Best detective novels and thrillers of 2015 | The best books of 2015
BOooks that come in on a tide of gossip about vast advances, overseas sales, and film rights often don’t provide an internal narrative to match the external one. But, in a welcome twist this year, two debated debuts justified the hype.
Refuting the usual rule that thrillers with the word “girl” in the title are nothing but cynical attempts to grab the attention of Gillian Flynn fans, The girl on the train (Doubleday) by Paula Hawkins is an ideal solution for those looking for an immersive distraction on a beach, a plane or even a train, where the thirsty heroine may or may not have witnessed a murder in a back-to-back house. rails. And that of Renée Knight Disclaimer (Doubleday) is an inventive and disturbing literary puzzle that begins, surprisingly, with sending a novel to a woman who seems to be fictionalizing a secret part of her life story.
In this genre, a throat opening is mandatory, but the following often fails to maintain the grip. However, the Hitchcockian premise of I saw a man (Faber) by Owen Sheers – in which someone finds their neighbor’s back door unexpectedly left open and walks inside – delivers a clever novel in which healing after grief leads to inflicting more heartache.
Ruth Rendell died in May, but October brought the posthumous publication of her 66th and final book, Dark corners (Hutchinson), a dark comedy about an accidental killer, which features farewell thoughts on several of Baroness Rendell’s recurring concerns, including guilt, London, literature and cats.
In Rendell’s absence, this manuscript was led to publication by Val McDermid, who was herself in great shape in Break the silence (Little, Brown), a case that takes co-investigators Jordan & Hill into an increasingly violent world. Belinda Bauer, another writer who follows in Rendell’s footsteps, confirmed her star status with Closed eye (Bantam), in which a grieving mother is contacted by a psychic who may be a psychopath.
Dark corners this might not be the last time we hear of Rendell’s characters, given the tendency for criminal narratives to be posthumously pursued by other hands. If these transactions are to happen – and the practice raises considerable ethical and technical challenges – then it’s hard to imagine a better Negro than David Lagercrantz, whose The girl with the spider’s web (MacLehose) convincingly extended the life of the late Stieg Larsson’s great character, Lisbeth Salander.
In an otherwise relatively quiet year for the Scandinavian thriller powerhouse – with market leader Jo Nesbø represented by the minor exercise, Midnight Sun (Harvill Secker) – the Nordic star was Dead joker (Corvus). The last exploration by ex-politician Anne Holt of the political and journalistic underworld of Oslo, it begins with the public prosecutor suspected of having killed his own wife.
The authors of successful franchises are often fed up with revisiting the same protagonist every year: There are horror stories in the post about the terrible day a successful detective story writer suddenly delivers a WWI bildungsroman . Two writers who never tire of their lead men are Ian Rankin, whose Even dogs in the wild (Orion) is his 20th full investigation for DI John Rebus and Lee Child, which takes his Jack Reacher in the same number of stories in Make me (Miniature rooster). The two novelists have become expert technicians in the continuity of a signature brand.
Peter James has shown a diversion this year in ghost stories with Cold Hill House hadn’t diverted the energy from his ever-impressive streak of DS Roy Grace policemen, including the 11th, You are dead (Macmillan), confidently combines a cold case with a very hot case.
John Grisham, another super-seller who took the occasional generic vacation to teenage books, Christmas and baseball, returns triumphantly to his home base of legal thrillers in Rogue lawyer (Hodder & Stoughton), introducing the fascinating character of a lawyer who lives in a van and only represents those no other lawyer will defend.
Brilliantly versatile Laura Lippman combines the best elements of her stand-alone psychological novels with the greatest strengths of her series starring journalist-turned-private investigator Tess Monaghan in Hush hush (Faber), a Monaghan mystery that probes the ends of motherly love.
At the age of 85, America’s best spy writer, Charles McCarry, demonstrates an impressive mastery of the methods and tensions of international espionage in The mulberry bush (Head of Zeus). This is a novel in which the CIA fails to spot a problem from the past – an agent who, like Hamlet, avenges his late father – and sees but has few ideas on how to deal with it. the current difficulty of Islamist jihad.
Across a Quarry, Attica Locke’s third novel, Pleasantville (Serpent’s Tail), is another superb example of his personalized genre of recent African-American-political-historical thrillers, as a deadly Houston mayoral race in 1996 exposed an attempt at social engineering in the 1940s. In a crowded field where even stars follow lore, Locke feels like a true original.
With Locke having the solution on racism and McCarry on terrorism, a third threat to the United States – from the political, economic and social consequences of the long Mexican-American drug wars – is described in Don Winslow’s The Cartel (Heinemann). It exhibits such frequent and visceral violence that it should probably be read in a bulletproof vest.
Mark Lawson The dead is edited by Picador. Browse all books and save up to 30% on bookstore.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. 20p of every book you order until Christmas will be donated to the Guardian and Observer 2015 charity appeal.