Top Ten Crime Novels 2016

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For the most part we've avoided the big names in our favourites this year: it's good to see some new names coming through! These are our favourites in alphabetical order by author.

Dodgers by Bill Beverly

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Judging a book by its cover can mislead. It can especially mislead if you don't look closely at the cover and are just grabbed by the feel or style of the design of the thing. Being misled is not necessarily a bad thing. For reasons best left in the depths of my addled brain, the styling of Dodgers had me thinking 'noir'. I was expecting late fifties, early sixties. If I'd looked closer, I'd have seen that it is much more contemporary than that. Then again… Full review...

Die of Shame by Mark Billingham

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A group of addicts - the addictions differ - meet regularly at the home of their therapist, Tony De Silva, himself a former addict. On the night we join them, Chris, Robin, Heather and Diana are surprised to see that there's an extra chair in the circle. It changes the dynamics of the group, but the newcomer is Caroline and she's a large lady - but although she likes her food it's painkillers that she's addicted to. There's no obvious reason why Caroline's arrival should make such a difference to the group - she's keen to fit in - but it does and before many weeks have passed one of the group is murdered. It's increasingly obvious that one of the group is responsible. Full review...

Night School by Lee Child

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The 21st Jack Reacher novel takes us back in time. Reacher is still an US Army MP. In the morning they gave Reacher a medal, and in the afternoon they sent him back to school. Full review...

Bird in a Cage by Frederic Dard and David Bellos (translator)

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A man returns to the flat he grew up in and where his mother died without his knowledge, and finds it too desolate for the time of year it is – Christmas Eve. Bursting for more life, despite being a solitary character, he goes to a restaurant, and finds a connection with a mother with her daughter. They dine, then go to the cinema, and sit together, and things happen from there – in a gentle, no-pressure, no-names-no-packdrill way. If this isn't a reasonable start to a novella, consider the tag it has as a noir classic. And consider the fact the strange woman is the spitting image of the man's dead wife… Full review...

The Beauty of the End by Debbie Howells

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Noah is happily lonely; he's built up his seclusion to block out the pain of his past. But when he gets a call out of the blue from a former friend, his past catches up with him violently. Noah must delve into the life of his childhood love, April, to prove she's innocent of murder. But why is everyone else so certain that she's guilty? What secrets is she keeping? And what does a young girl called Ella know that holds the key? As more characters from Noah's past emerge, Noah has to question everything he thinks he knows if he wants to save April. Full review...

Silent Scream by Angela Marsons

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In Silent Scream, D.I Kim Stone is called to investigate the body found dead in the bath of a house that has been set on fire. As she and her team start to investigate the suspicious circumstances, it becomes clear that this isn't going to be an isolated case and they are in a race against the clock to find out who could be next on the killer's hit list and why. Full review...

Chain of Custody by Anita Nair

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After the success of A Cut-like Wound published in the UK in 2014, Chain of Custody sees the return of Inspector Gowda of the Bengarulu (rendered throughout in its anglicised version: Bangalore) police, called in when an affluent lawyer is found dead at his home in a prestigious and well-guarded gated community. However, that is the prologue jumping ahead of the story – as is the current vogue. Full review...

The Hanging Club by Tony Parsons

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When the three yobbos who brutally kicked to death a young husband and father are given a perfunctory sentence, DC Wolfe finds it hard to hold his true feelings in check. Confounded by the injustice of the British Courts and legal system, DC Wolfe spends a good while soul searching and wondering why he invests so much of his life in fighting crime, finding murderers and bringing them to justice when the integrity of the criminal justice system is so sorely lacking. Luckily for DC Wolfe he has his bright and funny daughter Scout to keep him from looking too hard into the darkness that DC Wolfe knows lives inside every dutiful cop; until the videos start being posted on the internet. Full review...

Promises of Blood by David Thorne

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I love getting in on the ground floor. Thanks to this very website I was one of the first in this country to read the Twilight series and was smitten from the start. We'll ignore the films, the books are worth a look! In a completely different genre, but no less a lucky fluke it was through here that I stumbled across East of Innocence and put in an old-fashioned baggsy for whatever followed. On reading the second of the series Nothing Sacred I commented that I hoped that in the next outing Connell would see him up against, or siding with, some kick-ass-don't-take-it female. So far his women do tend to be 'birds or victims' . I'm pleased to say he's moving in the right direction… women are central to this story one way and another. For the first time he's given us female characters who (despite their plot-device roles, which is varied and not always predictable) are stronger than they look – strong in a number of different ways – he hasn't simply opted for my "kick-ass" option, he's more subtle than that. Full review...

Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger

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Finlay Montgomery, like her grandmother Eloise before her is a very powerful and gifted psychic. Sensitive to the unseen, unheard and unknowable, she spends her days among the dead. Visited, bothered, harassed and sometimes taunted, Finlay does her best to manage the gifts that Mother Nature has sought to bestow. But life is not that simple and studying for your degree is testing with five other visitors in the room who are all trying to get your attention in the loudest and most distracting way possible. Full review...

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