The best regional crime fiction in Britain

Why am I passionate about this?

I write crime fiction set in the north of England. It’s where I was born and grew up, although for the last 20 years I’ve lived in Spain. I really love novels with a local or regional flavour. The kind of writing that takes you to a specific place, and draws on that place in the action itself. The writers that I chose for this list all do this extremely well. And although their books are set in different locations, they share the sense of the setting almost becoming a character in the story.

I wrote...

Book cover of Right to Kill: A gripping Yorkshire murder mystery for 2022 (DS Joe Romano crime thriller series book 1)

What is my book about?

The debut thriller in a gripping British detective crime fiction series. For fans of Harlen Coben and Ian Rankin.
Detective Sergeant Joe Romano is following up on the disappearance of drug dealer Craig Shaw. It’s the start of a case that could make or break his career. Because Shaw is about to go from missing to murdered. While some don’t think Shaw’s killer should be brought to justice, Romano believes every life counts. But he’s running out of time. The killer is ready to strike again. And Romano will be forced to question whether anyone has the right to kill.

"A striking debut." Peter Robinson. "An outstandingly good first instalment." The Quietus. "Breakneck pace, terrific protagonist and a kick-ass sidekick." Neil Lancaster. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Dead Man's Grave

John Barlow Why did I love this book?

The first novel in the DS Max Craigie series.Neil is an ex-police detective, and it shows in this series.

The whole book just sings with authenticity on every page. There are some complex procedural aspects to the story, but you get the sense that you’re following a genuine investigation, one which is far more detailed (and interesting) than in a standard police procedural.

DS Max Craigie is a compelling character. His PTSD, plus flashbacks to the causes of his condition, are handled with delicacy and are not used to turn the emotional screws. They feel convincing, and Craigie is an unusually intelligent and imaginative lead. On a personal note, Neil also helped me with various details on police investigations for my own writing, so thanks Neil!

I’ve read all the books in the series, and they just get better. But start here with book 1. A top-drawer thriller.

By Neil Lancaster,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Dead Man's Grave as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The best police procedural I've read in years' Jane Casey


'Grabbed me from the first page' Ian Rankin

This grave can never be opened.
The head of Scotland's most powerful crime family is brutally murdered, his body dumped inside an ancient grave in a remote cemetery.

This murder can never be forgotten.
Detectives Max Craigie and Janie Calder arrive at the scene, a small town where everyone has secrets to hide. They soon realise this murder is part of a blood feud between two Scottish families that…

Book cover of For Reasons Unknown

John Barlow Why did I love this book?

The first in the Matilda Darke crime thriller series.

I love the straight-up tone of Michael’s writing in this series. It’s fast, direct, and emotionally involved. He also provides plots which are absorbing and which differ markedly from one book to the next.

Matilda Darke herself is a complex character, with an equally complex life, and a varied circle of friends and colleagues. Throughout the series she is put through all kinds of hell. And there are already 11 books, so that’s plenty of hell!

Set in Sheffield, a city in the north of England, these are authentic, contemporary crime novels that you will not want to put down.

By Michael Wood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Two murders. Twenty years. Now the killer is back for more...

DCI Matilda Darke has returned to work after a nine month absence. A shadow of her former self, she is tasked with re-opening a cold case: the terrifyingly brutal murders of Miranda and Stefan Harkness. The only witness was their eleven-year-old son, Jonathan, who was too deeply traumatized to speak a word.

Then a dead body is discovered, and the investigation leads back to Matilda's case. Suddenly the past and present converge, and it seems a killer may have come back for more...

A darkly compelling debut crime novel,…

Book cover of Vine Street

John Barlow Why did I love this book?

Dominic wrote two very good crime books in a short series before publishing Vine Street.

I am including Vine Street on my list because, although it’s set in London and is therefore not ‘regional’, it was one of the great crime novels of 2021-22 and deserves to become a classic. I read this book before it was published, and I knew, like everyone else, that it was something special.

The story spans almost a century, from the seedy streets of London’s Soho in the 1930s, until the present day. There are some really well-researched and vividly depicted descriptions of police investigations in the 30s, and just for that it’s worth a read. But there’s also a twisting, mesmerizing plot that takes us all the way to the present.

What really distinguishes Vine Street, though, is the writing itself, which seems to echo the rhythms of the 1930s jazz clubs, and somehow manages to evoke the confusing, chaotic mystery that weaves through the pages, all 600 of them! 

By Dominic Nolan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


'Brings the obsessional dread of James Ellroy to 1940s London.' IAN RANKIN

'Extraordinary...a career-defining performance.' THE SUNDAY TIMES

'This is crime writing of the highest quality' DAILY MAIL

SOHO, 1935.

A snarling, skull-cracking misanthrope, Geats marshals the grimy rabble according to his own elastic moral code.

The narrow alleys are brimming with jazz bars, bookies, blackshirts, ponces and tarts so when a body is found above the Windmill Club, detectives are content to dismiss the case as just another…

Book cover of Gallows View

John Barlow Why did I love this book?

When Peter Robinson passed away in 2022, he had written 28 novels in the Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks series.

Robinson needs no introduction here, but I have included him on this list because he sets these novels in a fictional town in the Yorkshire Dales, close to where I grew up, and also because he was very encouraging to me personally when I wrote my first Joe Romano novel.

Whereas the books are very much mainstream crime novels, they also have a literary quality to them. He manages to achieve a fine balance between genre fiction and a more literary style. You often forget that you’re reading crime at all.

The series was also made into TV series (DCI Banks) starring Stephen Tompkinson, which ran for five series, and really captures the essence of the books.

By Peter Robinson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Peeping Tom is frightening the women of Eastvale; two glue-sniffing young thugs are breaking into homes and robbing people; an old woman may or may not have been murdered. Investigating these cases is Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks, a perceptive, curious and compassionate policeman recently moved to the Yorkshire Dales from London to escape the stress of city life. In addition to all this, Banks has to deal with the local feminists and his attraction to a young psychologist, Jenny Fuller. As the tension mounts, both Jenny and Banks' wife, Sandra, are drawn deeper into the events. The cases…

Book cover of Last Request

John Barlow Why did I love this book?

Based in Bradford, in the north of England, Liz’s fiction is gritty and really conveys the realities of this multi-racial, post-industrial city (I grew up a few miles away).

I’m listing Last Request because it was the first book by Liz that I read. But apart from the 6 books in the DS Nikita Parakh series, she’s also written eight novels (so far!) in the DI Gus McGuire series. There’s lots of inner-city grime in the writing, but also issues such as racial tension and mental health.

More importantly, I think, is that the writing has a compelling kind of humanity, with vulnerable, imperfect characters put into impossible situations. She’s just a natural storyteller.

By Liz Mistry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Absolutely fantastic, had me gripped!!! Loved it!' 5 stars, NetGalley reviewer

When human remains are discovered under Bradford's derelict Odeon car park, DS Nikita Parekh and her team are immediately called to the scene.

Distracted by keeping her young nephew out of trouble, Nikki is relieved when the investigation is transferred to the Cold Case Unit, and she can finally focus on her family.

But after the identity of the victim is revealed, she's soon drawn back into the case. The dead man is a direct link to her painful past.

As the body count begins to rise, Nikki must…

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Returning to Eden

By Rebecca Hartt,

Book cover of Returning to Eden

Rebecca Hartt Author Of Rising From Ashes

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Idealistic Storyteller Teacher Mother Seeker

Rebecca's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Looking for clean romantic suspense with spiritual undertones?

Look no further than the Acts of Valor series by Rebecca Hartt. With thousands of reviews and 4.7-5.0 stars per book, this 6-book series is a must-read for readers searching for memorable, well-told stories by an award-winning author.

A dead man stands on her doorstep.

When the Navy wrote off her MIA husband as dead, Eden came to terms with being a widow. But now, her Navy SEAL husband is staring her in the face. Eden knows she should be over-the-moon, but she isn’t.

Diagnosed with PTSD and amnesia, Navy SEAL Jonah Mills has no recollection of their fractured marriage, no memory of Eden nor her fourteen-year-old daughter. Still, he feels a connection to both.

Unfit for active duty and assigned to therapy, Jonah knows he has work to do and relies on God, who sustained him during captivity, to heal his mind, body, and hopefully his family.

But as the memories lurking in his wife's haunted eyes and behind his daughter's uncertain smile begin to return to him, Jonah makes another discovery. There is treachery in the highest ranks of his Team, treachery that not only threatens him but places his new-found family in its crosshairs.

Returning to Eden

By Rebecca Hartt,

What is this book about?

Presumed Dead, Navy SEAL Returns Without Memory of His Ordeal in the Christian Romantic Suspense, Returning to Eden, by Rebecca Hartt

-- Present Day, Virginia Beach, Virginia --

A dead man stands at Eden Mills' door.

Declared MIA a year prior, the Navy wrote him off as dead. Now, Eden's husband, Navy SEAL Jonah Mills has returned after three years to disrupt her tranquility. Diagnosed with PTSD and amnesia, he has no recollection of their marriage or their fourteen-year-old step-daughter. Still, Eden accepts her obligation to nurse Jonah back to health while secretly longing to regain her freedom, despite the…

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