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Spriteby: Top five books of 2011

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This year has certainly been a prolific year for crime fiction, with several new entrants to the genre who I think are definitely set to give the old guard a run for their money. This year for me has been about new discoveries – writers who are new to the genre, or just new for me. So when it comes to choosing my top five, I have to admit that I’ve been rather spoilt for choice as I’ve read so many books that I’ve really enjoyed.

5 – Murder of the Bride by CS Challinor
Edinburgh barrister Rex Graves finds himself caught up in a murder investigation whilst attending a wedding, where the guests seem to be dropping like flies. A wealthy young woman is about to marry a local boy, but someone seems intent on wiping the family out. But who are they and why are they doing it? This is a well-crafted read and unlike other books that have a final reveal, Challinor gets Rex to explain his thoughts at regular intervals until we reach a logical and well-plotted conclusion. This one isn’t out until March 2012 – we had a preview copy – but keep an eye out for it.
Pre-order now on Amazon

4 – Still Life With Murder by PB Ryan
Nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark Award, this is the first book in the now well established Nell Sweeney series. It’s set in Boston in the 1860s, a man lies dead and the accused was thought to have been killed in the Civil War, three years earlier. Nell’s employers are stunned to discover that their eldest son is alive and being held for the killing. Whilst his mother is convinced he’s innocent, Will is doing nothing to help his situation, and Nell finds herself responsible for finding out the truth. Right now it’s selling for an amazing £0.72 on Kindle.
Buy now on Amazon

3 – The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg
My first read of the year and it really set the benchmark for good crime fiction. This is where it all begins for Erica Falck and Patrik Hedstrӧm, Lackberg’s Swedish crime-solving duo. The frozen corpse of a young woman is discovered in a bath, but is it suicide, as everyone believes? Writer Erica finds she just cannot leave this death to the police to investigate and sets herself the task of uncovering secrets from the past that could just be the motive for murder.
Buy now on Amazon

The Wine of Angels by Phil Rickman The 11th book in this highly popular series featuring female vicar turned amateur sleuth/exorcist, Merrily Watkins, was published this year, but being a new reader of the series, I decided to start at the beginning. The village of Ledwardine has a secret and someone will stop at nothing to make sure it stays that way. A local girl disappears in the village orchard, the local busybody is dispatched in a road accident, and Merrily thinks she’s being haunted. Are these events related to the apparent suicide of a 17th century vicar accused of witchcraft? Merrily finds she has no choice but to investigate.
Buy now on Amazon

Where the Shadows Lie by Michael Ridpath – I’m returning to the Nordic realm for my final selection. Ridpath’s story takes us back through the centuries and back again. The manuscript for an ancient saga that has been hidden for a thousand years and its links to Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings, spark a hunt for a murderer who will stop at nothing to keep a long kept secret well hidden. Being a fan of Icelandic folklore and Tolkein, I really enjoyed the seamless way they were interwoven through this story. It lets you indulge in a little escapism without overpowering the fact that this was a well written piece of crime fiction.
Buy now on Amazon

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