By Louis Sharman
There have been some incredible, on-the-edge-of-your-seat crime novels published this year; some featuring our favorite protagonists while others thrill us with brand new, nail-biting narratives that you simply can’t put down.
Crime fiction seems to be ever-increasing in popularity recently, no doubt due to the proliferation of television and film adaptations. We’ve loved detectives from Rebus to Precious Ramotswe and Inspector Montalbano to Sherlock Holmes for years now, yet our appetite for the crime genre never wanes, only grows.
It’s fair to say that the quality of screen adaptations does vary, with some fans left disappointed with casting or plot amendments. Nevertheless, you can be sure that somewhere in the pipeline are plans to adapt some of the biggest crime books of recent years—so you may want to read them first. Here are four that you shouldn’t miss.
Disappeared by Anthony Quinn
Quinn’s debut novel has been hailed one of the greatest crime novels of the year, ahead of many more established crime writers. Set in Ireland, the novel concerns the disappearance of an Alzheimer’s patient set against a backdrop of the aftermath of the Troubles. It’s up to the wonderfully-named Inspector Celsius Daly to discover that the victim isn’t all he seems. The novel is tense, evoking Irish politics and history. One reviewer said it was “a major piece of work.”
The Impossible Dead by Ian Rankin
Very different to the author’s other crime-fighting creation, Rebus, Inspector Malcolm Fox has divided opinion among Rankin fans. The fact is, he’s different and that’s never going to please everyone. However, Fox has been called “a worthy rival” in this book, in which Fox is tasked with finding out whether a police colleague took advantage of females he arrested. Add to that the murder of the accused’s uncle and you’ve got quite an involved plot.
The Black Box by Michael Connelly
The latest in the Harry Bosch series sees the investigator linking a bullet from a recent crime to a case which occurred back in 1992 which was never solved after Bosch himself passed it over to a special task force. Indications are that what was thought to be an accidental death during the LA riots was in fact, something more sinister. The book is praised as “riveting and relentlessly paced.”
Beastly Things by Donna Leon
Commissario Brunetti, the clean-nosed, family-man detective thinks he recognizes the body floating in the lagoon, yet the victim possesses no identification other than some distinctive shoes. Without a missing person report, the case ceases. However, as with most Brunetti cases, Signorina Elettra comes to the rescue with some vital information, which provides Brunetti with a “fragile lead.” Gripping and harrowing, what’s lovely about the Brunetti series is Leon’s vivid description of Venice, which paints a romantic backdrop to even a grotesque murder.
A few more
Other fine pieces of crime literature include The Bat—Jo Nesbo’s 1997 novel scheduled for a July 2013 re-release—and John Grisham’s The Racketeer, not to mention James M Cain’s posthumous and “lost” novel, The Cocktail Waitress. Fans of the genre won’t be disappointed.
Louis Sharman works for a company called Foyles, a legendary award-winning independent bookstore with a long history. Foyles is based in London and Bristol, UK.