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Euro Crime contributors, Carla McKay, Karen Meek and Sharon Wheeler reveal their top five European crime reads of 2005:

Carla McKay's favourite five European Crime novels read in 2005

'Involuntary Witness' by Gianrico Carofiglio ; 'The Pure in Heart' by Susan Hill ; 'The Field of Blood' by Denise Mina; 'Jacquot and the Waterman' by Martin O'Brien ; 'Jacquot and The Angel' by Martin O'Brien

Involuntary Witness by Gianrico Carofiglio (Bitter Lemon Press 8.99) The author is an Italian anti-Mafia judge and this is his first award-winning crime novel. Perfectly paced and beautifully written, it tells the story of a disillusioned defence lawyer who is begged to defend a Senegalese beach peddler accused of murdering a child. But as he works on this seemingly hopeless case, he gradually becomes convinced of his client's innocence and the ensuing nail-biting trial becomes a test of his faith not just in the nature of justice, but also in himself. A powerfully redemptive novel.

The Pure in Heart by Susan Hill (Chatto 12.99). The dashingly enigmatic DCI Serrailler of the cathedral town of Lafferton is on a recuperative painting holiday after the bitter blow he suffered at the end of the first in this excellent trilogy, The Various Haunts of Men, but is called home when his handicapped sister is close to death. Life does not get any easier when a schoolboy is abducted and Lafferton police struggle to find any clue as to his disappearance. All the ingredients of the perfect English crime novel are here but the value-added one is Hill's distinctive and humane psychological insight.

The Field of Blood by Denise Mina (Bantam Press 12.99). Denise Mina is one of the most original voices in crime fiction and not nearly as well known as she should be. This is the first in a series featuring a young, gutsy heroine Paddy Meehan who is desperate to become a real journalist and throw off the shackles of her Glaswegian Catholic roots. As a junior on the Scottish Daily News she becomes caught up in a case where two young boys are accused of murdering a toddler, one of them her fiance's cousin. But when Paddy starts her own investigation she finds herself shunned by her family and colleagues. Mina perfectly captures the bleak hopelessness of Glasgow's housing projects, the bitter religious divide and the lurking menace that lies beneath the city the tourists see.

Jacquot and the Waterman by Martin O'Brien (Headline 18.99). Hunky Chief Inspector Daniel Jacquot made his first appearance earlier this year tracking down a stalker who likes to drug, rape and drown his victims in the seedy southern French port of Marseilles.

Hard on its heels came a second in the series, Jacquot and the Angel (Headline 18.99), in which our cool cop has to sort out the massacre of a German family resident in Provence. Tight plotting, excellent characterisation and lyrical descriptions of this part of France means Jacquot is here to stay.

Carla McKay has been a fiction reviewer for over 15 years for the Daily Mail and this year has persuaded them to let her do a crime column of reviews of recent crime fiction once every two months or so.

Karen Meek's favourite five European Crime novels read in 2005

Involuntary Witness by Gianrico Carofiglio (Bitter Lemon Press 8.99)

Bloodhounds by Peter Lovesey (Time Warner Paperbacks 6.99)

The Dispossessed by Margaret Murphy (New English Library 6.99)

Weaving Shadows by Margaret Murphy (St. Martin's Minotaur $24.95/New English Library 6.99)

Three May Keep A Secret by Stella Phillips (Robert Hale, O/P)

Karen Meek runs Euro Crime.

Sharon Wheeler's favourite five European Crime novels read in 2005

The Master of Knots by Massimo Carlotto (Orion 12.99)

Banged Up by Jack Dickson (O/P)

Dead Reckoning by Jenny Roberts (Diva 9.99)

The Beast by Roslund-Hellstrom (Little Brown 14.99)

Dark Fire by C J Sansom (Macmillan 16.99)

Sharon Wheeler is the editor and a reviewer for Reviewing the Evidence.

Karen Meek, England
January 2006

last updated 6/08/2006 20:37