The best British books of suspense that will keep you up reading all night

The Books I Picked & Why

The Chestnut Man

By Soren Sveistrup

Book cover of The Chestnut Man

Why this book?

Wow, I discovered this book because I get the daily email of discounted books to read from I rarely buy a book (because I have so many), but I couldn’t pass this one up. I’m glad I did buy it. I couldn’t put it down. The suspense doesn’t end from the first scene until the last scene. My title was British books, but I digress, because this one is set in Norway. I know this was an English translation, but it was so good, I relished the language used. I love stories where natural things are used for sinister purposes, and where little nursery rhymes are completely creepy. At the end, I was reminded of the Silence of the Lambs trilogy, though this book is not as bloody. It is worth getting. I guarantee.

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Left You Dead, 17

By Peter James

Book cover of Left You Dead, 17

Why this book?

I know that each of Peter James’ books could be read as standalone novels, but I do recommend reading them in order. Why? Because of the character development. DI Roy Grace has a wife who disappears without a trace in the first book. That plot doesn’t end, really, until #17. Every one of the Roy Grace stories is worth reading. In every one of them, I learn something new. They are set in the Brighton/Hove area of England, which is south of London and famous as a beach resort.

What is not known is that it has also always been a “den of thieves” the average citizen will never encounter. There are reoccurring thieves and murderers in the series that you won’t want to miss, for instance, the professional hitman who is bitten by a venomous spider, scorpion, and pit viper, but who lives to escape yet again by the next book, and the black widow, the woman who keeps the venomous creatures to kill her husbands for their money. And one character is a sweet dog. 

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A Litter of Bones

By JD Kirk

Book cover of A Litter of Bones

Why this book?

In A Litter of Bones, DCI Logan is sent to investigate a child’s disappearance and is suddenly thrown back to a previous case of a child disappearance and death he was involved in solving. The killer called Mr. Whispers is in prison, so why are children disappearing in the same manner as when he was out? Logan is perplexed. Can his small band of misfit detectives with Police Scotland handle the case? I haven’t read a suspenseful book that made me laugh out loud, and then cry a few pages later like this. The funny Scottish words, the author throws in occasionally like a wee delicious tidbit, were enough to set me laughing, too.

The series continues and still makes me laugh, while unable to turn pages fast enough to find out what happens next. Really, if you want a laugh while reading incredible suspense, you’re going to want to check out J.D. Kirk’s novels.

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The Night Hunter

By Caro Ramsay

Book cover of The Night Hunter

Why this book?

In this book, the author uses a new character Elvira (her character reappears in subsequent books) who leads the reader forward in the first person, a breakaway from the usual (close) third person in the other books in the series. Her voice is so clear, you can’t help but fall in love with her strange quirks. She is a medical student and trained in body combat. Elvira’s sister has been missing for 59 days and she can’t get the police interested enough to take her seriously. Her sister was an adult after all and left with a packed bag. Anderson and Costello eventually do get involved as more and more young women disappear.

The action in this novel is fast and furious. It left me breathless at times. I had to put the book down and walk away a few times near the end it was that intense.

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The Blackhouse: The Lewis Trilogy

By Peter May

Book cover of The Blackhouse: The Lewis Trilogy

Why this book?

In The Blackhouse set on the Isle of Lewis, some small islands north of Scotland. Honestly, I think I felt the bleakness and the cold reading this. DI Fin Macleod must return to his birthplace and confront all the demons he left behind. In the process, he discovers he has a son. He also discovers that if he hadn't gone back, he would never have known how much someone there wanted him dead. I love a good atmospheric novel and the use of place and weather as a character.

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