The best crime fiction books so grounded they pass muster with this writer (a former detective and barrister)

Stephen Bentley Author Of Operation George: A Gripping True Crime Story of an Audacious Undercover Sting
By Stephen Bentley

Who am I?

I was a cop for fourteen years and a barrister in the UK for another fourteen years appearing in criminal trials. I've seen and heard enough real cops, lawyers, and criminals to last me a lifetime and more. It left an indelible mark on my own writing and reading preferences. I love true crime but also good crime fiction with realistic characters, settings, and plausible storylines. There's a thread that connects me to most of the authors whose books I have recommended. They're either former lawyers with investigative experience or experienced journalists with experience of a crime beat. Chandler is the exception, but I must say he would've probably fitted right into the police forces.


I wrote...

Operation George: A Gripping True Crime Story of an Audacious Undercover Sting

By Stephen Bentley, Mark Dickens,

Book cover of Operation George: A Gripping True Crime Story of an Audacious Undercover Sting

What is my book about?

Following the horrific murder of Rosemary Nelson, the prominent human rights lawyer, in Northern Ireland, Jim Fulton, a prominent LVF paramilitary, fled to the United States. He was deported with help from the FBI and in collusion with the British police, on his arrival at Heathrow, Fulton ‘walked through an open door,’ a Lewis Carrol-like euphemism for an invitation created by the crack undercover covert police team, only to disappear down the rabbit hole on accepting the invitation. The invitation? Working for an 'organized crime group' who were really all undercover officers recording every conversation with the target, Fulton, for two years.

According to Readers’ Favorite, Operation George ranks up with true crime classics such as Donnie Brasco and The Infiltrator in its pulse-pounding narrative of undercover operations with significant ramifications.

The books I picked & why

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The Simple Art of Murder

By Raymond Chandler,

Book cover of The Simple Art of Murder

Why this book?

I am a fan of this style of writing. Some may call it pulp fiction. Perhaps, hard-boiled? I suppose it is like comparing bare-knuckle fighting and boxing under the Marquis of Queensbury rules. Chandler's style, and those like him, is down and dirty, and supposed to be realistic. Indeed, in his essay, he writes: "Fiction in any form has always intended to be realistic." He was writing in the context of denigrating the old-fashioned British-style mystery. I do believe he has a point. Anyone who is familiar with his work and style can understand my penchant for liking crime fiction that is realistic. The remainder of my picks reflect this. 

The Simple Art of Murder

By Raymond Chandler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is a collection of early short stories and an essay which gave the book its name. The latter is fairly short and its main idea is an argument for the virtues of a noir mystery as opposed to a traditional British one. Considering the fact that this comes from a guy who became a classic of the former even before his death and that he picked up some below the average examples of the latter, I agree.

The stories themselves left me out cold for the most part. I can actually describe the plot in practically all of them…


The Late Show

By Michael Connelly,

Book cover of The Late Show

Why this book?

It's true to say Michael Connelly is a master at this kind of crime fiction. He paints such vivid pictures with words that I truly felt part of the action. As a writer, he certainly knows how to reach the reader's emotions. His writing skills encompass all it takes to make a thoroughly satisfying crime fiction book.

So much of this author's writing resonates with me. At times I was transported back 'to the day.' I enjoyed the part where the psychiatrist is interviewing Ballard about her fitness to return to duty. The shrink goes into soliloquy mode about "the darkness" surrounding crime and the need to find an escape mechanism from it. So true!

Real crime is a very dark place. I'm pleased that crime fiction of this quality can give so much enjoyment.

The Late Show

By Michael Connelly,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this first installment of the Renée Ballard series, #1 bestselling author Michael Connelly introduces a "complicated and driven" young detective fighting to prove herself on the LAPD's toughest beat (The New York Times).
Renee Ballard works the midnight shift in Hollywood, beginning many investigations but finishing few, as each morning she turns everything over to the daytime units. It's a frustrating job for a once up-and-coming detective, but it's no accident. She's been given this beat as punishment after filing a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor.
But one night Ballard catches two assignments she doesn't want to part…


Thirteen

By Steve Cavanagh,

Book cover of Thirteen

Why this book?

You know when you have read a superb crime fiction writer when they turn the implausible into the plausible. Steve Cavanagh does exactly that with a few plot twists. At first, I am shaking my head, thinking "Nah!" then a few moments later with brilliant writing he makes me think, "Yes, it could happen." He should teach crime writing to some other authors in this genre.

The author's style reminds me so much of the writing of the likes of Charles Bukowski and James M. Cain. I rather suspect he has fallen under their influence at some stage of his writing career. In the main short sentences, short words but with so much meaning and clout. It easily passes muster and more.

Thirteen

By Steve Cavanagh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE SERIAL KILLER ISN'T ON TRIAL.

HE'S ON THE JURY...

****************

'THIRTEEN is my favourite read of the year.' Sarah Pinborough

'Outstanding.' Lee Child

'Smart and original. This is a belter of a book.' Clare Mackintosh

****************

They were Hollywood's hottest power couple. They had the world at their feet. Now one of them is dead and Hollywood star Robert Solomon is charged with the brutal murder of his beautiful wife.

This is the celebrity murder trial of the century and the defence want one man on their team: con artist turned lawyer Eddie Flynn.

All the evidence points to…


Capital Kill

By Marc Rainer,

Book cover of Capital Kill

Why this book?

Capital Kill is a classic example of an author “writing what he knows.” Marc Rainer is a former prosecutor in the courts of Washington D.C. and a former lawyer with the US Air Force's Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps. He is married to a former Air Force OSI Special Agent.

His protagonist, Jeff Trask, shares the same background. In the book we also get to meet Lynn, an Air Force OSI Special Agent.

This is the first in a series based on Jeff Trask and it is labelled as “crime drama.” It is. But it is also a delightful mix of police procedural and legal courtroom thriller. I loved it!

Capital Kill

By Marc Rainer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A few short blocks from the safety of the museums and monuments on the National Mall, a ruthless killer prowls the streets of Washington, D.C. Federal prosecutor Jeff Trask joins a team of FBI agents and police detectives as they try to solve the series of brutal murders. As the body count rises, the investigation leads to a chilling confrontation with the leader of an international drug smuggling ring, and no one is safe, not even the police.

Written by former Washington prosecutor Marc Rainer, Capital Kill is a swirling thrill ride through the labyrinth of a major federal investigation…


Rabette Run

By Nick Rippington, Emma Mitchell (editor),

Book cover of Rabette Run

Why this book?

Not only did this novel remind me of Lewis Carroll's works, but it also reminded me of the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour and other works of theirs in their hallucinogenic-inspired songs and albums. Rippington himself is aware of that in his writing as he references both Alice in Wonderland and the phrase 'magical mystery tour.'

So far, I may have misled you because this book is a real thriller. It travels along at the speed of sound and though the things happening to Emerson Rabette are fantastic, they are so believable at the same time. That's difficult to do as a writer but Mr. Rippington manages it with ease and much panache.

Rabette Run

By Nick Rippington, Emma Mitchell (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What the readers are saying...
★★★★★ The perfect escapist read for our times
‘★★★★★ The sort of book you ‘watch’ while reading... utterly brilliant
★★★★★ If possible, I would have awarded this 10 stars. This book is much more than amazing.
★★★★★ The author, Nick Rippington, himself describes it as "Alice in Wonderland... with guns." Well, he's right and it's not hype.

Graphic designer Emerson Rabette is forced to use the London Underground to get to a meeting with his employers. There's a problem, as he's terrified of the tube. He is no ordinary commuter and this is no ordinary…


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