So what have been your favourite crime novels and thrillers from 2012? We’ve asked a handful of Faber’s crime writers, plus a few of our favourite bloggers to point us in the direction of some great reads (not all Faber!). Why not let us know what you’ve been reading too?
My favourite crime debut is Claire McGowan’s The Fall, for the sureness of hand and deftness of viewpoint; the way in which she so convincingly conjures a milieu which I once had the dubious pleasure of occupying. I’d also like to have Books To Die For, by John Connolly and Declan Burke, a portal into many novels I have yet to read and reflections on many which I have; through different eyes. It gets the juices flowing. Most importantly, it put me onto Jean Patrick Manchette.
- Adam Creed’s most recent book Death in the Sun is now in paperback.
For novel of the year I would have to go with Chris Ewan’s Safe House. Hooked from the very first chapter, and after that – it got even better …
Debut novel, for me, is a difficult one, because 98 per cent of the novels I have read this year, have been from established authors. And the debut novel I actually read was a Norwegian one. I think. So if you don’t mind all that much I would have to pass on that one.
My favourite crime novel of the year is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Masquerading as a missing wife thriller, it’s an excruciating look at a particularly poisonous relationship, Flynn getting inside her characters’ heads like no one else. Properly gripping and deeply perceptive about society, it is a truly astonishing novel.
My favourite crime debut of the year is Easy Money by Swedish author Jens Lapidus. It’s the first part of his remarkable Stockholm trilogy to be published in the UK, and it’s like James Ellroy getting to grips with Swedish society. Written with amazing rhythm and pace, it delves deep into the societal problems of Sweden, while also providing a genuinely thrilling page-turning climax. I look forward to the second instalment immensely.
Crime novel of the year: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Playful, stylish, bursting with energy and ideas, Gone Girl has been my most memorable read of 2012. Flynn’s voice is utterly unique and compelling, and she delivers one of the best and most wicked twists that I’ve ever encountered.
Debut of the year: The Expats by Chris Pavone. Perhaps it’s bad form to plug a Faber book in this list, but Pavone’s debut proved a brilliant holiday read for me this year. Elegantly written, brimming with suspense and intrigue, and I loved how the action pinballed across Europe. A perfect thriller for the keen armchair traveller.
- Chris Ewan’s Safe House is his first standalone thriller.
The Most Remarkable Woman in England: Poison, Celebrity and the Trials of Beatrice Pace by John Carter Wood. Just for once, my crime book of the year isn’t a novel, but a factual account. In 1928, a quarryman called Harry Pace died of arsenic poisoning and his wife, Beatrice, was tried for his murder. John Carter Wood’s account of the case and trial has it all: suspense; surprise; and a searing account of one woman’s life, marriage, and journey from poverty and obscurity to celebrity and notoriety. Wood is brave enough to allow much of an incredible story to tell itself through newspaper accounts, letters and Beatrice’s private papers, and the book is all the richer for it. And because it’s a true story, he has no choice but to include some of the more incredible plot elements that a novelist might lose courage with! A fascinating snapshot of interwar England, brilliantly brought to life.
- Nicola Upson’s most recent book Fear in the Sunlight is available now in paperback.
Mike Ripley (www.shotsmag.co.uk)
Best crime novel of 2012: Ian Rankin’s Standing in Another Man’s Grave (Orion). It’s sharp and it’s clever, using a ‘road trip’ theme not only to give Inspector Rebus the chance to confront crimes (and life choices) past and present, but also to allow Ian Rankin the chance to explore Scotland outside Edinburgh, which he does with his usual skill and fluency. Plus, it’s good to see the old curmudgeon back in action! Long may he defer retirement!
Best debut: John Gordon Sinclair’s Seventy Times Seven (Faber) as this was not at all what I was expecting and all crime reviewers are thrilled – or should be when something surprises them.
Sylvia Dixon (www.shotsmag.co.uk)
For my favourite book this year I will choose Graham Hurley’s Happy Days. This is the last one in a series of twelve books that start out with DI Joe Faraday and DS Paul Winter. It is really my favourite series rather than my favourite book so I would not recommend starting with this one particularly, as the importance of the series is the way in which the two characters develop against the political and real life of the buzzing and complicated city that is Portsmouth. Brilliantly authentic and stunning for the way in which the characters lead the action.
For my favourite new author I was torn between two. I originally wanted to say Bereft by Chris Wormersley. It is an original and sensitive story about an Australian soldier returning to his hometown after service in the Great War. He is damaged both physically and mentally by his experiences at home and abroad. He hides in the outback observing his old friends and family and meets up with a young orphan girl who is also living rough. This is an original book that explores the mind of one returning home from the horrors of war and the intense relationships of a small isolated town. Somewhat bleak, but the resilience of the two characters leaves room for optimism. However I don’t know if this will count as it is his second book although I think was published first in this country.
So my next choice would be DE Meredith’s Devoured. This is the first of a series featuring Hatton and Roumande, forensic pathologists in an age where this is a very unusual and disreputable profession. The research on this field in Victorian London was fascinating and looking at attitudes and the rapidly developing science from a contemporary point of view was refreshingly different. Very atmospheric.
Ayoola Onatade (www.shotsmag.co.uk)
Best Crime Novel 2012 - The Cutting Season by Attica Locke (Serpent’s Tail) – A claustrophobic and highly atmospheric tale which not only involves a crime but is illuminating as a portrait of a time and place, segregation and its effects.
Best Debut Novel 2012 - A Land More Than Kind by Wiley Cash (Transworld/Bantam) – Is a powerfully written study of the places religious fanaticism can lead you. An intoxicating combination of religion, fundamentalism and murder in America’s Deep South.
Rhian Davies (itsacrimeuk.wordpress.com)
Stav Sherez – A Dark Redemption: A formal statement before we go any further: my selection is not related to / influenced by the fact this is a Faber blog post. If this book had been published by Swindlers’ Anonymous Press, or an over-endowed (in the bonus department) banker, I’d still have picked it. (But with some not-related-to-the-book reservations, obviously.) So here we go: Stav Sherez’s A Dark Redemption was the most impressive novel I read in 2012 and it’s an exceptionally strong start to a series. Focusing on the immigrant community, the activities of Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda and its impact on London’s communities today, this is a superb novel, heartbreaking in places. DI Carrigan and DS Miller are obviously enduring characters and A Dark Redemption concludes with a loose end for Miller. Considering the author has been inured in the sights, sounds and smells of London since birth, he pulls off a remarkable fresh eye over the city. London is painted on a new canvas, true to its time. Do not miss this one.
(Debut) Ewart Hutton – Good People: All people are good people in closed rural communities. Until someone scratches the surface.