DeathBecomesHer: Top five books of 2018

This year’s reviewing has unearthed an embarrassment of riches. You know you’ve been in a race when the also-rans include crime fiction writers like Robert Galbraith, Elizabeth George, Sharon Bolton and David Mark. So you’ll gather that it was tough to pick my top five reads of 2018, although there was never any doubt in my mind about the  book in first place…

5 – Bleak Harbor by Bryan Gruley

A late arrival into the race as this book was only published in November, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gruley manages to find a new twist to the well-worn trope of a teenager who goes missing. Autistic Danny is about to celebrate his 16th birthday. He lives in the seaside town of Bleak Harbor, a place that only really comes to life once a year, when the tourists flood in for the Dragonfly Festival. That’s when Danny goes missing, and a ransom demand for the decidedly odd amount of $5,150,122.98 follows. Who is behind the disappearance? There are motives aplenty in Danny’s dysfunctional family alone, but there’s also the shady Quartz to contend with in a book that keeps you guessing… and then guessing again. Read my review here.
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4 – In a House of Lies by Ian Rankin

John Rebus has retired, given up the cigarettes and cut back on the booze – he even has a dog for goodness’ sake. So is our hero ready for the knacker’s yard? No blooming chance! The discovery of skeletal remains in the boot of a car found deep in woodland re-opens a case from more than a decade ago. Rebus was involved then and he’s determined to wheedle his way into the new investigation – and with DI Siobhan Clarke and DI Malcolm Fox part of the investigating team, he looks to have had his wish granted. We might be at number 22 in the Rebus series but these books are as fresh as ever. This is a great read, cleverly contrived, smartly plotted and hugely entertaining. Read the review here.
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3 – Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh

This is the fourth book to feature con artist turned lawyer Eddie Flynn, but it works just as well as a standalone read. Which is good news, because Thirteen is a real cracker! Eddie is handling a two-bit case at the Criminal Courts Building in Manhattan when he is offered the chance of a lifetime with one of the city’s biggest firms. Movie star Robert Solomon is about to face trial for the murder of his equally starry wife and her bodyguard. Solomon maintains he didn’t do it, and Eddie’s investigations soon lead him to the same conclusion. So who did? Meanwhile, a shady, ruthless killer is plotting his way onto the Solomon jury in a book that’ll keep you reading until the early hours as the dastardly devious plot unfolds. Read our review here.
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2 – Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly

Like John Rebus, Harry Bosch is another veteran cop who’s been sidelined but isn’t about to take life easy. Pairing him here with LAPD detective Renée Ballard, who made her debut last year in The Late Show, is a something of a gamble by the CWA 2018 Diamond Dagger winner Michael Connelly, but boy does it pay off. Putting the two unpredictable police officers together is a masterstroke, and although the partnership gets off to a somewhat shaky start this double act is soon running at full throttle. The narrative leaps between Bosch and Ballard as they work their own daily cases in addition to the unsolved murder that brings them together – a neat trick that means you just want to keep on reading. Looks like this partnership could run and run. Read the review here.
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1 – The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder by Sarah J Harris

As soon as I finished this novel, I knew I’d found my book of the year. It’s original, quirky and downright clever and had me in its thrall right from the start. Thirteen-year-old Jasper lives with his dad in a London suburb. He has synaesthesia so where you and I would hear sounds Jasper sees colours. He is also face blind so doesn’t recognise people unless they speak to him and he identifies the colour of their voices. Jasper is a solitary child who loves to paint and to watch the parakeets that nest in the trees of next door’s garden. Then Bee Larkham moves in next door and everything changes. Jasper sees her as an exciting new friend, but others see Bee somewhat differently and her arrival causes friction in the neighbourhood. Then she is killed and it is clear Jasper knows something – but what can it be? Read my review here.
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Check out the books I picked in 2017 by clicking here.

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