It is always a joy to look back over the books you’ve read in any given year and reflect on the wonders of those special ones which stay with you long after you finish the final page.
If there is a sadness, it surrounds all the books you wanted to read, but time and commitments got in the way. So, apologies in advance to all the writers I didn’t manage to read this year, and here’s hoping in 2018, I will reduce that ‘To Be Read’ pile even more.
Below are the my top crime novels within the following categories:
Best International Crime Novel, Best Crime Memoir, Best Irish Crime Debut, Best Legal Crime Thriller, Best Self-Published Crime Novel, Best Historical Crime Novel, Best Irish Crime Novel, Best Agatha Christie Style Crime Novel, Best Audio Crime Novel, and Best Classic Crime Fiction – Revisited.
BEST INTERNATIONAL CRIME NOVEL
THE DRY – JANE HARPER
After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago, when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead. Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.
BEST CRIME MEMOIR
THE FACT OF THE BODY: A MURDER AND A MEMOIR – ALEXANDRIA MARZANO-LESNEVICH
Before Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working to help defend men accused of murder, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti-death penalty. But the moment convicted murderer Ricky Langley’s face flashes on the screen as she reviews old tapes―the moment she hears him speak of his crimes―she is overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die. Shocked by her reaction, she digs deeper and deeper into the case. Despite their vastly different circumstances, something in his story is unsettlingly, uncannily familiar. Crime, even the darkest and most unsayable acts, can happen to any one of us. As Alexandria pores over the facts of the murder, she finds herself thrust into the complicated narrative of Ricky’s childhood. And by examining the details of Ricky’s case, she is forced to face her own story, to unearth long-buried family secrets, and reckon with a past that colours her view of Ricky’s crime.
BEST IRISH CRIME DEBUT
THE MISSING ONES – PATRICIA GIBNEY
When a woman’s body is discovered in a cathedral and hours later a young man is found hanging from a tree outside his home, Detective Lottie Parker is called in to lead the investigation. Both bodies have the same distinctive tattoo clumsily inscribed on their legs. It’s clear the pair are connected, but how?
The trail leads Lottie to St. Angela’s, a former children’s home, with a dark connection to her own family history. Suddenly the case just got personal. As Lottie begins to link the current victims to unsolved murders decades old, two teenage boys go missing. She must close in on the killer before they strike again, but in doing so is she putting her own children in terrifying danger? Lottie is about to come face to face with a twisted soul who has a very warped idea of justice.
BEST LEGAL CRIME THRILLER
THE HEAVENS MAY FALL – ALLEN ESKENS
Detective Max Rupert is convinced that Jennavieve Pruitt was killed by her husband, Ben. Max’s friend, attorney Boady Sanden, is equally convinced that Ben, his client, is innocent. The case is pushing their friendship to the breaking point and forcing each to confront personal demons. Max is still struggling with the death of his wife four years earlier and the Pruitt case stirs up old memories. Boady hasn’t taken on a defense case since the death of an innocent client, a man Boady believes he could have saved but didn’t. Now he is back in court, determined to redeem himself for having failed in the past. Vividly told from two opposing perspectives, the story of Jennavieve Pruitt’s death disrupts many lives and the truth remains a mystery till the very end.
BEST SELF-PUBLISHED CRIME NOVEL
LADY BETH – CAROLINE FARRELL
Beth has been keeping secrets from her beloved son, refusing to tell him who his father is. When an unforeseen tragedy takes him from her, she is compelled to face the demons she has been running from all these years. She has come full circle, and with nothing left now but her memories and her knowing, the need for revenge scratches inside her veins. Lady Beth is an urban thriller.
BEST HISTORICAL CRIME MYSTERY
THE VANISHING OF AUDREY WILDE -EVE CHASE
Applecote Manor captivates Jessie with it promise of hazy summers in the Cotswolds. She believes it’s the perfect escape for her troubled family. But the house has an unsettling history, and strange rumours surround the estate.
to the fifties . . .
When teenage Margot and her three sisters arrive at Applecote during the heatwave of ’59, they find their aunt and uncle still reeling from the disappearance of their daughter, Audrey, five years before. The sisters are drawn into the mystery of Audrey’s vanishing – until the stifling summer takes a shocking, deadly turn. Will one unthinkable choice bind them together, or tear them apart? Step back in time for a richly evocative mystery, where the beauty of a Cotswolds summer is vividly contrasted with the violence which shatters it.
BEST IRISH CRIME NOVEL
LET THE DEAD SPEAK – JANE CASEY
When eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home she finds her mother missing, the house covered in blood. Everything points to murder, except for one thing: there’s no sign of the body. London detective Maeve Kerrigan and the homicide team turn their attention to the neighbours. The ultra-religious Norrises are acting suspiciously; their teenage daughter and Chloe Emery definitely have something to hide. Then there’s William Turner, once accused of stabbing a schoolmate and the neighbourhood’s favourite criminal. Is he merely a scapegoat, or is there more behind the charismatic façade? As a body fails to materialize, Maeve must piece together a patchwork of testimonies and accusations. Who is lying, and who is not? And soon Maeve starts to realize that not only will the answer lead to Kate Emery, but more lives may hang in the balance.
BEST AGATHA CHRISTIE STYLE CRIME NOVEL
MAGPIE MURDERS – ANTHONY HOROWITZ
When editor Susan Ryeland is given the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. After working with the bestselling crime writer for years, she’s intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. An homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Alan’s traditional formula has proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behaviour if she wants to keep her job. Conway’s latest tale has Atticus Pünd investigating a murder at Pye Hall, a local manor house. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but the more Susan reads, the more she’s convinced that there is another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript: one of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition, and murder.
BEST CRIME FICTION AUDIO NOVEL
REDEMPTION ROAD – JOHN HART
A boy with a gun waits for the man who killed his mother.
A troubled detective confronts her past in the aftermath of a brutal shooting.
After thirteen years in prison, a good cop walks free. But for how long?
And deep in the forest, on the altar of an abandoned church, the unthinkable has just happened…
This is a town on the brink. This is a road with no mercy.
BEST CRIME CLASSIC -REVISITED
REBECCA – DAPHNE DU MAURIER
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .
The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives–presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.