Andre: Top five books of 2015

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This was a year when the big hitters came good. Laura Lippman, Stephen King and Ian Rankin all make my top five, and other famous names came close. Ruth Rendell’s final novel, Dark Corners, was a fitting farewell, while David Baldacci made a seamless switch from explosive thrillers to creepy crime in Memory Man. Peter Swanson’s bestseller The Kind Worth Killing was an entertaining Highsmith homage. Even The Girl on the Train largely lived up to the hype. Martin Edwards also deserves a mention for services to classic crime. The Golden Age of Murder is an enthralling non-fiction study, and his anthologies for British Library Crime Classics – including Capital Crimes and Silent Nights: Christmas Mysteries – are perfect stocking fillers.

finders_keepers2005 – Finders Keepers by Stephen King
Stephen King may be best known for horror but he’s just as adept at mystery. The delicious suspense and page-turning plot make his sequel to Mr Mercedes a sinister pleasure. When a teenager discovers a stash of Moleskine notebooks filled with a legendary author’s unpublished works, it puts him on a collision course with a psychopathic convict who’s been waiting a long time to retrieve his literary treasure. No one is as audacious as King, who begins this novel by going back to the 70s and killing off a fictional novelist not too far removed from JD Salinger. End of Watch, the final book in the trilogy, is published in June 2016. Let’s hope it’s not the last of King’s crime novels. Finders Keepers is reviewed here.
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theshuteye4 – The Shut Eye by Belinda Bauer
Her refusal to write a crime series ensures you never know what you’re going to get from a Belinda Bauer novel. The Shut Eye was one of her strangest to date, though always compelling in its sympathetic characters and the author’s uniquely sardonic voice. Bauer has moved away from Devon to the suburban sprawl of South London, a decision that helps to ground her move into supernatural territory. It’s a story about missing children and the contentious role of psychics in trying to assist the police in finding them. DCI Marvel is a splendidly spiky protagonist in a highly original, compassionate crime novel. Read the review here.
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bull-mountain2003 – Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich
Although I’m developing an allergy to American novels involving drug-dealing hillbillies in forbidding backwoods communities, Bull Mountain was in a class of its own. The Southern setting in Georgia was atmospheric in this condensed family saga that pitted a sheriff (who’s also a recovering alcoholic) against his fearsome giant of a brother, a crystal meth mogul who’s entrenched in the mountain with a private army. As a law enforcement officer, Clayton Burroughs is the black sheep of his criminal family. We learn more about the clan’s violent past as timeframes switch back and forth in this superb Southern noir. It was CFL’s best debut crime novel of 2015 – read the review.
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Hush_Hush2002 – Hush Hush by Laura Lippman
Laura Lippman is building an impressive body of work with standalone novels alongside books featuring her ‘accidental’ private detective Tess Monaghan. Having taken several years off from her series character in her own home city of Baltimore, Lippman returned in style with Hush Hush. This former journalist is adept at portraying the media’s role in picking over a shocking crime: the deliberate death of a baby caused by a psychologically disturbed mother. Twelve years later, Tess is investigating threats against this woman while doing her best to bring up her own young daughter. Hush Hush is a powerful exploration of motherhood. Learn more about the book in our interview with Laura and five-star review.
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evendogsinthewild3001 – Even Dogs in the Wild by Ian Rankin
Ian Rankin and Rebus may seem a safe choice for my top crime title of the year, but it’s undoubtedly the book I’d most like to read again. As much as I admired 2013’s Saints of the Shadow Bible, Rankin appears revitalised having taking a year off from novels. The boozy Rebus is retired (again) and consulting on a case after a shot was fired at gangland nemesis and occasional drinking companion ‘Big Ger’ Cafferty. Although there are several plot strands, the 20th Rebus novel has a compelling clarity as well as a great cast of characters. Malcolm Fox and Siobhan Clarke have become as much a part of Rankin’s Edinburgh as Rebus himself.
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Read my choices for 2014 here – and click here to see what our other writers have chosen.

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