The Best Female Crime Books To Get Your Teeth Into This Year
The Debrief: Need a whodunnit thriller to make winter seem less rubbish? Here's a few good ones.
The Woman Who Ran - Sam Baker
Helen Graham is a newcomer in the sort of tiny village where everyone knows everyone’s business. Given that she has just escaped from a devastating fire, a distressing marriage and a chunk of her past that she simply can’t remember, this is far from ideal. Based loosely on Anne Brontë's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (no, you don’t have to have read it..), her story is told with a combination of flashback and urgent present day drama. The tone is dark, the air of menace is constant but we have a genuinely inspiring and resilient heroine. Sam Baker has created a haunting, tense thriller, and in the Helen Graham we have a character who packs proper feminist punch too.
Out January 28th, Harper Fiction, £7.99
Rebound - Aga Lesiewicz
A woman involved in the rape and then murder of women out dog-walking on Hampstead Heath shouldn’t be that interesting. A bit grimy. Depressing reading. But this book really bloody works because the woman, Anna, is such a great character. A media executive who’s telling her story in a fresh, chatty, even cynical way, she makes the case - and her part in it - properly compelling. That, and the fact that she is a badass businesswoman who is having sex with a total stranger as she got bored of her boyfriend. Not a new story, but told in a great new way.
Out Jan 14th, Macmillan, £12.99
Missing, Presumed - Susie Steiner
A young woman has vanished without a trace. She’s from a very well connected family, albeit one with a mother who seems to be a bag of nerves. And on the case is Manon Bradshaw, an insomniac detective with a few demons of her own. This is a cracking mystery, but one peopled with such brilliant female characters, so fantastically well drawn that it feels like more than a mere thriller. Heartache, professional ambition and an urgent yearning for independence are themes here just as much as what - or if - the crime at hand might be. And it’s the first in a potential series, so Manon is basically our new Jane Tennison.
Out Feb 25th, Borough Press, £ 12.99
The Widow - Fiona Barton
Being pitched as ‘from the team who brought us The Girl on the Train’ this one certainly doesn’t let us down with its unreliable narrator. Jean, the eponymous widow and main narrator, certainly seems to be bearing a heavy secret. First we realise that Jean is relieved her husband is dead. Then we hear her defending him. Then we hear a little more about the actual case that has cast a shadow over their marriage. The writing itself isn’t especially memorable, but the slow, slippery unraveling of her story - and the humdinger of a twist - make it a perfect commute page-turner.
Out Jan 14th, Transworld, £12.99
Keep You Close - Lucie Whitehouse
Marianne Glass is a brilliant young painter who has been found dead in the garden of her family home. It’s an apparent suicide but Rowan Winter, her estranged childhood friend, is convinced something more sinister has happened. As she sets out to discover what’s gone on, we learn how Rowan - an only child - was taken in by the family, how much they meant to her, and how out of control Marianne’s life seems to have become since the women fell out. Whitehouse is brilliant on creepy houses, posh intellectuals with secrets and the longing to fit in with a set more glamorous than your own. All this, plus a 4am mind-melt of a twist, makes this a thriller as atmospheric as it is gripping.
Out March 10th, Bloomsbury Circus, £12.99
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At work? With your gran?
You might want to think about the fact you're about to read something that wouldn't exactly get a PG rating