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Latest news and gossip from the world of crime fiction
Thursday, November 26 Issue 6
Christmas is coming, a time of reflection and nostalgia, even for crime fiction fans. So I’ve asked some of your favourite writers to tell us what they’ve most enjoyed reading this year — their choices might surprise you — and  gathered a selection of vintage Christmas cosy crime for those whose festive season is not complete without a fresh murder victim under the country-house tree. 

In this bulletin you can also find details of two exciting writer events early next year, my pick of the new titles coming out in December and the latest news and gossip from the crime-writing scene.

If you choose to click and buy, you’ll go through to Amazon — I hope you find that convenient. Do let me know, and share your views on Crime Club HERE.

Karen Robinson
Yrsa Sigurdardottir: best books of 2015
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (Picador)
This histocial novel tells the story of Agnes Magnusdottir as she awaits her beheading at a remote Icelandic farm in 1830. Haunting prose lays her soul bare, leaving one yearning for an alternative ending.

The Silent Room by Mari Hannah (Macmillan)
Compelling characters, a gripping plot, superb pacing and heart — something many books in the genre sorely lack — I was annoyed every time I was had to put it down.

The Forgotten Girls by Sara Blaedel (Grand Central Publishing)
Denmark’s top crime novelist begins with the discovery of a woman’s horrifically scarred corpse — whose death certificate was signed off 30 years ago. Sheds light on the pathetic past treatment of the mentally ill.

Deadly Harvest by Michael Stanley (Harper)
Co-authors Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip use the stifling climate of their Botswana crime series so well that you almost need a fan to read this book, even in Iceland. Perfect prose; clever plotting.

The Undesired by Yrsa Sigurdardottir (Hodder) is out now. Buy it / First chapter
Criminal Utterance

“If people don’t want to see bodies cut up on a table and smell it in their sleep, don’t read my books”

Patricia Cornwell issues a defiant trigger warning: the forensic delvings of medical examiner Kay Scarpetta are not for the faint‑hearted

Peter James: best books of 2015
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh (Sphere)
This was my find of the year. I read it in one mesmerized sitting and was totally bowled over by a twist I never saw coming.

Alex by Pierre Lemaitre (MacLehose Press)
A crime thriller with with a truly satisfying ending — one that makes you punch the air going ‘Yessss!’

Brighton Rock by Graham Greene (Vintage Classics)
This novel, set in my home town, was the one that made me want to be a crime writer. I’ve just re-read it yet again.

No Safe House by Linwood Barclay (Orion)
Linwood Barclay is one of the grand masters of the ‘twist’. This, his latest, is an emotionally-charged, clever roller-coaster of a ride.

The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris (Arrow)
As fresh today as when first published in 1988. It’s the crime thriller that changed the rules for the genre and, although the film was good, the book is way, way better.

The House on Cold Hill by Peter James (Macmillan) is available now in hardback. Buy it / First chapter. His latest Roy Grace novel, You Are Dead (Pan Macmillan), is out now in paperback. Buy it / First chapter
Friends of the Dusk by Phil Rickman


Intelligent rationalists will enjoy the way Rickman engages with the supernatural in the latest of his long-running Merrily Watkins series. Watkins, a Welsh vicar with special exorcism duties, shares the limelight with troubled detective Bliss as they investigate the disappearance of an excavated skull and the murder of an archaeologist.

Read the first chapter >

Buy >

Disclaimer by Renée Knight


TV producer Catherine finds a troubling episode from her past described in a novel — and her nightmare begins. Slick psychological thriller keeps the twists and turns going to the very end.

Read the first chapter >

Buy >

A Summer with Kim Novak by Hakan Nesser, translated by Saskia Vogel

World Editions

Heavyweight Scandi crime star sets up a haunting, uneasy backstory with hormone-driven teenage protagonists, revisited in adulthood in an attempt to unearth the truth.

Read the first chapter >

Buy >

If She Did It by Jessica Treadway


Hanna suffers memory loss after a traumatic Thanksgiving attack that ends with her husband’s murder. She starts to suspect that her own daughter was behind the crime — can she trust her? Deft American psychological thriller keeps the reader along for the ride.

Read the first chapter >

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The Thirteenth Coffin by Nigel McCrery


DCI Mark Lapslie suffers from synaesthesia, so sounds convert to tastes in his mouth. An interesting quirk, that may or may not help him nail a serial killer — but first he has to find the victims and the motive. Original plot yields to solid detecting.

Read the first chapter >

Buy >

A Sleepless Summer by Bram Dehouck, translated by Jonathan Reeder

World Editions

American translation of a Belgian bestseller. Dehouck creates a nasty little village, populates it with mostly unpleasant characters and lets the murder and mayhem commence. Grimly enjoyable.

Read the first chapter >

Buy >

In a Dark, Dark Wood Ruth Ware


If you missed its highly-publicised summer debut, here’s your chance to find out why there was such a fuss about this murder mystery for the chick-lit reader, set at a hen party — film rights already optioned by Reese Witherspoon.

Read the first chapter >

Buy >

Quarry’s List by Max Allan Collins

Hard Case Crime

Hard Case continues its admirable mission to republish the Quarry series. In this succinct caper, set in 1970s America, the Vietnam vet turned hit man has to work out who’s trying to kill him. Hard-boiled to perfection.

Read the first chapter >

Buy >

Stuart MacBride: best books of 2015
Rumrunners by Eric Beetner (280 Steps)
The best word to sum up this book is ‘FUN’, in capital letters. The McGraws, driving for the Snyders’ criminal empire, are the best in the business. But Webb McGraw’s getting old and his son, Tucker, doesn’t want to take up the family driving gloves — until his father goes missing. It’s a book that has its foot hard to the floor and never lets up.

Batman: Death of the Family by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo (DC Comics)
Snyder and Capullo pull off this grown-up take on the Dark Knight with pitch-perfect writing and artwork. You might roll your eyes at the thought of reading a comic, but this so good I bought the entire series. I’ve not done that since discovering RD Wingfield’s Frost books.

Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan (Orbit)
Most fantasy novels have some form of magic in them, but this one has magic and gunpowder. It’s an epic romp with wars, evil mages, treason and plots.

Long Way Home by Eva Dolan (Vintage)
People smuggling, modern-day slavery, and murder rub shoulders in this excellent debut, where Dolan pulls the impressive feat of having her characters sound and feel like real human beings. There are genuine moments of peril, darkness, and humour here.

22 Dead Little Bodies and Other Stories by Stuart MacBride (HarperFiction) is out now. Buy it
Christmas crackers
Snow is falling, the choir is carolling and, ooh good, there’s a murdered body among the holly and mistletoe. Our selection of recently republished vintage Christmas crime has something for every crime-loving traditionalist to enjoy.

Crime at Christmas by CHB Kitchin (Faber) gathers friends and relatives in a Hampstead house for the festive season, though the revels are somewhat spoiled when one of the party meets a violent end in this sparkling 1934 caper.

The Santa Klaus Murder by Mavis Doriel Hay (British Library) is a cunningly-plotted Yuletide cosy from 1936 that even includes a Cluedo-style floor plan of the country house where the family has assembled. They barely have time for a sherry before the patriarch is found with a bullet in his head.

Mordecai Tremaine arrives at his host’s country pile on Christmas eve, but the party stops abruptly when someone who looks disturbingly like Father Christmas is found dead among the presents, in Francis Duncan’s Murder for Christmas (Vintage). Can the retired tobacconist catch the killer in this 1949 classic?

J Jefferson Farjeon was praised by Dorothy Sayers for his ‘creepy skill’. In his 1937 tale Mystery in White (British Library) a train breaks down in heavy snow on Christmas Eve, forcing a group of travellers to find refuge in a country house where the fire is lit, the table is laid… but there’s nobody home. What could possibly go wrong?

Martin Edwards has collected short stories from the great names in crime fiction: Margery Allingham, Nicholas Blake and Edmund Crispin are among those represented in Silent Nights: Christmas Mysteries (British Library). Perfect for a fireside reading on a dark winter night.

Every year, Anne Perry, American exponent of Victorian cosy crime, produces a new Christmas book. The latest, A Christmas Escape (Headline), set in 1866, puts a British toff on the Italian island of Stromboli with a strange group of fellow guests. And it’s not just the rumbling volcano that threatens their safety…. 
Mark Billingham: best books of 2015
Even Dogs in the Wild by Ian Rankin (Orion)
It’s a pleasure to see both Rankin and Rebus firing on all cylinders again. Now retired, Rebus returns to the fold when someone takes a pot shot at his old adversary ‘Big Ger’ Cafferty. The scenes between them provide a masterclass in economy from a writer who knows his characters inside out. 

The Crossing by Michael Connelly (Orion)
Harry Bosch teams up with Mickey Haller to chase down two of the most ruthless killers he has ever faced. Vintage stuff from one of the greats.

Viral by Helen FitzGerald (Faber)
A sobering fable of savagery in social media, it combines impressive storytelling with the courage to tackle the ugliness lurking beneath the shiny surface of the modern world. 

Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson (Cornerstone) 
Buy it / First chapter
My book of the year. An astounding debut that is far from being a conventional crime novel — it does not belong in any convenient pigeonhole, save for the one marked ‘stunning’.

Time Of Death by Mark Billingham (Little, Brown) is out now. Buy it / First chapter
Crime Club members had a cracking night out in London earlier this month at our Killer Women event, when MJ McGrath, Louise Millar, Lin Anderson and Ann Cleeves (pictured above) amazed and entertained us with their crime-writing trade secrets — they all dread the ‘Scooby-Doo moment’ when they can’t think how to resolve a plot. Crime Club readers have exclusive priority booking for the next event in London on March 3, 2016, when Sophie Hannah, undisputed queen of the psychological thriller, will be on stage with David Mark, whose gritty police procedurals delve into the murky side of Hull. Reserve your tickets

Helen Cadbury’s young PCSO hero, working-class lad Sean Denton, is about to hit the small screen. Agent Diana Tyler of MBA Literary Agents has sold rights to Doncaster-set To Catch a Rabbit and Bones in the Nest (Allison & Busby). Red Planet Pictures, the production company behind Death in Paradise, has a working title, Chasebridge, for the series — but who will they cast as Denton? 

Jason Matthews was in the CIA for 30 years, which means his spy thriller Palace of Treason (out on January 28, order a copy) is the real deal for insider detail as well as adrenalin-pumping action. Join us for an evening with Jason and his wife Suzanne (also a CIA veteran) at the News Building near London Bridge station on February 8, 2016. They will be on stage with celebrated British thriller-writer Charles Cumming. Book tickets

Crime fiction can change lives. At a party earlier this month to celebrate the publication of Ruth Dugdall’s Nowhere Girl (Legend Press) at the British embassy in Luxembourg, ambassador Alice Walpole said that the thriller, about a young girl’s abduction in Luxembourg, has had a direct effect on child protection issues in the country. New brochures, compiled by British diplomats and local experts, will provide information for ‘parents of children in need’ in Luxembourg.

EV Harte has signed a three-book deal with Constable for her Dolly Greene series, in which a ‘middle-aged divorcee’ goes sleuthing in south west London. But who, you may be asking, is EV Harte? She is actually bestselling novelist, and former acid-penned Sunday Times columnist, Daisy Waugh, who says that “setting the stories in contemporary London means there can never be a shortage of juicy characters”. Cosy crime fans will have to wait until September 2017 to say hello to Dolly.

Those indefatigable awarders of awards at the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) have launched their quest to find a worthy recipient for their 2016 Dagger in The Library. This is the prize that members of the public can vote for by nominating their favourite crime writer. The winner will be picked from a long list by judges, including the 2015 champion Christopher Fowler, author of the Bryant and May mysteries. Have your say before March 1, 2016, and you might win £200 in book tokens. Make your nomination

A ‘memoir of sorts’ by Henning Mankell, who died in October, is to be published by Harvill Secker next February. In Quicksand, the Scandi crime titan deals with his diagnosis and treatment for cancer, but it is, he said, “not a book about death and destruction, but about what it means to be human”. Laurie Thompson, who translated Mankell’s Wallander books, also died this year: Quicksand was his last translation.
Quicksand by Henning Mankell (Harvill Secker) is available from February 4. Order a copy here
Christopher Brookmyre: best books of 2015
Ghost in the Wires by Kevin Mitnick and William L Simon (Back Bay)
The autobiographical story of Kevin Mitnick, once the most wanted hacker in America, could be placed under the ‘true crime’ category. Mitnick’s ingenuity relied upon the same psychological manipulation as con artistry, and his ability to improvise under pressure extended to hacking the very authorities who were trying to track him down. Nail-biting.

We Are Anonymous by Parmy Olson (William Heinemann)
This informed and insightful account focuses on the rise — and downfall — of the hacking group LulzSec. Olson brings into light the complex circumstances of individuals whose online swashbuckling is often in stark contrast to their challenging social realities

Black Light by Stephen Hunter (Century)
This masterfully-constructed action epic spans two fictional generations of soldiers and lawmen. Retired US Marine Corps sniper Bob Lee Swagger uncovers a web of racism and corruption underlying his father’s murder, four decades back.

Black Widow by Christopher Brookmyre (Little, Brown) is published on January 28. Order it / First chapter
Crime in the papers

Interview with Patricia Cornwell

‘We have developed a new breed of killer, murdering for attention'

Read here >

The return of Harry Bosch and John Rebus

Marcel Berlins considers the difficulty of presenting elderly, jobless ex-cops

Read here >

Thriller roundup in The Sunday Times

In Spy Games, the old-school international espionage thriller is retooled for the era of globalisation

Read here >

A is for Arsenic

How Christie put her fascination with poison to deadly effect in her novels

Read here >

Crime roundup in The Sunday Times

Newcomer Mark Douglas-Home impresses Joan Smith with The Sea Detective

Read here >

Gerald Seymour: best books of 2015
The Spy Who Changed the World by Mike Rossiter (Headline)
Klaus Fuchs, a brilliant physicist and a naturalised Briton who had fled Nazi Germany, was sent to help the American effort to build the atomic bomb. Everything he learnt was passed to Soviet agents. The true story of espionage that mattered and an awful betrayal.
Intercept by Gordon Corera (Weidenfeld & Nicholson)
Gordon Corera goes into the world of cyber intelligence so clearly that even a techno-phobe — me — can understand the clear and present danger of digital warfare.
The Longest Afternoon by Brendan Simms (Penguin Books)
The defence by a few hundred troops of a farm house, La Haye Sainte, on the critical left flank of Wellington’s battle position at Waterloo, is a story of raw and epic courage, brilliantly told.
74 Days by John Smith (Quetzal)
An unemotional and factual diary by a Falklands Islander of life under the brief Argentine occupation of 1982. While fear builds as the guns come closer, the humanity of many islanders towards the starving Argentine conscripts is shown powerfully.
The Eagle’s Way by Jim Crumley (Saraband)
Spell binding portraits of the majesty of these great but endangered birds.
Harry’s Game 40th Anniversary Edition by Gerald Seymour (Hodder) is out now in paperback. Buy it. No Mortal Thing by Gerald Seymour (Hodder) is out now in hardback. Buy it
Crime bestsellers
  1. Even Dogs in the Wild

    Ian Rankin

  2. The Girl on the Train

    Paula Hawkins

  3. Career of Evil

    Robert Galbraith

  4. The Bazaar of Bad Dreams

    Stephen King

  5. Get Even

    Martina Cole

  6. Make Me

    Lee Child

  7. Rogue Lawyer

    John Grisham

  8. Cross Justice

    James Patterson

  9. Depraved Heart

    Patricia Cornwell

  10. Golden Lion

    Wilbur Smith & Giles Kristian

  1. You are Dead

    Peter James

  2. Memory Man

    David Baldacci

  3. Hope to Die

    James Patterson

  4. The Burning Room

    Michael Connelly

  5. For Valour

    Andy McNab

  6. The Ice Twins

    SK Tremayne

  7. Moriarty

    Anthony Horowitz

  8. Kind Worth Killing

    Peter Swanson

  9. What Remains

    Tim Weaver

  10. I Let You Go

    Clare Mackintosh

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