Nagaisayonara: Top five books of 2015

Early in 2015 I said that this would be the year of the psychological thriller, and I wasn’t wrong. Perhaps you’ll see this reflected in my top picks, below. Although the trend for psychological crime is showing no sign of slowing, I’d love to see a shift towards something new in 2016, maybe crime fiction focusing on current issues such as global terrorism or climate change. Historical crime fiction also looks to be making a comeback, perhaps inspired by readers wanting to look back to when times were better. Or perhaps not, as it were…

A Journey Under The Midnight Sun5 – Journey Under The Midnight Sun by Keigo Higashino
Alexander O Smith’s translation, his fourth novel by the Japanese mystery master, was my most eagerly anticipated release of 2015. Despite lacking the flair and originality of earlier novels such as Malice, Journey Under the Midnight Sun is a complex and intriguing tale, as dark and convoluted as the abandoned building where the first body is discovered. Osaka homicide detective Junzo Sasagaki can’t let an old case go, a murder in the 1970s, hastily pinned on a man Sasagaki is sure was innocent. He continues to dig deeper, across decades and in and out of retirement, and through 500 pages, before the final denouement. Written as a serialised set of short stories before being rewritten as a novel, Journey does sometimes feel overly complex, but as with all of Higashino’s work, the climax makes it all worthwhile. Read the full review here.
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4 – His Night Begins by N Muralihisnightbegins200
Some books stay with you because they’re different – they take you to a new place or make you experience something different. His Night Begins does both. It took me to a near future version of India and made me both understand and sympathise with a heartless and brutal contract killer. Virat Nariman’s personal code of ethics says that he only ever kills evil men, and he’s after the most evil of them all – a child trafficker who killed his daughter. Unknown to him the trafficking ring he is after has another victim in the pipeline, 17-year-old Gulab Sharma. As he chases the traffickers down the body count piles up and the world gets darker and dirtier, in the first of what promises to be a gripping noir series. Full review here.
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Silent-Scream-2003 – Silent Scream by Angela Marsons
A series of careful, methodical killings in the Black Country leads DI Kim Stone to another string of crimes a decade earlier – the murders of young children at Crestwood, an orphanage which burnt down 10 years before this novel takes place. Stone is certain the two sets of crimes aren’t the work of one killer, but instead someone is trying to cover up a dirty deed from the past. As Stone digs deeper, she finds a past that tragically mirrors her own, abandoned by society, and as she finds out more about the murdered children and the institution that was meant to care for them, we in turn can piece together the puzzle of Stone’s own past. Silent Scream is a novel with a plot and complexity that is quite stunning for a debut, and it has an ending that has to be read to be believed. Check out our review here.
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2 – Hidden by Emma KavanaghHidden
Hidden stands out thanks to its addictive and compelling plotline. Kavanagh holds a PhD in psychology, and it shows in the deep psychological insight she gives into the working minds of her characters. Opening with a detailed description of a gunman attacking a hospital canteen, Hidden then pulls back to show the week leading up to it – a gunman spotted in the hospital car park, a dead body found on the motorway, a firearms officer losing control of his memories, a psychologist losing control of her relationships. You’re given a view inside the killer’s head even though his identity is unknown, making for a compelling and addictive read. Full review here.
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BehindClosedDoors2001 – Behind Closed Doors by Elizabeth Haynes
Fifteen-year-old Scarlett Rainsford disappears while on a family holiday in Rhodes, then re-appears 10 years later in her hometown, a broken young woman working in a local brothel. DCI Louisa Smith has to find out what happened, trawling through 10-year-old interview records, trying to put together a sense of what happened to Scarlett. Behind Closed Doors is a harrowing story of human trafficking, a dark psychological tale, and also one of the most compelling and believable police procedurals I’ve read in a long time. It tells a story that needs to be told, and one that you won’t be able to forget for quite some time. Check out the full review here.
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To see which books I chose for my top five in 2014, click here.

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