CIS: My crime classics by Abir Mukherjee

abirmukherjee200•button-150x150Abir Mukherjee was in the numbers game – an accountant, to be specific. But he’d always wanted to write crime novels and decided to start working on one. When The Daily Telegraph and publishing house Harvill Secker teamed up to run a crime writing competition, Abir only went and won it! The prize was an advance, professional editing, and the chance to have his novel published. That was in 2014 and today you can buy his debut novel, A Rising Man, in Waterstones. We’ve followed his story closely here on Crime Fiction Lover and so we’re delighted that he could join us to share his five favour crime classics with us for Classics in September!

It’s over to him now, with a list that starts off in Scotland, where Abir grew up…

laidlaw150Laidlaw by William McIlvanney
“Glasgow was home-made ginger biscuits and Jennifer Lawson dead in the park.”
There’s a special place in my heart for this book. In my opinion, it’s one the finest works of crime fiction ever written, and was the rock upon which most of the great Scottish crime fiction of the last 30 years has been built. McIlvaney’s detective, Laidlaw, is hunting the killer of a teenage girl from one of the rougher parts of Glasgow. But the book is no ordinary crime novel – the reader is introduced to the killer early on – rather it is an exploration of the dark side of human nature. It’s also a love song to the city of Glasgow and its uniqueness and its contradictions. Finally, there’s the wonderful imagery which McIlvaney imbues throughout the book. No matter how many times I read it, I always find some turn of phrase that stops me in my tracks.
Buy now on Amazon

doorsopen150Doors Open by Ian Rankin
I’m a huge fan of Ian Rankin and have read all of the Rebus books. However it’s one of his stand-alone books, Doors Open, which is one of the novels that inspired me to write. It tells of how a gang of ordinary guys (albeit one of them’s a millionaire) set out to steal a number of paintings. The plot is inspired and the twist in the tail is fantastic. In many ways, it’s the perfect crime. I rather hoped Mr Rankin would write a sequel to it, but he hasn’t yet.
Buy now on Amazon

aquietflame150A Quiet Flame by Philip Kerr
I will read pretty much everything Philip Kerr produces. His character, Bernie Gunther, an investigator in Nazi Germany and in the post war period, is a brilliant creation. I love novels with an ambiguous, conflicted protagonist and for me Bernie Gunther is the gold standard. All of the Gunther novels are excellent and I’ve been hooked since I picked up his Berlin Noir Trilogy more than a decade ago. My favourite to date, though, has been A Quiet Flame, in which Bernie finds himself in post war Argentina, alongside a bunch of unsavoury characters including Adolf Eichmann. Bernie is tasked with hunting down a serial killer targeting young girls in a method very similar to another crime he investigated back in Berlin.
Buy now on Amazon

gorkypark200Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith
To me this book is a classic. It is the first of Cruz Smith’s Arkady Renko novels, and still my favourite. Set in the late Cold War period, Renko is chief investigator for the Moscow Militsiya, who is assigned to a case involving three corpses found in Gorky Park, who have had their faces and fingertips cut off by the murderer to prevent identification.

I first read this book when I was still at school and I thought it was brilliant. It’s the novel that first piqued my interest in the sub-genre of good detectives upholding a corrupt system, and it’s one of the few books I’ve read several times.
Buy now on Amazon

byomkeshbakshi150The Byomkesh Bakshi stories by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay
Not so much any one book, but a whole series of stories this time. Byomkesh Bakshi is an Indian detective created in the 1930s by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay. Byomkesh is India’s answer to Sherlock Holmes, though he prefers the term ‘Seeker of Truth’ to ‘detective’. The stories are set in Calcutta and have been Indian favourites for generations.
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Classics in September 2016 is sponsored by Bloomsbury Reader.

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