My Top Reads of 2015

Reviews

It’s been quite a year for me as my own debut novel was published in July. Its meant that I’ve had to carve out dedicated time and space for reading books that might otherwise have become lost in my gargantuan TBR pile. Bloggers have been publishing their ‘best of’ lists all December and I’ve enjoyed reading them to see how our thoughts compare. And In Bitter Chill has been lucky enough to feature on some of the choices. However, now is my turn and, although I tried to keep it to five as in previous years, I cheated and made it six top choices for 2015.

233570921. The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

Here’s a book that’s featured on a number of  highlights of 2015 and rightly so. There’s a Hitchcockian devilry in the plot’s construction and the book’s premise – two people who meet on a plane and hatch a murder plot – has lots of scope for mishap and criminality. A book I read in one sitting it was so good.

2. Satellite People by Han Olav Lahlumsatellite-people-978023076953301

We were treated to two books by Lahlum this year and I slightly preferred the plot of Satellite People. A clear homage to Agatha Christie (he dedicates the book to her), for us fans of the queen of crime it was enjoyable to spot the references to her books. But an enjoyable read in its own right too.

237030503. The Abrupt Physics of Dying by Paul Hardisty

An intriguing title that seemed to unsettle my fellow passenger on the plane to the States. But it is a great book that demonstrates how thrillers can be both well written and engrossing. Hardisty is a writer with a promising future ahead of him.

4. Sleeping Dogs by Thomas Mogford.sleepingdogs

Mogford made it into my top reads of 2014 and he’s done it again this year. His book featuring Gibraltar detective Spike Sanguinetti is written to a consistently high quality and Sleeping Dogs was set in a country I know well, Greece.

51KZmDXMg9L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_5. The Undesired by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

Yrsa won the Petrona Award for translated Scandinavian crime fiction for her previous book, Silence of the Sea. The Undesired is a standalone thriller that managed to chill me to the denouement. Her endings, without giving any spoilers, can be brutal and she never flinches from exposing the worst of the human psyche.

6. Untouchable by Ava MarshUntouchable

A great debut by another writer who shows plenty of promise. Untouchable is the story of a London call girl who takes on the investigation of one of her fellow workers. A tightly written story that I’ve been telling all my friends to read.

So those are my highlights of 2015. I’ve got plenty to read over Christmas and New Year and I’m looking forward to bringing you more reviews in 2016. And if you want to find out which of these books was my outright favourite, sign up for my newsletter with the button on the right. All will be revealed next week.

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Review: Paul E Hardisty – The Abrupt Physics of Dying

Reviews

23703050Orenda Books is a brand new publisher launched by Karen Sullivan. It’s great that new presses are emerging in this changing literary climate and Karen has pledged to publish six books this year. She’s going to have an eclectic list and I’m particularly looking forward to reading her Scandinavian crime authors Ragnar Jonasson and Gunnar Staalesen. Paul Hardisty is a new writer who has used his experiences of working in the Middle East to write a thriller about corruption in the oil industry. It’s not a subject matter that would normally appeal but it turned out to be an excellent read.

Claymore Straker is an engineer working in Yemen who is kidnapped at gunpoint along with Abdulkader, the driver who once saved his life. Clay is informed of instances of children near oil wells who are dying of a mysterious illness that appears to affect only the young. He is released but his driver kept as hostage. Straker must investigate the sickness or Abdulkader will be killed. But, as he digs deeper, his life is threatened by those seeking to protect their financial and commercial interests.

The quote on the front cover of The Abrupt Physics of Dying describes the book as ‘gripping’ and I think this sums up the narrative. Right from the beginning there’s a sense of menace and helplessness at the situation that Clay finds himself in. Given the political situation in the Yemen at the moment it could be hard to believe that the kidnappers would trust a western businessman to investigate what is happening to the children in their villages. However, Hardisty does well to convince us of the desperation and pragmatism of the men holding Abdulkader hostage.

I was a big fan, in 2013, of Terry Hayes’s I Am Pilgrim  and I hadn’t up to now read a conspiracy thriller which came close to it in terms of quality. But Hardisty’s book was an excellent read with a similar sweep across the politics of international money-making.

Thanks to Ordenda Books for my review copy.