You've heard the saying 'you should fear what a monster fears'?
Well, you know a crime novel's good if a crime novelist praises its forensic verisimilitude or plot twists, or call it creepy, complex, suspenseful, glorious, pacey, first-class, cracking good, or 'a perfect holiday read.'
These are just some of the words used by 27 crime novelists, recommending their choice 2020 reads, suitable for holiday devouring. Here are a few morsels:
THE SURVIVORS by Jane Harper, (Pan Macmillan, 2020):
Karina Kilmore: I love Jane’s writing and how she places people in the Australian landscape. The setting and atmosphere of her new book The Survivors is another brilliant example of how our incredible country shapes people’s lives. Of course, the mystery within this novel, which is set on the wild coast of Tasmania, is another first-class suspense! I raced through this book! Five stars!
SAINT X by Alexis Schaitkin (Picador, 2020):
Natalie Conyer: This excellent debut novel is at once a suspenseful thriller, a meditation on grief, and a social comment on privilege and race. The novel centres on the death of an 18-year-old college girl, Alison Thomas, while she and her family are on holiday on the fictional Caribbean island Saint X. Told mainly from the point of view of Alison’s younger sister, Claire, the novel explores the ripple effects of Alison’s death on individuals and communities and at the same time slowly unravels the truth of what happened to her. Saint X is an ambitious and complex high-wire act, and Schaitkin knocks it out of the park.
NONE SHALL SLEEP by Ellie Marney (Allen & Unwin, 2020):
Kelly Gardiner: Ellie Marney is one of our finest writers of crime fiction for young adults (and not-so-young adults, for that matter), with her ‘Every’ and ‘Circus Hearts’ series, and White Night. In her latest, the gripping thriller, None Shall Sleep, the FBI recruits two teenagers to help investigate a case, using the insights of a young serial killer, Simon (think teenage Hannibal Lecter). Read in daylight.
TRUST ME, I'M DEAD by Sherryl Clark, (Verve Books, 2019, Kindle and audio):
Hazel Edwards: This debut book by Melbourne author, Sherryl Clark, was longlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award 2020. Intriguing title, local inner Melbourne settings (a first for Ascot Vale) and a credible sleuth. Great plot twists. Can I can relax within the first few pages, confident the research is accurate, the plot is well thought out, and the character is engaging? Trust Me I’m Dead had me satisfied. (Sherryl recently did a forensic course. It shows.)
WHERE THE TRUTH LIES by Karina Kilmore (Simon & Schuster, 2020):
Carmel Shute: This is a gripping story where investigative journalist Chrissie O’Brian seeks to uncover what really happened with a death on Melbourne’s docks, deemed an accident. I loved Chrissie as a character – so many demons but such a dogged pursuer of the truth. The other characters are also compelling – Harry, the boss who has got it in for her; Maria, the wise, supportive op ed editor with MS and exotic taste in shoes; her downstairs neighbour who’s such a skilled geek; the cop who could turn out to be a love interest; and, of course, the cat Skinny who may or may not still be alive. It has a ripper plot with fascinating politics which goes where lots of other crime novels haven’t gone.