Spriteby: Top five books of 2014

If anything I’ve been spoilt with the selection of books I’ve been able to read this year. Strangely for me, I’ve not read any Nordic noir. My diet has in the main consisted of historical crime fiction and some pretty terrific home-grown talent, making my top five selection none too easy. Having said that, I knew when I was reading these books that they might make my list at the end of the year. However, it has meant leaving some really good ones out. So, after much consideration, my recommended reads from 2014 are…

The Lazarus ProphecyThe Lazarus Prophecyby FG Cottam
This was a book that had so many facets to it that it had appeal not just to fans of supernatural crime thrillers, but also historical crime fans with the Jack the Ripper-esque angel to it, and fans of police procedurals. A serial killer is on the loose on the streets of London and he seems to be selecting his victims for a particular reason. His first kills are all prostitutes, but when he murders a well-known actress his game plan seems to be changing. Meanwhile, high up in the Pyrenees something has escaped from a monastery after the monks guarding it have been ordered by the Vatican to stand down. What connects the two? Can this killer be stopped before he achieves his target number of murders? Read my review here.
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killingofolgaklimt200The Killing of Olga Klimt by RT Raichev
A superb piece of contemporary crime fiction with a very classic feel to it. Charles Eresby has just been dumped by his stunning East European girlfriend, Olga Klimt. He’s distraught and determined to have his revenge. Olga Klimt must die! However, when a blonde corpse is discovered on her doorstep, he has a change of heart. She can’t be dead. Has the schoolteacher he foolishly agreed to swap murders with, gone through with her side of the bargain? Reviewed here.
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Dandy GilverDandy Gilver & a Deadly Measure of Brimstone by Catriona McPherson
Catriona McPherson took us back to the roaring 20s and the months prior to the Wall Street crash of 1929. Dandy has been approached by the relatives of a recently deceased lady whose died at a lido in Perthshire. They suspect it was anything but natural. With her own sons recovering from man flu, Dandy decides that a stay at the lido might be just the ticket, although she doesn’t tell them why she’s so keen to visit this particular resort. Already in situ, her trusty sidekick Alec is on the case. This is a must read for any fan of period specific crime fiction. Added to which, the recipe for Mrs Tilling’s old fashioned tablet is a delicious bonus to enjoy whilst reading. Read the review here.
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appetiteformurder200An Appetite for Murder by Linda Stratmann
A book I’ve only just finished reading but one that was an instant winner with me before I’d even finished Chapter one. Linda Stratmann is a writer who first came to my attention back in 2011 when I was asked to write about women crime writers to watch out for in 2012. Until An Appetite for Murder, I’d not had the opportunity to read any of her Frances Doughty mysteries, but she’s certainly an author I’ll be following with enthusiasm. The Victorian sleuth finds herself engaged to find the family of a man recently released from prison, but when his missing wife is found murdered, he once again finds himself behind bars, and Frances realises that her new client’s innocence may only be found by investigating the crime he was convicted of years earlier.
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The ValleyThe Valley by Will Thwaite
A stunning debut by this London-based headhunter. John Flood finds himself in police custody, the prime suspect in the disappearance and presumed murder of Lucy Grainger, the wife of his business associate and university pal, Max. John was the last person to see Lucy, and when he left her, she was very much alive. John’s life has become a waking nightmare and the only way he’s going to clear his name is to find out what happened for himself, but the more he digs the more dangerous things become. Will he even survive? This was a book that really stood out. Writing in the first person, Thwaite builds tension by having us journey through the book alongside John, learning his story, how he met Max and slowly seeing his life unravel. John’s a character you want to survive. Ultimately, you want to know who is setting him up and why. Read the review here.
Buy now on Amazon

2014 has been an amazing year and I already have several books lined up that our due to hit our book shops in 2015, including the latest instalment from Anne Emery’s amateur sleuths Fr Brennan Burke and his lawyer friend Monty Collins. Also, a trip back to 13th century England for Pricilla Royal’s new release, Satan’s Lullaby, and a tale of homicide in Paris, in Frédérique Molay’s The City of Blood.

To see my picks from 2013, click here.

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