CTG’s TOP TEN “MUST PACK” #CrimeFiction SUMMER READS

 

 

If you’ve been stressed out and counting the hours (minutes, seconds …) till your holiday the last thing you want is more stress from picking the right books to take with you!

But there are so many red hot sizzlers of reads out there, how do you pick the books to pack into your luggage? It’s a tough call, so to help you out I thought I’d do a top ten selection of my favourite reads from the past few months to give you a bit of a head start.

And so, after A LOT of deliberation, these are my top ten “must pack” reads.

**drum roll**

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If you love super smart and sparkly fun non-fiction … then REACHER SAID NOTHING by ANDY MARTIN is the perfect companion to lie back on your beach towel with.

Through Andy’s eyes, you’ll get a backseat view of Lee Child as he writes his most recent bestseller – MAKE ME. It’s a captivating snapshot of the life of Lee Child during the writing process – illuminating how his life and his writing feed into each other – and a lesson in thriller writing distilled through the expert observations and analysis of Andy Martin. REACHER SAID NOTHING is an honest, access-all-areas study of a writer at the top of their game, and a damn entertaining read – an absolute must for Reacher fans and aspiring writers too. If you’re a fan of crime thrillers this is a book you just have to read!

Read my review of REACHER SAID NOTHING here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Andy on Twitter @andymartinink

 

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If you love your crime to come with a heavyweight emotional sucker-punch … you’ll need IN HER WAKE by AMANDA JENNINGS in your rucksack when you head off to the British seaside.

It’s a remarkable book – part psychological thriller, part coming-of-age story, it entices you in with a gloriously rich web of secrets and mystery, and holds you spell bound right through to the final heart-wrenching revelation. Beautifully written, IN HER WAKE is a story of toxic relationships, family betrayals and self-discovery. It’s both gritty and tragic, and achingly emotive and heart-warming. A stunning read.

Read my review of IN HER WAKE here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Amanda on Twitter @MandaJJennings

 

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If you love a classy whodunit with a psychological twist … be sure to take DIE OF SHAME by MARK BILLINGHAM with you when you load the truck to drive Route 66 on your road trip.

Told across two timelines, the story follows the police investigation, led by no-nonsense DI Nicola Tanner, into the murder of a member of a North West London addiction therapy group in the ‘NOW’. While in the ‘THEN’ it shows the group, and its members’ lives, as they were in the weeks leading up to the murder of one of their own. It’s a book that explores the lasting effects of addiction, the guilt of having to live with the consequences of actions you may have little recall of taking, and of each person’s battle to find and keep (or get back) their place within the world. It also shows the lengths that some people will go to in order to hide their secrets and take their revenge. For police procedural fans, the investigation narrative is as rich with detail and as tensely pacey as you’d expect from a crime-writing master of the genre. Gritty, thought provoking and utterly addictive!

Read my review of DIE OF SHAME here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Mark on Twitter @MarkBillingham

 

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If you love a modern luxury twist on the classic locked room mystery … take THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 by RUTH WARE along for the ride when you journey on the Orient Express.

It tells the story of Lo Blackwood who has been given the career opportunity of a lifetime – attending the press launch of a new boutique cruise ship and writing about her experience on its maiden voyage. But in the days leading up to the cruise her flat is burgled while she’s sleeping, and her relationship with her boyfriend, Judah, hits the rocks. Unsettled and exhausted, Lo makes her way to the ship, convinced some rest and recuperation will help her feel better. But things don’t work out like that. Against the backdrop of ultimate luxury – white velvet, raw-silk, chandeliers with over two thousand Swarovski crystals – and the breath-taking natural beauty of the Norwegian fjords, Lo finds herself facing the possibility she’s trapped on a boat, cut off from the outside world, and one of the other passengers is a murderer. THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 brings the classic locked room mystery bang up to date, with creepiness and ever increasing dread oozing from the pages. It’s packed with suspense and twisty with tension to the final page.

Read my review of THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 over on the @deadgoodbooks website here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Ruth on Twitter @RuthWareWriter

 

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If you love gritty American noir … a copy of BLACK NIGHT FALLING by ROD REYNOLDS is essential reading while you’re waiting for your date to arrive in that back street whiskey bar.

The second book in the Charlie Yates series is another noir-drenched belter of a thriller. “Having left Texarkana for the safety of the West Coast, reporter Charlie Yates finds himself drawn back to the South, to Hot Springs, Arkansas, as an old acquaintance asks for his help. This time it’s less of a story Charlie’s chasing, more of a desperate attempt to do the right thing before it’s too late.” I think that if Raymond Chandler and John D. MacDonald had co-written a book it might have been rather like BLACK NIGHT FALLING. Darkly gritty, authentically compelling, this is a flawless treat of a thriller.

You’ll be able to read my review of BLACK NIGHT FALLING when in comes out in August. In the meantime, click here to pre-order it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Rod on Twitter @Rod_WR

 

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If you love seeing beneath the cash and the glitter thrillers … then EXPOSURE by AVA MARSH will keep your eyes wide open as you lounge by the rooftop pool.

At the start of the book, porn star Kitty Sweet is in prison for double murder, but she’s never told the secret of what really happened. When a long lost friend visits, bringing some upsetting news, Kitty’s offered some sessions with a therapist. She figures why not, she’ll turn up and play along. It’s hard to squeeze EXPOSURE into a single sub-genre – it’s a thriller for sure; a tale of deceit, and exploitation, and murder. It’s also a tale of friendship, of love and of heartbreak with a real emotional core. And the twist at the end, well, let’s just say it’s not many books that can make me cry – and this one did!

Read my review of EXPOSURE here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Ava on Twitter @MsAvaMarsh

 

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If you love high adrenaline action thrillers … then you’ll want to take THE TIME TO KILL by MASON CROSS with you when you jet-ski back to your yacht.

This is the third book in the Carter Blake series, and it’s one hell of a read! The story starts with Blake accepting a new job – finding an employee of an internet tech company who’s gone AWOL with a piece of ground-breaking software. But as he starts tracking his target, Blake isn’t aware that he himself is firmly in the sights of his old employers – Winterlong – and that they’ll stop at nothing to neutralize the threat they now believe him to be. THE TIME TO KILL is an adrenaline rush from the first page to the last. Packed with stunning set-piece action sequences, and an emotional punch as you discover more of the rather mysterious Blake’s backstory, this cinematic action thriller is like reading Reacher crossed with Bourne plus added fabulousness.

Read my review of THE TIME TO KILL here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Mason on Twitter @MasonCrossBooks

 

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If you love your police procedurals packed with ghostly wonder … you’re going to need JONATHAN DARK OR THE EVDIENCE OF GHOSTS by AK BENEDICT to accompany you on that London city getaway you’re planning (maybe you’ll even be tempted to try some mud larking).

Every once in a while you read a book that enthralls you, wrapping you up tight inside its world and holding you spellbound throughout the entirety of the story. For me, this is that book. “Maria King knows a secret London. Born blind, she knows the city by sound and touch and smell. But surgery has restored her sight – only for her to find she doesn’t want it. Jonathan Dark sees the shadowy side of the city. A DI with the Metropolitan Police, he is haunted by his failure to save a woman from the hands of a stalker. Now it seems the killer has set his sights on Maria, and is leaving her messages in the most gruesome of ways. Tracing the source of these messages leads Maria and Jonathan to a London they never know. To find the truth they’ll have to listen to the whispers on the streets.” Quirkily original, with deeply drawn unique characters and a brutally magical London setting, this story has you traversing all the emotions from darkness to delight with a gut wrenching honesty – rather as if you’ve been kissed and sucker punched all at the same time, but in a good way.

Read my review of JONATHAN DARK OR THE EVIDENCE OF GHOSTS here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Alexandra on Twitter @ak_benedict

 

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If you love twisty-turny legal thrillers … take THE PLEA by STEVE CAVANAGH on your New York city break – you could even visit some of the locations in the book while you’re there.

The second book in the Eddie Flynn series, THE PLEA, sees con-man-turned-criminal-defence-lawyer Eddie Flynn facing another terrifying situation: persuade social media genius David Child to become his client and get him to plead guilty to the murder of his girlfriend, or the FBI will make sure Eddie’s wife goes to prison for involvement in an illegal scheme operated by her law firm that she had no direct knowledge of. But Eddie suspects that David Child is innocent, and he won’t send an innocent man to jail. Eddie sets out to prove David’s innocence, and to protect his own family. Problem is, there is more than one bunch of bad guys after David, and some are closer to home than even Eddie might think. With an urgent, time pressured feel from the get-go, electric courtroom scenes, stunning action sequences and the witty and unique character of Eddie Flynn, THE PLEA a tremendous read.

Read my review of THE PLEA here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Steve on Twitter @SSCav

 

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If you love heart-racing creepiness in your thrillers … WILLOW WALK by SJI HOLLIDAY is the book to pack for that walking holiday in the Scottish Highlands.

This is the second book in the Banktoun trilogy. Set in a small town community in Scotland where everyone knows each other’s business and secrets are deeply held, Sergeant David Gray is investigating a series of deaths linked to legal highs, while also trying to work out what is going wrong in his relationship with girlfriend, Marie.

This twisty, turning police procedural has a strong psychological twist, and tackles some controversial issues. It’s a gritty tale of obsession, revenge and escape. Chillingly nuanced, and pulse-poundingly suspenseful, it’s totally unputdownable.

Read my review of WILLOW WALK here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Susi on Twitter @SJIHolliday

 

So don’t forget to pack your books in your suitcase (or pack them virtually onto your Kindle) and have a fab summer hols!

 

Book Launch Thursday! Quentin Bates, AK Benedict, Sarah Pinborough & Steve Cavanagh

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The Ambassador of Iceland, Quentin Bates, and Mel Hudson

Last night I was invited to not one but two book events. Unable to choose between them – both were for fabulous books and great authors – I decided to try and get to both! Here’s how it went …

The first launch of the evening was for Thin Ice by Quentin Bates at the Embassy of Iceland. In the grand surroundings of the Embassy, Quentin’s agent, Peter Buckman of the Ampersand Agency, spoke about how Officer Gunnhildur’s no bullshit approach had attracted him to Quentin’s first book, and that it was one of the things that made the series a hit.

The Ambassador, H.E. Mr Þórður Ægir Óskarsson, proved he’d already read Thin Ice by saying he was pleased to note his home town – Akranes (about an hour’s drive north of Reykjavík) is mentioned three times in the story, and said that he hopes the next novel might be set there. And Quentin spoke about Thin Ice, and introduced Mel Hudson, reader of the audio books, who read a gripping extract from the story.

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Ayo Onatade and Susi Holliday in the cab

After a bit more chatting to all the fabulous crime writerly types, and a quick cup cake (made by Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books and delivered by editor West Camel) it was time for me to make a quick dash across town to the second book launch of the night.

Joined by crime writer Susi Holliday and reviewer Ayo Onatade, we flagged down a cab outside the Embassy and hoped we’d get to the next event on time.

Just a few minutes late, we piled out of the cab outside Waterstones Piccadilly, hurtled across the road, and up to the fourth floor of the bookshop to the launch of AK Benedict’s Jonathan Dark or The Evidence of Ghosts and Sarah Pinborough’s 13 Minutes. It was standing room only for the panel session with AK Benedict, Sarah Pinborough and Steve Cavanagh (author of The Defence) who were all on great form talking to W!zard FM about their books and the process of writing (sadly no wizards were present).

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W!zard FM interviewing AK Benedict, Sarah Pinborough & Steve Cavanagh

Steve Cavanagh revealed that he’d not been to New York when he wrote The Defence, but got a sense of the place from films and television, and Google. This caused great surprise from the audience as he evokes such a strong New York vibe in the book – a testament to his great writing. Sarah Pinborough spoke about how writers draw on their own experiences and emotions as they write, and AK Benedict spoke about writing a character who chooses not to see (Maria, one of the main characters in Jonathan Dark or the Evidence of Ghosts, wears a blindfold after having surgery to restore her sight, therefore the way she experiences the world is though her other senses). AK mentioned that she has Synaesthesia – a neurological condition where experiencing something through one sense (for example, vision) results in an automatic experience in another (for example, sound) and that this had made describing how Maria experienced the world one of the easiest things to write about. There was then a lot of laughter as Sarah held out her arm and asked AK what she smelt like. AK sniffed her and replied, ‘the sound of A Minor’.

All the fabulous books mentioned above are out now. Here’s the blurb, and the links to buy them:

Thin Ice by Quentin Bates

Snowed in with a couple of psychopaths for the winter… When two small-time crooks rob Reykjavik’s premier drugs dealer, hoping for a quick escape to the sun, their plans start to unravel after their getaway driver fails to show. Tensions mount between the pair and the two women they have grabbed as hostages when they find themselves holed upcountry in an isolated hotel that has been mothballed for the season. Back in the capital, Gunnhildur, Eiríkur and Helgi find themselves at a dead end investigating what appear to be the unrelated disappearance of a mother, her daughter and their car during a day’s shopping, and the death of a thief in a house fire. Gunna and her team are faced with a set of riddles but as more people are quizzed it begins to emerge that all these unrelated incidents are in fact linked. And at the same time, two increasingly desperate lowlifes have no choice but to make some big decisions on how to get rid of their accidental hostages…

Click here to buy Thin Ice from Waterstones

 

Jonathan Dark or The Evidence of Ghosts by AK Benedict

Maria King knows a secret London. Born blind, she knows the city by sound and touch and smell. But surgery has restored her sight – only for her to find she doesn’t want it. Jonathan Dark sees the shadowy side of the city. A DI with the Metropolitan Police, he is haunted by his failure to save a woman from the hands of a stalker. Now it seems the killer has set his sights on Maria, and is leaving her messages in the most gruesome of ways. Tracing the source of these messages leads Maria and Jonathan to a London they never knew. To find the truth they’ll have to listen to the whispers on the streets.

Click here to buy Jonathan Dark or The Evidence of Ghosts from Waterstones

 

13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

I was dead for 13 minutes. I don’t remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this – it wasn’t an accident and I wasn’t suicidal. They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I’m sure of it. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t try to kill me. Does it? 13 MINUTES is a gripping psychological thriller about people, fears, manipulation and the power of the truth.

Click here to buy 13 Minutes from Waterstones

 

The Defence by Steve Cavanagh

It’s been over a year since Eddie Flynn vowed never to set foot in a courtroom again. But now he doesn’t have a choice. Olek Volchek, the infamous head of the Russian mafia in New York, has strapped a bomb to Eddie’s back and kidnapped his ten-year-old daughter, Amy. Eddie only has forty-eight hours to defend Volchek in an impossible murder trial – and win – if he wants to save his daughter. Under the scrutiny of the media and the FBI, Eddie must use his razor-sharp wit and every con-artist trick in the book to defend his ‘client’ and ensure Amy’s safety. With the timer on his back ticking away, can Eddie convince the jury of the impossible?

Click here to buy The Defence at Waterstones

 

CTG Reviews: JONATHAN DARK OR THE EVIDENCE OF GHOSTS by A.K. Benedict

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What the blurb says: “Maria King knows a secret London. Born blind, she knows the city by sound and touch and smell. But surgery has restored her sight – only for her to find she doesn’t want it. Jonathan Dark sees the shadowy side of the city. A DI with the Metropolitan Police, he is haunted by his failure to save a woman from the hands of a stalker. Now it seems the killer has set his sights on Maria, and is leaving her messages in the most gruesome of ways. Tracing the source of these messages leads Maria and Jonathan to a London they never know. To find the truth they’ll have to listen to the whispers on the streets.”

Every once in a while you read a book that enthrals you, wrapping you up tight inside its world and holding you spellbound throughout the entirety of the story. For me, this is that book.

Set against the backdrop of an atmospheric and familiar, yet at the same time unfamiliar, London, the story is both a gritty police procedure and the story of two people discovering, and learning to accept, who they really are.

DI Jonathan Dark is a unique and fascinating detective, committed and undeniably great at his job, he’s reeling from the break-up of his marriage, the loss of his home, and is struggling with self-acceptance. As the story progresses, and he is offered help on his case from some unexpected sources – ghosts – the world he lives in continues to shift and change, causing him to question all that he believed he knew.

Maria King is an assured young woman who knows a secret London. To her the lack of sight is a gift, and the world without it a rich and sensual place that she knows through sounds and smells and touch. Now that her sight has been restored she wears a blindfold in order to remain in the world that so enchants her. But when she becomes the stalker’s target her sightlessness makes her increasingly vulnerable. Refusing to give in to the stalker’s threat, she works with DI Jonathan Dark and his team to try to discover the stalker’s identity. As her and Jonathan become closer, the stalker gets angry, and those around Maria start to pay the price.

Beautifully written, one of the many things that stand out about this book is the lightness of touch and originality in the prose, and the use of acute observations that gives the everyday a supernatural twist.

Quirkily original, with deeply drawn unique characters and a brutally magical London setting, this story has you traversing all the emotions from darkness to delight with a gut wrenching honesty – rather as if you’ve been kissed and sucker punched all at the same time, but in a good way.

A stunning read. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is, quite simply, marvellous.

 

JONATHAN DARK OR THE EVIDENCE OF GHOSTS is out today. You can buy it here from Waterstones and here from Amazon.

To find out more about AK Benedict visit her website at www.akbenedict.com and be sure to follow her on Twitter @ak_benedict