2017 was a good year for Crime Fiction. The genre seems to expand and become more broad with each passing year. These, in no particular order, are five of the best.
The Force by Don Winslow (Harper Collins)
After tackling the war on drugs and narco-corruption in 2005’s The Power of the Dog and its even darker-hued sequel, The Cartel – it’s only logical that Don Winslow should expand his unflinching chronicle of corruption to New York’s finest. But The Force goes much further than that – indicting the entire political machinery of the city, making The Force almost Shakespearean in its portrayal of a ruling elite so corrupt and mendacious that even the nominal hero would be a villain in anyone else’s novel.
He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly (Hodder and Stoughton)
Kelly has long been one of the most arresting and intelligent voices in crime fiction, her novels darkly spun fairytales drenched in a healthy dose of classic noir. Though marketed as part of the ‘Domestic Noir’ juggernaut, the charm of He Said/She Said lies in its seductive sentences and nuanced shadings of character as well as its ambitious structural scheme. The eclipse theme lends another layer to an already capacious novel.
Murderabilia by Craig Robertson (Simon and Schuster)
A stunningly ferocious investigation of our darkest desires, Robertson’s book is almost unique in its embrace of modern technology and modern obsession. Densely layered with litanies of serial killers past and present, Murderabilia asks why we continue to be fascinated by deeds of cruelty and evil – all the while pulling us into a story of serial killer obsessives and internet traders that will stay with you long after the last page is done.
The Black Notebook by Patrick Modiano (MacLehose Press)
Modiano is a literary novelist, right? After all, he won the 2015 Nobel prize. No, or rather – yes and no. Modiano haunts that twilight realm between what critics call the literary novel and crime fiction. His work is replete with private detectives, gangsters, missing people, mystery and intrigue. It replicates the structure of the crime novel then strips it into stark realism with its excision of motivation and resolution. In The Black Notebook, Jean, a writer in his late middle-age, discovers a notebook he kept as a teenager. He begins to look up people he knew and finds that his memory of the past is a fiction. Modiano’s novels are like a cross between Hitchcock and Lynch, relentlessly charting the past’s evasions and elisions and reminding us that our lives are in fact mystery novels without explanation, justice or closure.
You Can Run by Steve Mosby (Orion)
Mosby, to use a tired but true cliché, is one of crime fiction’s best-kept secrets – and there’s little reason it should remain so as he’s consistently produced tough, intelligent, page-turning thrillers that examine the borderlands of morality while simultaneously dipping deep into the great sea of human evil. You Can Run is perhaps his best, bloodiest and most moving novel and the Red River Killer one of the nastiest fictional characters since Hannibal Lecter.
Also, just missing the top five, but still well worth a read…