Top Ten Reads of 2020

Well, here we are, at that time of the year again. I think we can all agree that 2020 has been one hell of a mad year. It seems to have flown by and dragged at the same time, but I can’t wait to see the back end of it. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that book events can start to happen again at some point in the New Year. But the one thing the pandemic hasn’t stopped, is some brilliant books from being published. Once again it’s been really hard to narrow the books I’ve read this year down to a top ten, but these are the books which stood out for me.

I have managed to read 153 books so far this year. I’m still hoping I’ll make my goal of 160 books by the end of the year, just a few more days to go.

So without any further ado, here are my top ten reads for 2020.

10.

Firewatching by Russ Thomas, is one of the most engaging debut crime novels I’ve read. I read this way back in January and I knew then that this would be featuring in my top ten reads of the year, that’s how good I thought it was. You can read my review of Firewatching by clicking here.

9.

Death Deserved is a brilliant start to a new series featuring, Detective Alexandra Blix. I flew through it and I can’t wait to read the second book in the series, Smoke Screen, which is published early in 2021. If you’d like to read my review of Death Deserved, you can do so by clicking here.

8.

When I read Blood Red City, it put me in mind of the BBC series The Capture, which I watched on BBC One back in 2019. This is a really fast paced, gritty thriller. I couldn’t put it down. If you’d like to read my review of Blood Red City, you can do so by clicking here.

7.

It was a long wait for me to finally read Amer Anwar’s second book in his Zaq and Jags series, Stone Cold Trouble. I raced through this book in just a couple of sittings. It’s very different to what I usually read in the crime fiction market. It’s action packed and highly entertaining. If you’d like to read my review of Stone Cold Trouble, you can do so by clicking here.

6.

Body Language: 'Spellbinding storytelling' Val McDermid by [A. K. Turner]

This was quite a late read in the year for me. Body Language is the first book in a new series by A. K. Turner. It felt very original when I was reading it and her main character, Cassie Raven felt like a breath of fresh air. If you’d like to read my review of Body Language, you can do so by clicking here.

5.

All in Her Head: 'Tense and moving' (Harriet Tyce) - the new must-read thriller of 2020 by [Nikki Smith]

All in her Head by Nikki Smith is a masterclass in plotting and suspense. This is a brilliant debut from a talented new writer and I can’t wait to read what she writes next. If you’d like to read my review of All in her Head, you can do so by clicking here.

4.

Mine is actually the first book by Clare Empson which I’ve read, although I’ve still got her first novel, Him, on my TBR pile to read. Again this is a novel which felt very different to what I usually read, which is why I enjoyed it so much. I actually read this right at the start of the year as well. If you’d like to read my review of Mine you can do so by clicking here.

3.

Curse the Day: The Conspiracy Thriller that Reads Like a Bond Movie (A Michael North Thriller) by [Judith O'Reilly]

Curse the Day is the second book in Judith O’Reilly’s Michael North series. This is a high-octane read and I devoured it in just a couple of sittings. If you’d like to read my review of Curse the Day, you can do so by clicking here.

2.

I Am Dust by [Louise Beech]

I Am Dust, is only the second book by Louise Beech which I’ve read and she has since become one of my favourite writers. If you’d like to read my review of I Am Dust, you can do so by clicking here.

1.

We Begin at the End: 'A beautifully written mystery, packed with unforgettable characters' Jane Harper by [Chris Whitaker]

I knew from the moment I read We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker that it would be my book of the year. This is one of the best crime novels I’ve read and Chris Whitaker is a hugely talented writer. If you’d like to read my review can do so by clicking here.

That’s it for 2020. I have seen some books already being published early in the new year which I am hugely excited about, I’ve already got my pre-orders in.

I hope you have a great year in 2021 and I hope it’s a much better one for all of us.

Spooky reads for Halloween

With Halloween just a few days away, I thought I’d share a few of my favourite spooky reads. If like me, you’re looking to read something a bit more atmospheric and darker at this time of year, then I have the perfect selection for you. I’ve got ten recommended reads here and I’m sure you’ll find something you like the sound of.

Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history.

When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution

At once an unnerving mystery, a chilling thriller and a dark and superbly wrought ghost story, The Lingering is an exceptionally plotted, terrifying and tantalisingly twisted novel by one of the most exciting authors in the genre.

Maybe you’ve heard tales about Scarcross Hall, the house on the old coffin path that winds from village to moor top. They say there’s something up here, something evil.

Mercy Booth isn’t afraid. The moors and Scarcross are her home and lifeblood. But, beneath her certainty, small things are beginning to trouble her. Three ancient coins missing from her father’s study, the shadowy figure out by the gatepost, an unshakeable sense that someone is watching.

When a stranger appears seeking work, Mercy reluctantly takes him in. As their stories entwine, this man will change everything. She just can’t see it yet.

Beast (Six Stories Book 4) by [Matt Wesolowski]

A frozen girl
A haunted town
A deadly challenge
Six Stories
Which one is true?

In the wake of the ‘Beast from the East’ cold snap that ravaged the UK in 2018, a grisly discovery was made in a ruin on the Northumbrian coast. Twenty-four-year-old Vlogger, Elizabeth Barton, had been barricaded inside what locals refer to as ‘The Vampire Tower’, where she was later found frozen to death.

Three young men, part of an alleged ‘cult’, were convicted of this terrible crime, which they described as a ‘prank gone wrong’. However, in the small town of Ergarth, questions have been raised about the nature of Elizabeth Barton’s death and whether the three convicted youths were even responsible.

It was only meant to be a game . . .

None of us ever agreed on the exact beginning.

Was it when we started drawing the chalk figures, or when they started to appear on their own?

Was it the terrible accident?

Or when they found the first body?

If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken . . .

Fifteen years ago, a serial killer known only as ‘The Whisper Man’ wreaked havoc on the sleepy village of Featherbank.

But with the killer behind bars, the village is now a safe haven for Tom and his young son Jake to make a fresh start.

Until another boy goes missing. It feels like history is repeating itself.

Could the killer still be out there – and can Tom protect his son from becoming the next victim?

Good Samaritans (Detective Sergeant Pace Series Book 1) by [Will Carver]

Dark, deviant and disturbing domestic noir … one of the most entrancing, sophisticated and page-turning psychological thrillers of the year…

One crossed wire, three dead bodies and six bottles of bleach…

Seth Beauman can’t sleep. He stays up late, calling strangers from his phonebook, hoping to make a connection, while his wife, Maeve, sleeps upstairs. A crossed wire finds a suicidal Hadley Serf on the phone to Seth, thinking she is talking to The Samaritans.

But a seemingly harmless, late-night hobby turns into something more for Seth and for Hadley, and soon their late-night talks are turning into day-time meet-ups. And then this dysfunctional love story turns into something altogether darker, when Seth brings Hadley home…

And someone is watching…

Dark, sexy, dangerous and wildly readable, Good Samaritans marks the scorching return of one of crime fiction’s most exceptional voices.

Welcome to HMP Halvergate.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get to leave.

Dr Janet Palmer was glad to take a new job as lead psychologist at a remote Norfolk prison. She may live to regret it…

The staff are hostile, violence can break out at any time, no one will tell her what happened to her predecessor, and there are rumours of an eyeless woman stalking the corridors, driving the prisoners to suicide.

Janet is determined to find answers. But the deeper she digs, the more she realises: something is rotten in Halvergate. And it’s nothing as simple as ghosts…

The Craftsman: It starts with a funeral, ends with a death. '’Bolton at her best’ Guardian by [Sharon Bolton]

OLD ENEMIES… NEW CRIMES

Thirty years ago, WPC Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she arrested coffin-maker Larry Glassbrook for three shocking murders.

Larry confessed; it was an open and shut case. But now he’s dead, and events from the past are repeating themselves.

The town Florence left behind still has many secrets. Will she finally uncover the truth? Or will time run out for her first?

The Stranger Diaries: a completely addictive murder mystery by [Elly Griffiths]

A dark story has been brought to terrifying life. Can the ending be rewritten in time?

This is what the police know:
 English teacher Clare Cassidy’s friend Ella has just been murdered. Clare and Ella had recently fallen out. Found beside the body was a line from The Stranger, a story by the Gothic writer Clare teaches, and the murder scene is identical to one of the deaths in the story.

This is what Clare knows: No one else was aware of her fight with Ella. Few others have even read The Stranger. Someone has wormed their way into her life and her work. They know her darkest secrets. And they don’t mean well.

This is what the killer knows: Who will be next to die

Some doors are locked for a reason…

Newly married, newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband’s crumbling country estate, The Bridge.

With her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie only has her husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. For inside her new home lies a locked room, and beyond that door lies a two-hundred-year-old diary and a deeply unsettling painted wooden figure – a Silent Companion – that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself…