I have asked some of my favourite authors to tell me what they’ve been reading this year and which books they think we should read – my thanks to everyone involved. Here are the first 10 authors recommendations:
Imran Mahmood: Imran Mahmood is a criminal defence barrister with over 20 years’ experience in the Crown Court and Court of Appeal. He specializes in Legal Aid cases involving violent crimes as well as fraud and sexual offences. He was born in Liverpool and now lives in London with his wife and daughter. You Don’t Know Me has been chosen as a BBC Radio 2 Book Club Choice for 2017
Long Drop by Denise Mina. I loved the ease with which she captures the different kinds of tension at play here. The late 50s post war depression. The anger of a particular criminal class trapped in its own loop. The horror of these brutal murders and finally the glorious way in which the psychopathic and narcissistic Manuel is revealed to all but himself. Skilfully done literary crime fiction.
A Necessary Evil. Abir Mukherjee. Nobody catches the spirit of colonial era India better than him. It’s written so deftly that it defies belief that it wasn’t penned a century ago. An epic journey with fascinating and beautifully drawn characters
Anything You Do Say. Gillian McAllister. She writes so well that you forget the word is on the page. She gives life to believable “there but for the grace of God” dilemmas with such skill. Great fiction and really 2 books in one. A new take on sliding doors.
Gill Paul: Gill Paul is an author of historical fiction, specialising in relatively recent history. Her new novel, Another Woman’s Husband, is about links you might not have been aware of between Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, and Diana, Princess of Wales.
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff, which tells the inside story of a marriage; it does something very clever halfway through, but I won’t tell you what.
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain, one of my new top favourite authors; this one is about Beryl Markham, an amazingly gritty character and early aviator in 1930s Africa.
The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor, because it’s beautifully written and everyone should believe in fairies.
Lucy Cameron – Born in London and having lived in South Wales, Liverpool, York and Nottingham, Lucy currently lives in a shed in her Dad’s garden in Scotland where she wears thermals for warmth and writes by candlelight. Lucy studied Fine Art at university which allowed her to get a glittering career in… food retail. Working sixty hours a week in retail management hampered Lucy’s writing until a career-break took her to Scotland and the rest, as they say in history… Or should that be (crime) fiction?
Trust No One – Paul Cleave
Trust No One follows Jerry Grey, a crime writer diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, who no longer knows if the crimes he wrote about are crimes he actually committed or ones he simply made up. One strand of the book starts in the present day, the other is made up of Jerry’s entries in his Madness Journal, a diary he keeps from the day of his diagnosis months earlier as a helpful guide to who he is for his future self. The two plot strands head towards each other with an edge of the seat conclusion.
I loved the concept of this book from the moment I heard about it and it did not disappoint. We are faced with the most unreliable of narrators, and the book is littered with instances where, as we cut back and forth in time, we see and understand things Jerry does not. This is a book that will keep you guessing, keep you reading and most certainly keep you shouting at the pages as the story unfolds at pace. I haven’t come across a story that plays with memory loss as well since the film, Memento and the last chapter of this book is one guaranteed to stay with you long after you close it.
Still Bleeding – Steve Mosby
Still Bleeding is the story of policeman, Paul Kearney, tracking a serial killer who has been abducting women and draining their blood. It is also the story of Alex, returning from abroad where he fled after the death of his wife, due to his friend Sarah being taken. The two men set off on paths that may or may not eventually cross, but that both lead into the murky world of murder memorabilia, and believe it or not, things even darker than that.
This book terrified me on several levels. It physically made me jump whilst reading a particularly scary chapter, when the shadow of a plant on my living room window moved. Secondly, there are elements of the book that could easily exist hidden within society where people have enough money and power.
The plot of this book is complex and utterly brilliant. Its mix of crime and horror and shifting points of view left me incredibly disturbed. The links between the storylines, the way inconsequential actions become important, the way seeds planted at the start of the book come into fruition and bring us full circle is genius. Intelligent and terrifying. A must read.
Behind her Eyes – Sarah Pinborough
Behind her Eyes tells the story of a love triangle between Louise, her boss David, who she inadvertently kisses in a bar, and David’s wife, Adele, who becomes Louise’s best friend. As she gets to know David and Adele, Louise discovers neither of them may be what they appear and a dark secret sits at the core of their marriage.
I read this book because I had been told there was a killer twist in the final chapter and core blimey, isn’t there half. I didn’t see it coming and I have still to meet anyone that has, and knowing it was coming I was trying really hard to see it. The story is told from the points of view of Louise and Adele chapter by chapter which I really enjoyed as you get to know things ahead of those telling the story. The utterly disturbing in this book creeps up on you when you least expect it and will leave you speechless. As will the end. Guess it if you can.
Mary Kubica: Mary Kubica is the New York Times bestselling author of THE GOOD GIRL and PRETTY BABY. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in History and American Literature. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children and enjoys photography, gardening and caring for the animals at a local shelter.
THE BREAKDOWN by B.A. Paris
For anyone looking for a good scare, B.A. Paris’s THE BREAKDOWN will satisfy the craving. This chilling, paranoia-inducing novel opens with a murder and gets even more terrifying from there. Be prepared to devour it all in one jaw dropping read.
EMMA IN THE NIGHT by Wendy Walker
Wendy Walker is the queen of unique and fascinating plotlines that dive deep into the minds of her characters. In EMMA IN THE NIGHT, she takes readers down a twisted path of lies, backstabbing and debauchery with an inside look at the effects of a narcissistic personality disorder on a family. Deliciously good!
THE LOST LETTER by Jillian Cantor
From the moment I read MARGOT, I was a Cantor fan for life. Her latest, THE LOST LETTER, blends World War II historical fiction with a more modern day tale of family, love and hope. Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, THE LOST LETTER is completely transporting, and a must-read for fans of historical fiction.
Cath Staincliffe: Cath Staincliffe is a best-selling, award-winning novelist, radio playwright and the creator of ITV’s hit series, Blue Murder, starring Caroline Quentin as DCI Janine Lewis. Cath’s books have been short-listed for the British Crime Writers Association best first novel award, for the Dagger in the Library and selected as Le Masque de l’Année.
The Dry by Jane Harper has rightly been lauded and applauded. A small town in Australia simmers in merciless heat while suffocating secrets old and new are uncovered.
Little Deaths by Emma Flint is a mesmerising account of a mother’s treatment by police, press and the public when her children are murdered in 1960s New York.
Reminiscent of last year’s wonderful Days Without End by Sebastian Barry is The Brittle Star by Davina Langdale, a sweeping immersive western, which is also a coming of age story and a poignant romance.
Clare Mackintosh: Clare Mackintosh spent twelve years in the police force, including time on CID, and as a public order commander. She left the police in 2011 to work as a freelance journalist and social media consultant and is the founder of the Chipping Norton Literary Festival. She now writes full time and lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children.
The Marsh King’s Daughter, Karen Dionne Helena was born into captivity; the unwitting prisoner of her father, who abducted her mother at the age of fifteen. For twelve years the family lived in the wilderness, until Helena was rescued, and her father imprisoned. Now he has escaped, and Helena – whose husband and children know nothing of her past – is the only one who can find him, using the hunting skills she learned from him as a child. The Marsh King’s Daughter is a gripping, unsettling thriller in a truly original setting.
The Night Visitor, Lucy Atkins Professor Olivia Sweetman is a celebrity historian and television presenter, with three beautiful children and a gifted husband. Her new book – based on the salacious confessions contained in previously unpublished Victorian diaries – is set to be a runaway bestseller. But Olivia has a secret – and it’s going to destroy everything. The Night Visitor introduces living, breathing characters I felt bereft to leave. And the ending is sublime…
Shelter, Sarah Franklin Connie Granger leaves the bombed out city of her birth to join the Women’s Timber Corps. There she meets Seppe, an Italian POW, who is scarred by his past and seeking solace in the forest. As their lives entwine, their pasts catch up with them, making their future uncertain. Meticulously researched and beautifully written, this is a life-affirming and compelling debut.
Anne Coates: I love reading and the type of fiction I write is what I like to read. So my very short stories are often tales with a twist and the longer ones explore relationships – often within a family. Most of these stories were published first in Bella, Candis and other magazines and now appear in two collections published by Endeavour Press.
My debut thriller, “Dancers in the Wind”, was published by Urbane Publications in October 2016. This book is a result of an interview I did for a national newspaper and afterwards I thought “What if…” and so Hannah Weybridge came into existence and she continues her life in “Death’s Silent Judgement” published in May 2017 again by Urbane Publications. I am currently working on the third book in the series.
Sealskin by Su Bristow (Orenda Books) This novel encapsulates, for me, everything that is wonderful in a novel. Brilliant narrative style, which is perfectly constructed. An array of credible characters that come alive for the reader. Relationships are explored with perceptiveness and I loved the evocation of the small fishing community.
Quieter Than Killing by Sarah Hilary (Headline) To say that I love the Marnie Rome series is an understatement and Ms Hilary’s writing goes from strength to strength. If you enjoy reading a police procedural that is perfectly plotted and wonderfully written, Quieter Than Killing is one for you. The private lives of Marnie and her sidekick the wonderful Noah are drip-fed into the narrative keeping readers on their toes as they progress through the series. As always with this series there’s a brilliant edge of the seat dénouement.
Malice by Hugh Fraser (Urbane Publications) A fast paced thriller which keeps your attention from beginning to end. The protagonist Rina is a many-faceted character who has you on her side although hers is the wrong side of the law. I loved the London 60s setting (and the brief forays into Spain and Birmingham), turf wars and, perhaps unsurprisingly given the author’s other profession, making a film. Writing in the first person can trip up some authors but Mr Fraser makes it look effortless with his excellent plotting, elegantly written prose and a cast of vividly depicted characters.
Peter James: Peter James is an international bestselling thriller writer. He is a New York Times bestseller, as well as having 11 consecutive Sunday Times No 1s, and he is published in 37 languages. His DS Roy Grace crime novels have sold 18 million copies worldwide
‘The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair’ by Joel Dicker – Some books have a real feel about them and I know immediately I am going to enjoy them, and this happened for me with this book. Beautifully written with great characters and endless surprises.
‘Missing Presumed’ by Susie Steiner. It is always exciting to discover a new author. Missing Presumed instantly drew me in and kept me engaged all the way through to the very satisfying ending. I very much like the way Susie Steiner writes and I think she has an exciting future and I look forward to reading more of her work.
‘Behind Her Eyes’ by Sarah Pinborough – I am part-way through this book and enjoying it a lot. I love books where stories are told from different perspectives through the eyes of different characters and she does this really well. I can’t wait to see how it ends!
Joel Hames: Joel Hames lives in rural Lancashire, England, with his wife and two daughters, where he works hard at looking serious and pretending to be a proper novelist.
After a varied career in London which involved City law firms, a picture frame warehouse, an investment bank and a number of market stalls (he has been known to cry out “Belgian chocolates going cheap over ‘ere” in his sleep), Joel relocated from the Big Smoke to be his own boss. As a result, he now writes what he wants, when he wants to (which by coincidence is when the rest of the family choose to let him).
Joel’s first novel, Bankers Town, was published in 2014, and The Art of Staying Dead followed in 2015. The novellas Brexecution (written and published in the space of ten days following the UK’s Brexit referendum, with half of the profits going to charity) and Victims were published in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
Maria In The Moon by Louise Beech
It’s a huge book at the same time as being a normal-length one, a book that gives you memory and death and love and topical zeitgeisty things, that gives you the weight of the world and the problems of one woman in one flat upstairs from the takeaway. It’s beautifully written, as we’ve come to expect from Louise Beech, clear and deceptively simple. Its characters are as real as the people we see every day, from the wonderful Catherine-Maria to the voices at the end of the phones she answers for a flood crisis line. Its depiction of Hull is affectionate and true without being sentimental. Its management of the past and the present, of the way memory can both inspire and torment, is its central feature and its greatest triumph. It’s a magnificent, brilliant book, and I defy anyone to read it without being moved.
Mother by Susie Lynes.
I haven’t come across writing that manages to combine the visceral and sophisticated so effortlessly since William Golding, and to come across it in a crime novel is a rare treat. Every sentence is a gem, every detail has weight, not a word is wasted. The sense of time and place is perfectly evoked, the characters are fully realised and utterly believable, and the plot is woven with a finesse that almost defies description. To read this book is to blindfold yourself, stretch out your hand and place yourself in the hands of a master, to trust that whatever mistakes you make, whatever certainties you have that are crushed under the weight of her tale, you will get there in the end. And this is a journey worth taking. Terrifyingly good.
This Time It’s Personnel (Oddjobs 2) by Iain Grant and Heide Goody.
On a lighter note, Grant and Goody can make even the apocalypse amusing, and in the second book in their Oddjobs series, This Time It’s Personnel, they do just that. It’s relentless, hilarious (I gave up on the laugh-out-loud count after the first dozen pages) and so ingeniously put together, so cunningly woven, one suspects the hand of something demonic in its design. The team we met in the first Oddjobs book are all back, and all at their best, with Nina particularly sparkling in her milennial couldn’t-give-a-damn attitude. Morgantus still lurks, all-powerful, in the background. A number of minor characters make welcome returns, and the new villains and their associates fit seamlessly into the Oddjobs world. A particular shout out for Steve the Destroyer, the writers’ best creation since Jeremy Clovenhoof hit Sutton Coldfield.
Sarah Hilary: Sarah Hilary has worked as a bookseller, and with the Royal Navy. Her debut, SOMEONE ELSE’S SKIN, won Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year 2015 and was a World Book Night selection for 2016. The Observer’s Book of the Month (“superbly disturbing”) and a Richard & Judy Book Club bestseller, it has been published worldwide. NO OTHER DARKNESS, the second in the series was shortlisted for a Barry Award in the US. Her DI Marnie Rome series continues with TASTES LIKE FEAR (2016) QUIETER THAN KILLING (2017), with COME AND FIND ME out in April 2018.
My Discovery of 2017 was Wilde Lake by Laura Lippmann which has all my favourite ingredients in a book: family secrets, a sassy cast, a terrific setting and a twisted/twisty plot.
My Best in Series was Let the Dead Speak by Jane Casey which works wonderfully as a standalone (don’t feel you have to read the others first, you absolutely don’t) and cements my love for her heroine, Maeve Kerrigan who bestrides the page like a flame-haired goddess.
My Favourite Newcomer was The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins which reads like a dark Gothic dream and has one of the best anti-heroines in ages. Genuinely disturbing.
Due to the overwhelming response, I will be posting several of these over the next few weeks – if you would like to take part as an author – please send me a message via the Contact Me page.