The best crime books of 2016

Every year our staff vote for their favourite books, albums, films and TV shows of the past twelve months. Here are our top ten crime books of the year, voted for by Readings’ staff, and displayed in no particular order.

(You can find all our best picks for books, CDs & DVDs of 2016 here.)

The Dry by Jane Harper

When a city cop returns to his rural Victorian hometown after an old friend dies, he is forced to stay and investigate the death while trying to avoid the cloud of his past hanging over him. This story of landscape and loss is the Readings staff’s most-read crime book this year, and an unsettling, atmospheric thriller.

A Murder Without Motive by Martin McKenzie-Murray

One for lovers of true crime, journalist McKenzie-Murray explores the murder of Rebecca Ryle in his Perth hometown. McKenzie-Murray knew of the killer through his own brother, and here he not only discusses the murder, but the atmosphere that surrounded it, and the effects on a devastated community afterwards.

Tell the Truth Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta

Melina Marchetta’s debut crime novel is crisp, tense, and wildly entertaining. A down-and-out now-ex-detective investigates the disappearance of a missing teenager who ran away after a bomb blast on her holiday tour bus – but as the daughter of a convicted terrorist, her flight causes racial tension and brings a fresh outlook to a past crime.

The Trespasser by Tana French

Readings adores Tana French, and her most recent book has cemented that. It’s a hard-nosed thriller that sees the acerbic Detective Antoinette Conway investigating a pristinely set crime that’s not what it first appears, while fighting not only brutal murderers, but also forces in her own team that rail furiously against her.

Dr Knox by Peter Spiegelman

Adam Knox is a doctor with a past he’s trying to make up for: running a clinic for LA’s down-at-heel by day and funding it by giving medical aid to the city’s criminals at night. A kid abandoned at his clinic leads Dr Knox into a neo-noir, heat-soaked mystery.

The Serpent’s Sting by Robert Gott

Halfway through this list, if you need a break, it’s time for the fourth local, hilarious, aptly named ‘William Power Fiasco’. Sometime-investigator, sometime-actor, always-farcical Power is a deliciously self-involved hero, forced post-World War II to be in a local pantomime to make some cash – until he’s sidetracked by the disappearance of a fellow actor.

Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman

The daughter of a well-known family attempts to make her mark as a state attorney in the town where she grew up – but her carefully remembered history may be less rosy than expected. A slice of American political life, hot on the heels of the US presidential election, this book is beautifully written and wrenching.

The Widow by Fiona Barton

When her husband is accused of a despicable crime, Jeanie stands faithfully by his side. But when he is killed in an accident, suddenly she is able to tell her own side of the story – along with the others involved in the case – unravelling a sinister, unnerving tale.

The Rules of Backyard Cricket by Jock Serong

Winner of last year’s Debut Crime Ned Kelly Award, Jock Serong returns with this bitterly, beautifully nostalgic look at a seventies childhood gone awry, and what led a man from life as a sporting celebrity to beginning the book tied up and shot in the back of a car, on the way to meet his end.

Black Teeth by Zane Lovitt

When the socially awkward Jason Ginaff leaves the safety of his life behind the screen – where he can break into any computer or follow any trail with minimal trouble – he finds himself in the complicated web of a long-ago crime that will endanger him In Real Life. An unhinged, darkly comic thriller.