The best crime mysteries with an extra twist of character

Who am I?

I'm the author of three novels, several short stories, and quite a few articles about writing and literature. While I haven't aimed to write for a specific genre—all three of my novels are different in this respectmy plots usually focus on a mystery. I enjoy novels with strong, credible characters, which are based in a recognisable, everyday reality, but where bizarre events can turn the world upside down.

I wrote...

Night-night, Sleep Tight

By Paul Burman,

Book cover of Night-night, Sleep Tight

What is my book about?

Meg Dapsy’s family home has been destroyed in an arson attack. Her mother is dead and her father is missing, but Stella, the younger sister she’s always taken care of, has one secret too many... and it involves an old boyfriend. With suspicion falling on a group of militant Animal Rights activists, Meg has no doubt where the blame really lies.

Night-night, Sleep Tight is a psychological thriller set against the backdrop of a vast forested, wilderness.

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The books I picked & why

The Big Sleep

By Raymond Chandler,

Book cover of The Big Sleep

Why did I love this book?

This wasn't the first crime mystery novel I read, but The Big Sleep hooked me on Philip Marlowe as a character and the genre as a whole. Raymond Chandler created one of the most striking and engaging narrative voices in the superbly cynical and sharp-tongued Private Investigator. Marlowe's dialogue and observations have a poetic grittiness about them that reflect his toughness and the seedy world he’s steeped in, and yet, through his interactions with other characters and the values he espouses, I warmed to him as a big-hearted and sensitive character who is hard not to admire and want to see more of—so much so that I read all of Chandler's books.

By Raymond Chandler,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked The Big Sleep as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Raymond Chandler's first three novels, published here in one volume, established his reputation as an unsurpassed master of hard-boiled detective fiction.

The Big Sleep, Chandler's first novel, introduces Philip Marlowe, a private detective inhabiting the seamy side of Los Angeles in the 1930s, as he takes on a case involving a paralysed California millionaire, two psychotic daughters, blackmail and murder.

In Farewell, My Lovely, Marlowe deals with the gambling circuit, a murder he stumbles upon, and three very beautiful but potentially deadly women.

In The High Window, Marlowe searches the California underworld for a priceless gold coin and finds himself…

Great Expectations

By Charles Dickens,

Book cover of Great Expectations

Why did I love this book?

While I sometimes find Dickens' characters overdrawn and his endings too tidily wrapped in his other novels, I love these qualities in Great Expectations and how the specific setting in which we meet a character shapes our (and Pip’s) assumptions. The Gothic decadence of Miss Havisham's wedding feast and the monstrous spectre of Magwitch appearing among the graves are fabulous scenes for this. But what I like most is how Pip changes in response to the manipulations and ambitions of the supporting cast; how he's shaken out of impoverished innocence into a world of expectations, and his trajectory as a flawed character into conceit and arrogance, until he finally comes good—battered and bruised, but ultimately redeemed.

By Charles Dickens,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Great Expectations as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'His novels will endure as long as the language itself' Peter Ackroyd

Dickens's haunting late novel depicts the education and development of a young man, Pip, as his life is changed by a series of events - a terrifying encounter with an escaped convict in a graveyard on the wild Kent marshes; a summons to meet the bitter, decaying Miss Havisham and her beautiful, cold-hearted ward Estella; the sudden generosity of a mysterious benefactor - and he discovers the true nature of his 'great expectations'. This definitive edition includes appendices on Dickens's original ending, giving an illuminating glimpse into a…

Book cover of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Why did I love this book?

Lisbeth Salander is, for me, one of the most kick-ass characters in crime mystery fiction and, ever since Stieg Larsson wrote her, clones have been popping up everywhere in books and film. I like that she is seen as a misfit and an outcast, victimised and brutalised by the establishment, who is often misjudged as being stupid, worthless, weak, but who is in fact, acutely intelligent, insightful, and someone not to be messed with—a gutsy fighter who refuses to quit. For me, it's Salander who makes the Millenium trilogy such a dynamic series, and the first time I came across her it was absolutely refreshing to meet such an empowered female character in crime fiction.

By Stieg Larsson,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder - and that the killer is a member of his own tightly-knit but dysfunctional family.

He employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed, truculent computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate. When the pair link Harriet's disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history.

But the Vangers are a secretive clan, and…

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

Why did I love this book?

This crime mystery stands out as a favourite not only because it's unique in being told through the voice of a 15-year-old boy who it's assumed is autistic, but because the entire form of the novel is convincingly shaped by the way Christopher thinks and perceives the world. I love the way that maps, infographics, facts, and even the use of primary numbers as chapter headings, help us understand and appreciate his character at the same time as propelling the story forward. I was totally won over by the logic and honesty of a boy who struggles to understand emotions - by the difficulties these qualities get him into—and yet who, with a nod to Sherlock Holmes, is determined to solve a crime.

By Mark Haddon,

Why should I read it?

20 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…


By Shane Maloney,

Book cover of Stiff

Why did I love this book?

This laugh-out-loud crime mystery has a special place for me because I read it not long after migrating to Australia and, through the lead character, Murray Whelan (a political staffer who spends his time digging himself in and out of holes), I was not only introduced to Australian humour but also to a new way of viewing Melbourne, its politics, establishments, and suburbs. In Stiff, as with Shane Maloney's other books in this series, the city landscape is as much a character as Murray Whelan himself, and this sense of place adds a richness to the story that would be missing if it were merely treated as a backdrop.

By Shane Maloney,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Don’t you just hate it when someone tries to kill you and you don’t know why?

Single father Murray Whelan thinks the life of a parent and political operative is complicated enough. His ex is staking out the moral high ground for a custody battle, and rumors of an early election are starting to fly in the upper echelons of Australia’s Labor party. When a Turk is found snap-frozen in a local meat plant, Murray cops the job to head off possible fallout for his boss, Charlene Wills, a member of Parliament and the Minister for Industry. But the meat…

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