DeathBecomesHer: Top five books of 2020

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Reading has been a great solace for so many in a year when we’ve all been stuck at home, unable to travel and working hard at staying safe. Seems only right, then, that my choice of the best books of 2020 should hop and skip all over the globe! From the Gaspé Peninsula in Canada, to Kingston upon Hull, 1940s Los Angeles to the wilds of modern-day Scotland, or even small-town Australia, these books will keep you glued to your reading chair.

5 – I Am Dust by Louise Beech

I Am Dust by Louise Beech front cover

Theatres, remember them? Never fear, you can get your fix of drama in this spooky tale that almost exudes the smell of greasepaint, so authentic is its sense of location. Chloe works as an usher at a theatre in Hull, a place that hit the headlines years ago when an actress was murdered backstage. Now the musical the dead performer was starring in is to be revived and all manner of strange things are going on. Best to expect the unexpected as Louise Beech spins this tale – and with ghosts, spectral sightings and even a ouija board included, this is a novel best read with all the lights on. Read my full review here.
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4 – The Coral Bride by Roxanne Bouchard

The Coral Bride by Roxanne Bouchard front cover

We’re back in Canada, and on the beautiful but desolate Gaspé Peninsula to be precise, in this second serving of Roxanne Bouchard’s gripping and wonderfully atmospheric series of books featuring DS Joaquin Morales. He’s still something of a fish out of water after transferring from Montreal to this small but tightly knit community, so it takes Morales a while to get to grips with the case of a female trawler owner whose vessel is found adrift and empty of crew. Then the body of Angel Roberts is found in the sea, wearing her wedding dress, and Morales’ troubles really begin. Read the full review here.
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3 – The Blues Don’t Care by Paul D Marks

The Blues Don't Care by Paul D Marks

There’s been no better time to leave modern day life behind and get totally immersed in Los Angeles, 1940s style – so grab this tasty slice of noir from an author who has won many awards in his time. Paul D Marks obviously did his homework before hitting the keyboard to write The Blues Don’t Care, and the sheer authenticity of the book is breathtaking. Add a killer plot and a great protagonist in the shape of would-be jazz musician turned reluctant gumshoe Bobby Saxon and all the pieces are in place for a fine piece of crime writing. Escapism at its very best. Full review here.
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2 – The Blood is Still by Douglas Skelton

The Blood is Still by Douglas Skelton front cover

Journalists get a pretty bad rap in crime books, but Douglas Skelton’s Rebecca Connolly is an exception to that rule. She’s a regional reporter in Inverness who would much rather be out and about chasing a lead than stuck behind a desk. Which is why we find her at Culloden, historic site of a bloody battle, when a man in full Highland regalia is found with a claymore in his chest. All of Rebecca’s instincts tell her this is a great story, but as she butts heads with CIO DCI Valerie Roach they’re both about to discover that things are much more complicated that they first appear. Top class Scottish noir. Read the full review here.
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1 – Hermit by SR White

Hermit by SR White front cover

This book has haunted me ever since I read it in September and there was never any doubt it would top my list for 2020. Why? Well, I’ve met few other protagonists like Dana Russo, a police officer who, when we first meet her, is standing atop a precipitous waterfall and preparing to throw herself off. Instead, a telephone call brings her to work, where she is tasked with interviewing Nathan Whittler, an enigmatic loner who has just been found standing over the body of a local shopkeeper, covered in his blood. As, slowly, slowly, the reader gets to know both Russo and Whittler there’s a growing sense of claustrophobia that is almost addictive. Hermit is a book with an exceptional opening and a shocking finale, and everything in between is brilliant too. Read the complete review here.
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Click here to see the books I chose in 2019.

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