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Best novels of 2008

The Monitor’s annual gift guide to the best fiction books of 2008.

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The Black Tower
By Louis Bayard (William Morrow, 368 pp., $24.95)
In this thriller, which reads like Alexandre Dumas with a little Conan Doyle mixed in, Louis Bayard borrows from Edgar Allen Poe, appropriating the real-life inspiration for Poe’s very first detective story, protagonist Eugène François Vidocq, a criminal who became one of the first private detectives and the first director of France’s Sûreté Nationale. (8/23/08)

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City of Refuge
By Tom Piazza (HarperCollins, 403 pp., $24.95)
Tom Piazza, a journalist and author who’s lived in New Orleans for well over a decade, follows the stories of two families post-Katrina in this impassioned, fictional take on life in the wake of the hurricane. (8/25/08)

When Will There Be Good News?
By Kate Atkinson (Little, Brown & Co., 400 pp., $24.99)
Scottish author Kate Atkinson earns kudos with this third and final installment of her mystery series focused on detective Jackson Brodie. Here, Brodie investigates the mysterious disappearance of an Edinburgh doctor and her baby. (9/6/08)

Home
By Marilynne Robinson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 325 pp., $25)
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson returns to small-town Iowa and the story of the prodigal son she first wrote about in “Gilead.” This time, however, she examines Jack Boughton from the viewpoint of his own household. (9/9/08)

The Given Day
By Dennis Lehane (William Morrow, 720 pp., $27.95)
Dennis Lehane harks back to Boston at the end of World War I, weaving a police strike, segregation, baseball, union drives, and class resentments into an ambitious novel that evokes a dark chapter of US history. (9/29/08)

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