The Best Crime Books of 2014

Here are our top ten crime books of the year, as chosen by our crime (fiction) specialist Fiona Hardy. Displayed in no particular order.

North of Boston by Elisabeth Elo

This is a book for all the senses: perfumer Pirio Kasparov is nearly killed in an incident at sea that claims the life of her old friend Ned and leaves her afloat in freezing temperatures for hours. Considered a scientific wonder by the media and the navy, her ordeal overshadows Ned’s death, which Pirio now suspects was no accident. She is unwilling to leave his son – her godson – not knowing the truth of who killed his father.

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

J.K. Rowling’s adult crime books are building in popularity with more and more people scurrying in-store to find out what happens next to the utterly compelling and entertaining detective pair of the imposing Cormoran Strike and his whip-smart assistant Robin. Here, author Owen Quine has written a bizarre and gruesome book, pointedly about everyone he knows – so when he goes missing, everyone’s a suspect.

Malice by Keigo Higashino

Malice’s understated beginning in a suburban Japanese street led to the kind of ending that made me squirm with delight at tricksy writers. Author Kunihiko Hidaka is murdered and his best friend Nonoguchi Osamu was one of the last people to see him alive. Along with the detective on the case, you’ll have your own theories on the killer, but being wrong has never brought such glee.

Blood Will Out by Walter Kirn

In 1998, author Walter Kirn drives a paralysed dog to her new owner, Clark Rockefeller, a man as connected as you can get in America, and someone who immediately captivates the curious Kirn. Over the years, Kirn and Rockefeller become close friends, despite the latter’s oddness. Then, ten years later, the truth comes out: Clark is no Rockefeller, but he is a conman – and a suspected murderer.

Deserving Death by Katherine Howell

After the brutal death of paramedic Alicia Bayliss in her own home, Sydney Detective Ella Marconi is hunting down her murderer. Fellow paramedic Carly Martens is the one who was called to the scene, and she is not willing to sit back while the person who killed her friend is on the loose. Both women are tough, real and determined, and this is an emotionally captivating, tense read.

Beams Falling by P.M. Newton

This crime novel feels so real-life that it makes everything else seem unconvincing. Young cop Nhu ‘Ned’ Kelly is stomping around Cabramatta in the early nineties when racial tension was thick in the air. Ned’s recovery from previous trauma – not dismissed, but made into an intense part of her story – makes seeking the truth as difficult as it is necessary.

What Came Before by Anna George

On Melbourne’s streets, David Forrester drives away from the wife he has left lifeless on the laundry floor and contemplates how he will frame someone for his crime. At home, Elle hovers above her body and relives the moments that led up to this one: a life of wonder and success that, with the illusion of love, became infused with domestic violence.

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker (and translated by Sam Taylor)

TAs useful to knock someone over the head with as it is to read, this enjoyably hefty tome follows a young writer trying to avoid a deadline by immersing himself in a criminal investigation: that of his mentor, Harry Quebert, accused of a decades-old murder. Small-town life is as much up for scrutiny as anything else and the final act of this is utterly thrilling.

A Murder Unmentioned by Sulari Gentill

Gentill’s Rowland Sinclair series is for fans of Kerry Greenwood’s exuberant historical crime fiction, as well as lovers of cameo appearances from the likes of badass pilot Nancy Bird. The newest book sees Rowly and his boisterous artsy friends back at his upperclass family homestead to sort out a mystery from Rowly’s youth – the death of his own father.

Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

Not only does Anthony Horowitz capture the voice and tone of the original Sherlock Holmes characters perfectly, he also seamlessly plugs careless holes left by Conan Doyle and fleshes out secondary characters beautifully. This is a Sherlock story written by someone who clearly loves Sherlock and I can’t recommend it enough.

Dani Solomon

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Cover image for A Murder Unmentioned

A Murder Unmentioned

Sulari Gentill

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