MyBookishWays: The five books that got me hooked on crime fiction

A little while back, we asked a simple question on Twitter: what books got you into crime fiction? Well, our twitter account was buzzing for three or four days – the topic really caught the imagination of crime fiction lovers. So we decided that everyone on the CFL team would write a piece listing the five books that drew them towards the genre. Each of our writers has a slightly different appetite when it comes to crime books, so it will make for interesting reading. Come back every Friday for the next couple of months for some more great book suggestions from our team.

Personally, my love of mystery and suspense has spanned at least two decades, so being asked to remember the novels that sparked my love for the genre was really exciting. Then I panicked. There are so many wonderful writers and series out there, many of which I’ve discovered within the past couple of years! Who would I choose? Then I had some coffee, shed the anxiety, got excited again and focused on the books that really made an impression on me way back when books or series that I distinctly remember recommending to anyone that would listen. As a result, here are five of the best.

Pru_JKTThe Firemaker by Peter May
When forensic pathologist Margaret Campbell takes a temporary teaching position in China, she’s not quite sure what to expect. It certainly wasn’t Deputy Section Chief Li Yan. Unfortunately, she doesn’t read her briefing papers and makes more than a few mistakes when she’s asked to help him investigate a series of murders. Rough start aside, in the course of the investigation both their lives are threatened and they must rely on each other to escape death at the hands of a diabolical killer. This is the book that got me into international crime fiction, and aside from the mystery and fascinating look into modern China, it also has one of the sexiest, realistic romances I’ve ever read – all without an ounce of explicit sex. That’s a win-win for me.
Buy now on Amazon

the-lime-pitThe Lime Pit by Jonathan Valin
Do you like novels featuring PIs in the classic tradition? So do I, and to me Harry Stoner is the perfect hard drinking, tough guy PI with a heart of gold. In the first of the series, he must find a teenage prostitute who’s gone missing. She’s one of the lost, the girls that go missing year after year whom no-one cares about. Well, actually, that’s not true. Harry does. Valin pulls no punches and his no-nonsense prose underscores the brutal, and tragic subject matter. There are 11 novels in the series, and Valin won the Shamus Award for Best Novel for Extenuating Circumstances (Harry Stoner #8) and was nominated for the Shamus Award again for Second Chance, the ninth book in the series. When it comes to modern hardboiled mystery, it doesn’t get much better than this. It’s under £2 on Kindle, too.
Buy now on Amazon

the-black-echoThe Black Echo by Michael Connelly
I discovered The Black Echo about a decade ago, and it began my 10-year love affair with Vietnam vet and LA homicide detective Harry Bosch. In The Black Echo, Bosch must investigate the death of Billy Meadows, who was a ‘tunnel rat’ in Vietnam, just like Harry. Not only was The Black Echo Michael Connelly’s debut, it won an Edgar, and kicked off a series that includes 18 books so far – the latest being The Black Box. Harry Bosch is one of the most fascinating and fully drawn characters in crime fiction today and the series just keeps getting better.
Buy now on Amazon

requiemRequiem for a Glass Heart by David Lindsey
While Lindsey’s novel Mercy (1990) remains one of my all-time favorite crime novels, it’s 1996’s Requiem For a Glass Heart that turned me on to the work of this wonderful author. In Requiem, Houston FBI agent Cate Cuevas must pursue a Russian female assassin who uses everything in her arsenal, including sex, to take down her victims. I still consider her to be one of the most terrifying creations in the genre. This lady is cold as ice, as Agent Cuevas quickly finds out. I dare you to pick this one up and not finish it in one reading.
By now on Amazon

goodnight-irene-200Goodnight, Irene by Jan Burke
Last but not least is Goodnight, Irene, the first in the Irene Kelly series by Jan Burke. When former reporter Irene learns of the death of a friend, it leads her to a long-unsolved murder. She teams up with her ex, homicide detective Frank Herriman, to solve the case. This was the first crime novel I’d read featuring a tough, smart, female in the lead, and I loved it. Disturbance, the tenth – and hopefully not the last – novel featuring Irene Kelly has just come out. Not surprisingly, Bones, the seventh novel in the series, won the 1999 Edgar Award for Best Novel.
Buy now on Amazon

Which books got you hooked on crime fiction? Join us on twitter @CriFiLover and tweet with the hashtag #hookedoncrime, or post a comment below.

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