I just finished a brilliant book.... American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I knew Gaiman from his stint as the prolific writer of the DC Comic title, Sandman. He proved, as a comic writer, that the sequential art can be more than just tights and capes.
In Sandman he took us to places we never imagined and had us look back on the world, from this new viewpoint, to see it was not quite what we thought it was.
Who knew he would also prove to be an innovative novelist. Unlike the story-belching unplanned scrit of Stephen King, Gaiman gives us a chilling story that in complete. He gives us real characters that are fantastical yet grounded. He introduces us to Gods that seem as real as our neighbors. He offers up a protagonist in Shadow that we never understand yet root for until the end.
A story of betrayal, a celestial con, clashes of old and new all centered on a man whose first gift after leaving prison is to find his wife died... in the coital of another man.
If you are ready for a story you've never come across before told by someone who, unlike King, uses details to push us forward (not to fill the page). There is a great subplot that proves quite the mystery. Once you fear he has forgotten the great side story, he springs the resolution on us when we least expect it.
It won the 2002 Hugo, Nebula and Bram Stoker awards, all for Best Novel. It was also nominated for Best Novel in the 2002 BSFA Award.
I loved the characters and devoured the writing. He spent a long time designing and executing this novel... and it shows.