Top Ten Crime Novels of 2014

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We've chosen some old favourites with their 'last in series' whom we're sure you wouldn't want to miss as well as some newcomers and we think there should be something here for all lovers of crime novels. The books are listed alphabetically by author.

Tight-Lipped by David Barrie

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It's a little bit different in the UK but in Paris intellectuals are lauded in much the same way as rock stars. Jean-Jacques Marsay is a philosopher and equally as famous as his wife, the beautiful and talented actress, Carine Dufour. Marsay is writing a book about Appoghiu Terra - an eco-terrorist organisation - and its leader Gabriel Agostini. His editor is Virginie Desmoulins - or rather was - because Virginie was murdered at her flat in a rather unusual way. The case is being investigated by Captain Franck Guerin of the Brigade Criminelle and he and Agostini have a history. Agostini shot and seriously wounded Guerin when Guerin was with his previous employers, the French version of the security services. He was moved on to the Brigade Criminelle when it was thought that he might have become just a little too sympathetic to Agostini - and Agostini to him. Full review...

The Burglar Who Counted The Spoons by Lawrence Block

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The return of Lawrence Block's wonderful burglar, Bernie Rhodenbarr, nine years after the tenth novel in the series, was my most-anticipated book release for an awfully long time. It is an absolute pleasure to report that the character has lost none of his charm, Block's writing is as superb as ever, and the plot is as ingenious as in any of the previous 10. I say that having reread them all in the twelve months before reading this one. This is up there along with The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart as my favourite in the series. For newcomers to the series, I'd definitely recommend starting at the beginning, but if you do want to dive into this one, you definitely can without feeling too lost. Full review...

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley

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Flavia de Luce is nearly twelve but she's grown up without the presence of her mother who is presumed to have died in a mountaineering accident in Tibet when Flavia was just a baby. The loss has left its mark on the family: Colonel de Luce is a broken man and as it was Harriet who owned the family home - Buckshaw - they've lived in a financial limbo. But now Harriet's body has been found and we join the family as it's brought back to the village on a train commissioned by the government. The great and the good are there - including Winston Churchill - but there's also a mysterious death. And the man who has died whispered a warning to Flavia just before he went under the wheels of the train. Full review...

Darkness, Darkness: Resnick's Last Case by John Harvey

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It's difficult to believe that it's thirty years since the miners' strike, not least because a lot of the enmities still live on. It wasn't so much that it was the miners against the government and the police as the fact that it was neighbour against neighbour - and sometimes the problem was within a family. The Nottinghamshire miners were less militant than some of their northern counterparts - and many continued to work. And so it was in Bledwell Vale. The pit there was just about played out and was scheduled for closure, so many men were continuing to work, despite the picketing. Six months after the end of the strike the pit did close, but there was no magic solution for Bledwell Vale and thirty years on another row of the old Coal Board houses was being demolished when the skeleton of a woman was discovered. Full review...

Respect by Mandasue Heller

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Growing up is difficult in the best of circumstances. The council estate where Chantelle has grown up in isn't decaying - it is dead and rotten. It has become a holding place for those who are condemned to a life of crime, at least when they aren't serving time. It is the type of place that saps ambition and hope from its unlucky inhabitants. But Chantelle is determined to break out. She has avoided all the pitfalls waiting for children in her situation, avoiding drugs, alcohol, crime and dead end relationships. Full review...

Criminal Enterprise by Owen Laukkanen

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We all have bills to pay and many of us have felt that shiver down our spine as we realise we may be a little short this month. What we don’t do is take a scribbled note saying you have a gun into a bank and force money out of the till. For one out-of-work accountant, Carter Tomlin, this is the option he chooses over bankruptcy and one crime leads to another. Will spiky FBI Special Agent Carla Windermere and laidback local cop Kirk be able to catch this white collar criminal before his cuffs become stained with blood? Full review...

The Dark Meadow by Andrea Maria Schenkel and Anthea Bell (translator)

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It was at the end of the war that Afra Zauner returned to her parents' cottage in Finsterau. She'd lost her job as a waitress and it was some time before she realised that she was pregnant. When Albert was born her father turned against her and the boy and there was little sympathy for her in the village - but they didn't expect that Afra would be murdered. The obvious suspect was Johann Zauner. It was no secret that there had been constant arguments between him and his daughter and he had some injuries which he couldn't entirely explain. When a policeman 'obtained' a confession it seemed that this was an open-and-shut case. Full review...

Happiness is Easy by Edney Silvestre

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Monday 20th August 1900. Silvestre sets store by dates in his books. Time is important. Time, he seems to feel, fixes everything we do, because of what everyone else is doing at that time. History winds on, or unravels, while we do what we do – but we are part of that history. Full review...

East of Innocence by David Thorne

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'What's the difference between God and a lawyer? The man sitting across the desk from me, eyes fixed on my face, doesn't look like he'd appreciate the punch line.'

Terry Campion wouldn't even understand the punch line, but then his lawyer, Daniel Connell knows just how untrue it is. He should. He's a lawyer who has somehow lost is ability to mete out his own salvation let alone anyone else's. Full review...

A Lovely Way to Burn (Plague Times Trilogy 1) by Louise Welsh

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The summer of the great heat wave is also the summer of death. Stevie thought nothing of the three establishment pillars turned snipers; the news just didn't register. Then the illness came: plague-like symptoms sweeping across the world. When Stevie's boyfriend dies it's easy to put it down to the pandemic but Stevie has a hunch and she won't stop till she's followed it, no matter what happens or who tries to stop her. Full review...

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