Can't-Miss Crime Fiction, Pt. 1
I’m so fortunate to have the opportunity to read advance copies of so many amazing crime books, and I absolutely love keeping up with what’s new in crime fiction! But there’s something to be said for re-visiting old favorites. This post is part 1 in a 2-part series exploring must-reads that are already out. This week’s post focuses on some of my favorite titles from the past two years, and next weekend I’ll be going way back to the titles that first got me into crime fiction - including some classics!
While you’re waiting for upcoming releases to be available in stores and libraries, explore these crime titles.
1. WOMAN OF THE DEAD by Bernhard Aichner (Scribner, 2015)
This was one of the first books I ever reviewed on Crime by the Book, and it has remained a book that I firmly believe deserves more attention. Bernhard Aichner is an Austrian crime fiction author, and I consider his US debut a gripping, thrilling blend of the best traits of crime fiction, coupled with a unique delicacy and quirkiness all his own. Couple Aichner’s powerful voice as an author with a seriously compelling leading lady, and I am still passionate about this book almost a year after having read it.
WOMAN OF THE DEAD is a story of love and revenge. Meet Blum – an undertaker by trade, a devoted wife and loving mother to two little girls. Blum’s life is good and whole. Until one day, a hit-and-run changes everything; her husband is killed before her eyes, and her world is shattered. Blum descends into grief, and time passes slowly and uneventfully, as she clings to the hope for the future she finds in her daughters. But one day, packing up her husband’s office, Blum discovers a recorded conversation from a case he was investigating… and realizes that his death was no accident. Blum dives headfirst into an abyss of violence and corruption to solve her husband’s murder and avenge his death.
This is an exceptional story of love that lives on beyond the grave, and the lengths one woman will go to avenge the man she loves. I highly, highly recommend this book for readers of Stieg Larsson, Samuel Bjork, and Jussi Adler-Olsen. Bonus points: this is book 1 in a trilogy, so expect to see Blum again! My full review here; for Amazon info, follow this link.
2. THE ICE TWINS by S.K. Tremayne (Grand Central Publishing, 2015)
This psychological thriller is pure spooky entertainment; I absolutely devoured it, and highly recommend it if you’re looking for a gripping, shiver-inducing binge-read.
Sarah and Angus seem to have it all: a lovely home, a stable life, and two beautiful, identical twin daughters… until a cruel twist of fate strikes, and one of their daughters, Lydia, dies in an accident. Distraught over the loss of their daughter, and striving to rebuild their family for their remaining daughter (Kirstie), Angus and Sarah move their family to a tiny, remote Scottish island. But when their surviving daughter, Kirstie, claims that they have mistaken her identity – and that she is Lydia, and Kirstie died in the accident, their world comes crashing down. Winter encroaches, and Angus must travel for work… isolation soon threatens Sarah's sanity, and Kirstie (or is it Lydia?) grows more and more disturbed. The increasing volatility of the winter weather begins to mirror the disturbances within the family, in a story that descends into a unique madness laced with supernatural touches.
It isn’t an exaggeration to say I read this book in one sitting. This book is a psychological thriller of the most entertaining kind: a book that combines elements of domestic suspense, unreliable characters, and an utterly engrossing atmosphere. I absolutely loved how the author uses the landscape of the small island to reflect the atmosphere within the family. All in all, this truly is an excellent summer binge-read. For Amazon info, follow this link.
And saving the best for last...
3. SUMMER HOUSE WITH SWIMMING POOL by Herman Koch (Hogarth, 2014)
It’s no secret that I consider Herman Koch one of the sharpest writers currently working. His books aren’t traditional crime fiction, but they certainly explore the elements of crime fiction that make me love the genre so very much. Koch has a unique brand of misanthropy that I love; he is biting, irreverent, and brutally honest. SUMMER HOUSE WITH SWIMMING POOL is his second book to be translated to English following his breakout THE DINNER. SHWSP was not as well-received as THE DINNER, but I absolutely loved it.
*It should be noted that this book deals with themes of child abuse that will be upsetting to some readers; this is a much more visceral, uncomfortable read than THE DINNER.
When a medical procedure goes fatally wrong and a famous actor winds up dead, Dr. Marc Schlosser knows he'll need to come up with an explanation. Personally, Dr. Schlosser isn’t upset that Ralph is gone - but as a doctor to celebrities, he can’t hide the truth forever... It all started the previous summer, when Marc, his wife, and their two beautiful teenage daughters agreed to spend a week with the actor and his wife, plus a famous film director and his much younger girlfriend, at their extravagant summer home. When a violent incident disrupts the perfect vacation, and darker impulses and desires are revealed within the group, the ultimate vacation turns into a true nightmare.
I am absolutely addicted to Herman Koch’s writing. The only current crime authors who I believe come close to touching Koch’s astute psychological insights are Erik Axl Sund. Koch is a master of confronting readers with uncomfortable truths about our darker motivations and impulses. And after all, isn’t that the point of crime fiction? For Amazon info, follow this link.
There are simply so many great crime novels out there, it can be incredibly hard to figure out where to start, and how to narrow it down to the truly great older novels you might have missed. I hope this list will help you find a great book to suit your reading mood! Stay tuned for part 2 coming next weekend (7/30/16).