Best holiday crime reads
Sisters in Crime asked authors and convenors which two books they’d recommend for holiday reading. Here’s what they said:
ANN BYRNE (Sisters in Crime Life Member)
- The Long Drop – Denise Mina (Penguin Books Australia – 2017) : The Long Drop is Denise Mina’s first foray into true crime. It is the story of Peter Manuel, the beast of Birkenshaw, a serial killer operating in the 1950s in Glasgow.
- Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil – Melina Marchetta (Viking, an imprint of Penguin books 2016) : A combination of a personal story with international issues – very hard to put down!
ANNE BUIST (author)
- The Child Finder – Rene Denfeld (HarperCollins, 2017) : A well-written story with a complex central character – dark and cold so pretend you’re in Oregon for Christmas to cool down…
- Girl in Snow – Danya Kukafka (Simon & Schuster, 2017) : More psychological drama than thriller but beautifully drawn complex characters that come alive…maybe not one if you need something to cheer you up
TANIA CHANDLER (author)
- Too Easy — J.M. Green (Scribe Publications, 2017) : A smart, sharp novel sprinkled with political satire, set in Melbourne’s wild west and featuring cynical social worker, Stella Hardy — Too Easy is as good as, if not better than, Good Money (the first in the Stella Hardy series).
- And Fire Came Down — Emma Viskic (Echo Publishing, 2017): his sequel to the hugely successful Resurrection Bay is populated by diverse characters and propelled by a tight plot that will keep crime-fiction fans turning the page.
LIZ FILLEUL (author)
- Diamond Sky – Annie Seaton (Pan Macmillan Australia 2017): Nothing beats a gripping romantic thriller for beach reading – and Annie Seaton’s third Porter Sisters novel, Diamond Sky, is one of the best suspense novels around. Interesting characters, a great plot, and Seaton describes the Kimberley so well, you think you’re actually there.
- Mistletoe and Murder – Robin Stevens (Puffin, 2016): Perfect for the young and young-at-heart and those who hanker for a northern hemisphere Christmas. Robin Stevens’ teenage sleuths solve a murder in the hallowed halls of Cambridge during the snowy Christmas hols. Spiffing!
SARA FOSTER (author)
- Force of Nature – Jane Harper (PanMacmillan Australia, 2017) : Crime thriller escapism at its best as we follow five women on a corporate retreat into the Australian bush – and only four of them make it out alive.
- The Power – Naomi Alderman (Penguin 2017): A delicious, disturbing, mind-altering look at what would happen if young women suddenly developed ‘the power’, a twist of nature that leaves them physically stronger than males and delivers all the power into their hands.
CHRISTINA LEE (author)
- Murder Must Advertise – Dorothy Sayers (Hachette Australia. First published 1933) : Best and funniest novel by the very best of the classic crime writers.
- Beams Falling – PM Newton (Penguin Books Australia): Gripping, scary, very believable crime fiction set in Cabramatta. If you missed it when it came out in 2014, read it now.
JACQUI HORWOOD (author, and 2017 Davitt Judges’ Wrangler)
My two picks are books I haven’t read but want to read over the summer:
- Bluebird, Bluebird – Attica Locke (Profile Books, 2017): Law and order, race and justice in a small town in Texas.
- A Dangerous Language – Sulari Gentill (Pantera Press, 2017): Who doesn’t want to read the next instalment in the lives of Rowland Sinclair and his friends?
MORAIG KISLER (Sisters in Crime national co-convenor & review editor)
- To the Sea – Christine Dibley (Pan MacMillan): A haunting book of sea people (selkies) that reads like a fairy tale yet envelopes your emotions like the gentle rocking of a calm sea.
- And Fire Came Down — Emma Viskic (Echo Publishing, 2017): The second book in the Caleb Zelic stories and I think better than Resurrection Bay. Simply brilliant, brave and a bloody good read.
PAULINE MEANEY (Sisters in Crime National Co-convenor)
- Glass Houses –Louise Penny (Minotaur Books): I’ve been catching up with this Canadian author and her interestingly plotted series set in Quebec and featuring Armand Gamache of the Surete Quebec. Woven around a small British community living in Quebec, the series features complex plots, interesting characters and deal with questions relating to good and evil with a little mystic element.
- Earthly Remains – Donna Leon (Penguin) : I began and ended the year with Donna Leon with her wonderful stories featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti and his terrifically interesting wife. These stories are a love letter to Venice- her history, culture and food and great literature and writers are cameos.
SANDRA NICHOLSON (past President, Sisters in Crime)
- The Accordionist – Fred Vargas (Harville Secker, 2017): Fred Vargas is a female French crime writer and archaeologist and The Accordionist is the final book in The Three Evangelist series (translated by Siân Reynolds). Vargas’s books are quirky, very unusual and a lot of fun.
- The Curse of La Fontaine – L. M. Longworth (Penguin 2017): This is book 6 in Longworth’s series set in the south of France around Aix-en-Provence with the two main protagonists, Chief Magistrate, Antoine Verlaque and university lecturer Marine Bonnet. Longworth’s books are gently paced evoking wonderful scenes of the south of France and its cuisine.
JOSEPHINE PENNICOTT (author):
- A Spot of Folly – Ruth Rendell (Profile Books, 2017): For any writer wanting a master class in crafting suspense and crime short stories, this is a perfect book to study.
- The Sittaford Mystery – Agatha Christie (published 1931): It wouldn’t be the Christmas break without a Christie! Ticks all my boxes – a remote English village and snow providing solace in a sweltering Australian summer.
RHONDA ROBERTS (author)
- Murphy’s Law – Rhys Bowen (Minotaur Books, 2013): The first in a social justice-oriented series about an Irish girl who makes it as a detective in late nineteenth century New York.
- The Ides of April – Lindsey Davis (Minotaur Books, 2014): The first in a series about a female informer/detective in ancient Rome who refuses to live other than by her own rules.
CARMEL SHUTE (Sisters in Crime National Co-convenor)
- No Limits – Ellie Marney (Bearded Lady Press, 2017): Ripping ‘New Adult’ book about the ice trade in north-west Victoria and young love. Nobody does URST better than Ellie.
- A Dangerous Language – Sulari Gentill (Pantera Press, 2017): The 8th Rowly Sinclair mystery and one of the best with Rowly embroiled in the events surrounding the visit of (real) Czech journalist Egon Kisch for the Movement Against War and Fascism Conference in Melbourne in 1934. Mystery with history and a big dash of politics – my ideal holiday read.
ANNA SNOEKSTRA (author)
- The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas (Balzer + Bray, 2017): A teenage girl witnesses the police shooting of her friend. This Young Adult novel is definitely one of the most gripping and important books I’ve read all year.
- Crimson Lake – Candice Fox (Penguin, 2017): A disgraced ex-cop and a private investigator with a dark past team up to find a missing author. This book had it all: heat, crocodiles, a twisted narrative and great characters.
EMMA VISKIC (author)
- Too Easy — J.M. Green (Scribe Publications, 2017 : Wise-cracking, hard-living Stella Hardy is one of my favourite PIs. In this, the follow-up to GOOD MONEY, Stella takes on bikie gangs, corrupt cops and snarky teenagers.
- Black Water Rising – Attica Locke (Allen & Unwin 2009) : If you haven’t discovered African American writer Locke, Black Water Rising is a great place to start. Set 1980s’ Houston, it follows the story of down and out lawyer, Jay Porter, who is drawn into a conspiracy after witnessing an attempted murder.
ROBYN WALTON (Sisters in Crime National Co-convenor)
- Crimson Lake – Candice Fox (Penguin, 2017): Reading a Candice Fox novel can be a wild ride. Fox creates out-there characters and extraordinary plots. Her humour is dark, her prose style spiky.
- The Love of a Bad Man – Laura Elizabeth Woollett (Scribe Publications, 2016): Laura writes very well, so I’m looking forward to reading her ‘cult’-crime novel Beautiful Revolutionary when it’s published in 2018. You could get to know her work by dipping into her 2016 collection of 12 short pieces. Each piece recreates the voice and viewpoint of a woman who has become involved with a thoroughly nasty man and his crimes.
RUTH WYKES (author)
- And Fire Came Down — Emma Viskic (Echo Publishing, 2017): She doesn’t waste a word and her story was bold, uncompromising and starkly beautiful. Wonderful read.
- The Trauma Cleaner – Sarah Krasnostein (Text Publishing, 2017): A thought-provoking glimpse into the life of a woman whose childhood should have seen her break. It didn’t. Beautifully written.