The AustCrimeFiction Best of 2015

I'm mathematically challenged at the best of times, and never more so than when greeted by the need to come up with a "list" of a certain number. Okay so that's probably less to do with maths and more to do with a pathological hatred of arbitrary rules. So let's just go with this being the best of list of all the books (currently at 147 or so) that I was fortunate (in the main) to have read in 2015.

We're also taking a break from the "day jobs" for a couple of weeks so review posting will slow down a little over the next few weeks as we shift our focus to surviving the long-hot-dry-shocking-awful-stinking summer. We're in severe drought here and it's the books that I'm reading that are helping to keep me sane(ish) and distracted from the devastation outside.

Australian

The Heat, Garry Disher

It's Wyatt being Wyatt, and yet there was something a little extra there into the bargain. Love this series at the best of times, loved this book in particular.

Resurrection Bay, Emma Viskic

A deftly handled plot, strong characters and a sly, dry humour make this an outstanding debut crime novel.

Kingdom of the Strong, Tony Cavanaugh

This is exactly the sort of novel that Darian Richards deserves. Let's hope there's a lot more to come.

Before It Breaks, Dave Warner

So thrilled to see Dave Warner back writing strong, clever, highly entertaining crime fiction again.

The Insanity of Murder, Felicity Young

Latest in a series of intelligent, well-researched and engagingly written crime-fiction novels set amid the suffragette battles of early 1900s England

Wrath, Anne Davis

Brilliant YA pitched book - a shattering, emotional rollercoaster of a book, just as the blurb puts it is all about a mistake that we could all make, and the redemption that some of us deserve.

The Big Whatever, Peter Doyle

Okay so I loved this one so much I've read it a couple of times now AND I've got pages marked so I can reread the paragraphs.

Quota, Jock Serong

Impressive debut, winner of the Best First Ned Kelly this year.

Already Dead, Jaye Ford

A really good psychological thriller, fast paced, with a strong plot and engaging characters, although if you spend a lot of time in idling traffic you'll probably find yourself locking your doors after reading.

Cooper Bartholomew is Dead, Rebecca James

Another really good YA book tackling some confrontational and very real teenage issues head on.

Bad Seed, Alan Carter

Absolutely cracking dialogue, great cast of characters, strong plot. I just flat out want more of this series.

Gun Control, Peter Corris

It's Cliff Hardy okay. As always with these books, Corris takes Hardy to the crux of the problem, puts him in some jeopardy, moves some baddies around on the board, and drags Hardy, sometimes slightly bruised, out the other end in a manner beautifully economical with words, never lacking atmosphere.

Sweet One, Peter Docker

Loved this book. Utterly and absolutely. Whilst there is much to be said for the strength of people writing their own stories and telling things from their own perspective, SWEET ONE reminds that an observer's eye can also be acute. When that eye is combined with sympathy, respect and love, then the stories told are strong, and in a language that's accessible, gripping, moving, emotional, provocative and forceful.

King of the Road, Nigel Barlett

An unusual book in many ways, well worth reading, even if the subject matter is a no go zone for you.

Gun Street Girl, Adrian McKinty

The fourth book in the originally intended trilogy that just keeps growing in numbers and quality. This is an outstanding series.

New Zealand

Inside the Black Horse, Ray Berard

Said at the time - stonkingly good debut, this was a real find this year.

Fallout, Paul Thomas

Tito Ihaka is back in this 5th book and it's been simply too long!

Swimming in the Dark, Paddy Richardson

This was an absolute standout from this year with characters that have stayed with me.

Five Minutes Alone, Paul Cleave

There's also a powerful sense of pace, and action, and some memorable confrontation scenes - particularly in the Gothic old asylum where you'd be tempted to say "only in a Paul Cleave novel". That sense of pace is part of the strength of all these books, as are the flawed characters and the slightly crazy scenarios.

Other

For the Dignified Dead, Michael Genelin

No idea what it was about this one that just clicked, but I really liked this book. Liked the central character, the way that the plot was constructed and the strong sense of place.

Vertigo, Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac

Another of those serendipitious reads that just appealed. Wonderful translation, holding onto a good sense of place and culture.

Unravelling Oliver, Liz Nugent

Could use lots of words - will just go with mesmerising.

Snowblind, Ragnar Jónasson 

Beautifully written, great characters; a wonderful sense of place; a cleverly constructed plot; and that introspective, claustrophobic feeling that often appeals to fans of Icelandic and Scandinavian crime fiction.

Dark As My Heart, Antti Tuomainen

The exploration of consequences, beautifully executed.

Leona: The Die is Cast, Jenny Rogneby

Any readers looking for something different this could be just the ticket. 

Europa Blues, Arne Dahl

A combination of a slightly eccentric, dedicated and very determined investigation group full of strong individuals, who work as a team; and a confrontational and some very pointed crimes and their backgrounds, perpetrated for very believable reasons made this novel a stand-out read.

The Tokyo Zodiac Murders, Soji Shimada

Puzzle upon puzzle, intricate and utterly fascinating, as an example of Honkaku and the culture from which it sprang.

My Name is N, Robert Karjel

Fascinating exploration of the grey of motivations and behaviour in a thriller format (more usually known for black and white).

After the Crash, Michel Bussi

The pacing of this thriller is particularly interesting, somehow achieving massive leaps forward in what otherwise feels rather languid, almost rhythmic style. 

Long Way Home / Tell No Tales, Eva Dolan (1 & 2 in the Zigic / Ferreira series)

Leaning towards hard-boiled in stylings and subject matter, Dolan has created a team of investigator's and a scenario for them to work in that really feels like it's got legs. Certainly hope so.

The Glorious Heresies, Lisa McInerney

Brutal, funny, dark, difficult, discomforting and a hell of a ride, THE GLORIOUS HERESIES (and you just know this has to be said) was utterly glorious.

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