This week has been quite a biggie for some of us book bloggers who are also members of the Facebook book group, THE Book Club (aka #TBConFB). #TBConFB admin invited book bloggers to present their all time favourite 20 books over the course of 4 days. I’m rubbish at maths but as a result (scratching my head, using my fingers to count…) 20 bloggers, times 20 books equals 400 book recommendations! That’s quite a feat, even if I do say so myself. I (thankfully) ended up in the crime category but, as I was a last minute stand-in, I felt I could veer away from my genre a little to include psychological thrillers. If there was a crime committed, then in my opinion, it counted!
So, here we go! These are my all time favourite ‘crime’ books to date. They are in no particular order and I have decided that, as we’re all intelligent people and are able to use amazon, that I won’t include the purchase links this time around. If however you would like to look at one of my books in more detail but can’t find it, then please let me know.
Messiah by Boris Starling
Wealthy men are being brutally murdered and left with a silver spoon in place of their tongue. Tortured DCI, Red Metcalfe in on the case. Will Red be able to fight his own demons whilst facing the most evil killer he has ever encountered.
I love a serial killer thriller and this is a spectacular one! The bodies are posed in a macabre and gory fashion. There’s so much blood, it’s a brilliant page-turner from start to finish. If it sounds familiar, that’s because it was made into a serial television drama series a number of years ago. My very favourite book.
Love You to Death (DS Ruby Preston #1) by Caroline Mitchell
Police Procedural, Crime thriller
Woman are being taken from their homes, only to turn up a few days later very dead and posed in strange positions. The lead detective DS Ruby Preston starts to receive emails from the killer who calls herself Lucy. Why is Lucy contacting Ruby, and why is she claiming to be her long lost daughter?
There are quite a few of us readers who are already very smitten with Caroline Mitchell’s latest creation, myself included! There’s something about Caroline’s writing, about the characters and their relationships in this book that is highly addictive. More DS Preston please!
One by One (Robert Hunter #5) by Chris Carter
Detective Robert Hunter of the LAPD Homicide division is invited to watch a special show online. One where he needs to make the decisions. Whatever decision he makes, someone is going to be brutally tortured and killed. Before long, the viewing public get to have their say as well.
This is another book that fulfils my need to read about dark twisted serial killers. This is the first of the Robert Hunter series that I read, but I have since gone back to the start and read them all (and those that came after book 5). Chris Carter’s books are sublime. I always smile when someone asks for crime or thriller recommendations on TBC. Chris Carter is ALWAYS mentioned. Normally more than once.
White Bones (Katie Maguire 1#) by Graham Masterton
Mystery, Police Procedural
In an Irish field, in deepest darkest November 11 bodies are discovered. All female, all remains bearing the marks of an expert butcher. Before long it’s discovered the remains date from the early 1900s. But then a young woman goes missing and her remains are found stripped of flesh and arranged on the same burial site. DS Katie Maguire is on the case trying to solve a decades old murder investigation, in order to stop a killer from striking again.
This book is seriously gory (which I love!). Graham Masterton is primarily a horror writer who has expertly turned his hand to crime fiction. I adore his lead protagonist in this series. Katie Maguire is the kind of detective I would want to be.
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
A group of 10 strangers are lured to an island off the Devon coast by Mr. U. N. Owen. Over dinner a recording of their host’s voice is played, each dinner guest is accused of hiding a guilty secret. That evening one of the guests is found murdered. Suspicion runs high as realisation hits home, the killer is amongst them and they’re ready to kill again. There is no escape…
You can’t have a list of 20 favourite crime titles without including the Queen of Crime, surely! This is by far my favourite of her novels. You can feel the fear and the isolation as the island guests are killed off, one by one. Who will be next? And who is the killer? Brilliantly tense, just love it!
Alex by Pierre Lematire (Brigade Criminelle Series #2)
Crime Mystery Thriller
Commandant Camille Verhoeven and his detectives have nothing to go on: no suspect, no lead, rapidly diminishing hope. All they know is that a girl was snatched off the streets of Paris and bundled into a white van. The enigma that is the fate of Alex will keep Verhoeven guessing until the bitter, bitter end. And before long, saving her life will be the least of his worries.
Full of twists and turns, and incredibly clever. This is another of my choices that’s a little on the violent side but it’s oh so good! I walked past a bookshop and they had a quote from this book on the blackboard outside. There was no way I was going to walk past that shop without finding out what the book was. Hooked before I even knew what the title was!
A Suitable Lie by Michael J. Malone
Crime, psychological thriller, domestic noir
Andy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she’s his perfect match… And she loves his son, too. When Andy ends up in the hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems. He ignores it; a dangerous mistake that could cost him everything.
This is my book of 2016! If you buy one book after reading all 400 reviews then please, please, please make it this one. You will experience every emotion under the sun whilst reading about Andy and Anna. How Michael Malone has managed such a feat I don’t know but it’s a sublime read and one that you cannot miss out on!
The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada
Japan, 1936. An old eccentric artist living with seven women has been found dead- in a room locked from the inside. His diaries reveal alchemy, astrology and a complicated plan to kill all seven women. Shortly afterwards, the plan is carried out: the women are found dismembered and buried across rural Japan. By 1979, these Tokyo Zodiac Murders have been obsessing a nation for decades, but remain unsolved. A mystery-obsessed illustrator and a talented astrologer set off around the country carrying the enigma of the Zodiac murderer through madness, missed leads and magic tricks. You have all the clues, but can you solve the mystery before they do?
If you love a good crime mystery, then read this book. A locked room with a dead body; how did the killer get in, commit the crime and get away without being seen or leaving footprints in the snow? You have all the clues, can you solve it before the reveal? I have a real soft spot for Japanese crime fiction and this is a good example of why I love it so much.
The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza (Detective Erika Foster #1)
Crime, Police Procedural
The body of a young woman is found trapped beneath a thick sheet of ice in a London park. Detective Erika Foster is tasked with finding the killer. Could the death of this young socialite be linked to the deaths of three prostitutes?
This for me is the perfect crime thriller. I adore Erika Foster (total girl crush) and Robert’s writing is exemplary. I was hooked from the opening chapter to the very end. An outstanding start to a brilliant new series; not to be missed!
The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
A chance encounter at the airport leads two strangers to plotting another’s death. But they’re not serious, are they? Maybe they are…and maybe they’re not the only ones!
This one may not fit as snuggly into the crime genre as my other choices but hey, I had to include it! I love the twists and turns of this book. There’s an almighty twist somewhere within (won’t say where) that left me breathless. A sublime piece of suspenseful writing.
Flowers for the Dead by Barbara Copperthwaite
Adam will do anything to make you happy, even if it kills you. Adam is a serial killer who wants to be your knight in shining armour. But things don’t always go so well and he ends up killing his new beau and cutting off her lips.
This book should be renamed ‘How to fall in love with a serial killer’. The amount of empathy you end up feeling for Adam is quite astounding. You know you shouldn’t but you do. An absolutely brilliant read and the book I would want to write (if I were talented enough to write a book) #TeamAdam
A Tapping at my Door by David Jackson (DS Nathan Cody #1)
Police Procedural, Crime thriller
A woman at home on her own late one evening is disturbed by a persistent tapping at the back door. She tries to ignore it but can’t. Discovering the culprit is a raven only adds to her unease. She opens the back door to shoo the bird away, only for her killer to strike. There are no helpful clues, only the body of the bird and the victim’s eyes.
Quite possibly the creepiest opening to a crime novel that I have ever read. It feels like a horror film, you don’t want to look, but you do anyway. DS Cody is a fantastic character and the unusual twist to the plot had me hooked.
Melody Bittersweet and the Girls ‘ Ghostbusting Agency by Kitty French
Cosy Crime Mystery
When Melody “I-See-Dead-People” Bittersweet wakes up jobless and alone on her twenty-seventh birthday, she realises she can’t leave her life in the hands of her magic eight ball any longer. She starts her very own ghostbusting agency with best friend Marina, geeky, keen Arthur, and, of course, a one-eared pug called Lestat. But the team’s very first job at the vast, gothic Scarborough House puts them in direct competition with Melody’s ex, the rakish, despicable Leo Dark. The house is haunted by three eccentric brothers. Whoever solves the crime and gets rid of the ghosts gets paid.
OK, so if you’ve read my other recommendations then you’ll realise that this is a little different to the rest. It’s almost chick-lit cosy crime but it’s so good and was the perfect read for me at the right time. I was laughing aloud at Melody’s crazy antics with her hapless but lovable friends. Brilliant comedy writing. Oh, and the blurb mentions the word ‘murder’ so I’m allowed to include it (and love it!)
Dust and Desire by Conrad Williams (Joel Sorrell #1)
Whilst working a missing persons case, an attempt is made on PI Joel Sorrell’s life. There’s a sadistic serial killer on the loose and it’s down to Joel to find them. Could there be a connection to Joel’s own hellish past?
I loved that the protagonist of this book was a PI rather than the usual detectives I read about. And it’s funny, in a dark humour kind of way! Different to my usual reads but I was an instant fan of Joel Sorrell. Books 2 and 3 in the series have been published and I can’t WAIT to read them!
Pop Goes the Weasel by M. J. Arlidge (DI Helen Grace #2)
A man’s body is found in an empty house. His heart has been cut out and delivered to his wife and children. The media call it Jack the Ripper in reverse: a serial killer preying on family men who lead hidden double lives. Helen can sense the fury behind the murders. But what she cannot possibly predict is how volatile this killer is – or what is waiting for her at the end of the chase…
I just LOVE Helen Grace. I’m such a fan of the damaged, emotionally scarred detective and Helen Grace is queen of them all. This is my favourite read in the series so far, but they are all as equally good as each other.
The Killing Game by J.S. Carol
Imagine you are having lunch at an exclusive restaurant, filled with Hollywood’s hottest stars. And a masked gunman walks in and takes everyone hostage. You must bargain for your life against a twisted individual who knows everything about you. He also has a bomb set to detonate if his heart rate changes. If he dies. You die. You have four hours to stay alive. What would you do?
This is such an exciting read, real edge of your seat stuff. I was so completely immersed in the story that normal life was put on hold around me. Once again, it’s a little on the violent side but that’s probably why I love it as much as I do. I’m a huge fan of J.S. Carol’s books but this is my absolute favourite.
Stalkers by Paul Finch (DS Mark Heckenburg #1)
Crime thriller, police procedural
Desperate to find her missing sister, Lauren Wraxford seeks out Heck’s help. Together they enter a seedy underworld of gangsters and organised crime. But when they hear rumours about the so-called ‘Nice Guys Club’ they it a brick wall. They’re the gang that no one will talk about. Because the Nice Guys can arrange anything you want. Provided you pay the price…
An absolutely brilliant, if somewhat disturbing, original plot. Brilliantly written characters, particularly lead protagonist Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg. I read this a few years ago and can remember the book like it was only yesterday!
The Optician’s Wife by Betsy Reavley
Crime, Psychological thriller
When Deborah, an unpopular seventeen-year-old, meets the charming and handsome Larry, he sweeps her off her feet. The trouble is Larry has a secret. Then a series of grisly murders cast a shadow over everything. As Deborah’s world starts to fall apart she begins to suspect the man she loves of a terrible betrayal. And to keep their marriage alive, sacrifices must be made.
I was completely blown away by Betsy Reavley’s writing in this book. Seriously scary stuff and a little on the gory side too (which isn’t a bad thing in my book!). A brilliant read with a killer twist. Can’t say too much about this one, otherwise I’ll end up dishing out spoilers and no one wants that!
The Sister by Louise Jensen
Crime, psychological thriller
Grace hasn’t been the same since the death of her best friend Charlie. She is haunted by Charlie’s last words, and in a bid for answers, opens an old memory box of Charlie’s. It soon becomes clear there was a lot she didn’t know about her best friend. When Grace starts a campaign to find Charlie’s father, Anna, a girl claiming to be Charlie’s sister steps forward. For Grace, finding Anna is like finding a new family, and soon Anna has made herself very comfortable in Grace and boyfriend Dan’s home. But something isn’t right. Things disappear, Dan’s acting strangely and Grace is sure that someone is following her. Is it all in Grace’s mind? Or as she gets closer to discovering the truth about both Charlie and Anna, is Grace in terrible danger?
A truly stunning debut! Edge of your seat stuff with a brilliant twist that I didn’t see coming. Louise Jensen’s writing sucked me into the story and as a result this one rides high on my ATF list.
Valentina by S.E. Lynes
Crime, psychological thriller
When Glasgow journalist Shona McGilvery moves with her partner Mikey and their baby to an idyllic cottage in rural Scotland, they believe that all that lies ahead of them is happiness. But with Mikey working offshore, the frightening isolation of the Aberdeenshire countryside begins to drive her insane…That is, until she is rescued by a new friendship with the enchanting Valentina. She has the perfect home, the perfect man, and a charismatic new best friend – or does she? As her fairytale life begins to unravel, the deep dark wood becomes the least of her fears…
An absolutely exquisite read which sent chills down my spine. This is another debut that completely blew me away! I can’t wait to see what else Susie Lynes has in store for us. Sublime!
So there we have it, my 20 all time favourite books. Some recent, some not so recent (can I just add that it’s very hard to remember why you loved a book which you read 8+ years ago and waaaaay before you started reviewing/blogging!).
What do you think? Do you agree? Do you disagree? Have any of the above books made you shudder by my mentioning them? I’d love to know!
If you’re a book addict and would like to join #TBConFB then find Charlie Fenton on Facebook (you’ll recognise him, he’s yellow!) and add him as a friend. He’ll then add you to the group.