Best crime reads as chosen by top crime writer

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Sarah Ward is the author of the DC Childs crime series set in the Derbyshire Peak District. She’s also an online book reviewer whose blog, Crimepieces, reviews the best of current crime fiction published around the world.

Sarah describes herself as a “huge crime fan” so we were thrilled to have her list of recommended crime titles to share with our reading group community.

Sarah’s reading group history

“I’ve belonged to three reading groups in the last ten years. The first set me on my crime writing journey when a fellow member invited me to review books on his new website. When I moved to Greece, I joined a book club largely made up of ex-pats whose oldest member was 100 years old. Now I’m back in Derbyshire, I’ve set up a reading group in my village where we read a mix of fiction and biography. I’ve discovered some fantastic books and here are a few of my crime fiction recommendations:”

The Intrusions by Stav Sherez

Deservedly the winner of the 2018 Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year, The Intrusions combines a classic police procedural structure with a contemporary theme. A woman contacts the police to report that her friend has been abducted from their seedy Bayswater hotel. Detective duo Carrigan and Miller discover that both women’s computers have been remotely hacked and their lives exposed. Beautifully written and thought provoking this is a book packed full of psychological tension.

1222 by Anne Holt (translated by Marlaine Delargy)

I picked up this Norwegian crime novel one wintry evening when the snow was beginning to fall and it made for a perfect read in front of the fire. At 1222 metres above sea level, a train heading north from Oslo slides off the tracks. In the worst snow storm in the country’s history, the stranded passengers take refuge in an isolated hotel where a body is uncovered. Featuring Holt’s detective, Hanne Wilhelmsen, this is one of the best examples of Nordic Noir.

The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor

I love historical crime fiction and there are some excellent series available. If you’re a fan of CJ Samson’s Matthew Shardlake books, you’ll love Ashes of London set in the aftermath of the Great Fire. The two protagonists, James Marwood, son of a traitor, and Catherine Lovett, whose father was accused of regicide, are sparkling characters who easily hold their own plot lines.

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

This is still my favourite ghost story and I’ve included it here as it includes a tragic death and a crime at the heart of the narrative. Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, travels to the North East to attend the funeral of Alice Drablow. At Eel Marsh House, a decaying mansion sitting on the edge of a causeway, Kipps spots the frightening figure of a woman black and a horrific story of loss and grief emerges. An atmospheric book with a chilling narrative.

Sarah’s latest book

The Shrouded Path by Sarah Ward

In 1957, six girls walk into a railway tunnel and only five emerge. The act of violence that takes place in the tunnel has a resonance for a present day investigation when a woman dies in hospital. I wanted to get to the heart of what it was to be a teenager in the 1950s and I spoke to many readers who remember the period well. A time of optimism and a great decade to be a teenager was the general consensus and I loved exploring the culture of the time.

The Shrouded Path by Sarah Ward is out on 6 September (Faber & Faber).

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Get involved

Sarah has written three other crime novels, In Bitter Chill, A Deadly Thaw and A Patient Fury which are set in the Derbyshire Peak District. You can reserve them from your local library or buy them online.

If you’re looking for more book recommendations, check out our Book Reviews page.

Interested in more crime fiction reviews? Take a look at Sarah’s blog Crimepieces.

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