Welcome to Desert Island Crime, where each week a bestselling crime writer reveals their top chilling titles. This week, we ask Stephen Booth, author of the bestselling Cooper and Fry series, to reveal his top picks.
Fall Down Dead is out in paperback in May 2019.
These are eight books I could definitely go back and read again while I’m on that desert island. Some of them I haven’t had the chance to re-read for a long time, so I’m quite looking forward to being marooned!
The Hound of the Baskervilles – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
I couldn’t go to a desert island without one of the most iconic creations of British crime fiction. Sherlock Holmes was my introduction to the genre, as he was for so many other readers. ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ has a wonderfully dark atmosphere and a powerful evocation of a setting. It would be great to spend some time with a gigantic hound on that desolate moor.
The Sculptress – Minette Walters
This is one of my favourites of Minette Walters’ early novels because of its unforgettable central character, the convicted murderer Olive Martin. When I first read it, I was in awe at the effortless layers of ambiguity, so skilfully constructed that they leave the reader deeply unsettled. Will I decide for definite whether Olive was guilty? Probably not!
The Closers – Michael Connelly
This was a highlight of the Harry Bosch series for me. Although it features a murder investigation, with LA cop Bosch now working on a cold case squad, the focus of the story is on the consequences of the murder for family and friends, a subject too often left unexplored in crime fiction. This one reveals the most about Bosch himself too, in all his complexity.
In Pale Battalions – Robert Goddard
I love stories which explore the way the past affects the present, and Robert Goddard is the master. I could have chosen several of his novels, but ‘In Pale Battalions’ is one I’d happily go back and read again any time. The twisty plot stems from the First World War and revolves around family secrets, including a murder unsolved for more than half a century. Irresistible.
Mushroom Man – Stuart Pawson
The DI Charlie Priest novels are a delight, as was Stuart himself. The humour in his books will always remind me of the author, who we lost a few years ago. Charlie Priest is one of the most human and likeable fictional cops. Not only is he good at his job, but he actually gets on with everyone and looks after his team. The Yorkshire setting and quirky characters are a bonus.
Cold in the Earth – Aline Templeton
One of the finest Scottish crime novelists, Aline Templeton has created a fabulous character in DI Marjorie ‘Big Marge’ Fleming. Set in one of my favourite parts of the country, Dumfries and Galloway, ‘Cold in the Earth’ depicts a farming community in crisis during the Foot and Mouth epidemic. Throw in a snow storm and (yet more) family secrets, and you’ve got it all.
A Judgement in Stone – Ruth Rendell
Written by one of my crime writing heroes, who produced innovative work for more than forty years, ‘A Judgement in Stone’ is a remarkable psychological thriller which subverted the genre. On the first page, Rendell tells us who killed who and why – yet manages to grip our attention right to the end. No matter how often I read it, I may never quite figure out how she does that!
On Beulah Height – Reginald Hill
Reginald Hill was one of the most intelligent writers in British crime fiction, and a great writer by any definition. ‘On Beulah Height’ was Hill at his peak, a complex novel with several interlocking themes. The depth of his writing always rewards re-reading, so it’s perfect for a desert island. And again, what a memorable character in the formidable shape of Andy Dalziel.