Here's my quick top ten-ish in no particular order.
First, two very different books from Douglas Lindsay.
BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF MR KITE! - The protagonist should have died in a plane crash but somehow survived and then tries to get his old life back. Lots of cultural references and mystery.
THE BLOOD THAT STAINS YOUR HANDS, the next in Lindsay's Thomas Hutton police thriller series. Lindsay just gets everything right for me; characters, plot, setting, humour...murder and for me his writing is totally satisfying.
Something totally different - CANADA by Richard Ford. A boy is abandoned by his feckless parents and to avoid being put into care, he finds himself being bundled off to Canada to live and work for a man who has a mysterious past. This book transported me to another time and place - totally absorbing.
I've read many Catriona King novels in 2014. I've devoured them as quickly as a box of Thornton's chocolates. Just great detective stories set in Belfast. There's round about eight or nine in the series so start with the first - A LIMITED JUSTICE.
I also discovered Daniel Judson in the last year and have now read everything in his back catalogue that I've been able to get my hands on. I started with the GIN PALACE TRILOGY. I love his very dark writing, full of hopeless characters who have to somehow tun their life around against the odds, all done against the background of a murder thriller. Fabulous stuff.
THE LAST TIGER by Tony Black is the tale of the Tasmanian tiger that will break your heart and keep you thinking about the boy who searched for love and acceptance. Don't miss out on this one.
A book I just came across out of nowhere is THE BONE CHURCH by Victoria Dougherty. Set in wartime Prague, two lovers try to flee to safety and their subsequent adventure is harrowing while capturing the dangers of the time perfectly.
Johnny Shaw is a writer that you must not miss. Read one - any - of his books and you will be hooked. The dust from the farm will get into your mouth and the heat will burn into your back.
I highly recommend DOVE SEASON or PLASTER CITY. This guy knows how to write.
As well as having a passion for reading, I also fall into the deep pit which is family history research from time to time. Hours can pass quite easily when an interesting line is discovered. One of my discoveries in 2014 was my my great grandmother's cousin's son (I know...) was engaged to marry the writer Katherine Cecil Thurston who, around 100 years ago was a very well known and celebrated author whose books were even made into plays and performed on Broadway. Sadly, Katherine died before the wedding and her life was cut short. Although her writing is all but forgotten now, I would suggest you have a read of MAX, a story of hidden identities and life in Paris in the early 1900s.
I greatly enjoyed Dan O'Shea's two novels PENANCE and GREED. Two great thrillers that will have you travelling around the world. I love the tone of these books - crumpled and grumpy but also the fabulous grasp and use of language. I don't want my reading to be dumbed down so I appreciated and enjoyed these stylish books.
That's probably more than ten books - I've cheated but I've kept the best until last and although all of the books above are excellent, this one is outstanding:
THEN LIKE THE BLIND MAN: ORBIE'S STORY by Freddie Owens.
I read this book at the beginning of 2014 and it has remained in my mind all year. The pictures Owens paints are so vivid, the characters so well worked out that I feel as if I was actually there. One of those books that you just never want to end, swallows you up and deposits you into a whole different world populated with incredible characters. Set in Kentucky in the 50s, the descriptions are outstanding and the narrative from the nine year old Orbie gives the most wonderful perspective on the goings on of the adults around him and the social struggles of the time. Amazing writing.