Still not the review of the year, but as people are posting their best Crime Fiction of 2016, I thought I’d join in. It’s not something I normally do, but I’ve read a fair few new releases this year so I thought I’d chip in.
A couple of reasons, but most of them you can work out from the title of this blog. Nobody has read all of the crime fiction released this year, and certain publishers are better at pushing books into the hands of reviewers than others. And of course the more people who have read certain titles means more mentions in end of year Best Of lists. And of course most lists are dominated with Scandi-fiction, not something that appears very often here, so I figure my Best Of choices will have something a little different.
Not including the various re-releases by the good people of Dean Street Press or the British Library, I read forty seven new releases this year, but these are my picks – in no particular order.
When Adam’s girlfriend disappears without trace, he tracks her last known whereabouts to a cruise ship, a trip that she hadn’t told him about. Determined to find the truth, Adam joins the cruise – but nothing is what he expected it to be. A page-turning twisting thriller that keeps the reader engrossed, and it’s full of surprises.
The fifth Aector McAvoy novel, and the series goes from strength to strength. Despite starting with the “missing girl” set-up, this is a stunningly dark thriller with a glowing heart in the form of the lead character. Add in a beautifully constructed plot, something often missing in the genre, and this is a must-read book (and a must-read series).
Moving into the psychological thriller genre, this is Sarah’s third book featuring Marnie Rose, telling the tale of, yes, a murdered girl and a cabal of young women who are living under the “care” of a man known only as Harm. What are his intentions towards the girls and how are they linked to the dead body? An engrossing tale with more than one clever reversal, and central characters that feel worryingly real.
Released early this year – the paperback is out imminently – this is another “unreliable narrator” thriller a la Girl On The Train, with one difference. This is a much more satisfying read, from the convincing characters to the stunningly clever plot. How this was overlooked on hardback release, I’ve got no idea, but please don’t miss it when it comes out in paperback. You won’t regret it.
Fellow blogger Sarah Ward’s second book featuring a tale of a dead body being found freshly killed 14 years after his wife had been sent to jail for killing him. She had just been released – was she responsible for the death and who was it she went to prison for killing in the first place? A delightfully complex tale with a great left-turn in the middle with compelling characters – the sort of thing that I and my fellow bloggers wish we could write.
Simon Brett, L C Tyler, Martin Edwards, Michael Jecks et al combine to produce a delightful homage to the Golden Age of detective fiction, while still maintaining a modern spin on it. A man known as the Admiral is found dead in his boat (also called the Admiral) mere hours before he can reveal his plans to save his pub (also named the Admiral). Loads of fun.
I can understand why this was missing from the “Best Of” lists as this is a very recent release, but it’s well worth your time. Set in an English village in the immediate aftermath of the Great War, it seems that a phantom soldier is stalking the woods and people are being lured to their deaths, killed with a dead dove shoved into their mouths. I strongly recommend this one – full of tragedy and tightly plotted at the same time.
I can understand why this one was overlooked as well – the majority of crime fiction reviewers don’t have my tendency towards pre-Victorian mystery fiction. A real shame as this and the next two books really hit the spot. Charles II is now on the throne and plague ravages the country. By chance, one of the many, many bodies in the plague pits is spotted to have a different cause of death – they were stabbed. It’s up to John to find both a missing letter and a deadly murderer. This series gets better and better.
A new series for Michael with the roguish Jack Blackjack. After a day’s thieving, Jack is knocked unconscious and wakes up next to… yes, a dead body. The author takes a new approach, writing in the first person, as Jack struggles to work out who is on what side and what side he should be on. And the plot is delightfully twisty with a killer that completely caught me out. Looking forward to Book Two.
What, you thought I was going to pick Dark “dedicated to me” Serpent? Tempting, but this is the culmination of a long-running thread as Paul expertly weaves a clever murder plot against the Peasants’ Revolt in the streets of London. The Brother Athelstan series has been building to the Great Uprising for the last few books and the result is extremely satisfying. Well worth your time, as are any of the Athelstan books.
Well, there we go, there’s ten books to keep you going. My proper review of the year’s blogging will be along soon…