BOOK OF THE YEARS  1950-1999 

1999 Robert Crais L A Requiem

In this breakneck caper Elvis cole, the wise-cracking detective, is left second-guessing himself. The book explores the metamorphosis of a disenfranchised loner from victim to executioner, and deeply involves the reader in the lives of the men and women charged with guarding the City of Angels.

1998 Reginald Hill On Beulah Height

      

Three little girls, one by one, had vanished from the farming village of Dendale. Andy Dalziel, a young detective in those days, never found their bodies - or the person who snatched them. Twelve years later, the threads of past and present are slowly winding into a chilling mosaic. A multilayered masterpiece.

1997 Lee Child Killing Floor

  

We meet Jack Reacher for the first time, the tough ex-military cop of no fixed abode: a righter of wrongs, the perfect action hero. Reacher is the only stranger in a town that's just had its first homicide in thirty years. The cops arrest Reacher and the police chief turns eyewitness to place him at the scene.

  • YouTube Black Square

1996 Michael Connelly The Poet

  

Surprise at the circumstances of his brother's death prompts Denver crime reporter Jack McEvoy to look into a whole series of police suicides and puts him on the trail of a cop-killer whose victims are selected all too carefully. Not only that, but they all leave suicide notes drawn from the poems of writer Edgar Allan Poe.

1995 James Ellroy American Tabloid

    

Featuring Bobby and John F. Kennedy as well the CIA, the Mob, Howard Hughes, and a wisecracking J. Edgar Hoover, it’s sructured around the five first years of the Kennedy era, and is plotted with an attention to detail. It's violent and it sizzles with a terse, fast-paced narrative.

1994 Caleb Carr The Alienist 

The year is 1896. The city is New York. The hunt is on for a baffling new kind of criminal - a serial killer. Fast-paced and gripping, infused with a historian's exactitude, The Alienist conjures up the Gilded Age and its untarnished underside.

1993 Lawrence Block The Devil Knows You're Dead

A deranged Vietnam vet, has been arrested for gunning down  a successful young lawyer. The suspect's brother wants P.I. Matthew Scudder to prove the madman innocent. But Scudder's curiosity and dedication are leading him to dark, unexplored places in his own heart...and to passions and secrets that could destroy everything be loves.

1992 Michael Connelly The Black Echo

The first of the Harry Bosch crime novels has the detective investigating the death of a man with whom he fought in Vietnam. Together they faced the 'black echo' - the underground reverberation of one's own fear - and the sleuth must make sure his friend's death is avenged.

    

1991 Lawrence Block A Dance at the Slaughterhouse

Ex-cop and unlicensed P.I. Matt Scudder has been hired to prove that a socialite orchestrated the brutal murder of his beautiful, pregnant wife. A case more depraved and potentially devastating than anything he experienced before the investigation leads Scudder on a frightening tour of New York's sex-for-sale underworld..

1990 Walter Mosley Devil in a Blue Dress

Los Angeles, 1948: Easy Rawlins is a black war veteran just fired from his job at a defence plant. Easy is drinking in a friend's bar, wondering how he'll meet his mortgage, when a white man in a linen suit walks in, offering good money if Easy will simply locate Miss Daphne Money, a blonde beauty known to frequent black jazz clubs....

1989 James Lee Burke Black Cherry Blues

Former New Orleans cop Dave Robicheaux's wife had been murdered, now they're after his little girl. From the Louisiana bayou to Montana's tribal lands he's running front the bottle, a homicide rap, a professional killer and the demons of his past. Tough characters, gritty dialogue.

1988 Thomas Harris The Silence of the Lambs

In pursuit of a serial murderer nicknamed Buffalo Bill, FBI trainee Clarice Starling is given an assignment. She must interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the former psychiatrist with unusual tastes, a man confined to a high-security facility for the criminally insane. Chilling.

1987 Scott Turow Presumed Innocent

A portrait of big city political corruption that climaxes with a dramatic murder trial in which every dark twist of legal statute and human nature is convincingly revealed. A married prosecuting attorney’s affair with a colleague comes back to haunt him after she is brutally raped and murdered.

1986 Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell) A Dark-Adapted Eye

Uncovering the circumstances that lead to a thirty year old murder. The story of a family's long-buried secret past is revealed, as the deadly circumstances that lead to a thrity year old murder are uncovered. Haunting and evocative, it's a gripping tale of family madness.

1985 Paul Auster City of Glass 

First of Auster’s New York Trilogy novels. As a result of a strange phone call in the middle of the night, Quinn, a writer of detective fiction and crime books, becomes enmeshed in a case more puzzling than any he might have written. Dark-humour and suspense.

1984 Susan Moody Penny Black

Funny, free-spirited Penny (like a female James Bond), is dismayed to arrive in Big Sur and discover her vacation mate is missing. When her body is found at LAX, clothed in a bright white orchid and multiple stab wounds, Penny descends upon Washington, DC, where she pursues her quest for a remarkably black-hearted killer.

1983 Elmore Leonard LaBrava

  

Joe La Brava is an ex-Secret Service agent who gets mixed up in a South Miami Beach scam involving a redneck former cop, a Cuban hit man who moonlights as a go-go dancer, and a one-time movie queen whose world is part make-believe, part deadly dangerous. Fast-moving, pitch-perfect, and utterly, authentically irresistible

1982 Peter Lovesey The False Inspector Drew

Ingeniously plotted. The year is 1921 and a passionate affair between a romantic woman and her dentist has led to murder. The dentist takes the name of Inspector Dew, the detective who arrested the notorious Dr. Crippen but when a murder occurs aboard a ship the captain calls upon "Inspector Dew" to investigate.

1981 Thomas Harris Red Dragon

An FBI instructor with a special gift for hunting madmen must return to duty, try yo help catch a killer of families. To do it, he must feel the heat of a killer's brain, draw on the macabre advice of a dangerous mental patient Dr. Hannibal Lecter, and follow a trail of microscopic clues to the place where another family has already been chosen to die.

1980 Umberto Eco The Name of the Rose

  

The first novel from the Italian author Umberto Eco is a historical murder mystery. Set in an Italian monastery in the year 1327, this intellectual mystery combines semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory. First published in Italian in 1980 under the title Il nome della rosa, it first appeared in English in 1983.

1979 Dick Francis Whip Hand

First his career as a jockey ended when he lost his hand in a fall. Then his wife said a cold good-bye. Now, the Private Detective is on the trail of ruthless thugs who crush losers. There's a syndicate of owners with a sideline in violent kidnapping, and a bookmaker whose hatred of favourites goes one deathly step too far.

1978 James Crumley The Last Good Kiss

Tough, hard-boiled, and brilliantly suspenseful, this is an unforgettable detective story. A Montana investigator who kills time by working at a topless bar, is hired to track down a derelict author. He ends up on the trail of a girl missing for a decade. The tense hunt takes a haunting journey through the underbelly of America's sleaze.

1977 Donald E Westlake Nobody's Perfect

Rich and careless Mr Chauncey wants a priceless painting stolen for the insurance payout and hires Dortmunder for the job. But Chauncey also recruits a hit man to make sure he gets the painting back. Dortmunder gets stuck and the painting vanishes. Now he's got a few more days to live, unless he comes up with the painting. A comic caper.

1976 Robert B Parker Promised Land

The forth Spenser novel sees him hired by a suburban businessman to find his runaway wife. The P I locates her but is fired when he refuses to disclose her location. When she later needs Spenser’s help she hire’s him, leaving Spenser with a tough dilemma.  Strong on character.

    

1975 P D James The Black Tower

Dalgliesh receives a call for advice from the elderly chaplain at a nursing home. By the time he arrives, it is only to discover that his friend has mysteriously died, as has one of the patients. As the bodies begin to pile up, Dalgliesh finds his own life at risk as he seeks the truth.

1974 Patricia Highsmith Ripley's Game

  

Tom Ripley detested murder, unless it was absolutely necessary. Wherever possible, he preferred someone else to do the dirty work. In this case someone with no criminal record, who would commit 'two simple murders' for a very generous fee. Stylistic with psychological depth.

1973 Tony Hillerman Dance Hall of the Dead

When two young boys disappear, one of them leaving a pool of blood behind, Lieutenant Leaphorn of the Navajo Tribal Police finds himself not only tracking a ruthless and brutal killer but caught up in the intricate mysteries of the Zuni religion as well.

1972 George V Higgins The Friends of Eddie Coyle

When small-time gunrunner Eddie Coyle is convicted on a felony, he's looking at three years in the pen - that is, unless he sells out one of his big-fish clients to the DA. Set on the mean streets of Boston and told almost entirely in crackling dialogue by a vivid cast of cops and lowlifes, Authentically gritty.

1971 Frederick Forsyth The Day of the Jackal

A man has been hired by the Operations Chief of the O.A.S. to murder General de Galle, a target it will be nearly impossible to get to. But this latest plot involves a lethal weapon: an assassin of legendary talent known only as The Jackal. But how do you track a man who exists in name alone? Still hugely entertaining.

1970 Margaret Millar Beyond This Point Are Monsters

Robert Osborne left his ranch to look for his dog. When he failed to return an hour later his wife roused the foreman of the ranch and a full search was organised. Evidence proved beyond all reasonable doubt that Osborne was killed by a band of Mexican labourers - but the solution to the mystery was not quite so straightforward.

1969 Mario Puzo The Godfather

This compelling tale of blackmail, murder and family values is a true classic: a searing portrayal of the 1940’s criminal underworld. It is also the intimate story of the Corleone family, at once drawn together and ripped apart by its unique position at the core of the American Mafia.

1968 Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö The Laughing Policeman

The fourth book in the Martin Beck detective series; perhaps the original Scandinavian crime novels. In Stockholm nine bus riders are gunned down by an unknown assassin. This apparently motiveless killer has targeted one of Beck’s best detectives, but why? A deftly engineered plot. A classic police procedural.

1967 Donald E Westlake God Save the Mark

Fred Fitch is a con-man's version of Go: Pass Fred Fitch, collect two hundred dollars, and move on. So when Fitch inherits a fortune, after a family member is murdered, he’s sure to attract the wrong kind of attention. It’s not long before his own life is in danger in this comedic and suspenseful masterpiece.

1966 Truman Capote In Cold Blood

A work of faction. In 1959, in a small Kansas town, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues. Capote reconstructs the murder, full investigation and trail, generating both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy.

1965 Ross Macdonald The Far Side of the Dollar

Has Tom Hillman run away from his exclusive  school, or has he been kidnapped? Are his wealthy parents protecting him or their own guilty secrets? And why does every clue lead Lew Archer to an abandoned Hollywood hotel, where starlets and sailors once mingle with grafters, and where the present clientele includes a brand-new corpse?

    

1964 Ross Macdonald The Chill

A distraught young man hires Lew Archer to track down his runaway bride. But no sooner has he found her than Archer finds himself entangled in two murders, one twenty years old, the other recent. This intricately plotted psychological detective novel is packed with suspense and believable characters. Read it.

  

1963 John Le Carré The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

A gripping story of love and betrayal at the height of the Cold War. Alex Leamas has been out in the cold for years, spying in the shadow of the Berlin Wall for his British masters. Now Control wants to bring him in - but only after one last assignment. He must travel to the heart of Communist Germany and is soon caught up in politics beyond his imagining.

1962 Eric Ambler The Light of Day

When Arthur Abdel Simpson first spots Harper in the Athens airport, he spots the perfect mark for Simpson’s brand of entrepreneurship. But Harper proves to be more the spider than the fly. Entertaining, engaging and funny.

1961 J J Marric (John Creasey) Gideon's Fire

Commander George Gideon of the Scotland Yard is met at the office one morning with news of a sex maniac on the loose and a fire in an old tenement building south of the Thames. Two separate crimes of stunning savagery, a fourteen-year-old girl raped and murdered, and a family of seven wiped out by an arsonist.

1960 Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird

A lawyer defends a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the thirties. It’s a coming-of-age tale, an anti-racist story, a historical drama of the Great Depression, a legal thriller, and a crime novel.

1959 Richard Condon The Manchurian Candidate

Sgt Raymond Shaw is a hero, an ex-prisoner of war who saved the life of his entire outfit, a winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor, the stepson of an influential senator...and the perfect assassin. To stop him, his former commanding officer must uncover the truth behind a twisted conspiracy of torture, betrayal and power.

1958 Friedrich Dürrenmatt The Pledge 

Set in a small town in Switzerland. A young girl is murdered and the local detective promises the victim’s mother he will find the perpetrator. After deciding the wrong man has been arrested for the crime, he lays a trap for the real killer—with all the patience of a master fisherman. Chilling and suspenseful.

1957 Julian Symons The Colour of Murder

John Wilkins was a mild-mannered man who lived a simple life. When he meets a beautiful girl, his world's turned upside down. Looking at his wife, and thinking of the girl, everything turned red before his eyes—the colour of murder. His only defence was that he loved his wife far too much to hurt her. A psychologically-driven mystery.

1956 Ed McBain Cop Hater

The first 87th precinct novel is a top notch police procedural. When Detective Reardon is found dead, motive is a big question mark. But when his partner becomes victim number two, it looks like open-and-shut grudge killings. That is, until a third detective buys it.

1955 Margaret Millar Beast In View

Helen is alone: her only visitors staff and her only phone calls come from a stranger. Until that stranger, with a quiet, compelling voice, lures the young lady into a world of extortion, pornography, vengeance, madness and murder. But who is the hunter and who is the victim? A gothic chiller which still feels incredibly modern.

1954 Boileau-Narcejac The Living and the Dead

No longer with the police, Flavières was asked by an old friend to keep an eye on his wife. Flavières thought the reason was obvious. But he was wrong. She was a mystery, especially to her husband. To Flavières she was to become an obsession to drive him to destruction. Made by Hitchcock as the film Vertigo.

1953 Raymond Chandler The Long Goodbye

Marlowe befriends a down on his luck war veteran with the scars to prove it. Then he finds out that Terry Lennox has a very wealthy nymphomaniac wife, who he's divorced and re-married and who ends up dead. and now Lennox is on the lam and the cops and a crazy gangster are after Marlowe. Chandler's longest and most autobiographical novel.

1952  Jim Thompson The Killer Inside Me

Lou Ford is the deputy sheriff of a small town in Texas. The worst thing most people can say against him is that he's a little slow and a little boring.  But, then, most people don't know about the sickness - the sickness that almost got Lou put away when he was younger.  The sickness that is about to surface again. True noir.

1951 Josephine Tey The Daughter of Time

Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant is intrigued by a portrait of Richard III. Could such a sensitive face actually belong to a heinous villain — a king who killed his brother's children to secure his crown? Grant seeks what kind of man Richard was and who in fact killed the princes in the tower.

1950 Patricia Highsmith Strangers on a Train

Guy Haines and Charles Anthony Bruno are passengers on a train. But while Guy is a successful architect in the midst of a divorce, Bruno turns out to be a sadistic psychopath who manipulates Guy into swapping murders with him. After Bruno carries out the plan, Guy is trapped in a nightmare.