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Spriteby: Top five books of 2012

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As a fan of Nordic Noir and historical crime fiction, this year has been a pretty good one for me. The only problem, I’ve found, has been finding the time to read all of the great books that have come my way over the past 12 months. Having read so many excellent books this year, picking just five books to highlight has been a difficult task. However these are the books from 2012 that I think are most worthy of recommendation…

5 – 66 North: Fire and Ice Book II by Michael Ridpath
Last year I reviewed the first book in the Fire and Ice series and was left wondering whether Michael Ridpath would be able to fulfil the expectations I’d already begun to start forming for his Fire and Ice trilogy. Well, when I reviewed 66 North in June, he proved that his Icelandic crime stories just might be as addictive as The Millennium Trilogy was. Detective Magnus Jonson is back and this time he’s dealing with a series of murders amid the chaos of the banking crisis and its subsequent fall-out.
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4 – Seventy Times Seven by John Gordon Sinclair
As debut’s go, John Gordon Sinclair’s entry during our New Talent November month was definitely a book I thought was worth writing home about. For me, this was quite an intriguing read as I was more familiar with Sinclair as an actor. As a writer, he’s gritty, methodical and certainly made it evident that crime fiction is most definitely his forte. For my money, definitely someone to watch out for in the coming year!
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3 – The Piccadilly Plot by Susanna Gregory
In January my year kicked off with the latest Thomas Chaloner, gentleman spy offering from Susanna Gregory. She was not a writer I’d read before but within a few pages of The Piccadilly Plot, definitely an author and a series of mysteries I wanted to become more familiar with. I’m also rather pleased that I’m rounding off my year with Chaloner’s latest exploits in Death in St James’s Park, which is due to be released on 17 January 2013.
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2 – Only One Life by Sara Blædel
August saw the next Louise Rick novel hit our bookshops and it did not disappoint. Taking as its theme the subject of honour killings you couldn’t help but think that Danish writer Sara Blædel had picked up the mantel left behind by Steig Larsson in writing about crimes against women. She’s a writer who isn’t afraid to tackle sensitive subjects and her style in Only One Life shows a strong ability to do so in a way that makes you really sit up and think.
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1 – Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie
In May, I reviewed this debut novel by James Runcie, which introduced us to his Grantchester Mysteries and sleuthing vicar Rev Canon Sidney Chambers. The Shadow of Death is a series of six short stories involving murder and theft, which have Sidney juggling his parochial obligations with those of his informal investigations. If you’re UK-based, you may have heard the stories adapted for radio recently on BBC Radio 4, and read by Alex Jennings.
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With several new and upcoming releases already on my TBR pile, I’m certain that 2013 is full of promise on the crime fiction front.

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to one and all!

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