“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.
Sunday, December 20, 2015
Review: The Best Crime Novels of 2015
The crime fiction year opened with a bang, appropriately enough, with Adrian McKinty’s Gun Street Girl (Serpent’s Tail), the fourth in a series featuring Sean Duffy. A Catholic detective with the RUC, Duffy investigates a double-killing as the news of the impending Anglo-Irish Agreement sends Northern Ireland into a turmoil of strikes, riots and violence.
Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train (Doubleday) was an equally impressive first outing, and one of the year’s publishing sensations (touted as this year’s Gone Girl), as alcoholic Rachel turns amateur sleuth when a woman goes missing. Steve Cavanagh’s The Defence (Orion) was another debut, a rollicking tale of New York lawyer Eddie Flynn going into court with a bomb strapped to his back to defend a Russian mobster. Attica Locke’s third offering, Pleasantville (Serpent’s Tail), is another to feature a lawyer, as Jay Porter tries to extricate the personal from the political as reluctantly defends an alleged killer during a mayoral election in Houston, Texas, against the backdrop of a campaign of very dirty tricks.
In June, the ever reliable Karin Fossum delivered The Drowned Boy (Harvill Secker), in which her series detective, the brooding Norwegian Inspector Sejer, investigates the tragic death of a toddler with Down’s syndrome. Dennis Lehane concluded his excellent Joe Coughlin trilogy with World Gone By (Little, Brown), which was set in Florida and Cuba, and charted the turbulent transition of America’s criminal fraternity from the riotous gangster era to the more organised crime of the Mafia.
Jane Casey’s After the Fire (Ebury Press) featured her series heroine, London-based DC Maeve Kerrigan. “Casey writes with a deft wit and immense skill,” wrote Declan Hughes in these pages. “The Maeve Kerrigan books keep getting better and better.” Mark Henshaw’s The Snow Kimono (Tinder Press) centred on retired Parisian police inspector Auguste Jovert in an unusual crime novel, with Jovert playing the part of reluctant confessor to an elaborately detailed declaration of guilt. Julia Heaberlin’s third novel, Black-Eyed Susans (Penguin), was a brilliantly constructed tale of parallel narratives as teenager Tessie and adult Tess recount their horrific story of being abducted and left for dead by a seasoned serial killer in an engrossing exploration of the morality of the death penalty.
This article was first published in the Irish Times.
So there it is, folks. It’s been another great year, and thank you kindly to everyone who dropped by ye olde blogge. A happy and peaceful Christmas to you all, and I’ll see you all back here come the New Year …