These are hands down, my favorite books so far this year. As I keep working my way through my “to be read” (TBR) list, I will keep updating this page so be sure to check back.
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann (Audio Book)
In 1920s Oklahoma, members of the Osage Indian tribe, wealthy from their ownership of oil-rich land, started turning up dead. Called the Osage “reign of terror,” the FBI, then a fledging government agency lead by the infamous J. Edgar Hoover, was called in to investigate to bring the perpetrators to justice. Especially engrossing is the background of the lead FBI agent, Tom White, who is sent to Oklahoma by Hoover to investigate and build the Federal case. I listened to this one on audio and especially enjoyed the narration. Three different narrators were used, which was different but served this book well given that the book has three distinctive sections and each section has its own tone and feel.
In particular, Will Patton’s narration (he was the second), was spot on and gave the wild west Texas Ranger stories a completely authentic feel. Describing the murders and outlining the case as it unfolded, he added an eerie creepiness that had me startling and looking over my shoulder when I was listening while outside running.
Possibly the only minor flaw in the book was the slow build in the first few chapters which was necessary to lay out the story but my ADD kicked in quickly. I am so glad I stuck with it. The killings and crime scenes were gruesome and the community involvement in the exploitation and disgraceful treatment of the Osage Indians was shocking and sad. I confess I had little to no knowledge of the Osage “Reign of Terror” other than maybe a vague memory of it being mentioned in history class. I am glad to have read this book to know more about this part of our history, and I will be seeking out more to read on this subject and from David Grann.
The Lost Man by Jane Harper (audio book)
The Lost Man by Jane Harper This one is good for fans of a bit of slow build, atmospheric mystery/thriller. I listened on audio and truly think listening to an Aussie book through an actual Aussie voice is the bomb. This book takes place in Australia and is about the Bright family, who has lost one of their own – Cameron, one of three grown sons, who appears to have died of exposure in the Outback nine kilometers from his working car full of supplies. So, what happened? Brother Nathan who manages a neighboring property plays detective to solve the puzzling mystery of his brother’s death. Extremely well written, engrossing and keeps you guessing the whole way through. This is now one of my favorite books of 2019 (so far)! I will forever buy whatever Jane Harper writes.
This Much Country by Kristin Knight Pace I am a sucker for anything about Alaska. Aside from its incredible beauty, there is something so fascinating to me about living day to day in an environment that is constantly trying to kill you. That is why as soon as I heard about this book by Kristin Knight Pace about her life there as a dog musher and living in a remote area near Alaska’s Denali National Park, I downloaded it immediately. I prefer to listen to nonfiction versus reading it so the audio for this one was truly perfect.
Narrated by Kristin herself, this book was a really interesting ride through her life in her 20s and 30s. A lover of the outdoors, she quickly moved to Montana upon graduating high school, getting married and working her way through college. When her young marriage fails, she is devastated and accepts an offer to go to Alaska to stay in a friend’s cabin for the winter and take care of his place and his team of sled dogs.
As Kristin recovers from the crippling rejection she feels from her divorce, she grows into a life in Alaska that she truly loves. Learning about mushing sled dogs and surviving in Alaska’s remote wilderness, she finds strength, peace and love. This is an emotional story of amazing bonds between dogs, especially working dogs, and their owners, tough sled dog races over remote country and healing.
As a woman, reading about another strong woman who triumphs over tragedy and hardship is always important and enjoyable but that was not why I loved this book. I truly loved Pace’s descriptive and atmospheric writing which immersed me in the story and helped me feel like I had a seat alongside her as she faced every obstacle with her amazing strength and grit, with Alaska’s stunning beauty and unyielding environment constantly looming in the background.
Also a lover of dogs, I delighted in the relationships she has with her dogs, laughing and crying as these creatures, as much her family members as her human brothers and sisters, display incredible strength, loyalty and athleticism on and off the trail. I would even go so far as to say much of this book is about the dogs as Kristin steps back and gives them a center stage role in the story. I will be adding this one to my favorite books of 2019 (so far) and cannot recommend it enough especially for lovers of animals and the outdoors.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What is your favorite book so far in 2019?