I hope it’s not too early to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a happy and fruitful New Year.
It is one of life’s great pleasures to curl up in bed at night and read a good book, so for my December blog, I’ve decided to share with you some of the crime novels that have given me most pleasure this year. It’s always a tricky task to narrow down the field to a select few, even more so when I realised there would be room to mention only three.
I’ve chosen one by a well-known author whose books I’ve been enjoying for almost twenty years, but my other two choices are writers who were new to me this year. It’s always a delight to discover a new author and once I’d read the first books in each of their series, it wasn’t long before I’d downloaded the next.
The Graveyard of the Hesperides
Marcus Didius Falco’s feisty adopted daughter, Flavia Albia, is a remarkable woman in what is very much a man’s world. Young, widowed and fiercely independent, she lives alone on the Aventine Hill in Rome and makes a good living as a hired investigator. An outsider in more ways than one, Albia has unique insight into life in ancient Rome, and she puts it to good use going places no man could go, and asking questions no man could ask.
The Graveyard of the Hesperides is the fourth in the Flavia Albia series
I have a long list of writers I admire and think of as my ‘favourite’ authors, but I can probably count on one hand the number of prolific writers – with lists of 20 to 30 books to their credit – who I can claim to have read every one of their books. Lindsey Davis is one. (If you’re wondering who the others might be, they include Agatha Christie, Dick Francis and Terry Pratchett.)
I loved the first Falco novel and, from the 1990 onwards, have eagerly awaited the publication of each new book. I must admit, at first I was not sure about her new protagonist, Flavia Albia. After 20 Falco novels, I felt a little cheated having a substitute. Falco was such a loveable rogue – always wheeling and dealing. However, though this new series is different, I’m now a firm fan. I confess it was Tiberius Manlius Faustus who won me over, just as he has Flavia Albia as the series has progressed. Nonetheless, as well we know, the course of true love never runs smooth and there are always dead bodies getting in the way!
The Dante Connection (Book 2)
Despite her initial disbelief, Doctor Genevieve Lenard discovers that she is the key that connects stolen works of art, ciphers and sinister threats.
Betrayed by the people who called themselves her friends, Genevieve throws herself into her insurance investigation job with autistic single-mindedness. When hacker Francine appears beaten and bloodied on her doorstep, begging for her help, Genevieve is forced to get past the hurt of her friends’ abandonment and team up with them to find the perpetrators.
Little does she know that it will take her on a journey through not one, but two twisted minds to discover the true target of their mysterious messages. It will take all her personal strength and knowledge as a nonverbal communications expert to overcome fears that could cost not only her life, but the lives of many others.
This is a series with an unconventional protagonist. Genevieve is autistic and she has a band of likable but equally unconventional guardians who work on the other side of the law.
Estelle Ryan is one of my great finds of the year. She ticks every box – great plot, superb characterisation and a page-turning quality that keeps me reading long past my switch-off-the-light-and-go-to-sleep time. I thoroughly enjoyed The Gauguin Connection, book 1 in the series and couldn’t wait to read the next, but the best thing is, I still have seven more yet to read! By the time I’ve caught up, I expect book 10 will be in print. Fantastic.
Divining the Lost: Andromeda, Book 2
DC Frankie McCormack’s ex-wife has gone missing and Frankie’s going mental. The second in the Andromeda series sees DI Mike Donnelly and Annie use their very differing method to help. With Donnelly trying to keep him out of it, he turns to Annie’s jiggery-pokery.
But Annie is being attacked by an old enemy and dodging a violent stalker just at the moment …
A gritty tartan noir with wit and a hint of the occult.
With a name like Andromeda, you are not likely to expect a conventional protagonist and the reader certainly doesn’t get one! Though I love all of the many sub-genres that crime has to offer, that’s the attraction, I am always a little wary of delving into the occult. It is however, a testament to my enjoyment that I read the second in the series straight after I’d read the first – Divining Murder.
If you are looking for Christmas presents for family or friends who enjoy crime fiction, you couldn’t go far wrong with these authors, but why not give yourself a treat! You won’t regret it.
I’m sure many of you will have suggestions too. What have been your best reads of 2016?