Xmas 2017 Top Ten... in no particular order...

1. The Other Woman - Laura Wilson
Quercus £0.99

"Shortly after Christmas, a message arrives at Sophie's house, scrawled across her own round robin newsletter: HE'S GOING TO LEAVE YOU. LET'S SEE HOW SMUG YOU ARE THEN, YOU STUPID BITCH. Perhaps she should ignore it, but she ignored the last one… and the one before that. Now it's time to take action.

But when a simple plan to identify and confront the other woman goes drastically and violently wrong, Sophie must go to extreme lengths to keep her life and her family together - while never letting on her devastating secret.

Laura Wilson is never a writer to let the grass grow under her feet and here she shifts from her usual dark narrative to bring a dark comedy of errors. Knowing the author personally I can see her wonderful dry wit shine throughout this book. This is Wilson at her sharpest and will win her a new legion of fans! Currently, this book is on Kindle for 99p. An absolute bargain for a brilliant book. Do yourself a favour and buy it now. I promise you will laugh out loud at very inappropriate moments!

Click on the link to buy Laura Wilson – The Other Woman"

2. The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books - Martin Edwards
The British Library £25

"Whenever I receive a book by the font of all (crime fiction) knowledge, Mr Martin Edwards, I am both elated and fearful. Elated that this master of his genre again shares his knowledge to those of us who think we know our crime fiction of the past, only to realise we know very little. Such is the case with ‘The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books’. Taking in the first half of the twentieth century, Edwards covers great writers such as Christie, Conan Doyle, Chesterton, Mitchell and Highsmith and many, many other authors. It really is a grand journey and Edwards is a superb guide taking us on this wonderful journey through the age of the Golden Age of Crime and beyond. Oh, and as for the fearful part? Well… reading this book will cost you as the list of authors you never knew or have always wanted to try grows and grows ending up, as happened with Edwards’ last book, ‘The Golden Age of Murder’, with much spending out buying all those old issues! That’s what happened to me! Enjoy!

Click on the link to buy The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books by Martin Edwards"

3. The Book of Forgotten Authors - Christopher Fowler
riverrun £14.99

"In a similar vein as Edwards’ books, another staunch lover of forgotten crime writers of the past who have slipped in to obscurity, even if they were greatly admired in their heyday, is Christopher Fowler. Again, Fowler’s homage to the forgotten writer will be costly. That list of yours will grow as you read through this selection. As Edwards takes us through the books, here Fowler deals with the author, including some which could be classed as controversial. Would you place Margery Allingham as a ‘forgotten author’? As always, these things are subjective, but Fowler takes you on a wonderful trip and introduces his reader to a plethora of great writers who simply fell out of fashion. I have been a great fan of forgotten authors. My shelves are lined with Margaret Millar, Jean Potts, Shelley Smith, Lucille Fletcher, Mabel Seeley et al. For me, this was a sublime book and one to savour. There were even some authors I hadn’t heard of! Now I have to go and make more space of my shelves! Wish me luck!

Click on the link to buy The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler"

4. The Usual Santas - Various
Soho Press £16.99

"Featuring short crime fiction by: Helene Tursten, Mick Herron, Martin Limon, Timothy Hallinan, Mette Ivie Harrison, Colin Cotterill, Ed Lin, Stuart Neville, Tod Goldberg, Henry Chang, James R. Benn, Lene Kaaberbol & Agnete Friis, Gary Corby, Cara Black, Stephanie Barron, and Peter Lovesey. The Christmas crime anthology fell out of fashion, but is now back in fashion! This collection from Soho Crime brings stories from some well-known names and some who I haven’t read before, which makes this collection one that stands above other anthologies which re-issue old stories. As with all anthologies, some work better than others, but that is what makes anthologies feel like a lucky dip. A great present if you’re not sure what your crime reading friend or family member has or hasn’t read.

Click on the link to buy The Usual Santas "

5. The Mitford Murders - Jessica Fellowes
Sphere £12.99

"It's 1919, and Louisa Cannon dreams of escaping her life of poverty in London, and most of all her oppressive and dangerous uncle. Louisa's salvation is a position within the Mitford household at Asthall Manor, in the Oxfordshire countryside. There she will become nurserymaid, chaperone and confidante to the Mitford sisters, especially sixteen-year-old Nancy - an acerbic, bright young woman in love with stories.

But when a nurse - Florence Nightingale Shore, goddaughter of her famous namesake - is killed on a train in broad daylight, Nancy and amateur sleuth Louisa find that in post war England, everyone has something to hide…

This book felt it had all the right ingredients: just after the Great War, likeable heroine, the Mitford sisters (such an eccentric family they’re always worth reading about) and a crime loosely based on a real one. Fellowes quickly zapped me back to 1919 and I was sold very quickly after opening this book. There is a flow to Fellowes’ writing that hurried me along and soon I was zipping my way through ‘The Mitford Murders’. For any fan who loves an easy read with plenty of vigour and a hearty heroine, then this is the book for any crime lover to find under their tree. A surprising delight!

Click on the link to buy The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes"

6. Ghosts of Christmas Past - Ed. by Tim Martin
John Murray £8.99

"This anthology includes ghost stories from the greats: M.R. James, E. Nesbit, Jerome K. Jerome and E.F. Benson alongside new names Jenn Ashworth and Kelly Link (neither of whom I had heard before but will investigate further). The Gaiman piece is not really a story and a little bit of a let down, but don’t let that deter you from this little gem. Other stories from Muriel Spark and L.P. Hartley also appear. A very smart little present for any reader at Christmas.

Click on the link to buy The Ghosts of Christmas Past"

7. The House of Spines - Michael J. Malone
Orenda £8.99

"As with Laura Wilson above, Michael J. Malone is a fantastic writer who shifts like the sands caught in the tide. Now he shifts again and delivers a superb supernatural novel brimming with Gothic undertones. Ran McGhie inherits a dead uncle’s rambling mansion with a library many of us bookworms would adore. But there is something else in the house… or is there. Ran is bipolar so is he an unreliable narrator or are there really strange goings-on in ‘The House of Spines’? A truly creepy novel from a poetic writer.

Click on the link to buy The House of Spines by Michael J. Malone"

8. The Locked Room Mysteries - Edgar Wallace/Gaston Leroux/John Dickson Carr
Folio Society £59.95

"The Locked-Room Mysteries set brings together three towering examples of impossible crimes, with stories by Edgar Wallace, Gaston Leroux and John Dickson Carr. This Folio edition is introduced by celebrated crime novelist and current President of the Detection Club, Martin Edwards, and is illustrated by Mark Thomas.

Edgar Wallace was a born storyteller and very prolific even though he died quite young. ‘The Four Just Men’ is one of his most famous. The threats to kill become more and more overt as the book plays on. Will the four just men get their man? Will their sense of justice prevail? All is revealed late in the book, which even though feeling slightly dated, is a precursor to the ‘cat and mouse’ novels of today.

Gaston Leroux is more famous for writing ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ (sans Andrew Lloyd Webber), but ‘The Mystery of the Yellow Room’ is the first case for Joseph Rouletabille and Gaston’s most famous of the handful of crime novels he published. How could anyone enter and exit a locked and watched room in order to try and murder the daughter of a Radium scientist? Gaston really set the benchmark high with this locked room mystery, but it isn’t only the mystery that sets this apart from the others, but his characterisation of Rouletabille. A genius character. A great book.

The murderer of Dr Grimauld walked through a locked door, shot his victim and vanished. He killed his second victim in the middle of an empty street, with watchers at each end, yet nobody saw him, and he left no footprints in the snow. And so it is up to the irrepressible, larger-than-life Dr Gideon Fell to solve this most famous and taxing of locked-room mysteries. ‘The Hollow Man’ is a clever conundrum of a book, if slightly implausible in places. It has been hailed as THE locked rook mystery. This is a very smart set of three classics which all come in a slipcase. These books will have pride of place on your beloved reader’s shelf for ever.

Click on the link to buy The Locked Room Mysteries"

9. A Maigret Christmas - Georges Simenon
Penguin Classics £9.99

"This collection brings together three of Simenon's most enjoyable Christmas tales, newly translated, featuring Inspector Maigret and other characters from the Maigret novels. In 'A Maigret Christmas', the Inspector receives two unexpected visitors on Christmas Day, who lead him on the trail of a mysterious intruder dressed in red and white. In 'Seven Small Crosses in a Notebook', the sound of alarms over Paris send the police on a cat and mouse chase across the city. And 'The Little Restaurant in Les Ternes (A Christmas Story for Grown-Ups)' tells of a cynical woman who is moved to an unexpected act of festive charity in a nightclub - one that surprises even her. While Maigret only appears in the first tale, this is a smart little collection of three novellas from a writer who has been described as ‘France’s Dickens’.

Click on the link to buy A Maigret Christmas by Georges Simenon"

10. A Spot of Folly - Ruth Rendell
Profile £14.99

"This is the last collection of my favourite writer of psychological thrillers. Rendell was a cornerstone in crime fiction and will always be remembered as the woman who made the crime novel literary. Here we are served a sumptuous selection scattered across her writing career. Marital infidelity abounds with gruesome consequences, a bitter twist in every one. This is why Rendell will always be hailed as a guiding light for many crime writers today. Relish this Rendell dish as it is her last.

Click on the link to buy A Spot of Folly by Ruth Rendell"