Crime book of the year 2023 shortlist

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Crime Fiction Lover Awards 2023 Shortlisted logo

Have you voted in the Crime Fiction Lover Awards 2023 yet? If not, perhaps today’s the day to make your picks. Here we look at the six books on our Book of the Year shortlist and one of the comments we keep hearing is: “It’s so hard to choose…” That’s because they’re all fantastic and we congratulate all the shortlisted authors.

To find out more about our awards and how to vote, follow this link. You can also go directly to the voting form using the link at the bottom of this article to pick your The Book of the Year 2023, and our team of contributors will also choose an Editor’s Choice award.

If you haven’t read these books, it’s safe to say that Crime Fiction Lover readers recommend them, and so do we!

All the Sinners Bleed by SA Cosby

All the Sinners Bleed by SA Cosby front cover

Virginia-based author SA Cosby seems to get better with every book. He writes such muscular prose, he tells extremely violent stories and he plumbs the depth of human depravity and yet the humanity and compassion in his novels elevate them to the top floor. He’s one of the most consistently powerful writers in many a year and in All the Sinners Bleed an African American police chief tackles the murder of a beloved white teacher at the local high school by a former pupil. It soon turns out the man was involved in some nasty crimes against young children. Titus Crown’s investigation strides across the divisions in southern society, racism, Confederate history, neofascism and a black community resentful and mistrustful of his office and intentions. Described by readers as mesmerising, violent and moving, All the Sinners Bleed is a relevant take on the state of the union as witnessed in a southern backwater. Read our review here.
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Everybody Knows by Jordan Harper

Everybody Knows by Jordan Harper

Everybody Knows begins with flames – a metaphor for a burning world and where better to explore the rot and decay of the American Dream than Tinseltown itself – Hollywood. Only for ‘dream’ read ‘nightmare’. A jaded black bag publicist is sick of covering up the sins and crimes of her clientele but is drawn deeper into the murky, sleazy world that lies beneath the veneer of glamour when her boss is shot dead in the street. This is a visceral account of the dark side of the City of Angels, an attack on male privilege, rampant unchecked wealth, exploitation, racism and deeply ingrained corruption. California writer Jordan Harper skewers the movie industry and the wider society in a novel that somehow we didn’t review in 2023. Our readers have shown us the error of our ways.
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Kill For Me, Kill For You by Steve Cavanagh

Kill For Me Kill For You by Steve Cavanagh front cover

You have to be a brave novelist to present a new take on Strangers on a Train, Patricia Highsmith’s classic noir novel, but Northern Ireland author Steve Cavanagh makes this his own. His distinctive style and craft shine out in a tale that nuances the psychopath-disgruntled son relationship in the original, exploring new character motivations and deftly adding several twists on the theme. Here we constantly reexamine the apparent simple concept of a murder swap as a way of creating the perfect alibi for the crime. Cavanagh is concerned with deeper questions around the morality of crime and how that intersects with the law, something that will be familiar to readers of his Eddie Flynn series. We are soon absorbed by this fast paced standalone and its cast of enthralling characters. As ever, the question with Cavanagh’s writing is how does he make complexity so damned readable, so entertaining. This is also one that slipped through our net this year. Two raps across the fingers.
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Strange Sally Diamond by Liz Nugent

Strange Sally Diamond by Liz Nugent front cover

A word-of-mouth tsunami served to make Strange Sally Diamond the book that everyone was talking about earlier this year. That, and our five-star review, perhaps. Irish author Liz Nugent has won many awards and garnered an army of fans with works that delight in turning convention on its head, and her latest novel is no exception. Sally Diamond is a character unlike anyone you’ve met before, a naive and lonely woman who finds herself at the centre of a media frenzy after just doing what she was asked to do by her beloved father. But there’s more to Sally’s story than meets the eye, and as the pages turn and perspectives shift, the narrative blossoms into free-flowing storytelling that crosses boundaries, shocks, makes you laugh and cry in turn and never, ever, falls into the trap of being predictable. A crime writing tour-de-force.
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The Last Remains by Elly Griffiths

The Last Remains by Elly Griffiths front cover

It wouldn’t be the Crime Fiction Lover Awards without a mention of British writer Elly Griffiths now, would it? Her devoted readership put the excellent novel The Last Remains onto the shortlist and it’s a book that demonstrates why the Ruth Galloway series keeps the standards flying. It’s the final book in this hugely popular body of work for the time being, according to the author, but there’s no sense of slowing down or pulling the punches here. Instead, forensic archaeologist Ruth and police detective Harry Nelson find themselves embroiled in conundrums of both the professional and personal variety, while a hefty slice of Griffiths’ signature sinuous plotting brings some old friends into the spotlight too. This is series writing at its sharpest: realistic, clever and very emotional! Read our review.
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The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett

The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett front cover

Ever since her debut, The Appeal, English author Janice Hallett has ploughed a furrow in the crime fiction sub-genre of complex, confounding and downright twisty thrillers. The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels is another of that ilk, using thoroughly modern means to create an epistolary novel written in the form of emails, WhatsApp messages and interview/podcast transcripts, coupled with newspaper clippings, extracts from books and a screenplay, and other materials. True crime is big business these days and Hallett’s book explores its seedier side, offering a less than rose-tinted take by pitting two unreliable narrators against each other. It’s an inspired bit of plot work in a book that puts the reader in the driving seat as lead detective. Erin Britton loved it when she reviewed it here.
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