Lucy: Top five books of 2013

2013 has been a great year for crime fiction with some excellent new talent coming onto the scene. Because of this I found it particularly difficult to pick my favourite crime books of the year. All five on my list have enough quality to be number one, so it was even more difficult to rank them. But here are my top five books of 2013…

anactofkindness5 – An Act of Kindness by Barbara Nadel
Set in East London, An Act of Kindness sees PI Lee Arnold and his assistant Mumtaz Hakim struggling for work. It’s 2012 and Olympics fever is in the air. Lee has been hired by an old school gangster to investigate his young wife, whom he believes to be cheating on him, while Mumtaz is working for a Mrs Mirza. She’s finding out if Mrs Mirza’s sister has been involved in prostitution. Alongside this the police are investigating a murder after a dead body is found in a graveyard. This is an unusual crime fiction novel since the story doesn’t follow the murder investigation of the mysterious skeleton found in the graveyard, although it is touched upon. Rather the book focuses more on Lee Arnold and Mumtaz Hakim in their investigations and their daily lives. Lee and Mumtaz are an unlikely pair, and very likeable characters. Read the review here.
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deadmanstime4 – Dead Man’s Time by Peter James
Dead Man’s Time is the ninth novel in the multi-million copy bestselling Detective Roy Grace series, which is usually set in and around the author’s favourite town: Brighton. However, this novel begins is Brooklyn, USA, in February 1922. A young boy is confronted by a group of men who go on to murder his mother and kidnap his father. The boy and his sister are taken to Dublin for safety by their Aunt. Fast forward to the present day and the young boy is now an old man and after his sister is brutally murdered in a robbery he vows to find her killer and solve the mystery of his missing father. Dead Man’s Time is an enjoyable crime novel, and as with James’ previous books the storyline is clever and detailed. You don’t just follow the crime investigation but Roy’s personal life which helps you to engage and empathise with the character. Read the review here.
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adventkiller3 – The Advent Killer by Alastair Gunn
When a third victim, Jessica Anderson, a politician’s wife, is murdered at exactly 1am on Sunday in the run up to Christmas, the media go crazy. DCI Hawkins is under increased pressure to crack the case in full public view and her fellow officers are as much of a problem as the press. In a make or break case that will decide Hawkins’ future in the police force, will she be able to find the killer before the next body is due to arrive on the final Sunday of Advent, which also happens to be Christmas Day? The Advent Killer is both well written and entertaining and I found myself racing to find out what would happen next and who the killer was. The short chapters made it easy to read and follow. Debut author Alastair Gunn has created the ultimate cold and calculated serial killer and I particularly enjoyed the use of flashbacks to give you a glimpse into the mind of the killer, and why he behaves the way he does. Reviewed here.
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vanishing2 – The Vanishing by John Connor
The Vanishing begins in 1990 with two people stealing a baby for their boss, Liz Wellbeck. The baby soon ends up sick and dying and Liz is left a broken woman. The story then skips to 2012 in London when former policeman Tom Lomax is wrongly targeted and flown out to the Seychelles by a woman called Sara Eaton, who is determined to find out about her past after receiving an encrypted note from her mother. After a group of kidnappers break into Sara’s house they are on the run to save their lives and uncover the truth before it’s too late. The Vanishing is enjoyable and entertaining. I empathised with Sara who was brought up alone by people who were paid to love her, which only served to make her relationship with Tom even more exciting. Read the review here.
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watchyoudie1 – Watch You Die by Katia Lief
The phone rings while Darcy Mayhew is making dinner and suddenly her life is turned upside down. Her husband Hugo has been in an accident while driving on Middle Road and now he is dead. Nearly two years later she has moved with her son Nat from Martha’s Vineyard to Brooklyn, to try and rebuild her life. When Joe from the Vineyard turns up at her new work and begins to plague her with hundreds of emails and phone calls things suddenly turn ugly. Watch You Die contains a wealth of background information on Darcy, her marriage, her childhood and her career which really helps you to understand the character and engage with her more. Katia realistically describes the challenges facing single mothers, the grief that still consumes Darcy and the moral dilemma she faces with moving on when still in love with her husband. Lief tackles the difficult subject of stalking very well and Angela’s character represents the horrors that often present themselves to victims of stalking. Reviewed back in February 2013.
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You can see what my choices were for 2012 here.

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1 Comment

  1. Steve Dunne Reply

    I’m a little confused at the choice of Katia Leif – Watch You Die – in Lucy’s top spot for crime book of the year. The link to the review shows she awarded only 4 stars to the book. Are you really saying that in the whole of 2013 there wasn’t one 5-star crime novel to put at the top of the tree? Have I got the wrong end of the stick here? Perhaps another from her list was number one.

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