After reading various 'book of the year' articles, we thought it made sense for us to share our BritCrime authors' favourites with you. What have crime writers been reading this year? You might be surprised! To shake things up a bit, these are not all books published this year, they're just books we've read this year... and they're not all crime - fancy that.
♠ How to be Brave by Louise Beech
♠ Gun Street Girl by Adrian McKinty
♠ Living on the Volcano by Michael Calvin.
How to be Brave is a love letter to the power of stories. It’s about a mother whose teenage daughter is struggling to come to terms with being diagnosed with diabetes. The deal is that if she accepts her injections, they’ll share the diary of her great-grandfather’s incredible survival tale on a drifting raft in World War Two. I really didn’t expect it to be to my taste, but it blew me away.
♠ Untouchable by Ava Marsh
♠ Into The Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes
♠ A Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
Untouchable is a sexy, pacy thriller with an incredibly compelling protagonist - Stella/Grace, a helpline worker by day, a high-class escort by night. Why has has she chosen this path in life, when she clearly has friends and family who wish that she hadn't? She gets embroiled in the worst kind of hedonism with the worst kind of people, but there is a vulnerability there too - coming both from her, and from many of the lonely types she meets. This novel is beautifully written - it is captivating, gritty and intelligent. I couldn't get it out of my head.
♠ The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
♠ The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
♠ Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’Nan
The Book of Strange New Things is a moving book about loss. An English missionary travels to a faraway planet that has been settled by people from earth. His job is to keep the indigenous population happy by talking to them about the Bible. His separation from his wife, who is still on earth, leads to a gradual estrangement. It’s an extraordinary book - one of the best I’ve read in a long time. Partway through reading it, I realised the author’s wife was dying as he wrote it, which gave it an added, almost unbearable poignancy.
♠ The Abrupt Physics of Dying by Paul Hardisty
♠ To Rise at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris
♠ The Farm by Tom Rob Smith
The Abrupt Physics of Dying has all the things I might look for in a thriller - a truly international plot set in Yemen about an environmental disaster; a conspiracy within heavy industry; political turmoil and corruption. Hardisty’s prose has a lyrical quality to it. His descriptions of the harsh Yemen landscape are vivid. His main character, Claymore Straker is a godless, fallible South African ex-soldier. Clay’s reflections on the devout Muslim beliefs of the Yemeni characters constitute intelligent soul-searching. There is even a love story at the book’s heart. But The Abrupt Physics of Dying, for all its literary finesse and environmentally aware politics, never loses pace. It’s gripping. It’s violent. It’s a bloody exciting read.
♠ The Death House by Sarah Pinborough
♠ The Cartel by Don Winslow
♠ Canary by Duane Swierczynski
The Death House is an exercise in how less can be so much more. Children are taken from their parents in this strange world and left in a sanatorium till the strange sickness they carry kills them. Yet even in this most bleak of places, love can flourish. Made me cry. Need I say more?
♠ Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer
♠ A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman
♠ First One Missing by Tammy Cohen
Rubbernecker won the Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year at the Harrogate Crime Festival in 2014. I can't remember the last time I liked a character as much as I liked Patrick, or found a character so fascinating. I loved the setting - a dissection class and a neurological ward - and I was desperate for Patrick to solve the mystery of number 19's death. It was a gripping, darkly humorous and fascinating book that gave me serious writer envy.
What were your favourite books this year? Tell us in the comments!
Come back tomorrow for Part 2.