Books to Look Out For

Reviews

I loved Stephanie Marland’s first Starke and Bell thriller My Little Eye and her follow-up, You Die Next is an outstanding read. A group of urban explorers enter a disused studio and discover a gruesome scene they’re pretty sure isn’t staged. One by one the explorers are murdered while a fellow thrill seeker pleads with academic researcher Clementine Starke to look into the deaths. This brings her into contact with former lover DI Dominic Bell. The shifting point of view works very well here – unsettling the reader and allowing us into the minds of both urban explorers and Clementine and Dom. This is definitely this author’s best book and was a delight to read.

 A Dying Breed by Peter Hannington is an excellent a political thriller with a strong protagonist. His follow-up, A Single Source, has veteran BBC Reporter Will Carver in Cairo during the 2011 Arab Spring. Political intrigue, the perils facing foreign correspondents and the exploitation of refugees fleeing conflict are all represented in this intelligent and well plotted thriller. With multiple points of view and a vast geographical scope, it was great to read a satisfyingly complex story. Brilliant for fans of Star of the North and I Am Pilgrim.

Remember me is the compelling debut by Amy McLellan. Sarah suffers from prosopagnosia, the inability to recognise faces. When her sister is killed by an attacker who might be known to her, Sarah needs to convince the police that not only is she not the murderer but try to help them find the culprit.  A very well written psychological thriller, with a killer premise, I was rooting for the protagonist from the start.

I devoured Sara Paretsky and Sue Grafton’s books in my twenties and have long lamented the demise of the female PI novel. It looks like it’s back, however, with Marnie Riches Tightrope. Featuring the intrepid and very human Bev Saunders, this thriller is destined for great things. Earthy and raw, it features a great cast of characters and I loved that it was based in my home town of Manchester.

I read an early version of Allan Martin’s The Peat Dead and I’m delighted to see it’s being published on the 17th April. Set on the Hebridean island of Islay, it involves a historic crime (which are always a favourite theme) which is suddenly uncovered in the present day. Martin is excellent at showing how in small communities, the past can be as painful as the present and I loved the island setting.

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My Top Ten Crime Books of 2016

Reviews

Top ten books of the year have been appearing since the beginning of December but I’ve held off posting mine just in case of a last minute brilliant read. However, I’ve spent most of the festive period reading classic crime, a review of which I’ll post later.

2016 has been a bit of a mixed bag in terms of reading. I have found the submissions for this year’s Petrona to be uneven. Some long running series are feeling a bit tired and Scandi tropes which once felt fresh are increasingly being recycled to the extent that I feel I’ve already read the book. Having said that, the Nordic Noir books that do make it onto the list were a joy to read.

So, here are my top ten books of 2016 in no particular order. If you want to know which one was my favourite, I’ll reveal all in my new year newsletter.

dying-detectiveLeif G W Persson – The Dying Detective (translated by Neil Smith)

Persson is a writer with a sure touch but in this standalone he excels in both plotting and characterisation. It’s a substantial read with plenty to think about and written with Persson’s sly humour.

27152-books-origjpgPD James – The Mistletoe Murder and other stories

There will be no more Dalgliesh novels from James but Faber have provided us fans of the erudite detective with two short stories in this collection. Although they have previously appeared in publications, every story was new to me and the sumptuous cover made the book a  delight to read.

51dWXz1LAoL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_Fred Vargas – A Climate of Fear (translated by Sian Reynolds)

Another writer who delights in wry humour, this is Vargas back on form. Adamsberg is without doubt my favourite detective at the moment and the Icelandic setting for part of the story was an added bonus.

30840877-_uy200_David Mitchell – Slade House

I appear to have neglected to review this book. I think I was saving the post for a round-up of supernatural stories that I read over the year. It’s a great mix of crime and spooky events and I greatly enjoyed the way it unsettled the reader.

9781843446408Barry Forshaw – Brit Noir

This is a useful guide to British crime fiction divided by geographic region. The reviews of the merits of each writers books are perceptive and includes lesser known authors for aficionados to discover.

9781784292379Elly Griffiths – The Woman in Blue

One of my favourite crime series, I love the characters and the romantic tension between Nelson and Ruth. Here, the atmospheric setting of Walsingham provided the backdrop to a great plot.

 

9781910633359Agnes Ravatn – The Bird Tribunal (translated by Rosie Hedger)

Fans of Karin Fossum will love this story where the tension is slowly ratched up. It’s an example of how crime fiction can also be literary without the writing interfering with the story.

 

The-Crow-Girl-by-Erik-Axl-Sund-665x1024Erik Axl Sund – The Crow Girl

Violent and uncompromising, I loved how it pushes the reader to confront their prejudices in relation to perpetrators of brutality. It’s long but never dull.

 

A-Dying-Breed-lightPeter Hanington – A Dying Breed

A crime novel with a difference. The Afghanistan setting works equally as well as the world of news reporting in London. It gives an insight into the clashes between old and new style journalism. Peter Hannington is a writer to watch.

 

9781509809486chameleon-peopleHans Olav Lahlum – Chameleon People (translated by Kari Dickson)

The review for this excellent book will  be coming in my next Scandi round-up. It has all of Lahlum’s usual themes but his writing never tires. I found the character of the wheelchair-bound Patricia much more sympathetic in this book and there is clearly plenty of mileage left in the series.

So that’s my top ten. Next week I’ll be posting a list of books to watch for Spring 2017. I’ve already read some excellent novels and there’s plenty to look forward to.

Wishing all readers of Crimepieces a happy new year!