always gunning for you. The Fix portrays all of this in a quick novel that will appeal to all fans of boxing, noir, and crime fiction.
Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
Weird, lush, surreal, alien landscape explored by characters who may not be who they say they are sent by a shadowy government organization. Book one of a trilogy that will be completely published by the end of the year. Can't wait to read the others.
And the Hills Opened Up by David Oppegaard
Deadwood meets Cthulhu? Not quite but close. Great characters, unlikely heroes, and a quiet, creeping dread.
The Door That Faced West by Alan M Clark
The story of the Harpe Brothers told from the perspective of one of their wives is a stunning portrait of early America and a compelling and entertaining story.