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RoughJustice: Top five books of 2019

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In 2019 I haven’t reviewed as many crime books I would have liked, but such is the strength of the genre currently that I have had no difficulty identifying five books that I can wholeheartedly recommend. I think these choices represent a varied selection though fans of cosy crime and domestic noir may disagree!

5 – This Storm by James Ellroy

No one could accuse crime fiction’s Devil Dog from going soft in his old age; this 600 page epic, set against the aftermath of the bombing of Pearl Harbour, is full of brutality, criminality and sexual intrigue. What perhaps sets it apart from his previous work is a sense of sympathy for his damaged characters and Ellroy even allows for some redemption this time around. Read the full review here.
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4 – Killing Quarry by Max Allan Collins

This sophisticated pulp thriller – if that’s not too much of a contradiction – finds the eponymous hitman having to save himself from assassination. He’s helped by an old flame, Lucille, but how much can one hired killer trust another? Collins gives us great fun finding out with plenty of action, drama, and sex adding spice to the mix. As ever, Hard Case Crime has produced a wonderful looking book. Read the full review here.
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3 – The Godmother by Hannelore Cayre

Soon to be a movie, this French novel is a fascinating character study as well as an examination of the immigrant experience. Driven by the idiosyncratic voice of Madame Patience Portefeux, The Godmother tells the story of how a middle-aged police translator becomes a leading wholesaler of premium cannabis. The novel is as funny as it is moving and is a subtle delight. Read the full review here.
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2 – Curious Toys by Elizabeth Hand

In Chicago’s Riverview Amusement Park someone is killing young girls. Pin, herself only 14, undertakes her own investigation after seeing first-hand how little society cares for their fate. Packed full of historical detail, and full of empathy for society’s outcasts, Curious Toys is a diverse, wonderfully written literary thriller that it is hard imaging anyone other than Hand could have written. Read the full review here.
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1 – Joe Country by Mick Herron

My coveted top spot goes once again to Jackson Lamb’s misfiring spies who this time have to head out into the cold, dark Welsh countryside to save one of their own. Author Mick Herron forgoes his usual satire in favour of an emotional story which really pulls at your heartstrings. The result is the best book so far and what feels like a reset of this award-winning series. Read the full review here.
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Read about my selections from 2018 here. And, you can see what my colleagues on Crime Fiction Lover have picked this year by clicking here.


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