Great Crime Novelists for 2016
So we’re finally through that time of the year when loved ones turn to each other and say, “What day is it today?” As I write my first blog of 2016, I’m going to mention the novelists that I enjoyed last year. I’m a big fan of crime writing so here are five crime novelists to start with:
In Bitter Chill – In 1978 two school girls are kidnapped. One girl, Rachel, is later found unharmed but unable to remember anything except that her abductor was a woman. Thirty years later, the other girl, Sophie, is still missing. This is a very decent mix of police procedural and psychological mystery.
Ruth Dugdall is the author of psychological thrillers, some featuring probation officer Cate Austin. I read the excellent Humber Boy B. Two young brothers are found guilty of causing the death of a third child in a fall from the Humber Bridge. They are eventually released from prison with new identities, but must have no contact with each other. Cate Austin is responsible for Humber Boy B’s reintegration into society. Told partly from the boy’s and partly from Cate’s viewpoint, the reader discovers that evil is seldom as clear cut as it might seem.
Alex Marwood is the author of two gripping thrillers. In The Wicked Girls two eleven-year-old girls are convicted of murdering a young child. Years later when both have built new identities and new lives, the girls meet by chance. As well as coping with the shock of their meeting, they have to keep one step ahead of a serial attacker who is preying on young women.
The Killer Next Door had more dark humour bordering on farce than I usually read but I still really liked it. It made me think very strongly of Del-Boy’s “Pepsi and Shirley” joke. If you’re a fan of Only Fools and Horses and you read this book, you’ll know what I mean. But comedy aside, it was a gripping thriller. We know from the start that there is a serial killer among a group of tenants and a dodgy landlord in a London house but it’s a good while before we find out which one it is. Along the way we learn about the secrets, desires and fears of all the residents, including the indestructible Cher, a feisty escapee from Care. It’s more gross-factor than scare-factor but tempered with a good dose of compassion. I recommend it.
Claire and Jo went into the Black Wood. Claire was left paralysed and Jo has psychological scars. Twenty-three years later, a stranger walks into the bookshop where Jo works and she finds herself re-living disturbing, painful memories. And at the same time, Sergeant Davie Gray is investigating a masked man who is attacking women. Will he catch him before the attacker’s violence escalates? And what is Davie’s interest in Jo?
Charlotte Link is a bestselling German writer who sets most of her novels in Britain. I’ve read most of them and her latest, Die Betrogene, is one of her best. Full of twists, it’s a real page-turner; I read all 640 pages in three days.