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8 authors pick the best crime books for Halloween

There’s no better time to get obsessed with crime fiction than All Hallows’ Eve – the one time of the year that celebrates mystery, suspense and things that go bump in the night.

Here at Dead Good, we like nothing more than a novel that takes us by surprise and has us checking under the bed before we go to sleep. That’s why we asked some of our favourite crime authors, including C J Tudor, Beth Underdown and G R Halliday, to share their favourite dark and creepy crime thriller recommendations for Halloween. And they’ve certainly come up trumps!

So, if you’re looking for a literary trick or treat this Halloween, then here are some terrific choices…

Photo of Beth Underdown, author of The Key in the LockBeth Underdown, author of The Key in the Lock:

House parties, dressing up, cackling and staggering and fighting in the street. Make up, and masks, and people not being quite who they seem… Joseph Knox’s True Crime Story is the perfect read for Halloween. Centring on the disappearance of student Zoe Nolan (and with a cracking cast of characters, including Knox himself), the book is ambitious, disturbing and very, very smart. What’s more, True Crime Story perfectly captures the shadowy side of the city – those Manchester nights when revelry might just tip over into the doing of darker deeds.

C J Tudor, author of The Burning GirlsC J Tudor, author of The Burning Girls:

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager. Jules Larson is offered a job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most renowned private buildings. There are a few rules – no nights away, no visitors, no disturbing the residents. Oh, and one catch – she may not live long enough to enjoy it. I’m a big Riley Sager fan, and I loved this tale of a creepy New York apartment block where the residents are not all they seem. There are deliberate echoes of Ira Levin and Rosemary’s Baby, but the reveal is a perfectly shocking modern twist that you won’t see coming. Highly recommended for a spine-chilling night in.

Photo of Rebecca Netley, author of The WhistlingRebecca Netley, author of The Whistling:

When They Find Her by Lia Middleton has all the ingredients for a good Halloween read. The chills are set in place from the first page when mother, Naomi, trying to salvage her family, has daughter, Freya to stay. There is a terrible accident for which Naomi is convinced she is responsible. When Naomi then decides to lie to the police marks the start of an intense, heart-stopping page-turner. When They Find Her explores every parent’s worst nightmare and takes the reader on a claustrophobic, rollercoaster of a ride. Perfect reading by the fireside on darker nights.

Photo of G R HallidayG R Halliday, author of Dark Waters:

I Remember You, by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, is an intriguing and scary thriller, a perfect Halloween read… A group of friends set out to renovate an abandoned house in Iceland’s remote Westfjords. They soon discover that they are not alone, puzzling events hint at supernatural involvement, and rising tensions emerge within the group. Wrap yourself up against the autumn nights and take a trip to this beautifully gothic landscape – you won’t be disappointed!

Lauren North, author of Safe At HomeLauren North, author of Safe At Home:

There’s nothing quite like a chilling read as the nights draw in and the windows become framed with the black of night, and you tuck your feet just a little tighter into the warmth of the duvet. And I have just the book for you. A book that will give you all those chills and more. The Woman in the Woods by Lisa Hall is both creepy and dark. It’s a haunted house and ancient witchcraft told in a modern world where we really shouldn’t believe but can’t help ourselves. This book will have you jumping at the creak of every floorboard, because if there’s one person that knows how to drag their reader into the darkness it’s Lisa Hall.

C C Macdonald, author of The Family FriendC C MacDonald, author of The Family Friend:

There are some fantastically scary books out there and I’m a huge fan of the horror genre, but I’m going to recommend a book without ghosts or ghouls: Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto, the creator of the TV show True Detective. It’s a delightful slice of Southern Noir and tells the story of hardened ex-mob enforcer Roy Cady who’s told he’s soon to die of lung cancer. He rescues a teenage prostitute and her three-year-old sister and the three journey to Galveston, pursued by his murderous former boss. It’s bleak, visceral and really gets under your skin. What it lacks in bumps in the night, it more than makes up for in the everyday horror of a life defined by violence.

Photo of Georgia Fancett, author of The Fifth GirlGeorgia Fancett, author of The Fifth Girl:

When I was asked to choose my favourite Halloween read, my first thought was anything by Karin Slaughter: she is the queen of crime and thrillers, after all. However, after staring at my bookshelves, I found myself drawn to one of my all-time favourites, Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith. Gorky Park has it all – faceless corpses, a head in a box, international intrigue and, best of all, Arkady Renko, a protagonist so brilliant that I would have named my son after him, if only my husband had let me. Gorky Park was published in 1981 but the story is a classic. I’ve read and re-read it over the years, and each time I’m struck by an insight that I’d missed before. Smith’s shrewd social observations, his ability to transport you to an entirely different time and place, and a narrative that unfolds with a sophistication that most of us can only dream of make Gorky Park the perfect book for Halloween – or any time, really (I’m re-reading it right now).

Jo Jakeman, author of What His Wife KnewJo Jakeman, author of What His Wife Knew:

Pet Sematary by Stephen King is my go-to book for Halloween. It was the first disturbingly spooky book I ever read. I was fascinated by the idea of burial grounds, and of pet cats coming back to life. It was my first experience of fear at the hands of the written word. Maybe I was too young to have read it (I snaffled it from my parent’s bookcase) but it is still the scariest book I’ve read. It remains vivid in my mind for the way it made me feel rather than for the words on the page. Over the years I’ve read it a dozen times, hoping to feel that terror again, but it no longer makes me sleep with the lights on. Okay, maybe it does. But don’t tell anyone.

What are your favourite crime thriller reads for Halloween? Let us know in the comments below!


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