Best indie crime novel of 2023 shortlist

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Crime Fiction Lover Awards 2023 Shortlisted logo

If you follow us on social media, you’ll know that one of our missions here at Crime Fiction Lover is to support independent authors and publishers, so there’s no way we’d ever run an awards fest without celebrating the indies out there. These are the folks that bring fresh blood to the genre, and a cutting edge to the storytelling.

Here we look at the five novels on our Best Indie Novel shortlist 2023 – all nominated by readers. What’s interesting is that three of them are by Canadian authors. This could be coincidence, but we think there might be more to it. Canada and its provinces put a lot into promoting and giving opportunities to the country’s writers and publishers, and we also think that Canadian readers are more open to a plurality of voices when it comes to literature.

Anyway… For more background on our awards and how to vote, please follow this link. There are six categories in total and you can also go directly to the voting form by using the link at the bottom of this article to make your picks for 2023. In addition, our team of contributors will choose an Editor’s Choice award in this category.

As well as forming a shortlist, these books are each excellent reading suggestions on their own.

Sunset and Jericho by Sam Wiebe

Sunset and Jericho by Sam Wiebe front cover

The have and the have-nots – and the gaping chasm between them – is at the dark heart of Sam Wiebe’s Sunset and Jericho, latest in his series featuring acerbic former cop turned private investigator Dave Wakeland, set in Vancouver. This Canadian indie author has picked up a loyal fanbase over the years, but newcomers can just as easily read this one as a standalone. Which is excellent news, because Sunset and Jericho (named after two of Vancouver’s beaches) is a tense and shocking page-turner by an author who is definitely firing on all cylinders while painting a realistic and bleak picture of urban life in the 21st century. Read Sharon Richardson’s review on our site here.
Try it now on Amazon

The Associate by Victoria Goldman

The Associate by Victoria Goldman front cover

Last year Victoria Goldman’s first foray into crime, The Redeemer, made our shortlist for Best Debut Novel. It introduced us to journalist Shanna Regan – and Shanna is back in The Associate, where her investigative skills are in full flow as she searches for a missing architect who had been leading an interfaith Jewish-Muslim charity project in East London. As local tensions rise, Shanna finds herself in the firing line in a cleverly mapped out novel that explores themes of racism, identity, gang culture and revenge. In the process, it shines a light on the darkly hidden corners of London, imbuing it with an atmosphere what will have you looking over your shoulder at every slight noise…
Try it now on Amazon

Scratching the Flint by Vern Smith

Scratching the Flint by Vern Smith front cover

This is a novel that pulls no punches. An excoriating account of city and police corruption in Toronto prior to 9/11, it’s a tough and unforgettable ride, all wrapped up in a page turning noir story that drips with black humour. A untouchable gangster has been getting away with stealing vintage and high-end cars for years, the system turning a blind eye. Then he oversteps the mark, violently targeting witnesses. The city’s darker side is exposed – racism, city hall corruption, wrong-uns with a badge and the complicity and silence of journalists. Scratching the Flint is a story that takes unexpected turns as it peels back the layers of decay, personal and institutional failure with a shocking frankness. This isn’t a book we reviewed but our readers have been raving about it, boosting it onto the shortlist
Try it now on Amazon

The Forcing by Paul E Hardisty

The Forcing by Paul E Hardisty front cover

In The Forcing, Canadian author Paul E Hardisty presents a near future world in which civilisation has finally collapsed thanks to climate change. In North America, a government of youth has taken over. With limited resources, they institute a policy of ageism. Coming from a climate science background, Hardisty knows what he’s talking about and that infuses this eco-thriller with some realism from that perspective. Society falls apart pretty quickly when resources vanish, and the author brings an account of what might happen to older people in these circumstances, with the main characters shipped to a desert camp. The book asks who is to blame for the state we’re in, and clearly the new rulers are convinced it’s the previous generation who didn’t step up. Thought provoking and involving, it received a five-star review on our site.
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The Man in the Corduroy Suit by James Wolff

The Man in the Corduroy Suit by James Wolff front cover

Say hello to Leonard Flood. He’s a bit of a lone wolf, a British spy who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. And he also likes to wear a corduroy suit, whatever the weather. Flood is the latest in a series of misfits to feature in James Wolff’s books and earlier this year his story won a five-star review from our writer Vicki Weisfeld. Like Mick Herron, James Woolf populates his novels with characters who delight in upsetting their lords and masters, and the result here is a story that combines spycraft with an innate sense of the ridiculous. Woolf is an author who sharply skewers the absurdities of bureaucratic life while exploring the foibles of his oh-so-human characters. The resulting mix is both entertaining and hugely satisfying.
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