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Euro Crime's Top 2008 reads

2008's Euro Crime contributors: Pat Austin, Paul Blackburn, Karen Chisholm, Maxine Clarke, Sunnie Gill, Amanda Gillies, Terry Halligan, Geoff Jones, Karen Meek, Michelle Peckham, Norman Price, Mike Ripley, Laura Root, Kerrie Smith and Fiona Walker reveal their top European crime reads of that year (links are to the reviewer's own review of that title). NB. The top 5s are arranged alphabetically, rather than ranked 1 to 5.

A summary of the lists in terms of favourite titles and authors can be found here on the blog.

Pat Austin

  • Ariana Franklin - Mistress of the Art of Death
  • Stuart McBride - Flesh House
  • Shona MacLean - The Redemption of Alexander Seaton
  • C J Sansom - Sovereign
  • Leonie Swann - Three Bags Full

    Paul Blackburn

  • Tony Black - Paying For It (2)
  • Tom Cain - The Survivor (3)
  • Alex Gray - Pitch Black (5)
  • Stuart McBride - Flesh House (1)
  • Ian Rankin - Doors Open (4)

    Other than Tom Cain, these represent what I think is the best of Tartan Noir. (The number in the bracket refers to the book's relevant position in the top 5 ie, Flesh House was the top read, Paying for It was second, etc).

    Karen Chisholm

  • Frode Grytten - The Shadow in the River

    I just loved the humour of this book, as well as the way that the treatment of "outsiders" was depicted.

  • Arnaldur Indridason - Arctic Chill

    Particularly involving and very memorable.

  • Stieg Larsson - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

    Closed room mystery, but Salander made it.

  • Andrea Maria Schenkel - The Murder Farm

    I loved the format of this book, to say nothing of the concise, yet incredibly involving manner in which the story was told.

  • Yrsa Sigurdardottir - Last Rituals

    Loved the humour in this one, as well as the intricate nature of the story.

    Maxine Clarke

    a)English Language Origin:
  • Nicci French - Losing You
  • Simon Lewis - Bad Traffic
  • Diane Setterfield - The Thirteenth Tale
  • Laura Wilson - Stratton's War

    b)Translated into English:
  • Karin Fossum - Broken
  • Arnaldur Indridason - Arctic Chill
  • Asa Larsson - The Black Path
  • Johan Theorin - Echoes from the Dead
  • Helene Tursten - The Torso

    I like them all because they are strong books - thoughtful, interesting characters, intelligent writing, and show the effects on people of challenging circumstances.

    Sunnie Gill

  • Ann Cleeves - White Nights

    Cleeves writes about a small isolated community beautifully. Strong sense of place and a protagonist you can't help but like. I am eagerly awaiting Cleeves' next book in the series.

  • Reginald Hill - A Cure for all Diseases

    It's Reginald Hill. It's Dalziel and Pascoe. Is there anything else that needs to be said to explain why it's on my tops list?

  • Stuart MacBride - Sawbones

    SAWBONES is a departure from MacBride's DI Logan MacRae series. To begin with it it set in the USA and is a road trip no one would ever want to undertake.There are three gangsters in a car, a teenage boy who has recently had his "frank and beans" cut off and a dead FBI agent in the boot. They are on the trail of a serial killer who kidnaps young blonde women and cuts off their limbs while they are still alive. This time the killer has picked the wrong victim. He has taken Laura, the sixteen year old daughter of a New York crime boss. Police throughout the country are making enquiries, but the gang boss doesn’t trust them. His minions are making their own. Their interviewing techniques aren’t what you’d call subtle. After being questioned by this lot, a witness is just relieved to still be alive, let alone still have all their original body parts.

    More a novella than a novel, SAWBONES is just 114 pages long. But those pages are action-packed with never a dull moment. But it comes with a warning. SAWBONES is very violent with a more than a dash of black humour. If you think you can handle the violence then give it a try. I loved it.

  • Ian Rankin - Exit Music

  • Michael Robotham - Shatter

    An Australian author, but set in England and winner of the 2008 Ned Kelly award for crime fiction, SHATTER is a tense thriller. Psychologist Joe O'Laughlin is battling Parkinson's disease which is making him increasingly debilitated. He is called to what appears to be an attempted suicide. A woman, naked but for a pair of high heels is on a bridge. When Joe arrives she is listening to someone talking to her on her mobile phone. Then she jumps. The authorities put it down as suicide, but the woman's teenage daughter doesn't believe this. Her mother was terrified of heights and had a lot to live for. As Joe searches for an explanation he uncovers something very dark and terrifying. Probably one of the best thrillers I've ever read. This is edge of seat stuff. SHATTER has the added bonus of some very fine writing.

    Amanda Gillies

  • James Becker - The First Apostle
  • Paul McAuley - Players
  • Sarah Rayne - The Death Chamber
  • Sarah Rayne - Spider Light
  • Manda Scott - The Crystal Skull

    Terry Halligan

  • A.E.W. Mason - The Four Feathers
  • Julia Navarro - The Bible Of Clay
  • Craig Russell - The Carnival Master
  • Peter Tremayne - The Council Of The Cursed
  • Paul Waters - Of Merchants And Heroes

    Geoff Jones

  • Simon Beckett - Written in Bone

    Great series. Interesting to see where it goes from the cliff hanging finale!

  • Peter James - Dead Man's Footsteps

    Well written and a realistic detective with a personal problem.

  • Lynda La Plante - Clean Cut

    Has written the best tv series (Prime Suspect) and has a winner with the Anna Travis series.

  • Stuart McBride - Flesh House

    Not many good things come out of Aberdeen!! Oil and McBride.

  • Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo - Laughing Policeman

    1960s police procedural, fantastically plotted, full of atmosphere in Sweden. You can see where Henning Mankell got his ideas from!

    3 other books would rank as equal 5th:-
    L.M. Jackson's 'A Most Dangerous Woman' ( unbeatable for the feel and atmosphere of Victorian London ), John Lawton's 'A Little White Death" (very good series – this one is evocative of 60s London) and Chris Simms 'Shifting Skin' (an excellent police thriller).

    Karen Meek

  • Catherine O'Flynn - What Was Lost
  • Yrsa Sigurdardottir - Last Rituals
  • Fred Vargas - This Night's Foul Work
  • Minette Walters - The Chameleon's Shadow
  • R D Wingfield - A Killing Frost

    Michelle Peckham

  • Colin Cotterill - The Coroner's Lunch

    Featuring the ageing medic turned coroner, Dr Siri Paiboun, and set in Laos. The struggle with the lack of facilities is made up for by the fact that Siri is some kind of shaman, and seems to have a knack for talking to the dead in his dreams. Set in a fascinating background to the country and its politics.

  • Stieg Larsson - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

    A fascinating book in which a journalist is asked to discover what happened to the missing daughter of Henrik Vanger, many years ago. Did she die, was she murdered, or is there another explanation? This is a lengthy and detailed book that explores family relationships, as well as the relationships of the journalist himself with others. While the ending is not totally unexpected, the means of discovery is fascinating.

  • Jo Nesbo - The Devil's Star

    Detective Harry Hole must discover the identity of a serial murder, and almost more importantly, what the motive is, as understanding the motive will lead to the killer. Another detective battling his alcoholism, relationships and mistrust of colleagues at work, but with a rare insight into how the mind of the killer might work.

  • Hakan Nesser - The Return

    A body is found missing its head, hands and feet. Detective Van Veeteren has to discover who has been murdered, as well as find the culprit, while battling with his fears of hospitals and his impending colon cancer operation. Van Veeteren is an intellectual, another loner and has an eclectic taste in classical music. Intelligently plotted with a shocking and thought provoking ending.

  • Helene Tursten - The Torso

    Another murder featuring a torso, but this time set in Sweden, and investigated by Detective Inspector Irene Huss. I like this one because it features a female detective, and there are interesting asides in the descriptions of her home life, husband and daughters, in addition to the great story and tight plotting.

    Norman Price

  • Philip Kerr - A Quiet Flame
  • Jo Nesbo - Nemesis
  • Sjowall & Wahloo - The Fire Engine That Disappeared:
  • Johan Theorin - Echoes From The Dead
  • Fred Vargas - This Night's Foul Work

    I should also say the best new writers to me were jointly John Lawton - 'Second Violin' and 'Riptide', and Yrsa Sigurdardottir - 'Last Rituals' and that 'Arctic Chill' by Arnaldur Indridason and 'Death in Breslau' by Marek Krajewski were just outside that top group.

    Mike Ripley

  • Kate Atkinson - When Will There Be Good News?
  • Charles Cumming - Typhoon
  • Ariana Franklin - The Death Maze
  • Alan Furst - The Spies of Warsaw
  • Philip Kerr - A Quiet Flame

    Laura Root

  • Stieg Larsson - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Yrsa Sigurdardottir - Last Rituals
  • Tom Rob Smith - Child 44
  • Teresa Solana - The Not so Perfect Crime
  • Mehmet Murad Somer - The Prophet Murders

    With a top ten, I would also have included: 'The Likeness' by Tana French, 'The Ice Princess' by Camilla Lackberg, 'A Grave in Gaza' by Matt Rees, 'The Murder Farm' by Andrea Schenkel and 'The Sweetness of Life' by Paulus Hochgatter.

    Kerrie Smith

  • R J Ellory - A Quiet Belief in Angels

    It is rare for me to gallop through a book in 2 days particularly when it is quite long, but that's what happened here. There has been a tendency not to consider crime fiction as having literary merit but I think A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS easily straddles both genres. There's a quality in its word pictures that puts it right at the top.

  • Reginald Hill - A Cure for All Diseases

    For some people this book did not appeal. Once I had worked out what Reginald Hill was trying to do, to turn Jane Austen's SANDITON in to crime fiction, I was blown away. It is a fascinating read, and for me, doing some thinking about it, and some research afterwards, paid off, and I felt like I'd struck gold. For one thing I think Hill must have really enjoyed writing it.

  • Val McDermid - Beneath the Bleeding

    I have to confess that I listened to an unabridged audio production of this book. It took me at least 5 weeks, travelling to and from work, to get it finished, even after resorting to driving slowly behind buses, sitting in the carpark waiting for a track to finish, and taking the long route home. It is McDermid at her best.

  • Jo Nesbo - Nemesis

    The remarkable thing for me about NEMESIS is that just when you believe everything is stitched up, Nesbo reminds you of something you forgot, and the roller coaster ride takes off again.

  • Michael Robotham - Shatter

    This is by far the best book I read in 2008. Robotham's 4th book, a psychological thriller that asks how far a mother would go to protect her children. It won the 2008 Ned Kelly Award.

    Fiona Walker

  • Kate Atkinson - When Will There Be Good News?
  • John Harvey - Cold in Hand
  • Mo Hayder - Ritual
  • Stieg Larsson - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Johan Theorin - Echoes from the Dead

    Can I also stick on an hon. mention for the next Fred Vargas, due out in February

    January 2009

    last updated 26/07/2015 19:55