The best books that are both dark and funny

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer, and an enthusiastic reader, of crime fiction. And although I love dark fiction, I’ve realised that subtle humour is the spice that takes a book to the next level for me. Whether it’s a turn of phrase that makes me guiltily cheer along or an interaction with a partner or colleague that makes me wince with recognition, I love dark books that make me smile! These are some of my favourites – I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.


I wrote...

The Devil's Dice

By Roz Watkins,

Book cover of The Devil's Dice

What is my book about?

Detective Inspector Meg Dalton is on a mission to reinvent herself in her new job in Derbyshire. When she's assigned a suspicious death, it's her chance to prove she's fully sane and functional again. But it's a sinister case – a poisoned corpse has been found in a cave under a centuries-old carving that seems to predict the man's death.

With talk of a curse extending to the times of the witch trials and a labyrinth where teenagers go to hang themselves, Meg's struggling to tell what's real or right. Is death always bad or can it be a gift, as her mother claims? Meg finds her own life at risk as she's torn between solving the case and keeping her family's darkest secrets.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Missing, Presumed

Roz Watkins Why did I love this book?

Missing, Presumed introduces us to Manon Bradshaw, a single thirty-nine-year-old detective. She’s sad and lonely but also funny and full of observations on life that have you cheering along. She’s devoted to her work but is also trying to find love, and the book opens with her on a date with a profoundly dull man who’s obsessed with newts. I was hooked by this character and ready to follow her anywhere.

By Susie Steiner,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Missing, Presumed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A RICHARD & JUDY BESTSELLER

72 HOURS TO FIND HER...

'Hits the sweet spot between literary and crime fiction - Gripping' ERIN KELLY

'For those who love their crime fiction rich in psychology, beautifully written and laced with dark humour. Dive in' LUCIE WHITEHOUSE

Mid-December, and Cambridgeshire is blanketed with snow. Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw tries to sleep after yet another soul-destroying Internet date - the low murmuring of her police radio her only solace.

Over the airwaves come reports of a missing woman - door ajar, keys and phone left behind, a spatter of blood on the kitchen floor.…


Book cover of The Grownup: A Story by the Author of Gone Girl

Roz Watkins Why did I love this book?

This is actually a short story rather than a novel, but there’s enough plot and character for a full novel. The story opens with this announcement: ‘I didn’t stop giving hand jobs because I wasn’t good at it. I stopped giving hand jobs because I was the best at it. For three years, I gave the best hand job in the tristate area.’ How can you not read on? The unnamed narrator is damaged, cynical, funny, and extremely unreliable. 

By Gillian Flynn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Grownup as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A young woman is making a living faking it as a cut-price psychic (with some illegal soft-core sex work on the side). She makes a decent wage mostly by telling people what they want to hear. But then she meets Susan Burke.

Susan moved to the city one year ago with her husband and 15-year-old stepson Miles. They live in a Victorian house called Carterhook Manor. Susan has become convinced that some malevolent spirit is inhabiting their home. The young woman doesn't believe in exorcism or the supernatural. However when she enters the house for the first time, she begins…


Book cover of Flowers Over the Inferno

Roz Watkins Why did I love this book?

Set in a vividly described location in the Swiss Alps, Flowers Over the Inferno features a most refreshing protagonist. Teresa Battaglia is in her sixties, stocky, diabetic, and extremely grumpy. What’s not to like? The plot is dark, the location stunning, and the crimes intriguing, but it’s Teresa’s character that made it a stand-out book for me. 

By Ilaria Tuti, Ekin Oklap (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Flowers Over the Inferno as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A TIMES CRIME BOOK OF THE MONTH
ONE OF M. W. CRAVEN'S BOOKS OF 2019

A ruthless killer is spreading panic in a quiet village in the Italian Alps.

Police Inspector Teresa Battaglia is the only one who can stop them.

But how can you catch a monster when you're slowly losing your mind?

PREPARE TO FALL IN LOVE WITH TERESA BATTAGLIA, A POLICE INSPECTOR LIKE NO OTHER:

'Superintendent Teresa Battaglia, a criminal profile expert, is in her sixties, overweight, lonely, diabetic, full of the ailments of ageing - and delightful. It's rare that a character like Teresa Battaglia enters…


Book cover of Sweetpea

Roz Watkins Why did I love this book?

I should perhaps be concerned about how much I liked the main character in C.J.Skuse’s Sweetpea given that she’s a murdering psychopath. She’s very normal on the surface but, oh the things she does to men who follow women on dark canal paths… I’m sure we’ve all had little fantasies about doing the same (I hope it’s not just me). She’s rude, funny, and extremely violent!

By C.J. Skuse,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sweetpea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'If you like your thrillers darkly comic and outrageous this ticks all the boxes' The Sun

The last person who called me 'Sweetpea' ended up dead...

'I haven't killed anyone for three years and I thought that when it happened again I'd feel bad. Like an alcoholic taking a sip of whisky. But no. Nothing. I had a blissful night's sleep. Didn't wake up at all. And for once, no bad dream either. This morning I feel balanced. Almost sane, for once.'

Rhiannon is your average girl next door, settled with her boyfriend and little dog...but she's got a killer…


Book cover of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Roz Watkins Why did I love this book?

There’s something odd about Rosemary, and about her brother and sister, who she’s no longer in touch with. What exactly went on in this profoundly disturbed family is gradually revealed. There are deep, dark, and important themes here, wrapped up in a funny and engaging story. I’m saying no more, because the less you know the better!

By Karen Joy Fowler,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club introduces a middle-class American family that is ordinary in every way but one in this novel that won the PEN/Faulkner Award and was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize.
 
Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. “I was raised with a chimpanzee,” she explains. “I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren’t thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern’s expulsion...she was my twin, my funhouse…


You might also like...

A Beggar's Bargain

By Jan Sikes,

Book cover of A Beggar's Bargain

Jan Sikes Author Of The Edge of Too Late

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Avid reader Lover of Music Astral Traveler Tarot Reader Grandmother

Jan's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Historical Fiction Post WW2.

A shocking proposal that changes everything.

Desperate to honor his father’s dying wish, Layken Martin vows to do whatever it takes to save the family farm.
Once the Army discharges him following World War II, Layken returns to Missouri to find his legacy in shambles and in jeopardy. A foreclosure notice from the bank doubles the threat. He appeals to the local banker for more time—a chance to rebuild, plant, and harvest crops and time to heal far away from the noise of bombs and gunfire.

But the banker firmly denies his request. Now what?

Then, the banker makes an alternative proposition—marry his unwanted daughter, Sara Beth, in exchange for a two-year extension. Out of options, money, and time, Layken agrees to the bargain.

Now, he has two years to make a living off the land while he shares his life with a stranger. If he fails at either, he’ll lose it all.

A Beggar's Bargain

By Jan Sikes,

What is this book about?

A shocking proposal that changes everything.

Desperate to honor his father's dying wish, Layken Martin vows to do whatever it takes to save the family farm.

Once the Army discharges him following World War II, Layken returns to Missouri to find his legacy in shambles and in jeopardy. A foreclosure notice from the bank doubles the threat. He appeals to the local banker for more time-a chance to rebuild, plant, and harvest crops and time to heal far away from the noise of bombs and gunfire.

But the banker firmly denies his request. Now what?

Then, the banker makes an…


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