The 5 best novels I read this year are…
by Tana French
Marianne de Pierres: Tana French is a relatively new Irish crime writer with only three novels released to date. With each book she goes from strength to strength, and this, her third novel delivers superior characterisation and sense of place. I know I’m on a good thing when I can’t wait to get into bed at night to read the next few chapters. This novel is told from previously minor character, undercover detective Frank Mackey’s, point of view. French’s plots tend to move slowly but are totally engrossing. Brilliant!
Blurb: A compelling psychological mystery from one of the most exciting new voices in crime fiction.
The course of Frank Mackey’s life was set by one defining moment when he was nineteen. The moment his girlfriend, Rosie Daly, failed to turn up for their rendezvous in Faithful Place, failed to run away with him to London as they had planned. Frank never heard from her again. Twenty years on, Frank is still in Dublin, working as an undercover cop. He’s cut all ties with his dysfunctional family. Until his sister calls to say that Rosie’s suitcase has been found.
Frank embarks on a journey into his past that demands he reevaluate everything he believes to be true.
by Michael Connelly
Marianne de Pierres: Michael Connelly is a go-to writer for me. I prefer the Mickey Haller novels to Harry Bosch because I’m fascinated by Connelly’s grasp of law and the courtroom. However, Connelly operates at such a high level of intelligent readability that I’ll consume anything he writes. The Reversal brings Bosch and Halley together to keep a convicted killer in jail who will soon be set free by new DNA evidence.
When Mickey Haller is invited by the Los Angeles County District Attorney to prosecute a case for him, he knows something strange is going on. Mickey’s a defence lawyer, one of the best in the business, and to switch sides like this would be akin to asking a fox to guard the hen-house. But the high-profile case of Jason Jessup, a convicted child-killer who spent almost 25 years on death row before DNA evidence freed him, is an intriguing one …
Eager for the publicity and drawn to the challenge, Mickey takes the case, with Detective Harry Bosch on board as his lead investigator. But as a new trial date is set, it starts to look like he’s been set up. Mickey and Harry are going to have to dig deep into the past and find the truth about what really happened to the victim all those years ago.
by Stuart MacBride
Marianne de Pierres: Stuart MacBride is a Scottish crime writer whose protagonist DS Logan McRae is a curious mixture of messed up and principled. Combine that with the rest of the poignantly and humorously portrayed Grampian Police and you have a series of books to love. Be warned the books can be graphic though. In Shatter the Bones, McRae has to help solve the kidnapping of a mother-daughter singing sensation.
Blurb: ‘You will raise money for the safe return of Alison and Jenny McGregor. If you raise enough money within fourteen days they will be released. If not, Jenny will be killed.’
Alison and Jenny McGregor–Aberdeen′s own mother-daughter singing sensation–are through to the semi-finals of TV smash-hit Britain′s NEXT BIG START. They′re in all the gossip magazines, they′ve got millions of YouTube hits, everyone loves them.
But their reality-TV dream has turned into a real-life nightmare.
The ransom demand appears in all the papers, on the TV and the internet, telling the nation to dig deep if they want to keep Alison and Jenny alive.
The media want action; the public displays of grief and anger are reaching fever-pitch. Time is running out, but DS Logan McRae and his colleagues have nothing to go on: the kidnappers haven′t left a single piece of forensic evidence. The investigation is going nowhere.
It looks as if the price of fame just got a lot higher …
by Tana French
Marianne de Pierres: Her first novel, and a story with an abundance of mood, mystery and deeper emotions. In The Woods is a winner of multiple awards and I loved how the detective on the central case was so intensely tied into it because of the secrets from his own past. Clever and heartfelt. An examination, among other things, of how far you can test friendships before they break.
Blurb: A stunningly accomplished psychological mystery which will take you on a thrilling journey through a tangled web of evil and beyond – to the inexplicable.
When he was twelve years old, Adam Ryan went playing in the woods one day with his two best friends. He never saw them again. Their bodies were never found, and Adam himself was discovered with his back pressed against an oak tree and his shoes filled with blood. He had no memory of what had happened.
Twenty years on, Rob Ryan – the child who came back – is a detective in the Dublin police force. He’s changed his name. No one knows about his past. Then a little girl’s body is found at the site of the old tragedy and Rob is drawn back into the mystery. Knowing that he would be thrown off the case if his past were revealed, Rob takes a fateful decision to keep quiet but hope that he might also solve the twenty-year-old mystery of the woods.
by Michael Connelly
Marianne de Pierres: Connelly lets Harry Bosch deliver some hard bitten attitudes and then makes him swallow them whole with several changes of heart towards friends and colleagues. Good to see Bosch’s character showing some growth, while he’s busy solving two concurrent cases. One of the best Bosch novels I’ve read. An examination of different kinds of corruption – material and psychological as Harry grapples with a fresh murder and a confusing cold case.
Blurb: Harry Bosch has been given three years before he must retire from the LAPD, and he wants cases more fiercely than ever. In one morning, he gets two. Double the cases … double the danger.
Harry Bosch is facing the end of the line. He’s been put on the DROP – Deferred Retirement Option Plan – and given three years before his retirement is enforced. Seeing the end of the mission coming, he’s anxious for cases. He doesn’t have to wait long.
First a cold case gets a DNA hit for a rape and murder which points the finger at a 29-year-old convicted rapist who was only eight at the time of the murder. Then a city councilman’s son is found dead – fallen or pushed from a hotel window – and he insists on Bosch taking the case despite the two men’s history of enmity. The cases are unrelated but they twist around each other like the double helix of a DNA strand. One leads to the discovery of a killer operating in the city for as many as three decades; the other to a deep political conspiracy that reached back into the dark history of the police department.
Many thanks go to Marianne de Pierres for taking the time to share with us her Five Fiction Favourites for 2011
Marianne’s latest book is:
Be safe, baby bat. Times are dangerous . . .
Retra – now called Naif – has escaped from Ixion, the island of ever-night. She doesn’t know if her friends on the island survived the battle between the Ripers and the rebels. But she does know that she must return home, behind the sealed walls of Grave, to find out why the Ripers have been seen there talking to the councillors. What links the two worlds?
First she must convince Ruzalia to help her. The fierce pirate captain saves those who face terrible fates on Ixion, but that doesn’t guarantee their gratitude. Instead, she faces a revolt – and Naif is caught in the middle.
Naif will need all her courage to survive. For Lenoir, who wants to keep her safe, for her friends Suki and Rollo, if they live, for Markes, who has secrets of his own, and for the new friends she will make on this journey.
The fate of worlds depends on it.
About the Contributor
While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.