We asked some of the authors appearing at Bay Tales Live in March what their favourite books – crime, mystery or otherwise – of the year were and after much deliberation, here’s what they told us they’ve enjoyed most over the last twelve months.
To hear more from these authors and many more, check out the Bay Tales Live full line up and make sure you’ve got tickets for our show on March 4th,2023 here in Whitley Bay
Jonathan is an author, award-winning journalist and broadcaster. His novel, The Bingo Hall Detectives, the first in the cosy crime series featuring out of work journalist Jason Brazel and his mother-in-law Amita, was published in 2022.
The Twist of a Knife – Anthony Horowitz
Pure, unadulterated entertainment. Horowitz has fast established himself as the premier mystery writer working from the UK at the moment and every time he has a new book out is a cause for mass excitement.
The Twist of a Knife is just as brilliant, bonkers and BELIEVABLE as we’ve all come to expect from the author. A total joy from cover to cover.
Laure Van Rensburg
Laure Van Rensburg is a French writer living in the UK and an Ink Academy alumna. Her first novel, Nobody But Us has been described as a ‘chilling and unputdownable revenge thriller with a jaw-dropping twist’
Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka, a different take on the serial killer story centred around the women connected to him and the devastating impact on their lives.
Ann Cleeves is the best-selling author of the Vera, Shetland and Matthew Venn series (and, we’re proud to say, patron of Bay Tales…)
My book of the year isn’t crime fiction, though criminal behaviours have certainly taken place. It’s Claire Keegan’s Small Things Like These. Stunningly written, it’s about a good man who feels that his life is pointless until he decides on an act of courage which will change his and his family’s lives for ever. This is a slender book and every word matters.
Jo is the author of In the Blink of an Eye – featuring one of the most original duos in police detection in years, it’s coming in January 2023 and sure to be one of THE debut novels of the year.
And, like Ann, she had a clear, non-crime, book choice of the year:
If I absolutely have to pick one book that I would like everyone to read then it would be Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan, a timely reminder of how doing the right thing can be both hard and yet oh so very simple, and it is a masterclass in writing, as this powerful story is told in just 110 pages. (If you haven’t read, then please do. It is perfect for Christmas as it is set in 1985 Ireland, in the days in the run up to Christmas, and it is so evocative).
Brian McGilloway was born in Derry, Northern Ireland in 1974. His novels include Borderlands, Gallows Lane, Bleed a River Deep, and Little Girl Lost.
One book I loved this year was House of Ashes by Stuart Neville. It’s a remarkable book, beautifully written, superbly structured and darkly atmospheric. Neville explores the bloody past of the north in a work that will take its place among the great Northern Irish novels.
Alex’s novel The Whisper Man was inspired by North’s own little boy, who mentioned one day that he was playing with “the boy in the floor.” Alex is a British crime writer who has previously published under another name.
I’ve read a lot of fantastic novels this year, but my favourite so far has been The Skeleton Key by Erin Kelly. It has a suitably dark and chilling mystery at its core (inspired by the famous real life picture-puzzle book Masquerade) but the real heart of it lies in its dissection of a believably complex and volatile family. There are twists here that you won’t see coming. There is beautiful writing. And, most of all, there is a central relationship that you will root for with all your heart. I was torn between not wanting the book to end and wanting to applaud when it did. Top drawer stuff.
D. V. Bishop writes the award-winning Cesare Aldo mysteries set in Renaissance Florence. The first, CITY OF VENGEANCE, received the New Zealand Booklovers Award for best novel, and was shortlisted for the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize.
My 2022 book of the year was HellSans by Ever Dundas, published by Angry Robot. A conspiracy thriller set in a future so close you can almost touch it, HellSans tells the story of a Britain where the government uses media to control citizens and where the disabled are dismissed and cast out by society. This novel will not be in the crime section of your nearest bookshop, but it deserves to be there – simply stunning.
Trevor Wood has lived in Newcastle for 25 years and considers himself an adopted Geordie, though he still can’t speak the language. His first novel, The Man on the Street, won the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger and the Crimefest Specsavers Best Crime Debut Award. The second and third book in the trilogy are now available.
My favourite book of the year was That Bonesetter Woman by Frances Quinn. Fran is a brilliant writer whose previous book The Smallest Man was a favourite of mine but this was even better. She’s brilliant at bringing characters to life and Durie Proudfoot is another gem. It’s heart-warming, moving, funny, hugely entertaining, everything you could want in a novel. The family dynamics, in particular, are pitch perfect. I loved it.
C,M. Ewan is the author of The Good Thief’s Guide series and stand alone thrillers including Safe House, The House Hunt, A Window Breaks and The Interview – released earlier this year by Pan Macmillan.
THE BLACKBIRD by Tim Weaver has stayed with me all year – and it would make a fantastic Christmas gift for anyone looking for a rich, involving and complex thriller. Weaver’s missing persons investigator, David Rake, has faced many challenging and confounding cases in previous instalments of this superior series, but I think this one beats them all: a couple crash their car into a steep ravine but when emergency responders arrive they find that the couple have inexplicably vanished. From this tantalising beginning the mystery only gets deeper and more compelling until Weaver delivers a blockbuster ending that has me itching to read the next book in the series – and to find out how Raker can possibly extricate himself from the dilemma he’s been plunged into.
And from the Bay Tales team:
The Devil Takes You Home by Gabino Iglesias is a VERY different sort of hitman novel. Nightmarish and brutal, but with some beautiful and skilful writing. It’s strong stuff and I can see why the likes of SA Cosby has praised it – there’s a touch of his style here, a bit of Cormac McCarthy, Joe Lansdale and James Ellroy, but it’s no copy – this is a completely unique style from an author with a lot to say and a hell of a way to say it.
2023 titles to look out for: In the Blink of an Eye (Jo Callaghan), The Detective (Ajay Chowdhury).
My favourite book of 2022: Out of Her Depth by Lizzy Barber.
If ‘Harry’s House’ was Summer 2022’s soundtrack, then ‘Out of Her Depth’ by Lizzy Barber was this summer’s perfect book!
‘Out of Her Depth’ is set in Florence where impressionable Rachel – who has a place at Cambridge Uni waiting for her at the end of the summer – has secured a summer job to practice her Italian. When she meets Diana, a confident glamour puss with plenty of cash. Rachel’s head is turned by Diana’s way of life and when the villa’s owner introduces her godson to Rachel, all thoughts of uni drift away in a haze of booze and parties.
Told through a split timeline – that summer in Florence and the present day – ‘Out of Her Depth‘ is superb. It’s gripping, absorbing, sexy and the descriptions are pitch perfect. Suspense is the aim of the game here and Lizzy Barber absolutely nails it. Vivid characters, great settings and an intriguing mystery all add up to create one unputdownable book.
Honourable mentions to: Dead End Street by Trevor Wood; Truly, Darkly, Deeply by Victoria Selman; That Green Eyed Girl by Julie Owen Moylan.
2023 ones to look out for: Yellowface by Rebecca F Kuang; Speak of the Devil by Rose Wilding; End of Story by Louise Swanson; Make Me Clean by Tina Baker.
You can hear all the authors above talk about books, writing and a whole lot more when they appear at Bay Tales Live 2023 here in Whitley Bay on Saturday March 4th. Tickets are going fast, but if you’re looking for a Christmas Present for the crime fiction lover in your life you can see full details of the event here. Email us at email@example.com to ask about buying tickets direct and saving some money/ getting access to our special fringe events.
Merry Christmas from Simon and Vic!