The best crime fiction books with great plots and memorable characters

Who am I?

I’ve been reading crime fiction all my life. I love following the detective sifting through the evidence—the clues, the false trails, and the eventual denouement. It was a crime fiction book that made me realise that history is not fixed but is, in fact, detective work. It changes as more evidence is discovered or a new interpretation is accepted. That book made me decide to take history as my subject at university and I spent six deliriously happy years examining evidence, evaluating it, and, reaching conclusions. Amongst my case studies were the princes in the tower, the gunpowder plot, and witchcraft. Happy days!


I wrote...

A Gift for Murder: A Tommy Ross mystery

By Jenny Twist,

Book cover of A Gift for Murder: A Tommy Ross mystery

What is my book about?

In the 1990s Oxford’s dreaming spires become a killer’s secret playground. It begins when Joshua finds the girl shivering in the stream, clutching a severed hand. Then he is plagued by the same nightmare—someone is coming through the corn, getting closer, eager to kill.

This is Tommy Ross’s first murder case and he has no idea how to solve it. How do you find a killer when you can’t even find the body? 

The books I picked & why

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Case Histories

By Kate Atkinson,

Book cover of Case Histories

Why this book?

All Kate Atkinson’s books are beautifully written, with wicked observation, but what I love about them most is the reality of her characters. 

None is more addictive than her detective, Jackson Brodie. I chose this book, not just because it’s the first in the series, but because it moved me so much. I have read it over and over again and each time it makes me cry. I want to take Theo, who still yearns for his murdered daughter, into my arms and comfort him. 

Like me, you will want to know what happened to the little girl who disappeared from her own garden one night and what possessed one woman to kill her husband with an axe. 

Through it all runs a subtle humour, which will make you laugh out loud. 

It is, for me, the perfect book.

Case Histories

By Kate Atkinson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Case Histories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Case one: A little girl goes missing in the night. Case two: A beautiful young office worker falls victim to a maniac's apparently random attack. Case three: A new mother finds herself trapped in a hell of her own making - with a very needy baby and a very demanding husband - until a fit of rage creates a grisly, bloody escape.Thirty years after the first incident, as private investigator Jackson Brodie begins investigating all three cases, startling connections and discoveries emerge ...

Snap

By Belinda Bauer,

Book cover of Snap

Why this book?

I discovered Belinda Bauer through my local book club and have been addicted ever since. Her plots are thrilling, dark, and original.

The opening scene in this one will draw you in immediately and you will have trouble putting the book down until you have reached the end.
It is the story of three children whose mother just disappeared one day. She told them to wait in the car and she walked away and never came back!  

Jack has to look after his sisters in any way he can. He goes to some very dark places, always wondering what happened to his mother. 

The tension throughout is unbelievably high. 

This story terrifies me and attracts me. I read it again and again, and it still gets me every time.

Snap

By Belinda Bauer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Crime & Thriller Book of the Year (Specsavers National Book Awards)
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018.

'The best crime novel I've read in a very long time.' VAL MCDERMID

SNAP DECISIONS CAN BE DANGEROUS . . .

On a stifling summer's day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. Jack's in charge, she'd said. I won't be long.

But she doesn't come back. She never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed for ever.

Three years later, Jack is still…


Blue Monday: A Frieda Klein Mystery

By Nicci French,

Book cover of Blue Monday: A Frieda Klein Mystery

Why this book?

Frieda Klein is a psychotherapist dedicated to helping her patients overcome their private horrors. She tells them that they are in a safe place with her—nothing will go beyond these walls. Until one day, a patient’s dreams and desires accord so closely to the case of a missing child that she decides to break that promise.

She finds herself involved in a complex police investigation that can only be solved with her specialist insight. The tension mounts to breaking point as she tracks down the killer, ending in a shocking climax that comes straight out of the left field.

Blue Monday: A Frieda Klein Mystery

By Nicci French,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first book in the Frieda Klein Mystery series

"Complex psychological suspense at its best." -Booklist (starred review)

Immensely intelligent and poignantly human, Frieda Klein has captivated book critics and crime readers everywhere with her debut outing as Blue Monday's iconoclastic heroine. A psychotherapist and insomniac who spends her nights walking along the ancient rivers that lie beneath modern London, Frieda stars in a dazzling new crime series in which the terrors of the mind spill over into real life.

When five-year-old Matthew Farraday is abducted, Frieda cannot ignore the fact that his photograph perfectly matches the boy one of…


Harm Done: An Inspector Wexford Mystery

By Ruth Rendell,

Book cover of Harm Done: An Inspector Wexford Mystery

Why this book?

Rendell’s Inspector Wexford is so real that one reader wrote to the author, begging her to kill Wexford’s wife so she could marry him.

I’ve read all the Wexford books but this was the one that stood out for me. 

It’s a complex plot that involves kidnapping, a paedophile, a riot in which a policeman is burned to death, domestic abuse, and a cold-blooded murder. 

Something for everyone!

Harm Done: An Inspector Wexford Mystery

By Ruth Rendell,

Why should I read it?

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


The Daughter of Time

By Josephine Tey,

Book cover of The Daughter of Time

Why this book?

Tey’s Inspector Grant is laid up in the hospital and his girlfriend, desperate to keep him entertained and running out of ideas, has the brilliant idea of supplying him with photographs and portraits of famous people from the past. His task is to identify them solely from their faces, a skill he prides himself upon. One of the faces really intrigues him. He thinks the man is great and good—a saint, perhaps. When he turns the picture over to read the name on the back, to his amazement it is Richard III. He demands his long-suffering girlfriend to bring him all the evidence she can find, so that he can solve the case of the princes in the tower.

This book changed my life. For the first time, I realised that history is a detective story. I eventually went on to do two history degrees and have never regretted it.

The Daughter of Time

By Josephine Tey,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Daughter of Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

_________________________
Josephine Tey's classic novel about Richard III, the hunchback king whose skeleton was famously discovered in a council car park, investigates his role in the death of his nephews, the princes in the Tower, and his own death at the Battle of Bosworth.

Richard III reigned for only two years, and for centuries he was villified as the hunch-backed wicked uncle, murderer of the princes in the Tower. Josephine Tey's novel The Daughter of Time is an investigation into the real facts behind the last Plantagenet king's reign, and an attempt to right what many believe to be the…


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