What makes a good police detective? Well in real life I would assume it’s diligence, professionalism, a stable and reliable strong team player with a sharp mind and integrity, however as we are talking about fictional characters it appears that my list is made up of deeply troubled, morally corrupt and sharp tongued individuals, as let’s face it, who wants to read about a perfect person solving a crime and going home to his or her loving partner, kids and playing golf at the weekend? Not me that’s for sure. So I have trawled through my back catalogue of favourite crime books and selected my TOP TEN Crime Busters. Do you agree and who do you think I may have missed?
Ex-FBI star profiler Jefferson Winter is no ordinary investigator. An eccentric genius and self-described geek with a passion for Mozart, he is haunted by the legacy of his notorious serial killer father…and not likely to admit this may be why he has such a phenomenal insight into the psychology that drives the criminals he hunts.
The former G-man is now a sought after freelance consultant, jetting around the globe helping local law enforcement agencies with their toughest cases.
Why Jefferson? Well, if you look up the word “COOL DUDE” in the dictionary I am pretty sure there is a photo of Jefferson there! Despite a rather unorthodox childhood, he has managed to get himself to the top of his professional worldwide and is the go-to-man solving heinous crimes internationally. He is both vulnerable and hard as nails and because he deals with serious sicko’s it makes me love him even more.
Books in Order: Broken Dolls, Watch Me, Prey & The Quiet Man
Detective Inspector Helen Grace is the heroine of Arlidge’s series of serial killer thrillers set in and around the English coastal city of Southampton. A tough, determined police officer who rides a motorbike and prefers to travel through life alone, she nevertheless is beset by personal demons. The legacy of a troubled childhood makes itself felt through her mood swings and tendency towards depression. She neither drinks nor takes drugs, so expiates her dark moods through the controlled use of pain, administered to her by her loyal dominator, Jake. She lives alone, takes occasional lovers and is deeply committed to her work. The criminals she pursues are sadistic, violent and determined, meaning Helen has to put her life on the line to bring them in. She is assisted by a number of colleagues at Southampton Central, most notably her loyal friend, DC Charlene “Charlie” Brooks.
Why Helen? This tough cookie has had a hell of a childhood and has more skeleton’s in her cupboard than any other fictional character I’ve read about, yet her vulnerability and compassion shines through despite her tough outer shell and hard exterior. It doesn’t hurt that the 7 books in her series are seriously grim and gripping either. Helen Grace “kicks ass” on a regular basis and whilst it would be lovely to see her settle down and get some normalcy in her private life I think she’d lose that killer edge that keeps her on top of the game and she always catches the bad people.
Books in Order: Eeny Meeny, Pop Goes the Weasel, The Doll’s House, Liar Liar. Little Boy Blue, Hide and Seek and Love Me Not.
Robert Hunter is a detective for the Special Section of the Robbery Homicide Division of the Los Angeles Police Department. The Special Section was created to deal solely with high-profile, serial killer, and homicide cases that require extensive investigative time and expertise. Hunter and his partner, Carlos Garcia, are actually part of an even more exclusive unit inside the Special Section – the UVC unit (Ultra Violent Crimes). These are crimes where the perpetrator has used excessive brutality and/or sadism against his or her victims.
Why Robert? Apart from the fact he’s fit, sexy and super smart? Well he is also super cool in a crisis, has the obligatory screwed up past, suffers from insomnia and looks after his partner Garcia like he is family. Loyal, dependable and modest too.
Books in Order: The Crucifix Killer, The Executioner, The Night Stalker, The Death Sculptor, One by One, An Evil Mind, I am Death, The Caller
Marnie Rome is a Detective Inspector with the Metropolitan Police in London. Together with her Detective Sergeant Noah Jake, Marnie tackles cases ranging from missing persons to domestic abuse and murder. Marnie’s special empathy with victims of serious crime and her quiet determination to get at the truth make her an invaluable member of the Major Incident Team. Six years ago, her young foster brother Stephen murdered her parents in their family home. Marnie is still in touch with Stephen, still hoping for answers about his terrible crime, but she refuses to let this darkness in her past get in the way of her work.
Why Marnie? She’s a deep character with obvious flaws and issues but never allows those feelings to cloud her judgement when she is on a case. Dealing with possibly the most dysfunctional family EVER, she still manages to keep her cool. She’s a very private person who is 100% focused on work but you can’t help but feel sympathy for her even though she never asks for it. A thorough and competent DI with a loyal DS Noah Jake by her side, Marnie is obviously scarred emotionally and physically from her past but it makes her all the more believable to the reader.
Books in Order: Someone Else’s Skin; Quieter Than Killing; No Other Darkness; Tastes Like Fear
Detective Inspector Damen Brook was a former high-flying detective from London’s Metropolitan Police who fled to the relative peace of Derbyshire’s Peak District in an attempt to put his past behind him. After divorce and a mental breakdown triggered by failure to catch the notorious serial killer, the Reaper, Brook transferred to Derby CID, generating much resentment amongst local officers.
Brook drinks tea by the gallon, doesn’t smoke, swear or socialise and lives alone in the Peaks where he walks around the hills to unwind – when not mired in fiendishly difficult murder investigations, that is. Haunted by his past failures, the horrors he’s witnessed and the acts he’s committed, he is unable to walk away from the job because retirement would mean more time to dwell on them. His one ray of light is his relationship with his estranged daughter, though her difficult past often makes their time together fraught.
After 6 books, Brook has managed to find a way to live with himself. He’s even become grudgingly respected by superiors who endure his disdain in order to benefit from his Sherlock-style detecting skills. His ally in the fight against evil is DS John Noble, who gradually comes to realise that Brook has a brilliant but tortured mind who will not rest until the killers he hunts are brought to justice.
My thanks to Sir Steven Dunne for personally providing Damen’s bio for my website.
Why Damen? Perhaps it’s because he is so flawed and such a complex character with deep emotional baggage that makes me love him so much. His family values and deep love for his daughter are heartbreaking and the special bond between him and his DS John Noble who sees beyond the gruff and grumpy exterior are wonderful to read.
Books in Order: The Reaper, Deity, The Disciple, The Unquiet Grave, A Killing Moon, Death Do Us Part
Erika Foster, born Erika Boldišova in 1973 in Czechoslovakia during Communism. As a young girl Erika dreamed of a life in England, and just two years after the fall of Communism, aged 18 Erika moved to London. She arrived speaking no English, and she worked as an au pair for a family in Manchester. Shortly afterwards she met her future husband, Mark Foster and they were married within a year. Both she and Mark applied for trained a police officers, and together they joined Greater Manchester Police.
Erika’s rise through the ranks was rapid, and she became one of the youngest women in the UK police force to attain the rank of DCI whilst working for the Murder Investigation Team. A two-year undercover surveillance, attempting to break a massive drug network in the north of England was to be her toughest case. It culminated in an armed raid at a house in the suburbs of Greater Manchester. Five of Erika’s colleagues died, one of whom was Mark, and Erika was badly injured.
The guilt of losing her husband, and her colleagues andKim S friends haunts her to this day. She was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing, but was unable to remain in her post in the Greater Manchester. Erika left to start a new post working in London’s Metropolitan Police. Her first case is the investigation into the death of Andrea Douglas-Brown, The Girl in the Ice. And Erika not only has to catch a brutal serial killer, but come to terms with her grief, and start a new life in London.
My thanks to Robert Bryndza for personally providing Erika’s bio for my website.
Why Erika? Erika is a gutsy, outspoken strong female character who is brave, courageous and has a total disregard for following police procedures and follows her own instincts in solving crimes. With a tragic past which is revealed slowing throughout the series, we find out what makes her tick and why she is one of my favourite crime busters!
Books in Order: The Girl in the Ice, Night Stalker, Dark Water, Last Breath
Brought over to New York from Ireland when he was a young boy, Callum Doyle is now a detective with the Eighth Precinct, which is responsible for investigating crimes in the East Village and the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He lives on West 87th Street with his wife Rachel and his daughter Amy. He’s a pretty ordinary guy, with a great sense of humour, but the things that happen to him are anything but ordinary.
My thanks to David Jackson for personally providing Cal’s bio for my website.
Why Callum? I need to admit something to you first. I read the Callum Doyle series out-of-order! I know, I am still trying to get my head around that mistake – I read Cry Baby thinking it was a standalone book (which to be honest I think it works exceptionally well as) and when I went to leave my review I saw it was actually BOOK 4 in a series. So off I went to Amazon and downloaded the first 3 books and made myself get reacquainted with Cal. What a man – he is a selfless hero in book 1 when he has to alienate himself and cut himself off from everyone to save their lives. Despite the awful situations he finds himself in and the gory and gruesome killers he has to bring to justice, he remains down-to-earth, determined and has a wicked sense of humour. A special shout out to my fellow Doyle-ettes Sarah Hardy and Joanne Robertson for reminding me why Callum is so wonderful.
Books in Order: Pariah, The Helper, Marked, Cry Baby
Kim Stone starts the series of books at 34 years of age. She rides a powerful motorbike (Kawasaki Ninja) and restores classic motorcycles in her spare time. Physically, she is 5’ 9” with short black spiky hair, a square chin and dark features.
She was born alongside a twin brother who was smaller and weaker than herself. She protected him from their Schizophrenic mother who was convinced that he was the devil. When she was six years old her mother chained the two of them to a radiator and abandoned them hoping they would die.
Despite her best efforts to preserve his life with a few crackers and a half bottle of Coca Cola her weakened brother died in her arms.
There followed a life of foster homes and care facilities – most of which helped her to build a wall of self-preservation around her emotions. She is vulnerable only to the past and constantly fights the memories that threaten to overwhelm her.
She lacks the social skills that come so easily to most people. She is often sarcastic and abrasive but she is passionate, tenacious, driven and always on the side of the underdog or victim, and especially people she perceives as being vulnerable.
She does not mix easily but has a close relationship with her happily married colleague, Bryant, who is the closest thing to a friend she has. Their friendship and banter provides a little light relief and comedic moments amongst the darkness of the subject matter.
She is fiercely protective of her small team who hold her in the highest esteem and respect her unerring determination to bring perpetrators of crime to justice. She has high expectations of her team but will always support and defend them.
Although she feels sexual attraction at times throughout the books she is not in a place where she is capable of maintaining a relationship.
My thanks to Angie Marsons for personally providing me with this bio of Kim Stone for my website.
Why Kim? It’s easy to compare Kim Stone to Helen Grace – both are determined, strong, independent women with horrific upbringings, but both in my opinion deserve to be in my TOP TEN. I personally love the humour and banter between Kim and Bryant which helps to deflect from the gruesome and grotesque murders they investigate. Kim is a determined, professional crime buster who always gets the bad guy in the end and I love her.
Books in Order: Silent Scream, Evil Games, Lost Girls, Play Dead, Blood Lines, Dead Souls
Harry Evans is the Detective Inspector who leads the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team despite his boss’s best efforts to remove him from the post. He’s widowed, childless and has nothing to live for beyond the delivering of justice and the solving of crimes. Despite the best efforts of DI John Campbell, Evans refuses to be supplanted as he brings his own brand of chaos to already twisted situations.
My thanks to Graham for personally writing the bio of Harry Evans for my website.
Why Harry? Well apart from being a rule breaker, politically incorrect, abrupt, rude and very outspoken, he is a character you can’t help but love and want to mother. With a heart of gold and always looking out for his team, he is a wonderful character that you are immediately drawn to.
Books in Order: Snatched from Home, The Major Crimes Team, Matching the Evidence, I Know Your Secret.
Lori Anderson is a fearless Florida bounty hunter and a single mother to a 9 year old daughter, Dakota, who suffers from leukaemia. An ex-stripper and wife of a vicious bully, she has managed to escape her violent past and carve out a career as one of the top bounty hunters in Florida.
Why Lori? Aside from the fact she is a kick-ass, feisty heroine who is utterly devoted to her daughter, she is intelligent, sharp, intuitive and whip-smart. She can kick butt, fire a gun, use a taser and take down the bad guys all by herself. Y’all need to download this book now and see why Lori is in my Top Ten.