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16 must-read books for Broadchurch fans

Broadchurch is one of those shows that takes over your life. We spend hours talking about it, wondering on the plots, the motives, the characters. It is rare that a drama can create such a furore of feeling – but what is it that makes Broadchurch stand out?

For one, the small-town secrets leave us guessing constantly. Each character has something dark and sometimes disturbing to hide, a back-story that we are not privy to, one damaging enough that they are fierce in protecting it and will lie to the police and their loved ones. It’s a powerful drama – not least because we love and think we know the characters who make up the community and who all react very differently to the events that unfold. Living in such a small town means life is different for the inhabitants of Broadchurch; the community is interconnected in a way that just isn’t possible in the city. Broadchurch has such a profound sense of place that it shapes and influences the lives of those living there as though it were another character.

So what have we deduced, Watson? We love Broadchurch for the small-town community, the secrets and motives that we can only guess at and the intense atmosphere of claustrophobia.

If, like us, you couldn’t get enough of the show, here are some books we recommend for that Broadchurch effect.

16 books for Broadchurch fans

Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara

Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara

Astrid has moved back in with her mother, in her quiet seaside town far from the temptations and memories of her old life, to focus on her recovery. But someone knows what Astrid is running from – and they won’t stop until she learns that some mistakes can’t be corrected.

Lesley looks at the chilling repercussions of a secret shared with the wrong person in this small-town mystery. It’s packed with tension that builds with every chapter and drip-fed clues that will keep you guessing.

Close to Home by Cara Hunter

Close to Home by Cara Hunter

Eight-year-old Daisy was last seen in the garden of her family home. No one noticed her leave or knows when they last saw her. But DS Adam Fawley is convinced that someone knows where Daisy is – and when a child goes missing, nine times out of ten it’s someone close to home.

Following a team of believable coppers you’ll really root for, this absorbing read looks at the shock-waves that ripple through a small community, using social media posts and news reports to show how often we make assumptions in the face of tragedy. Perfect for Tana French and Ruth Rendell fans.

Come Back For Me by Heidi Perks

Come Back For Me by Heidi Perks

When a body’s discovered in a tiny island community, the news is doubly shocking for Stella. It’s been found in the garden of the childhood home her family fled years ago. Questioning her past and desperate to unearth the truth, she returns – but the place she left behind is far from welcoming, and the people in it will go to any length to protect their secrets.

Heidi Perks weaves together past and present to tell a slow-burning story of family secrets, uncovering so much more than just a dead body. A suspenseful and claustrophobic crime novel.

No One Home by Tim Weaver

No One Home by Tim Weaver

Four households gather for a party in a tiny Yorkshire village. By the next morning, they’ve all vanished without a trace – no trail, no evidence and no answers. With the police investigation dead in the water, the families of the disappeared ask missing persons investigator David Raker to find out what happened. But nothing can prepare him for the truth…

With plenty of elusive characters and an intriguing plot, this is a brilliantly immersive missing persons thriller full of clever twists that will keep you glued firmly to the edge of your seat.

From the Shadows by G R Halliday

From the Shadows by G R Halliday

Sixteen-year-old Robert arrives home late. Without a word to his dad, he goes up to his bedroom. Robert is never seen alive again. When his body is found on the coast of the Scottish Highlands, instinct tells DI Monica Kennedy that this case won’t begin and end with this one death.

From the Shadows introduces an unforgettable main character that Ann Cleeves and Susie Steiner readers will love. Set in Inverness and the Highlands, this stunning police procedural is full of eerie descriptions that will have you double-checking the doors and windows are locked before you go to bed.

The Widow by Fiona Barton

The Widow by Fiona Barton

Jean Taylor’s life was ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. But Jean was married to a man who became the monster on the front page, a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil. And now he’s dead, she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms – to tell us what really happened.

Switching between different perspectives – those of the widow, the journalist, the detective – and showing just how many people are affected by the shocking crime behind the headlines, there’s lots here that fans of Broadchurch will love.

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

Isa and her three best friends used to play the Lying Game, competing to convince people of outrageous stories. Now, after seventeen years of hiding one big secret, something terrible has been found on the beach back in their coastal town. The truth is about to come to light…

We guarantee you won’t know who to trust in this eerie seaside thriller that oozes with secrets, lies and psychological suspense.

In the Woods by Tana French

In the Woods by Tana French

When Adam was twelve, he went into the woods with two friends. He never saw them again. Their bodies were never found, and Adam had no memory of what had happened. Twenty years on, he’s now a detective living under a new name, and no one knows about his past. Then a body is found at the site of the old tragedy, drawing him back into the mystery of what happened all those years ago.

Intricate, vivid descriptions and brilliant, three-dimensional characterisation make it easy to immerse yourself in the first brilliantly crafted book in the Dublin Murder Squad series.

Alice Teale is Missing by H A Linskey

Alice Teale is Missing by H A Linskey

Alice Teale walked out of school at the end of a bright spring day and hasn’t been seen since. Then the police receive a disturbing package – pages from Alice’s precious diary. Who could have sent them? And what have they done with Alice?

With a strong sense of place, a gripping, pacy plot and an unforgettable detective duo, this is an addictive missing persons thriller where everyone has something to hide.

Dark Pines by Will Dean

Dark Pines by Will Dean

Two bodies lie deep in the forest near a remote Swedish town. Tuva Moodyson, a deaf reporter on a small-time local paper, is looking for the story that could make her career. Can Tuva outwit the killer before she becomes the final victim?

Will Dean slowly cranks up the tension in this beautifully crafted, moody and incredibly compelling book set in the Swedish wilderness. Menacing, creepy undertones and a wonderful, interesting protagonist make this a stand-out read.

The Chalk Man by C J Tudor

The Chalk Man by C J Tudor

When Eddie receives an unnerving message in the post, it drags him straight back to his home town, back to his teenage days when he and his friends stumbled across a body in their sleepy village…

Childhood games, sinister chalk figures, a tragic accident and a gruesome murder. While different from Broadchurch in tone and seriously creepy in its premise, The Chalk Man is a dark, atmospheric psychological crime novel full of well-drawn characters.

The Girls by Lisa Jewell

The Girls by Lisa Jewell

A thirteen-year-old girl is found unconscious in a dark corner of a communal garden square in London. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?

With utterly believable characters and a dark secret buried at its core, this devastating mystery uncovers what lies beneath the surface of a seemingly perfect community.

Final Cut by S J Watson

Final Cut by S J Watson

Blackwood Bay is an ordinary place, home to ordinary people. But when film-maker Alex arrives to shoot her new documentary the community is deeply suspicious of her intentions. Because the dilapidated seaside town is home to an extraordinary secret…

Marrying an ‘outsider’ protagonist with the intensity of a small community with something to hide, Final Cut is layered with psychological intrigue that unravels to reveal the dark and deadly truth.

Safe House by Jo Jakeman

Safe House by Jo Jakeman

Charlie’s been in prison for providing a false alibi for a murderer – the man she loved, who she was convinced was innocent. Now released from behind bars, she’s holed up in a remote seaside village with a new name, attempting a fresh start. But someone is watching, waiting and wondering if she’s really paid the price for what she did…

Transport yourself to the Cornish coast where this chillingly claustrophobic novel draws out a creeping sense of paranoia with every page. Expect plenty of twists and turns and an utterly shocking and unpredictable ending.

The Facts of Life and Death by Belinda Bauer

The Facts of Life and Death by Belinda Bauer

On the beaches and cliffs of north Devon, young women have become victims to a madman playing a terrifying game – and in the nearby crumbling, seaside town, ten-year-old Ruby Trick is trying to help her father catch the killer.

Belinda’s books are renowned for their strong sense of place and unsettling human insights, and The Facts of Life and Death is no exception. A truly chilling read.

The Various Haunts of Men by Susan Hill

The Various Haunts of Men by Susan Hill

Susan Hill’s first Simon Serrailler book, set in the fictional cathedral town of Lafferton, revolves around the mystery of a missing woman who disappears into the fog.

As characters are introduced, their narratives intertwine and cross in unexpected ways, each revealing more about the others until the story and crime is unveiled. This is detective fiction at its best, and we can’t recommend it enough.

Did we miss any other perfect small-town books for Broadchurch fans? Let us know in the comments below!

Take a look at our Netflix recommendations for Broadchurch lovers here.

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1 Comment

    Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington is set in a small town in Devon. The beautiful scenery described in this book contrasts the dark, claustrophobic atmosphere of murder and secrets within one family. A must-read for those who enjoyed Broadchurch – I loved it!

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