The Crime Fiction Books You Need To Read This Summer
The Debrief: Because nothing goes with tanning by the pool like a jolly good whodunnit
If you're planning on lounging by a pool there's nothing you're going to want to read more than a whole bunch of crime fiction books this summer. Here's our pick of the best ones going at the moment.
Friday On My Mind - Nicci French
Fifth in the Frieda Klein series, this may not make massive sense if you haven’t read the previous books - but they are well worth investigating anyway. Freida, a psychotherapist who has worked with the police, finds herself framed for murder when a body is found in the Thames with her name on it. Literally. Before long it’s clear that it’s tied both to her previous cases, and to the frankly terrifying ex-client who has been stalking her from afar. She’s an exceptional character - smart, bloody-minded and insightful about the (often useless) colleagues she’s surrounded by. Tension is almost unbearable as the series builds towards a climax. It’s a read-in-a-few-hours type deal.
A Game For All The Family - Sophie Hannah
Hannah’s previous novels have all been investigated by the same Cambridgeshire police force and have covered their romantic sub-plots as well as the crimes being investigated. That formula was wearing a little thin, so it’s fantastic news that this is a stand-alone thriller. Set in a ‘perfect’ new family home, it sees mum, Justine become increasingly spooked by her teenage daughter Ellen’s unnervingly imaginative school project - a horror story set in their new home. Next it turns out that Ellen's new school bezza is, um, apparently imaginary. Pitch perfect middle-class homeowner angst meets overactive teen imaginings and a disorientatingly creepy headmistress: this will make you the annoying one reading on the tube escalator.
Crash & Burn - Lisa Gardner
Nicky Frank wakes from a horrific car accident with brain injuries and a husband she’s really not sure if she can trust. He says he is devoted to her, has her best interests at heart and that she shouldn’t trust the police. Hmm. Meanwhile, Sergeant Wyatt Foster and recurring PI Tessa Leoni are working out that the truth might lie somewhere in between. This is not an especially edgy thriller, more a solid, fairly standard US airport-type paperback - but that’s no bad thing. It’s the sort of book you long for if your flight’s delayed and you just want to curl up near Duty Free with a distraction.
Black Eyed Susans - Julia Heaberlin
Atmosphere is everything with this creepy, almost gothic thriller. Tessa is the lone survivor of a serial killer attack that saw her aged 17, left for dead and covered in black eyed susan flowers. She grew up believing that the perpetrator was found and she’s tried to rebuild a life. But now someone is planting black eyed susans beneath her bedroom window, and she’s increasingly haunted by her memories of the attack. The detail, the flipping between then and now and the creepy Americana that’s reminiscent of True Detective make this as chilling as it is compelling. It’s a thriller you’ll want to pass on and discuss, not just delete from your kindle and forget.
Burnt Paper Sky - Gilly Macmillan
The horror of having your child abducted is the central premise here, and it’s told in two voices - that of the child’s mother Rachel, whose husband left only ten months before, and the lead detective on the case, who has been left broken by it. Two things really lift it though: the atmospheric Bristol setting, and the fact that Rachel Jenner is a somewhat unreliable narrator. As she admits, she was something of an emotional wreck before the abduction, but the trial by media and the intensity of her grief add a real narrative edge. A ballsy home-grown debut thriller.
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You might want to think about the fact you're about to read something that wouldn't exactly get a PG rating