Thursday, 8 January 2015

Thursday List: Best Crime Books of 2014

CLOTHES AND MYSTERIES 




women in lounging pyjamas add a lot to a crime story


As in previous years, I’m going to separate my best crime fiction from other books, not because I think it’s a vital distinction, but really so I can name more and better books.

First a few statistics: just over half the crime books I read last year were by women (phew!) and (where any book published in 2014 is ‘new’) three-quarters were old and a quarter new. Just over half were mainly set in Britain, another quarter were US-based, and the remainder covered many other countries: Italy, France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Australia, Mexico, Argentina, Canada and Papua New Guinea.

I read about a third of them on my Kindle.



And these were the best of them:

 living in a hostel is green-for-dangerous...





Two re-reads by two great women writers of the past: Green for Danger by Christianna Brand, and Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey.


...and so is living in an all-women college


Ancient book, author and title both new to me: The Norwich Victims by Francis Beeding – best twist of the year.



Ancient book, and one that I will remember for a long time: The Nebuly Coat by J Meade Falkner. Atmospheric thriller, full of everything that makes a book great, including jokes. 


could I possibly be a spy if I look this smart?


Author I should have discovered years ago: Len Deighton – in the past I could take him or leave him, but am now loving the three trilogies about Bernard Samson – looking forward to finishing them in 2015.



















                                                              



Great discovery, look forward to reading more of her books: Farthing by Jo Walton – a thriller with an alternative history setting - was wonderful, so I am lining up the sequels.

Great women authors: Patricia Ferguson’s Aren’t We Sisters was the ideal Clothes in Books book – women characters, important issues, and great clothes. Christine Poulson had a terrific new book out, Invisible, and deserves to be better known. Harriet Lane’s latest, Her, was excellent.

Liane Moriarty – an Australian writer whose The Husband’s Secret and Little Lies were perfect examples of very funny domestic thrillers, with excellent social observations.

Elly Griffiths, whose Ruth Galloway books are always among my favourites, and who has written a standalone (or the start of a 2nd series?) this year – review to follow. The Outcast Dead came out at the beginning of the year.


Ivy Pochoda’s Visitation St – a wonderful slice-of-life book combined with a thriller, set in Brooklyn.

dancing in Visitation St



There'll be another post with best non-crime books of the year. And hoping for another great year of mystery reading and blogging. 

Thanks so much to all my blogfriends, for reading and commenting, and for recommendations, and for sending me books when I'm lucky, and for just all-round making life nicer.


28 comments:

  1. Moira, I didn't read enough books by women authors last year. It's something I intend to remedy this year. Part of the reason is that I usually read anything that catches my fancy. I don't follow a specific list even though I have a TBR. Len Deighton was a good school and college friend. I hope to pay him a visit soon.

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    1. I know - it's more fun just to follow your heart in reading! I was happy there were more women than men, but I didn't have to try. I am looking forward to more Len D for me, so I'll be looking out for your take on him too.

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  2. Liane Moriaty is great!

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    1. Isn't she just? I want to read more by her.

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  3. Moira - You've read some great books this year! And you've reminded me that I must read the Moriarty books! I've been slow to do that (For no particular reason at all, really). I also want to spotlight a Len Deighton novel. Thanks for the reminder of some great reading. And thanks for your excellent blog.

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    1. Thank you Margot for being, always, such a generous and supportive blogfriend. So because of that I will forgive you for adding to my tbr list the whole time!

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  4. Thank you so much for your list and your terrific blog. I'm taking notes. Liane Moriarty is on the list, and I'll note a few others.

    I loved Visitation Street and all of Elly Griffiths' books with Ruth Galloway and Harry Nelson.

    I fell down in my global reading challenge after having completed it for three years, but I'm thinking I"ll just read what comes up at blogs and in book reviewers and by word of mouth and go with the spirit that moves me.

    Finished The Silkworm and now have Tana French's The Secret Place and Sarah Waters' The Paying Guests lined up here, with an Ian Rankin -- that one is a first for me by him.

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    1. Thanks for being such a loyal reader Kathy. I haven't read the French or the Waters, but would like to - I'll need to hear your views!

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  5. Thanks for the mention, Moira. I am so flattered! Liane Moriarty sounds great. I'll get hold of one of these.

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    1. You're welcome Christine. I was glad to have so many women authors on the list, and so many women proving that you can write a great crime book without having horrible gloating descriptions of violence against women and children.

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  6. Am quite ashamed to admit I've only read 2 of these titles - and one so long ago I can barely remember it. But I shall add several to my classics list - always looking for good titles to fossick out for the monthly challenge at Past Offences.

    At least we agree on Visitation Street

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    1. Well, part of the joy of others' lists is getting ideas for new titles, so if we all had the same that wouldn't work. And oh I did love Visitation St. It's one I will re-read I think.

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  7. I like the stats I don't think there are too many that appear on yours that will be appearing on mine - certainly not this year but also in the future You never know though. Deighton and Pochoda are in the tubs!

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    1. I think our 'favourites' lists are where we are farthest apart, our common territory is in the ones we each quite like. And when can we expect your top list for 2014?

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    2. Ha ha...I still have 10 books from December 2014 to post on, plus my usual tub nonsense and "2 by" posts. Tentatively scheduled for 25th January! Make a note in your diary, because you know you can't wait!

      Always assuming I don't go walkabout again, like I did for two weeks in December. That will teach me. OCD dictates that I must do a post on everything I have read though.... and at least the time I have should allow me to do some analysis on new-old, origin, type of book and the always interesting male to female ratio!

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    3. I think it's worth waiting for, if it gives you time to do the added value features - I love reading those kind of stats, I think we all do...

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  8. Moira: I liked your list but none have been read by me. Maybe next year as we say often in Saskatchewan.

    I loved the photo of the lady in the lounging pyjamas. They make a woman so alluring but is there a woman in the world who still wears them?

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    1. I'm right with you on the lounging pyjamas - there should be more opportunities in modern life for us to wear them.... they don't seem to fit in with my lifestyle, but I wish they did....

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  9. Thanks for this excellent list - and especially for the reminder about 'Green for Danger', which I've never read, though have seen the film. The latter features doodlebugs, which means they moved it four years beyond the setting of the book..

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    1. Now, I wouldn't have realized that, but I love a bit of info like that, thank you!

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  10. Nice list. A good reading year for both of us. You know we agree on Deighton and Jo Walton. And Christianna Brand and Josephine Tey. There are others on your list I am less familiar with and will have to remind myself of. I have the Ivy Pochoda book, Poulson's book, and The Nebuly Coat to read.

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    1. I hope you enjoy them, and thanks again for the Jo Walton recommendation - you also kept encouraging me on Deighton...

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  11. I still see lounging pajamas in catalogues, but they are not as fancy as the ones above, nor do the pants have wide legs, nor are the women wearing jewelry. They're simpler, but they exist.

    Am reading Tana French's The Secret Place -- slow at first, but the dialogue between police officers and teenagers at a girls' boarding school in Ireland has me laughing out loud. French just gets what teens say, and how differently they react to authority figures. And the inter-cop banter is equally funny.

    Friends have raved about Sarah Waters' The Paying Guest, so it's next on my agenda after I finish French's and an Ian Rankin, which is funny, too.

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    1. As I get older I get more practical, and I worry about wide-legged trousers, I think I'll trip up. That is so boring of me.
      I definitely need to read the Tana French, I love schools in crime stories, and I'm impressed by the idea of good teenage dialogue.

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  12. The Secret Place is a real doozy, the teenage dialogue, the personalities, and the dialogue between cops, one of whom is a working-class woman who is dealing with privileged teenagers. No mercy!

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    1. OK, definite. I'm off to get hold of it....

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  13. Please do. Can't wait for your review. It gets off to a slow start, but once I got into the rhythm, I couldn't put it down -- just missed an event I usually attend to read The Secret Place. And I'm laughing out loud at the cop dialogue.

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    1. oh good - I've just downloaded it onto my Kindle....

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