Next up on the ‘my year in books’ series running on this site over December, is crime writer (and my long time partner) Angela Savage.
Angela is the author of three highly acclaimed crime novels based in Thailand and featuring the Australian PI Jayne Keeney. The most recent of these books, The Dying Beach was published in 2013 and is available here.
She’s also got a great website, or “piece of author real estate”, as I’ve heard these things referred to by book marketing people. You can find it here.
While Andrew specified that my top five reads for 2013 didn’t have to be crime, I figured crime picks would appeal to regular readers of Pulpcurry. I read a lot of crime in 2013—some 40 books as of early December—but I didn’t realise just how many were recent releases until I sat down to compose this list. The books that made the cut ultimately combine memorable plots and characters with great writing.
After the Darkness, Honey Brown
I read three of Honey Brown’s tense, atmospheric and erotic thrillers in 2013. Difficult as it is to pick a favourite, After the Darkness just pips her debut Red Queen and this year’s Dark Horse to make this list because it is one of the few genuinely scary books I’ve ever read. Riveting, unpredictable, frighteningly good.
The Holiday Murders, Robert Gott
Gott explores the fragile territory between prejudice and murderous hatred in a riveting crime novel both intelligent and terrifying. Set during a nasty period in Australian history when right-wing elements attempted to cultivate a home-grown version of National Socialism, The Holiday Murders also provides insight into policing in Victoria at a time when the Homicide division was in its infancy.
Burial Rites, Hannah Kent
Kent brings the last woman to be executed in Iceland back to life in this stunning debut, which sits very much at the literary end of the crime fiction spectrum. Her prose sparkles, even when the imagery is dark and menacing. Exquisitely crafted, intriguing and moving, Burial Rites is a treasure to be admired and cherished.
Live By Night, Dennis Lehane
Lehane combines an engrossing plot and seamless historical setting with complex, credible characters to tell the lesser known story of Prohibition’s impact in America’s south, specifically Florida. The writing is hard-boiled poetry.
Zero at the Bone, David Whish-Wilson
In this dark, convincing tale of greed and corruption in 1979 Western Australia, Whish-Wilson manages to combine the pace of a hard-boiled thriller with a lyricism that made me pause to catch my breath, before plunging back in for more. Your classic ‘can’t stop reading/don’t want it to end’ kind of novel, Zero at the Bone is simply one of the best books I’ve read this year in any genre.
The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett
I Hear the Sirens in the Street, Adrian McKinty
Satori, Don Winslow
Antidote to Murder, Felicity Young
Thanks for dropping by, Angela. I suspect Dennis Lehane’s Live By Night is going to make a few of the best of lists appearing on this site in the coming weeks.
Thanks for hosting, Andrew. I’m really enjoying this series of posts.
Angela – You’ve made some superb choices here! I like the variety in your selections and you’ve you’ve reminded me that I absolutely positively must read Burial Rites. I am impressed.
Thanks Margot. I’m frankly surprised by how many local authors made my ‘best of’ list, but it has been a good year for Australian crime fiction.
Thanks Angela for such snappy recommendations. After this post I’ll be getting my hands on After Darkness – as I’ve heard so much about it, and there have been so many avid reviews. I’m wondering, after reading so many novels, whether you came across any crime novels dealing with mental illness? Thanks, Cassy
Thanks for stopping by Cassy. Your question about crime novels dealing with mental illness is an interesting one. There are a hell of a lot of crime novels where the villain is depicted as a psychopath, but I’m guessing you’re interested in something a bit more nuanced. Death of the Demon by Norwegian author Anne Holt is a more sophisticated take. Likewise, the novels of UK writer Ruth Dugdall, whose central character is a parole officer. The Woman Before Me is particularly good. Also, without wanting to give away too much, Dark Horse by Honey Brown might fit the bill. You can’t go wrong with a Honey Brown novel in my opinion.
I’ll give this topic some more thought and get back to you as other examples come to me.
Much appreciated Angela!
I’ve only read the Gott and the Kent but agree with you on both of those…the others are on my giant TBR pile. Agree too that it’s been a great year in Aussie crime fiction
I blanche at the thought of how big your TBR pile might be, Bernadette.
I look forward to your take on the best crime reads of 2013. Like Margot, yours in an opinion I value highly.
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The Holiday Murders by Robert Gott and the Maltese Falcon are already on my TBR pile. I will look into the others, especially Zero at the Bone. Somehow I just don’t get along with Dennis Lehane. I have read two of his PI series and Mystic River, and his books are just too tense for me. Very beautifully written though.
I appreciate suspense in novels, Tracy. Maybe that’s why I like Dennis Lehane. I have a nearly-missed-my-tram-stop test for suspense, and I seem to recall when reading Live By Night, I actually did miss the tram stop!
I own three of the mentioned books – Lehane, Kent and Gott. I’ve read everything by Dennis Lehane except for his two historical novels. I discovered Dashiell Hammett this year and enjoyed The Maltese Falcon but loved Red Harvest. Thanks for sharing your list. This is the best part of the year in reading everyone’s best of lists.
I agree, Keishon. I love reading everyone’s top picks – a great way to grow the summer reading pile. You’re not the first to recommend Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest. Will add it to said pile.
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