12 crime writers pick their summer reads
Summer is the perfect time to tackle that ever-growing TBR pile. Come rain or shine, there’s no better way to while away those long, lazy days. But if you’re still struggling to decide which books to cram in your suitcase, then never fear – we have some experts on hand to help you make that all-important decision.
As part of our #SummerSix celebrations, we asked some top crime writers to tell us what they’ll be reading this summer. From big bestsellers to undiscovered gems, hot psychological thrillers to chilling Scandi crime, they’ve picked an absolutely cracking range.
Which books take your fancy?
I have a huge weakness for “Nordic Noir”, so my eye has been caught by Cecilia Ekbäck’s In the Month of the Midnight Sun. Set in Lapland in 1856, it sounds like the only missing ingredient is cable-knit jumpers, which I can probably manage without… just this once.
Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton is on top of my to-read pile. I’m really intrigued by the premise, and my friends are all telling me it’s great. At the moment, I’ve just started The Girls by Emma Cline, about the Manson murders, and am stunned by it, at how elegantly written and evocative it is.
This summer I’m looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of Ruth Ware’s latest: The Woman in Cabin 10. In a Dark, Dark Wood was such twisty, spine-tingling fun I can only imagine what Ware has in store for us readers next. I’ve also always been mildly wary of cruises and suspect this novel may give me reason to continue avoiding them…
I’m very much looking forward to The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. I loved the way she built the tension in In A Dark, Dark Wood, and fed us red herrings by the score. Ruth has a way with the claustrophobic ‘closed room’ mystery thriller and it sounds as if this will be another great read. The set-up for Claire Mackintosh’s I See You sounds fascinating and I’ll be intrigued to while away a day or two with that. Finally, I’ve read it once this year but it certainly bears re-reading, with its embedded, half-hidden treats: Mary Paulson Ellis’s The Other Mrs Walker. Quirky, literary, only just a crime novel, it tells a great story and I’ll be reading it again for its great pleasure…and also because I’ll be meeting Mary and appearing with her at the Edinburgh Book Festival this summer.
I’m looking forward to setting some time aside for the John le Carré biography by Adam Sisman. I’m a long-time admirer of le Carré; writer of wonderful books like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Smiley’s People and The Spy Who Came In From The Cold amongst many others. His real early life reads like a crime novel. le Carré grew up with a charismatic but crooked con man father, who was jailed for his crimes and later became the inspiration for the character of Rick Pym in his brilliant novel, A Perfect Spy.
Next on my to-read pile is April Skies, the long-awaited sequel to Ian Ayris’ Abide With Me. It’s taken Ayris four years to finish this one but he’s a terrific writer and I know it will be worth the wait. The story follows his working class, footballing loving characters as they struggle for survival in a crime-ridden east end of London.
The best part of summer is lazy days with nothing to do but get lost in a great book. I’m sure it says something about me but I’m drawn to crime dramas that focus on family, the more dysfunctional the better. That’s why Megan Abbot’s You Will Know Me and Emma Cline’s The Girls are at the top my summer reading list.
Something Old: When Will There Be Good News? (Kate Atkinson) to inspire me. Loved it first time round but you cannot have too much of a good thing. Her characters take up residence in my head from page one and her writing is brilliant. Something New: All These Perfect Strangers (Aoife Clifford), a debut by an Australian author that begins: ‘This is about three deaths. Actually more, if you go back far enough. I say deaths but perhaps all of them were murders. It’s a grey area. Murder, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.” Irresistible. Something Borrowed: My dad’s very dog-eared copy of Rumpole and The Golden Thread (John Mortimer) so I can regress to teenage years in the company of Horace Rumpole (alone and without a leader). Something Blue: The Troubled Man (Henning Mankell) is the final Wallander novel and will bring his distinctive pall of depressive crime fighting to August.
We recently stumbled across an Adrian McKinty novel and couldn’t believe we’d been missing out all this time. The belated discovery of an author you really enjoy reading is like finding buried treasure, and we are looking forward to binge-reading his backlist. We certainly wouldn’t mind unearthing a chest of gold dubloons while digging in our gardens this summer, but for now, we’re plenty happy with literary currency.
I’m not really a fan of beach reads – or beaches – so I’ll be embracing some period Nordic grit this summer and reading Martin Holmen’s debut, Clinch. It promises gangsters, gamblers and bad doings from high society to the low life of 1930’s Stockholm. And the hero is a washed-up boxed. Perfect.
It’s probably sacrilege to say it, but I can’t think of any crime novels I’m looking forward to reading this summer. Actually, I could qualify that and say that I can’t think of any novels I’m looking forward to reading this summer, crime or otherwise. I’ve been so wrapped up in my own writing I’ve no idea what’s coming out and when. I’m way overdue a wander around a bookshop; much my favourite way of stumbling upon unusual things to read. Having said which, I have a copy of Gunnar Staalesen’s latest Varg Veum thrillers, Where Roses Never Die, sitting on the top of my ‘to be read’ mountain, which I am sure won’t disappoint.
I’ve just started Nicholas Evans’s The Brave. The opening chapter is a real grabber. It describes a teenage boy who is visiting his mother in an American prison for the last time. The reader is led to believe that she is about to be executed. In the second chapter, the story goes back in time to England, where the boy is growing up in a respectable middle-class family. I’m hooked, partly because I used to be writer in residence of a high security male jail. This – along with my second marriage – inspired me to write My Husband’s Wife.
Which crime novels have you been reading this summer? Let us know in the comments below!