My Favorite Crime Fiction Film, TV, and Books of the Year

It’s always a good time to explore the dark side.

Nick Kolakowski
4 min readDec 13, 2022

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Like so many years before it, 2022 offered too many choices when it came to excellent crime fiction. I was overwhelmed at moments by the sheer size of my stack of books to be read and movies to watch. But amidst that maelstrom, here are some of the books, movies, and TV series I keep thinking about — I think you might like them, too.

Film and TV

My favorite crime film of the year was Romain Gavras’s “Athena,” a brutal account of a riot in a French public-housing development. I’ve always been a sucker for a long tracking shot in a film, and “Athena” is full of them, starting with the 10-minute opener that begins with a tight close-up of a man speaking at a press conference before launching into a police station raid, a chase down a highway, and hundreds of rioters blockading a housing block. Gavras seamlessly blends drone and traditional camera footage into an ever-roving “eye” (it’s almost impossible to catch the editing seams) and the ultimate effect is one of constant acceleration, climaxing with an explosive denouement.

For a few nights this summer, I was also entranced by “The Longest Night,” a Spanish thriller series about a prison under siege by a mysterious gang that wants to break a serial killer out. The guards, led by a young and progressive warden, fight to keep the gang from breaching the walls. If that sounds like a lot of elements in play, you’re right — but the show’s creators mix the various ticking-clock and locked-room elements with aplomb. (In many ways, the show is reminiscent of “Money Heist,” another Spanish series that combines siege thriller and soap opera.) Given how all the plot threads end on a massive cliffhanger, though, I’ll have to wait in frustration for a second season.

Fiction

I’ve made no secret of how much I love Jordan Harper, a crime writer who specializes in the gritty, smoky, bloody underside of the California dream. His latest book, “The Last King of California,” was probably my favorite crime novel of the year (although it’s always hard to pick just one “definitive favorite”). It’s a tightly focused tale of a boy, Luke, coming home to The Combine, a gang started by…

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Nick Kolakowski

Writer, editor, author of 'Maxine Unleashes Doomsday' and 'Boise Longpig Hunting Club.'