The leaves are turning, the geese are flying south, it seems the perfect time to take a look at the stats and see which books readers of Crime Fiction Lover favoured most over the summer just gone. So what we’ve produced for you today is a list counting down the top 10 most popular books according to traffic to our book review pages. Last time we produced a listing like this, back in March, the top spot went to Kevin Sampson with The Killing Pool. This time, we’ve got a completely fresh list…
10 – Bad Tidings by Nick Oldham
One for your Christmas list? Or perhaps not, because the Twixmas Murders don’t sound all that festive. Why have two rather unremarkable people been found dead with chicken feathers stuffed into their mouths? That’s the question vexing DS Henry Christie of Lancashire CID after he’s rudely awaken in the early hours on New Year’s Day. His mother is seriously ill in hospital, which adds to his worries as he wrestles with the case. Read our review here.
9 – The Last Whisper in the Dark by Tom Piccirilli
The story of the Rand family continues. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re the crime family whose members are all named after dogs. Collie was a dangerous dog and has been put to death for mass murder, but Terrier is left to look after all the family’s woes. Shepherd and Pinscher seem to have Alzheimer’s, for instance, and Airedale has a new boyfriend who can’t be trusted. But that’s just for starters because he promises to help find his ex-flame’s missing husband – in a world of mob hits, corrupt cops and, erm… fraud in the straight-to-DVD industry. Crufts prizes here says RoughJustice.
8 – The Frozen Dead by Bernard Minier
How about this for a strange clue to kick off a mystery: a decapitated, frozen horse is found near a power plant, with traces of the DNA of an inmate at a nearby insane asylum on its cadaver? Well, as forensics expert Diane Berg soon discovers, the horse belongs to the owner of the power plant and could be some sort of warning. “This is edge-of-the-seat suspense and atmospheric writing, which had me gulping with fear,” said our reviewer MarinaSophia here.
7 – Never Coming Back by Tim Weaver
David Raker is down in Devon recovering from his previous case – one that nearly killed him. But he can’t stay out of trouble for long. He and his cohort, the disgraced ex-policeman Colm Healy, are soon drawn into a murder investigation. A body has washed up on the beach. At the same time, an old flame reappears in his life, appealing to him to find her family – her husband and daughters have suddenly disappeared. The chase takes him all the way from Vegas to an old concentration camp. The best Raker novel yet, has sold over 50,000, and it got five stars when we reviewed it.
6 – Witness the Dead by Craig Robertson
When some people ask for a drop of the dark stuff, they mean a pint of Guinness, don’t they? But aficionados of Scottish crime fiction, they’re after a different sort of dark stuff. The kind that’s poured onto the page in delicious rivers of deadly prose by Craig Robertson. And does it get any darker than a young woman found dead in Glasgow’s Northern Necropolis, raped, strangled and carefully laid upon a tomb with the word ‘SIN’ written across her body in red lipstick? Don’t worry though, DS Rachel Narey is on hand to investigate. Read our review here.
5 – Watching You by Michael Robotham
After her journalist husband (with a gambling habit) goes missing Marnie Logan is roped into becoming a prostitute by gangsters looking to recover their debts. But when a man driving here into the oldest profession turns up dead, the police have their beady eyes on her like laser sights. Marnie is a patient of Robotham’s series character Joe O’Loughlin – a clinical psychologist – and he’s convinced she’s innocent. According to our review, this five-star read will have you suspecting characters left and right, never sure how truthful Marnie’s story is.
4 – Never Go Back by Lee Child
Have there really been 18 Jack Reacher novels? Well, the answer is yes, and in Never Go Back our man doesn’t heed the advice given in the title. Summoned to his old military police unit, Reacher walks into a trap and is arrested for a murder committed years ago. It’s a bum rap, of course, but why has the woman who asked him to return to the unit disappeared? Reacher breaks loose, rescues the woman and then teams up with her to kick the door in on a major conspiracy. There are some gripping scenes but we had a few misgivings about the ending. Read the review here.
3 – Police by Jo Nesbo
We suspect the reason crime fiction lovers have been frothing at the mouth for this one is because you get to find out what happened to Harry Hole after the incredible cliff-hanger ending to the previous book, Phantom. In Police, the detective’s character is developed far more than in any of the previous novels, but what’s really attracting readers is the gripping storyline. Cops are being lured to the scenes of old, unsolved murders, and then brutally killed in the manner of the original crimes. What sort of sicko is on the loose in Oslo, and will Harry Hole be on hand to catch them? Read our review here.
2 – The Never List by Koethi Zan
There seem to be more books about abduction coming out than ever before, and in Koethi Zan’s debut we learn about the fall-out of a kidnapping case. Four girls were taken, and only three walked out of the situation alive. But now – years later – Tracy, Christine and Sarah must face the fact that the man convicted of their abduction is about to walk free from prison. He’s been writing them creepy letters, and as the tension builds the three – who haven’t communicated in years – are drawn closer together. Maybe they can find Jennifer’s grave? Read the review here.
1- The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
It’s not surprising to find Robert Galbraith’s crime fiction debut at the top of the list, given that this is the pen-name of none other than JK Rowling. And her crime writing is excellent, as it turns out. The story begins with the suicide of wayward model Lula Landry one winter day. Rowling’s detective Cormoran Strike is on the case along with his secretary Robin, and each encounter with one of Landry’s contacts presents striking new questions for them. Maybe it wasn’t suicide after all. An excellent narrative, along with wonderful plotting, and no quidditch to endure either. Full review here.
For the hottest books of summer 2014, click here.