Perfect Neighbours

Four Great Crime Novels

January has been a great month for reading crime novels. I mentioned in an earlier blog how book bloggers had introduced me to crime novels I’d not previously known about. This month I read four great crime novels, all recommended by bloggers.

Here are the reviews I posted on GoodReads of these four great crime novels:

Losing Leah by Sue Welfare
A couple call at a motorway service station. When the wife doesn’t come back to the car, the husband reports her missing.
It made a change to read a police procedural that concentrated almost entirely on puzzle, plot and process. We find out very little about the officers investigating the case (although what we do discover is pretty tacky and I hope the main detective pulls herself together before book two…).
Even though I guessed the solution very early on, I still enjoyed the telling of the story by this technically excellent writer.

The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards
There’s a serial killer on the loose in Shropshire who wants to give his victims the best day of their lives before he finishes them off.
This was a well-paced mix of police procedural and psychological thriller, told from the viewpoints of the investigating officer, potential victims and the killer. The lead detective was likeable and well rounded. We learnt something of her backstory but this didn’t overwhelm. A bit gruesome in parts, but set in beautiful country locations.

A Patient Fury by Sarah Ward
This was the third outing for DC Connie Childs and the best so far – deliciously twisty turny. The ensemble police characters were likeable and didn’t detract from the main story, the investigation of an arson attack that killed two parents and a child. The chapters from the viewpoint of Julie, a close relative of the victims, did much to maintain the suspense.

And number four in my list of four great crime novels has been flying high in the Amazon charts.

Close to Home by Cara Hunter
Eight-year-old Daisy disappears from a barbecue. DI Adam Fawley suspects the parents know more than they are letting on. This is a very good police procedural which moves the reader briskly through the story. The author uses various techniques to achieve the pace:

• DI Adam Fawley, with a backstory of terrible personal tragedy, is a first person narrator who tells the reader what s/he needs to know about the case. (Telling has its place despite creative writing tutors insisting that only showing will do.)
• The narrative is interspersed with short flashbacks to hours, days or weeks before Daisy’s disappearance. Little used these days, the universal viewpoint works well here.
• Several of the interviews with witnesses and suspects are printed as witness statements or transcripts of police interviews. This is a quick way to cover a lot of ground.
• There are also interludes of Twitter stream. Well-wishers and trolls alike pronounce on the investigation like a Greek chorus. (I have to say it took me a while to make sense of the Tweets as the layout was odd on my Kindle.)
• The author keeps the number of suspects to a minimum so the focus remains tight and the characters are not given much light and shade. The two main suspects are vile to the point of pantomime, but that seemed to fit with the author’s intention to press forward.

I’ll look out for the next novels by these authors.

By Rachel Sargeant

Rachel Sargeant is a British author. Her latest thriller, The Roommates, is a Closer Magazine "Must Read". Her other titles are The Good Teacher, The Perfect Neighbours and Gallipoli: Year of Love and Duty. Rachel won Writing Magazine’s Crime Short Story competition and has been shortlisted in various competitions including the Bristol Short Story Prize. She was born in Lincolnshire and is a graduate of Aberystwyth University. She now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband and children.

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