Most wanted 2016 – the crime books to watch for

The new year is underway so we thought we’d take a look ahead and list off the books we’re looking forward to the most over the next 12 months. In a poll we ran on Twitter, 69% of those who voted said they thought social media psychos would be the crime fiction trend in 2016, though we must admit there are none in the books on our most wanted list. Nor are there any bedroom ISIS plotters (7%), corporate killers (14%) or eco-thrillers (10%). What we do have are several new takes on the past including the JFK assassination, post-war Atlanta, the Raj in India, and Third Reich detective Bernie Gunther returns too. It looks like it’ll be a year of clever ideas and interesting settings if this list is anything to go by…

Fever CityFever City by Tim Baker
Ever since early copies of Tim Baker’s Fever City went out last autumn, a buzz has been steadily building about Fever City, which delves into the assassination of JFK in 1963. Baker has woven a story that links this historic event to a PI who’s hired to kidnap the heir of a rich American family, and a mobster who’s on his tail. Both of them are pulled into a conspiracy that stretches from Washington to Dallas. Years later, the PI’s son is uncovering the clues that link his father to Kennedy’s death. Born in Australia and having lived in France and North Africa, it’ll be interesting to see if Baker can crack the great American novel. Think James Ellroy’s American Tabloid trilogy, mixed with a little Chandler, and if that excites you, grab a copy as soon as you can. It’s out 21 January.
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The Unfortunate EnglishmanThe Unfortunate Englishman by John Lawton
Lawtons’ Fred Troy novels captured London during WWII and its aftermath, but the author has shifted his focus to Berlin with his Joe Wilderness books. First there was Then We Take Berlin, and in the second Wilderness book the city is no easier a place for Joe as he copes with the fraught times of the mid-60s. The infamous Wall is now divides Berlin and the globe between East and West. Wilderness is under the  demanding thumb of British Intelligence, and although he thinks that title is a contradiction in terms, he must continue to turn a buck, while JFK and Kruschev lock horns on the world stage. Lawton is one of the less prolific authors in modern fiction, and so when he does put pen to paper, it is a major event. It’s out in March.
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The Other Side of SilenceThe Other Side of Silence by Philip Kerr
Germans again, in another March release. One of the guilty pleasures of Kerr’s Bernie Gunther novels is that the former Berlin cop mixes with all the top people of the 20th century. Not necessarily the nicest people, you understand, but if Gunther kept an address book it would include such luminaries as President Paul von Hindenberg, Josef Goebbels, Reinhardt Heydrich, Adolf Eichmann and Eva Peron. Now, as he ekes out a living as a concierge on the French Riviera in 1956, Gunther can also pencil in the writer Somerset Maugham and radio producer Guy Burgess, both of whom were also spies. Gunther’s ability to keep his own soul reasonably clean while mixing with some of the darkest characters of the 20th century will, once again, be tested to breaking point.
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Perfect daysPerfect Days by Raphael Montes
Last April, MarinaSofia delved into Latin American crime fiction for us and highlighted some of the top authors from that region. In February, she’s looking forward to Perfect Days, an exciting debut author from Brazil, which centres on a strange road trip undertaken by a psychopath. Teo might just be a little bit like Ripley with his wangling charm, but has a seriously scary obsession with a young lady called Clarice. Yes, Clarice! We’re expecting it to bring the madcap world of contemporary Brazil to life perfectly, within the covers of a crazy crime novel. It could be the book that elevates Latin American crime fiction for English-speaking audiences.
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The Crow GirlThe Crow Girl by Erik Axl Sund
This is one big release, lined up for April. It’s 750 pages in extent and fans of Scandinavian crime fiction who don’t happen to read Swedish or German will be grinding their teeth in anticipation. Essentially, this is a book of combos. Firstly, Erik Axl Sund is actually a pair of writers – Jerker Eriksson and Håkan Axlander Sundqvist – who have combined their creative talents. Secondly, originally released as three books in Sweden, the trilogy has been combined into one whopping read for its English release. The story itself involves a series of child murders, which are investigated by Jeanette Kohlberg. The crimes are shockingly brutal, and their effect on Kohlberg is intense, so she’s helped by psychologist Sofia Zetterlund. Published by Harvill Secker, which brought us Wallander, Jo Nesbo, Arnaldur Indridason and Karin Fossum, The Crow Girl looks like a winner. It’s already being adapted for TV in the US.
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The Mirror ThiefThe Mirror Thief by Martin Seay
Are longer novels the in thing? We’ve certainly had a few breeze block books land here at Crime Fiction Lover in the last couple of years. This one comes in at 592 pages and publisher Melville House is calling it a ‘masterful puzzle’. Maybe it’s a historical crime novel, maybe it leans more towards suspense. Perhaps it is both. Or, just maybe, it transcends the genres. However, The Mirror Thief sounds both thoughtful and thought-provoking. Set in three cities at three different points in time, it looks at how trauma can affect us both at the individual level and across countries. A May release.
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A Rising ManA Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee
Raised in Scotland and now based in London, Abir Mukherjee uses his Indian heritage to full advantage in his debut novel, A Rising Man, which comes out in May. When we interviewed the author he explained that he made several trips to Kolkata to do research. His book centres on former Scotland Yard man and WWI veteran Sam Wyndham who arrives in the city and is soon investigating the death of a British official. The man was found lying in a ditch with his throat slit, and with a note stuffed in his mouth telling the colonists to get out of India. The author chose the period and setting because he feels they’ve been overlooked so far in crime fiction. More interesting than that, his book idea won a competition run by the Telegraph and Harvill Secker back in 2013. As a prize, Mukherjee has received Harvill Secker’s support in getting the book written, edited and published.
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deadcanttalk_150The Dead Can’t Talk by Nick Quantrill
This makes three May releases, and with CrimeFest taking place as well, it looks like it’s going to be the hottest month on the calendar. Well over a year has passed since Nick Quantrill’s The Crooked Beat rounded off his Joe Geraghty trilogy. Now the Hull-based author is back and his home city again takes centre stage in The Dead Can’t Talk. It features Anna Stone, a disillusioned police officer on the brink of leaving her job, and Luke Carver, an ex-Army drifter she’s previously sent to prison. This odd couple combine in a quest to uncover the truth about her sister’s disappearance. If Quantrill’s previous work is anything to go by, we can expect spot-on characterisation and some ingenious plotting. And yes, the city of Hull does have us on the edge of our seats, so there.

Fred-Vargas-002A Climate of Fear by Fred Vargas
The intuitive and infuriating Commissaire Adamsberg is arguably the finest French fictional detective of the 21st century. So, arriving in July, the eighth novel in Fred Vargas’s series is a big deal for Gallic crime fans. It’s also the first Adamsberg since 2013’s The Ghost Riders of Ordebec, her fourth International Dagger winner. (Her 2014 novel Dog Will Have His Day was a translation of a mid-90s novel from a different series.) Published as Temps Glaciaires in France, A Climate of Fear has a typically intriguing premise from this inventive and whimsical author. The terror of the French Revolution is evoked in a plot in which the local Robespierre society is connected to staged suicides. There are also hints of Nordic noir as Vargas ventures to Iceland in a novel that’s set to be a chilling treat this summer.
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Nick_Mamatas-1200x1100I Am Providence by Nick Mamatas
Murder at a horror fan convention will make for an interesting conceit in this August release. When writer Colleen Danzig receives the call of Cthulhu she heads to the HP Lovecraft summer Tentacular shindig in Providence, Rhode Island. Snooty Lovecraftian academics are to be expected, but true believers seeking books bound in human skin are a little over-the-top for her liking. Author Nick Mamatas has no doubt been to the actual NecronomiCon event many a time, and twists it towards murder mystery by killing off Colleen’s roommate, Panossian. Death will not phase lovers of Lovecraft and the Tentacular continues despite the murder. While the police bumble along with their enquiries Colleen sets about solving the mystery.
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darktownDarktown by Thomas Mullen
Darktown was the ugly, racist shorthand for a black neighbourhood before the civil rights movement tried to roll aside some of that prejudice. And the title gives you a flavour of what’s to come in another book that has a fantastic concept behind it. It’s the 1940s, and the Atlanta police are forced to hire their first black officers. Boggs and Smith come from different backgrounds, but that’s the least of their worries. This is the Deep South, just after the War and long before civil rights. They’re not allowed to arrest white suspects, nor even drive a squad car. So when a black woman, last seen with a white suspect, turns up beaten to death, they come up against a tricky-to-negotiate system involving race, local politics and police corruption. Intricate is one word used to describe this police procedural, which has been compared to the work of Dennis Lehane and Walter Mosley. Author Thomas Mullen won awards for his 2007 historical novel The Last Town on Earth. There’s a lot of buzz about this one – watch for it in September.
Pre-order now on Amazon

We’re sure to have missed some real gems, so if you’ve got any hot books for 2016 to tip, please let us know in the comments below.

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