The best crime fiction books that explore how our brains work

Who am I?

I’ve always been fascinated by the brain, which, despite all our medical advances, remains a mysterious black box of humbling power and complexity. When I started researching prosopagnosia (face blindness) for Remember Me, I was surprised to find it’s a much-underdiagnosed condition. Those born with it often don’t realise “it’s a thing” until later in life, when the diagnosis explains many difficulties they encounter in daily life. My main character Sarah develops social anxiety as a result yet many people develop coping techniques and live full professional and personal lives. I currently live in Mauritius with my author husband, Adam Hamdy, and our three children.  


I wrote...

Remember Me

By Amy McLellan,

Book cover of Remember Me

What is my book about?

After a car accident, Sarah suffered a traumatic brain injury, leaving her with prosopagnosia (face blindness). Over the years, she has become socially withdrawn, scratchy, irritable, and highly dependent on her sister, Joanna. When she witnesses her sister’s brutal murder, Sarah finds herself in the frame for murder whilst unable to identify the true killer – who may be hiding in plain sight. The threat of arrest forces Sarah to confront her fears, but how can you find a killer if you can’t identify a face?

The books I picked & why

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Before I Go to Sleep

By S.J. Watson,

Book cover of Before I Go to Sleep

Why this book?

Amnesia is the psychological thriller author’s friend and SJ Watson uses an extreme case to great effect in this darkly compelling and claustrophobic tale. Christine lives her life one day at a time, literally. Every night she loses her memories – her name, her identity, her past. Every morning the stranger in her bed patiently explains he is her loving husband, Ben.  All she has is a handful of pictures, a whiteboard – and a hidden journal, which her neurologist helps her keep without Ben’s knowledge. Inside its pages lie the inconsistencies that help Christine realise all is not as it seems… Before I Go To Sleep was a big inspiration to me, it's so cleverly written and tightly plotted, the pages fly by and you are drawn into Christine’s bewildering world. 

Before I Go to Sleep

By S.J. Watson,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Before I Go to Sleep as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Mesmerising and unsettling . . . The best debut thriller for years' Sunday Times

Now a major film starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong

Over 7 million copies sold worldwide
____________

Memories define us.

So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep?

Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love - all forgotten overnight.

And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.

Welcome to Christine's life.

____________

Readers are obsessed with Before I Go To Sleep:

***** 'A genius plot with an incredible twist. Before…


The Last House on Needless Street

By Catriona Ward,

Book cover of The Last House on Needless Street

Why this book?

This book completely rocked me, I couldn’t stop thinking about it for ages afterwards. I can’t talk about it without giving away a huge twist but it started out being one thing and then became something else entirely as the reality of the situation was slowly revealed. It’s horrifying, beautiful, violent and tender all at the same time. The why is the twist. I want to say more but I can’t…fans of this book need a secret group so we can discuss without giving away spoilers!! The author’s note at the end explains the research she undertook during the writing process, and sheds light on yet another fascinating yet perplexing and troubling aspect of our inner mental life.  

The Last House on Needless Street

By Catriona Ward,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Last House on Needless Street as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The buzz...is real. I've read it and was blown away. It's a true nerve-shredder that keeps its mind-blowing secrets to the very end." ―Stephen King

Winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Horror Novel!
A World Fantasy Award Finalist!
An Indie Next Pick! A LibraryReads Top 10 Pick!
A Library Journal Editors' Pick! STARRED reviews from Library Journal and Publishers Weekly!
Named one of the "50 Best Horror Books of All Time" by Esquire!

"Brilliant....[a] deeply frightening deconstruction of the illusion of the self." ―The New York Times

Catriona Ward's The Last House on Needless Street is a shocking…


Elizabeth Is Missing

By Emma Healey,

Book cover of Elizabeth Is Missing

Why this book?

Dementia is one of the most common and cruellest neurological diseases, with someone in the world developing the condition every three seconds. In Elizabeth is Missing, Emma Healey very deftly uses loss of memory and identity to craft a compelling psychological thriller spanning two timelines. As dementia takes its terrible toll, Maud loses her grip on everyday life and becomes obsessed that her dear friend Elizabeth is in terrible danger. Her memories of the past, however, remain vivid, and the events surrounding the disappearance of her sister Sukey after World War II become increasingly entwined with her present-day search for Elizabeth. The book not only provides a hugely sympathetic look at the bewilderment and loss felt by Maud, but also glimpses of the toll the condition it takes on those who love and care for her. 

Elizabeth Is Missing

By Emma Healey,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Elizabeth Is Missing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NOW A MAJOR BBC DRAMA
A SUNDAY TIMES TOP FIVE BESTSELLER

How do you solve a mystery when you can't remember the clues?

Maud is forgetful. She makes a cup of tea and doesn't remember to drink it. She goes to the shops and forgets why she went. Sometimes her home is unrecognizable - or her daughter Helen seems a total stranger.

But there's one thing Maud is sure of: her friend Elizabeth is missing. The note in her pocket tells her so. And no matter who tells her to stop going on about it, to leave it alone, to…


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

By Mark Haddon,

Book cover of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Why this book?

Mark Haddon’s 2003 global best-seller took the reader into the mind of Christopher, a 15-year-old boy with what would now be called autistic spectrum disorder. The crime is the murder of a neighbour’s dog, and in seeking to unlock who could have fatally speared Wellington with a garden fork, Christopher embarks on a journey that unlocks many family secrets and helps him make sense of his world. It’s an original, witty, and moving insight into other ways of thinking and seeing the world, and a reminder of why kindness and understanding are so needed in our busy world.   

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

By Mark Haddon,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Whitbread Book of the Year

'Outstanding...a stunningly good read' Observer

'Mark Haddon's portrayal of an emotionally dissociated mind is a superb achievement... Wise and bleakly funny' Ian McEwan

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a murder mystery novel like no other. The detective, and narrator, is Christopher Boone. Christopher is fifteen and has Asperger's Syndrome. He knows a very great deal about maths and very little about human beings. He loves lists, patterns and the truth. He hates the colours yellow and brown and being touched. He has never gone further than the…


The Shock of the Fall

By Nathan Filer,

Book cover of The Shock of the Fall

Why this book?

This isn’t a crime book but it does involve an unravelling of a mystery. The story spans three timelines, childhood recollections of a tragic accident, in which the main character Matt’s brother dies, the aftermath of the incident and then the present day, in which Matt is being treated for schizophrenia in a mental hospital. Too often those suffering with schizophrenia get a hackneyed handling by creatives but author Nathan Flier, a former mental health nurse, paints vivid and insightful observations into this poorly misunderstood condition. 

The Shock of the Fall

By Nathan Filer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE COSTA BOOK OF THE YEAR 2013

WINNER OF THE SPECSAVERS POPULAR FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR 2014

WINNER OF THE BETTY TRASK PRIZE 2014

'I'll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name's Simon. I think you're going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he'll be dead. And he was never the same after that.'

There are books you can't stop reading, which keep you up all night.

There are books which let us into the hidden parts of life and make…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in family secrets, dystopia, and autism?

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