As I indicated in the first part of this series, some 38% of my reading during 2018 fell into the category of crime or thrillers.
Quite a large chunk of this was down to the fact that I’ve been working through producing ebook versions of all of the Sherlock Holmes stories for Standard Ebooks. So that accounts for 6 out of the 29 books I read in this genre during 2018.
The rest were dominated by a only handful of authors:
I was introduced to Robotham’s work by a friend early this year, and have been enthusiastically reading his books, trying to read them in chronological order. His first novel The Suspect, which introduces his psychologist protagonist Joseph O’Laughlin, was terrific, highly recommended. I also read four other novels by Robotham during the year.
Of these, Shatter was by far the best. This novel lives up to its title: the plot line is shattering in several respects. O’Laughlin is at hand when a woman climbs onto a nearby bridge and stands about to jump into the river below. As a psychologist who has helped the police in the past, he is asked to try to talk the woman down. He makes the attempt, but the woman ignores him and eventually jumps.
This is obviously deeply upsetting, but what makes it worse is that O’Laughlin could see that the woman was speaking to someone on her mobile phone while standing on the brink. He becomes convinced that this was not suicide, despite the appearances, but rather murder by a very cunning perpetrator.
Persuading the police to follow up this line of inquiry is not easy, but when a second, related suicide occurs, they agree to help him investigate.
Ultimately, though, the investigation becomes personal, and O’Laughlin makes some fatal mistakes which, yes, shatter his life.
I started reading French’s work a couple of years ago. She’s American-born but now lives in Ireland, where all of her crime novels are set. I really like her work, and read four of her books this year (one of which was a re-read). Of these, I enjoyed her The Secret Place the most. Her very latest, The Witch Elm takes a rather different direction than her earlier books, and was a touch disappointing.
Like Robotham, an Australian author whose work I had not read before. She has two novels out, both of which I read: The Dark Lake and Into the Night.
Of these, I thought her debut novel The Dark Lake was definitely the better of the two.
It’s a bit hard to categorise King’s work, as he crosses genres so effortlessly. But if we put his Bill Hodges trilogy into the ‘crime’ genre, then these were certainly great reading this year: Mr Mercedes, Finders Keepers and End of Watch. Of these, the first was probably my favourite.
Dervla McTiernan published her debut novel The Rùin this year. Now resident in Australia, McTiernan is Irish, and this novel was set in and around Dublin. Very promising first novel.
Jane Harper is another Australian crime writer (we are well-blessed with such). Her first novel The Dry is deeply Australian in setting and brings a challenging mystery to the fore.
The Hot Rock by Donald Westlake is an amusing story based around a group of hapless crooks trying to steal a huge diamond. A lot of fun.
The House of Silk and Moriarty by Antony Horowitz are authorised Sherlock Holmes stories. I liked the first, not the second.
Best Crime Read of the Year
My award goes to Shatter by Michael Robotham, but closely followed by Mr Mercedes by Stephen King.