If you need assurance that a book has elevated status within a particular genre, check any of the links below to see award winners.
If you are just starting out in the fiction genre, one book worth your time is On Becoming a Novelist. A couple of my favorite passages from John Gardner's book:
I write for those who desire, not publication at any cost, but publication one can be proud of--serious, honest fiction, the kind of novel that readers will find they enjoy reading more than once, the kind of fiction likely to survive. Fine workmanship--art that avoids cheap and easy effects, takes no shortcuts, struggles never to lie even abou the most trifling matters... workmanship, in short, that impresses us partly by its painstaking care, gives pleasure and a sense of life's worth and dignity not only to the reader but to the writer as well. This book is for the beginning novelist who has already figured out that it is far more satisfying to write well then simply to write well enough to get published.
So one of the things one considers when asked if the young writer has what it takes to become a good novelist is his feeling for language. If he's capable of writing expressively, as least sometimes, and if his love for language is not so exclusive or obsessive as to rule out all other interests, one feels the young writer has a chance...
The writer with the worst odds--the person to whom one at once says, "I don't think so"--is the writer whose feel for language seems incorrigibly perverted. The most obvious example is the writer who cannot move without the help of such phrases as "with a merry twinkle in her eye," or "the adorable twins," or "hearty, booming laugh"--dead expressions, the cranked-up zombie emotion of a writer who feels nothing in his daily life or nothing he trusts enough to find his own words for, so that he turns instead to "she stifled a sob," "friendly lopsided smile"...
Another indicator of the young writer's talent is the relative accuracy and originality of his "eye." The good writer sees things sharply, vividly, accurately, and selectively (that is, chooses what's important), not necessarily because his power of observation is by nature more acute than that of other people (though by practice it becomes so), but because he cares about seeing things clearly and getting them down effectively.
Interested in reading a recently published book? The Writing-Workbench has some sites to explore for book reviews.How about a thriller or spy novel - check out MostlyFiction.com.
American Book Review
American Booksellers Association
Arts & Letters Daily
Atlanta Journal Constiution
Chicago Tribune Books
Christian Science Monitor
Claremont Review of Books
Detroit Free Press
Electronic Book Review
Godawful Fan Fiction