Christmas Big Hitters 2016

1. Ghost - Louise Welsh
Head of Zeus £20

"Head of Zeus released ‘That Glimpse of Truth’ by David Miller in 2014. This was a huge volume of short stories that I described a ‘sumptuous’. Well, I could use the word again for this new volume of ghost stories collected by Welsh. This comes in at just under 800 pages – so I am sure it will keep any avid supernatural fan occupied for the whole of the coming winter months. There are the usual classic names here that you recognise just by their surname: Doyle, Wilde, Shelley, Scott, Bronte, Hawthorne, Poe, Dickens, Chekov, Collins, Gaskell, Kipling and Twain to name a few (after all there are a 100 stories here). There are also others here that were big in their day but not so well-known now: Oliver Onions, Ambrose Bierce and Rosemary Timperley (who herself edited several horror and ghost collections). Contemporary name include Angela Carter (you can’t have a collection of ghost stories without the sublime Carter), Margaret Atwood, Stephen King and Ruth Rendell with a story I wouldn’t have labelled as a ghost story, but looking forward to reading it with a fresh perspective. There is also one from actor, Sir Alec Guinness – and I didn’t even know he wrote any stories. I imagine this will be a collection on many peoples Christmas wish list."

2. Tennison - Lynda la Plante
Simon and Shuster £20

"It is hard to believe that Prime Suspect played out on our screens nearly twenty-five years ago. Helen Mirren played the role of Tennison with sublime brilliance and obviously la Plante feels the same having dedicated this book to the great dame. Tennison led a team of chauvinists who were hopeful that this woman leading this murder investigation would fail – but Tennison was made of sterner stuff and begrudgingly gained the respect of her colleagues. This was to break the mould for female roles on TV. Now la Plante goes back to Tennison’s early days to lay the foundations of this detective’s character. A planned TV series is scheduled to be transmitted in 2016."

3. The Lost Plays - Agatha Christie
BBC Audio £13.25

"Here are two CD’s that are the only remaining radio plays by the Queen of Crime. Many others were broadcast, but unfortunately the BBC at that time was hideous at archiving their work and many were lost and taped over. The first two are re-enactments of the original broadcasts. These plays for Radio are Butter in a Lordly Dish which is a wonderful spine-tingling psychological play and Personal Call is a wonderful mix of suspense and the supernatural. The collection finishes with the original of Murder in the Mews. These are wonderful finds and will be greatly received by any Christie fan."

4. Dishing the Dirt - M.C. Beaton
Little Brown £14.99

"You can’t help loving the cantankerous and rude Agatha Raisin. Here, she is a suspect in a murder and then becomes the target of a murderer. Agatha has been in this situation before, but you can’t help smiling as Beaton chronicles Agatha’s haphazard way of investigating as she again wades in to a murder investigation with her hobnail boots. Wonderfully light and entertaining."

5. The Bronze Age of DC Comics - Paul Levitz
Taschen £34.99

"This wonderful tome from the ex-President of DC Comics is a delight for the eyes. If like me you were a comic nut during the 70’s and 80’s (the Bronze Age) then this will be perfect for you. Levitz is credited for hiring a plethora of talent from George Perez and Marv Wolfman to Alan Moore of ‘Watchmen’ fame. Typically of Taschen, this volume is filled with nuggets of information from that time alongside wonderful colour reproductions of famous covers."

6. Alone in the Dark - Karen Rose
Headline £18.99

"This author’s books are big sellers on both sides of the Atlantic. Her mix of serial killer thrillers and romance/sex thrill her army of fans. Former Army Ranger Marcus O'Bannion and homicide cop Scarlett Bishop have met only briefly but when Scarlett receives a phone call in the middle of the night, she immediately recognises the hauntingly smooth voice asking her to meet him in one of Cincinnati's roughest areas. On arriving, Scarlett finds the body of a seventeen-year-old Asian girl and Marcus injured. A fierce champion of victims' rights, Marcus claims the young woman was working for an affluent local family and the last time he saw her she was terrified, abused, and clearly in need of help. Having agreed to meet her, both Marcus and the young woman were targeted for death. As they investigate, Scarlett and Marcus are pulled into the dangerous world of human trafficking where they soon realise they are going to have to become as ruthless as those they are hunting. Because if they don't, how many other girls may end up alone in the dark?"

7. The Dungeon House - Martin Edwards
Allison and Busby £19.99

"If you are looking for a read with a wonderful Christie-esque puzzle and has a whiff of Gothic about it, then you would do no harm reaching for this book. Part of the Lake District Mysteries, this is an engrossing mystery to suit any fan of crime fiction. Twenty years ago, Malcolm Whiteley discovers his attractive wife Lysette is having an affair. The Whiteleys are wealthy, and live with their 16-year-old daughter Amber in the magnificent Dungeon House, overlooking Cumbria's remote western coast. But Malcolm is under financial and emotional pressure, and he begins to disintegrate psychologically, suspecting the men in their circle of being Lysette's lover. When Lysette tells Malcolm their marriage is over, he snaps. Present day, and Hannah Scarlett's cold case team are looking into the three-year-old mystery of the disappearance of Lily Elstone, whose father was Malcolm Whiteley's accountant. Their investigation coincides with the disappearance of another teenage girl, Shona Whiteley, daughter of Malcolm's nephew Nigel. Nigel now lives in the Dungeon House, despite its tragic history. As Hannah's team dig down into the past, doubts arise about what exactly happened at the Dungeon House twenty years ago. Edwards also edits the classic crime series from the British Library and is author of The Golden Age of Murder"

8. Bryant and May: London's Glory - Christopher Fowler
Transworld £16.99

"This is a wonderful companion to the Bryant and May series. Not only are there eleven short stories featuring our elderly and eccentric detectives, but there are notes on all the regulars and also a divine cartoon of the Peculiar Crimes Unit premises. As always, Fowler delivers a feast of cases with that slightly skew-whiff view. This really is great stuff. "

9. The Lake House - Kate Morton
Pan MacMillan £18.99

"Morton is hugely famous for her sprawling epics that blend together the past and the present. June 1933: the Edevane family home, Loeannethnis ready for the midsummer party – but by the time midnight strikes the family will have suffered a great loss, making them leave the home and never to return. Seventy years later, Sadie Sparrow on a break from the Met stumbles on an abandoned house, overgrown gardens surrounding it. She learns of the tragedy and soon seeks out Alice, now elderly who had been there on that fateful night. This is wonderful stuff and Morton knows how to keep a story ticking over."

10. John le Carré - Adam Sisman
Bloomsbury £25

"Not crime fiction, but a very in-depth biography of the great master of the spy novel. It appears that le Carre had just as an eventful life in MI5 and MI6 before he turned reality in to fiction. This will be a great opportunity to finally know the man himself who during his illustrious career has managed to keep a low profile, and find out what makes him tick and why his novels are so revered today."