My Top Five Crime Reads of 2012

According to Goodreads I read just over 150 books in 2012, about three quarters of which was crime fiction. I reviewed 102 books on crimepieces and discovered some great authors whose books, although not published in 2012, were highlights of my year. These included Deon Meyer’s Trackers, Ashes by Sergio Gakas and Aly Monroe’s Icelight.

However, I’m going to restrict my best reads of 2012 to those published this year. The benchmark as to which books made it onto my list was not whether I had recommended them to other readers but whether I had also actually forced a copy onto someone who I thought would like it. With the exception of Where the Devil Can’t Go which is (for the moment) available only as an e-book I have done this with all of these titles.

So here are my top 5 reads of 2012.

1. Ben H Winters –  The Last Policeman

The Last Policeman

A great concept very well executed. Who would have thought the end of the world could be so interesting?

2. Adrian McKinty – The Cold Cold Ground


The first in a series featuring Catholic policeman Sean Duffy. Set in 1981 during the Troubles, I wanted to read the sequel immediately.

3. Anya Lipska – Where the Devil Can’t Go

Anya Lipska

A murder set in the heart of the Polish expat community in London. Great depictions of London and Poland and some memorable characters.

4. Elizabeth Hay – Alone in the Classroom

Alone in the Classroom

I’m not sure if this is a crime book at all, but death and retribution feature strongly in the narrative. A beautifully written book.

5. Louise Welsh – The Girl on the Stairs


Genuinely spooky and with a strong sense of malevolence, it gives an alternative view of Berlin’s bleak suburbs.

So five great books and if I had just to choose one it would be Adrian McKinty’s The Cold Cold Ground. The sequel I Hear the Sirens in the Street is out in January and I’m already looking forward to it.

What was your favourite crime book of 2012? I’d love to hear what was your best read.

33 thoughts on “My Top Five Crime Reads of 2012

  1. Margot Kinberg

    Sarah – You’ve got some truly fine choices here!! And you’ve reminded me that the Winters is coming up very soon on my TBR. I am excited about that. Yes I think this post of yours ought to be marked with a ‘Dangerous to your TBR budget’ warning. 😉 Thanks for sharing your picks with us.


  2. I feel like I’ve missed a lot of great books this year – so many top 5’s where I’ve not read some or any of the blogger’s favourite books! I’m please to say that although I’ve only read one of your top 5, it was The Last Policeman – one of the few books that I’ve given 5 stars to! I guess that means I have another 4 to add to me “to read” list though.


  3. Keishon

    This list is even more meaningful since you read so many books this year, Sarah. I’ve only read the one book on your list – The Cold, Cold Ground. The sequel comes out next month I think. I plan to check out the rest of your list. Happy New Year to you.


  4. Great list, Sarah: they’re all books I’d like to check out but my reading pace is slow as we get used to being a family of four.

    By the way, The Last Policeman has been optioned for a movie or tv show, and I think it’s planned as a trilogy. Winters is the brother of one of my college friends so I’ve gotten updates from lots of people.


    1. Yes it’s a great idea isn’t it – a trilogy based about the forthcoming apocalypse. Fascinating about the connection – I shall rely on you keeping me informed of progress! And congratulations again on the latest addition to your family.


  5. Sarah, I have only read two on your list and they’ll probably be on my list too. Have to look into the other three as well based on your suggestion and I have pre-order I Hear the Sirens in the Street.


  6. I wish I could read over 100 books in a year. I only read a bit over 80 this year and that is about the limit for me. My husband saw your list here and liked The Last Policeman so much, he plans to follow up on your other 4 top picks.

    I don’t usually keep pace with mysteries published in the current year… I have such a big stack of older books. But I will definitely be reading The Last Policeman in 2013, and the The Cold Cold Ground sounds very good too. I would really like to understand more about The Troubles.


    1. Thanks Tracy. It’s quite an eclectic list so I hope your husband likes my other choices. I’m looking forward to the sequel of ‘The Last Policeman.’
      I’m going to try and read more books around there publication date (if I can) in 2013 although like you, i enjoy reading other people’s reviews and adding to my TBR pile.


  7. Great choices and pretty impressive reading stats for 2012. I haven’t read any of these, but The Girl On The Stairs and The Last Policeman are both firmly on my wishlist after reading your reviews! Happy New Year to you, all the best for 2013.


  8. kathy d.

    Very intriguing list here. Haven’t read any of these books, but plan to read several of them next year. I wish the Lipska was available here and not in Kindle. I need to hold a real book and turn pages, enjoying the whole experience with tea and a snack. I’ll look for the Welsh at the library but The Last Policeman isn’t my genre of choice; I avoid apocalyptic themes. The real news is bad enough.
    Best wishes for you and your blog in 2013. I look forward to reading the reviews posted here.


    1. Hi Kathy – the Lipska is coming out in hard copy in Febrary. It’s an example of how a successful e-book can get a print publishing deal and I’m very pleased for Anya.
      Thanks for all your insightful comments in 2012 Kathy and I’m looking forward to discussing books with you in 2013.


  9. kathy d.

    Good news on the Lipska and the upcoming blog posts. I wish that I could keep up with you and other commenters on the quantity of books you whiz through. It’s daunting to me. I don’t know how anyone gets anything done but read.


  10. kathy d.

    I want to read The Girl on the Stairs, but I’m already dreading taking the trash out of my apartment to the compactor at night — and I live right next door to it! Spooky, menacing: My scaredy cat traits have just quadrupled, but I’m determined to read it.


  11. Sarah,
    I’m finally getting back to you–thank you for visiting Reader in the Wilderness.

    I definitely need a blogger to help me keep current with crime fiction, so I’ve added your blog to my “Blogs of Substance” list.

    I’m sure you must’ve read Broken Harbor–I’ll search to see if you have a review of it. Now that I’m about 3/4ths of the way through, I must admit I’ve enjoyed it a great deal.

    Do you ever blog about your writing? I’d be interested in hearing about your writing adventures.

    Best wishes on your writing and reading in 2013



    1. Hi Judith. Thanks for adding my blog to your ‘Blogs of Substance’ list. You are on my feed reader too and I often look at your posts but don’t always comment on them if I don’t have anything interesting to say…

      I haven’t read ‘Broken Harbour’ but feel I should so I hope to get around to it sometime early this year.

      I don’t blog about my writing per se but I do occasionally mention it in a post. For example, I attended a great writing residential week in November and mentioned it in my monthly round-up. In practical terms, writing involves me getting up in the morning and writing or editing something every day. I am fairly diligent but that wouldn’t make a very interesting blog post! I am at the editing stage of my crime novel, thanks for asking and I hope to start submitting it to agents early this year. If I have any news I’m sure it will make it into a post.

      I’ll look forward to your review of ‘Broken Harbour’!


  12. kathy d.

    Thanks, Sarah. No. I don’t look out on a block of deserted apartments, but am about 20 feet away from another building. I’ll really try to read The Girl on the Stairs. I don’t know how I, such a scaredy cat, ended up loving crime fiction, but I do. I started out in my teens in the Middle Ages reading Sherlock Holmes, Nero Wolfe, Erle Stanley Gardner, loved legal mysteries (still do), and the puzzle of the whodunnit. I avoided
    gory, brutal, scary stories, even books with those type covers.
    My sibling loved horror and disaster movies. I’d walk quickly past the TV, back to my books when those were on. We laugh about it.
    My Dad and my uncle loved puzzles, the whodunnit and locked room mysteries by John Dickson Carr, which I must visit sometime. My Dad would have liked Sjowall and Wahloo, too.


    1. That’s interesting Kathy, because I was thinking last night that locked room mysteries really weren’t my thing and I was wondering how I would get on with the next book. I’ve given a few of them a go in the past, including books by John Dickson Carr but they’ve never ignited my interest.


  13. kathy d.

    Oh, but Sjowall and Wahloo’s locked room mystery is unlike any other. That book has so many things going on, it makes a reader’s head spin: crazed criminals, a bizarre robbery, the locked room murder. It’s rather amazing how they pulled it all together.


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