A list, a list! My top ten 2015 books

31 12 2015

OK, so I like lists. But part of the fun of book reviewing is being able to look back over what you’ve read in the course of a year, point and laugh at the turkeys, and purr over the gems.

There have been some stinkers for sure, and I shan’t be sorry when publishers get bored of the current fad of sticking ‘girl’ in a title (and no, I didn’t think much to either Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train, and the continuation of the peerless Stieg Larsson series has the feel of The Girl Who Scraped the Bottom of the Barrel). But remembering the good stuff – especially when it’s from some of the smaller publishers who don’t get the attention they deserve – makes it all worthwhile.

Unusually for me, there are a couple of historicals in there. But Manda Scott’s Into the Fire, which entwines a modern French cop’s case with Joan of Arc, is seriously clever writing. And I loved the 1930s theatreland setting of Curtain Call by Anthony Quinn (not the actor!)

Anya Lipska’s Polish fixer series continues to be one of my favourites, as does Elly Griffiths’ archaeology series set in East Anglia. As for Phil Rickman and his Merrily Watkins books, there’s always an unseemly tussle between me and my co-editor Linda to see who gets to read the new one first! John Connolly, meanwhile, is simply pure class.

There are three debut novels up there – Paul Hardisty’s thriller for new publisher Orenda Books, set in the Yemen; former submariner JS Law writing about what he know (the claustrophobic world of submarines) and YA writer Annie Dalton moving into the crime field with a strong cast of out of the ordinary female characters.

Speaking of which, Judith Flanders’ A Bed of Scorpions staged a late run for a place in the top ten, just edging out Ian Rankin’s Even Dogs in the Wild and Cynthia Harrod-Eagles’ One Under. I adored the second book in the series, set in the world of publishing and featuring a 40-something editor who’s never short of a snappy response.

So here are my top ten books of the year, in no particular order:

Into the Fire – Manda Scott (Bantam)

A Devil Under The Skin – Anya Lipska (The Friday Project)

Friends of the Dusk – Phil Rickman (Corvus)

The Ghost Fields – Elly Griffiths (Quercus)

Curtain Call – Anthony Quinn (Jonathan Cape)

The White Shepherd – Annie Dalton (Severn House)

Tenacity – JS Law (Headline)

The Abrupt Physics of Dying – Paul E Hardisty (Orenda Books)

A Song of Shadows – John Connolly (Hodder & Stoughton)

A Bed of Scorpions – Judith Flanders (Allison & Busby)