1) Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes
Why: Supposedly thirty years in the making, this could end up being the novel about Vietnam. A very important story for the next generation, in order to help them make some sense of the conflicts in which we are currently entangled.
2) If the Dead Rise Not by Philip Kerr
Why: A new Kerr book about Bernie Gunther is like a visit from Santa Claus - you know you are going to get a deep story that will spin you around like a top before you finish. After you turn the final page it will haunt you far beyond.
3) Skippy Dies by Paul Murray
Why: This one was a bit of a surprise - I read a review of it that singular work that has a chance to become the novel of the next ten years. A state of the world kind of book that intermarries everything from the coming of age story of one boy with string theory and the economic recession.
4) The Last Stand by Nathaniel Philbrick
Why: It has been many years since Philbrick's fantastic last book (Mayflower) and he will continue to entertain and enlighten readers to previously misunderstood moments in American history. This time he tackles Custler v. Sitting Bull, sure to be a grand history none of us will forget again.
5) War by Sebastian Junger
Why: Junger has written some great true accounts and now he takes on one of the best topics around - the troops in Afghanistan. This book has the potential to rival Generation Kill.
6) Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane
Why: Lehane returns for one final visit with his intrepid (and twisted) Boston PI duo of Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro. This book is sixth in the series and works as a direct sequel to Gone Baby Gone and should re-establish Lehane as the master of modern noir. Welcome back Dennis, we have missed you.
7) The Glass Rainbow by James Lee Burke
Why: Returning to his stand-by character Dave Robicheaux for the first time since his haunting Swan Peak, Burke is sure to have written on of the best books of the year. This time, he puts Robicheaux back in New Orleans to solve a series of grisly murders, this one will be memorable, atmospheric and powerful - what more could a reader ask for?