Keith Nixon: Top five books of 2016

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This has been a particularly great year for crime fiction, so this has been a difficult list to compile. The gems started piling up from January, in fact one of the first novels I reviewed in 2016 made it all the way to the top of the pile. I’ve also been lucky enough to review two of my favourite authors – Ian Rankin and Martin Cruz Smith. However, I particularly enjoy finding new writers, when there’s not so much spit and polish. With one exception, all the writers here are debuts or early in their careers…

5 – A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward
Sarah Ward’s second novel is set in the wilds of Derbyshire. The corpse of a man turns up in what used to be a morgue during World War II, except the man was supposed to have died several years ago and his wife was jailed after admitting to his murder – so what was the identity of the original corpse? Written in beautiful yet short and snappy prose. Full review here.
Buy now on Amazon

4 – The Time to Kill by Mason Cross
Mason Cross’s third novel in an increasingly adept series starring mystery protagonist Carter Blake. He has elements of Jason Bourne – a mystery background (yet one he remembers) and is trained in the black arts of combat and survival. But now Blake uses his skills to find people who don’t want to be found. Effectively he’s a private detective, but with a difference. In previous novels the author deliberately kept Blake’s past shrouded in secrecy, here he lifts a corner to allow us a peek. Blake’s ex-employers are trying to track him down… High octane stuff, and you can read my review here.
Buy now on Amazon

3 The Plea by Steve Cavanagh
A really high quality, pulsatingly fast legal thriller with a difference. Eddie Flynn used to be a conman, now he is a small-time New York lawyer skirting on the edge of bankruptcy. So when the FBI turn up offering him a job, he jumps at it. A self-made billionaire is accused of murdering his girlfriend in an open and shut case. However, Eddie soon works out all is not as it seems and suddenly everyone is out to kill him. Read the review here.
Buy now on Amazon

2 – The Dead House by Harry Bingham
It’s a worn cliché to state a book is like no other. In this case it’s true. With a startling protagonist and a deceptively simple narrative, author Harry Bingham produces an immersive atmosphere that the reader really should take the time to wallow in. Like a mud bath, even when you step out of the novel, some of it clings to you. It’s brilliant. So much so I went out and bought the previous four novels in the series and will purchase the next one on publication day. Unique, wonderful and should be at the top of every bestseller chart. Full review here.
Buy now on Amazon

1 – Fever City by Tim Baker
It was a close run race for positions one and two. Fever City won because this is author Tim Baker’s debut – a simply stunning novel for a first timer. This is a very different take on the JFK assassination, running two narratives between the 1960s and the present day. Father and son respectively are involved in cases relating to JFK. The author cleverly builds a plot where the two are eventually connected. Superbly done and I can’t wait for Baker’s next work. If this one is anything to go by he has a long and loudly promising career in front of him. Here is my review.
Buy now on Amazon

Have a look at my top five crime books of 2015 here, or check out what my colleagues on CFL have chosen in 2016 here.

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