CFL top five books of 2011

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Perhaps you dropped by our site a week or two ago when we were asking readers what their favourite book of the last 12 months has been. Maybe you wondered why we were asking. Was it just to drum up some conversation? Or maybe Crime Fiction Lover had a little scheme afoot. Well, if you thought the latter your powers of deduction are Holmes-esque: we are a scheming bunch here at CFL

Having taken on board all the suggestions of visitors to our website, as well as pooling the opinions of our editors and review writers, we can now announce our top five crime fiction books of 2011. These all come with our recommendation and if you buy one and read it, we’d love to know what you thought of it. Drum roll please for…

5 – Convictions by Julie Morrigan
Having found some acclaim with her short stories compilation Gone Bad, Morrigan’s first novel is a gripping thriller that looks into the investigation of a kidnapping. Was righteous church-goer George Cotter to blame for Annie Snowdon’s disappearance, or is there more to it than first appears? The book looks into the experience of the surviving sister Tina in a touching way as the mystery unravels. Convictions is an excellent purchase on Kindle at just 86p so top marks for value as well.

4 – Before I go to Sleep by SJ Watson
Not only did SJ Watson win the Crime Writers Association John Creasey New Blood Dagger this year, but his book Before I Go To Sleep has received strong praise from visitors to our website, and our writing team. This gripping book tells the story of Christine, a woman who forgets everything when she falls asleep each night. She writes everything down in a journal on the suggestion of her doctor, who rings her every day to remind her where the notebook is. But maybe something isn’t quite right as the story veers into psychological thriller territory. Once you get going it’s hard to put down.

3 – The Fifth Witness by Michael Connolly
The fourth book in Connolly’s Mickey Haller series brings with it legal intrigue masterfully delivered by a writer who has become a pillar of strength in crime fiction. Defense attorney Haller has turned his hand to helping people fight foreclosure on their mortgages and in his first case of this nature he helps Lisa Trammel do just that. Trouble is, bank employee Mitchell Bondurant has turned up dead and the finger is pointing at Lisa. A heart-pounding series of plot twists ensues. The only strike against this book is the very steep Kindle price of £9.99.

2 – The Impossible Dead by Ian Rankin
Phew. If Ian Rankin had hung up his… erm… wordprocessor after retiring Rebus, CFL writer t-dot might have lost the will to live. But luckily there’s no blood on Rankin’s thanks to his invention of inspector Malcolm Fox, an investigator who looks into police corruption. In Fox’s second outing he brings us a police procedural that begins with a cover-up in a local cop shop but which unravels into a conspiracy involving terrorists and the cause of Scottish separatism. Again we must tut at the hefty price for the Kindle version but unfortunately for our wallets, it’s a must-read.

1 – The Cut by George Pelecanos
Set in Washington DC, The Cut introduces Spero Lucas, an ex-marine who roams about retrieving stolen property in return for hefty finders fees. The morally ambiguous main character is asked to find a missing package containing high quality marijuana. Using technology, his wits and a bicycle to chase down the parcel, he finds himself on the tail of some nasty drug dealers who have blood on their hands. The whole story spins on a kidnapping with Lucas treading into the grey areas of his own outlook as deals in Washington’s dark underworld. Excellent characterisation, a great story that keeps moving, and all the gritty texture you’d expect from a writer and producer of The Wire. Don’t miss it.

Of course, there are quite a few honourable mentions. Cold Rain by Craig Smith was enjoyed by many of our readers, as were books by Ed Lynskey, Linwood Barclay, Denise Mina and Duane Swierczynski.

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