Perfect Neighbours

Recommendations – Best Crime Novels

Enthusiastic book bloggers have led me to some of the best crime novels by authors I’d not previously read. As I said in another blog, I’ve recently been introduced to the wonderful world of book bloggers. These avid readers use their spare, unpaid time to promote lesser known authors like me and to recommend books they’ve enjoyed. Thanks to them, a whole new range of books has opened to me. I’ve reviewed my favourites on Good Reads. Here are some of the best crime novels:

The Doll House by Phoebe Morgan
This is a bit different from the usual psychological fare as most of the characters are normal and likeable rather than dysfunctional.
Someone is out to get Corinne and their reign of terror affects her boyfriend, her sister and her sister’s entire family. We know more or less from the start who the culprit is and yet we don’t know who it is. (If you read it, you’ll know what I mean.) And we are presented with a few possible suspects to keep up the suspense, some closer to home than others.
The doll’s house of the title provides a light thread throughout the narrative.
I look forward to another book by this author.

Before I Let You In by Jenny Blackhurst
We have three female characters who’ve been best friends since school days: Bea the carefree single girl, trying to forget a frightening chapter in her past; Eleanor the frazzled new mother; and psychiatrist Karen, the sensible one who keeps the other two on an even keel. Someone is out to get Eleanor. Who is it? And is Eleanor the only target? Populated by assorted partners, colleagues, clients, one-night stands and siblings, this novel is not short on possible suspects.
For most of the book, I didn’t know what was going on, but the author kept my confusion at an enjoyable level and I wanted to keep reading. I started to develop my own theories. One of them was right but it was muddled up with countless others and never became a front runner. The ending was, therefore, very satisfying.

In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
In a Dark, Dark Wood is a Great, Great Book. A page-turning mix of modern psychological thriller and traditional country house murder mystery.
The setting is perfect – a modern house with huge picture windows. As one of the characters remarks, it is like a lit stage and the house guests are the players on show to a hidden audience in the surrounding wood. It’s miles from anywhere, no mobile signal, the landline goes down and there’s even a sprinkling of snow to make the characters feel more cut off.
And the set-up is perfect too. Out of the blue, Nora is invited to a hen party for her former best friend whom she hasn’t seen for ten years.
Author Ruth Ware must be an Agatha Christie fan. Not only are there elements of And Then There Were None – as alluded to in the text – but also there are nods to The Sittaford Mystery and The Hollow.
I loved the way the plot unfolded. Just like the rhyme from which the novel takes its title, a little more suspense is added with each chapter. One of the best crime novels I’ve read recently. Ideal for TV adaptation.

Lie with Me by Sabine Durrant
Not sure if this is one of the best crime novels, or, rather, a satisfying literary experience. Because of the cover I expected a lightweight psycho-read to take to the beach. But this turned out to be a high-end thriller that put me in mind of The Talented Mr Ripley and, at times, L’Etranger.
The author brings out the selfishness and dishonesty of her main character but still makes him more sympathetic than the middle-class families he sponges off. We know from the outset that things might not end well for this disreputable narrator, but the telling is exquisite. It’s winter here in England but I can still feel the heat of the chapters set in Greece.

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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