It’s that time of year again, the ‘Best Of’ season – why should crime fiction be any different? This is the Daily Telegraph’s take on the best thriller and crime books of 2017.
A Legacy of Spies by John le Carre. Peter Guillam, a former colleague of George Smiley has retired to Brittany when he receives a letter summoning him to London. Somebody must pay for the mistakes of the past, why not him? Classic Le Carre. Amazon review average 4.3.
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins. Jules’s sister Nel is found drowned in a body of water known locally as the Drowning Pool, but Jules knew she would never jump. The story is told from a dozen viewpoints which many readers found difficult to follow. It was always going to be a problem following up a phenomenal success like The Girl on the Train. Amazon review average 3.4.
The Dry by Jane Harper. Tensions rise as Australia suffers its worst drought for over a century, and they boil over when three members of the Hadler family are found murdered. Policeman Adam Falk returns to the town to attend the funeral of his boyhood friend, but they shared a hidden secret that threatens to bubble again to the surface. Amazon review average 4.5.
The Long Drop by Denise Mina. The author re-stages one of the Peter Manuel murders, crimes which terrorised Glasgow in the 1950s. Manuel was convicted of seven murders and hanged in 1958. The book is part-fiction, part-fact and takes you into the mind of a serial killer. Amazon review average 4.3.
He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly. Laura and Kit are keen followers of eclipses. They attend an eclipse festival in Cornwall where they witness a rape. As the story progresses, the author muddies the water at some points leaving you sympathetic for the victim and at others, sympathetic to the ‘protagonist.’ Amazon review average 4.1.
Spook Street by Mike Herron. Jackson Lamb is a pen pusher at Slough House, home of MI5. They are known as ‘slow horses’ former spies put out to pasture in the hope they will resign. Sparkling dialogue. Amazon review average 4.8.
Defectors by Joseph Canon. Simon Weeks, a New York publisher has the opportunity to publish the memoirs of his brother, a defector to the KGB. He can’t resist as he wants to know why his brother defected. A moody spy novel, recreating well the paranoia that pervaded Russia in the early 1960s. Amazon review average 3.8.
Traitor in the Family by Nicholas Searle. Bridget is married to Francis, an IRA terrorist and is expected to keep her mouth shut. On a mission to blow up an electricity sub-station, her husband is betrayed and sent to prison. Is this Bridget’s chance to escape? Francis is released under the Good Friday Agreement and seeks his betrayer, but will his search result in the death of both of them? Amazon review average 3.9.
The Spy’s Daughter by Adam Brookes. Disgraced spook, Philip Mangan gets a shot at redemption when he tries to help a teenage girl, a mathematical genius, evade the clutches of Chinese military intelligence. This completes the Mangan trilogy, a modern spy classic. Amazon review average 4.6.
You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahood. The novel takes the form of a monologue delivered to a jury over 10 days by a young black man defending himself on a murder charge. Using street dialogue, it immerses the reader into London gang culture. Praised for its originality. Amazon review average 4.2.
Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land. Annie’s mother is a serial killer and when she hands her over to the police, she hopes for a new start in life. With the trial looming, Annie will be forced to appear, but does she know more than she’s letting on? Amazon review average 4.3.
The Pictures by Guy Bolton. Set in 1930s Hollywood, it follows a morally dubious fixer as he tries to smooth over the suicide of a producer. A routine job proves anything but and forces the fixer into making a decision; should he do exactly as the studio wants, or follow his new resolve to go straight? Amazon review average 4.4.
Sirens by Jospeh Knox. Detective Aidan Waits is searching for a missing teenager, daughter of a Manchester politician. The book leads the reader on a gritty trawl through Manchester’s drug culture, and even Detective Waits isn’t averse to sampling some of their merchandise. Amazon review average 4.1.