Welcome to Desert Island Crime, where each week a bestselling crime writer reveals their top chilling titles. This week, we ask Laura Marshall, author of Friend Request and Three Little Lies what 8 titles she would take with her if stranded on a desert island. Over to you Laura….
OK, here goes. I could do this all day long, but I really need to work on my third book!
Agatha Christie – Nemesis
There was never any doubt that I’d be taking an Agatha Christie, but I agonised for quite some time over which one to pick. Agatha Christie was my introduction to crime fiction as a teenager, and I remain a devoted fan. Hercule Poirot gets all the press, but I prefer the Marples or the ones in which the role of detective is taken by one of the characters in the story, like Crooked House or The Man in the Brown Suit. In the end I had to go with Miss Marple, and I think Nemesis is my favourite. Christie has a reputation for cosiness which is totally unfounded. Nemesis is quite disturbing and hauntingly sad.
Ian Rankin – The Falls
I love all the Rebus novels. Of course, they are gripping and have that page-turning, need-to-know-what-happened element, but I think it’s the characters that keep me coming back for more. Rebus himself, of course, is a masterpiece (to the extent where I sort of think of him as a real person), but all the characters are so finely drawn too. I particularly love The Falls because it takes its inspiration from a real-life unsolved mystery from 1836, when a group of boys found 17 miniature coffins containing intricately-carved figures on the slopes of Arthur’s Seat.
Nicci French – The Memory Game
If Agatha Christie got me into reading crime fiction, it was Nicci French that made me want to write it. I read The Memory Game shortly after it came out. It was the first book I’d read that I would call psychological suspense and I adored it. I’ve read everything they’ve written, and they are a massive influence on me. I re-read The Memory Game every couple of years so I wouldn’t want to be without it on my island.
Sophie Hannah – Hurting Distance
After discovering Nicci French, I found that there was a whole world of psychological suspense out there to enjoy. Hurting Distance isn’t Hannah’s first book, but it’s the first one I read, and I was instantly hooked. Sophie Hannah became an author whose every book I awaited eagerly, buying them in hardback as soon as they came out. I found myself sitting next to her at an event recently, both signing our books for readers and I felt like I was in some kind of parallel universe. A real pinch yourself moment.
Kate Atkinson – Case Histories
I’d read and really enjoyed Atkinson’s first three novels (which are not crime) by the time Case Histories, the first of her Jackson Brodie novels came out. Imagine my delight at finding that one of my favourite authors was turning her hand to my favourite genre. I wasn’t disappointed. Brodie is a brilliant creation, and the whole series is clever, compelling and beautifully written.
Erin Kelly – The Poison Tree
I first read this when I found out I’d got a place on a Curtis Brown Creative writing course, taught by Kelly. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t read her before. I’ve now read all her books and they’re all brilliant, but this one is particularly up my street, with its coming of age vibe and tale of Karen, a straight-laced straight-A student gradually falling under the spell of a bohemian family over the course of one long, hot summer. Perfection.
Karen Dionne – The Marsh King’s Daughter/Home
One of the amazing things about being an author is you get sent free books. One of the first proof copies I ever received was this book, and I absolutely loved it. The present day tale of a woman tracking her father who has escaped from prison is interspersed with the story of her childhood. Her father abducted her mother as a teenager and kept her and their daughter secreted in a remote cabin. It’s gripping and compelling, but it’s the rich detail of their life in the wilderness (inspired by the author’s own experiences in the 1970s in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, when she and her husband lived in a tent with their six-week-old daughter while they built a cabin) that really elevates this book into something special.
Sara Collins – The Confessions of Frannie Langton
I read this very recently, and already I want to read it again. It’s a cracking whodunnit, but also so beautifully written, so poetic, so richly layered. I found myself turning down pages to mark particular passages I wanted to look at it again, something I hardly ever do. It would be a great one to take to my island because there’s so much to it. I could read it again and again and still discover something new.
Three Little Lies is out now in paperback.