Raven’s Top 5 Reads- 2012

Well, after much cogitating, ruminating and periods of enormous indecision, I have finally arrived at my Top 5 reads of 2012. Bearing in mind the amount of time it has taken to produce this list, I think this is a fair reflection of the sheer quality of the crime fiction it has been my pleasure to read over the last year. There was a substantial list of also-rans including some of the biggest names in crime writing, but having been mightily impressed with some new and, up until this year, unfamiliar names I think my list pays homage to the healthy state of crime fiction and some great emerging talent. So here goes…

Any debut author whose dialogue and wit draws comparisons from me to McBain and Chandler has got to be something unique and this is exactly what Damien Seaman’s ‘The Killing of Emma Gross’ accomplished. Based on the ghoulish crimes of the infamous serial killer Peter Kurten, Seaman has created an exceptionally realistic portrayal of a community living in fear in 1920‘s Germany. The historical detail is first class and the cast of characters reflect the full spectrum of human behaviours and emotions in this chilling tale. Read the full review:Damien Seaman- The Killing of Emma Gross.


I’m quite often approached by authors via social media to read their wares and following a very nice tweet from Andrew Cotto asking if I would give ‘Outerborough Blues’ a whirl I’m thrilled that he made the offer and equally delighted that he made the Top 5! A book of such lyrical intensity and power that I quite happily drew comparisons with Pelecanos and Lehane identifying this book as the perfect blend of contemporary American fiction and crime writing. A real find. Reviewed here: Andrew Cotto- Outerborough Blues.


Probably better known as a satirical fiction writer, John J Niven produced one of my favourite albeit at times, ludicrously violent, crime reads of the year with ‘Cold Hands’. Punctuated by Niven’s trademark dark humour and cinematographic eye, this book is a completely gripping, criminal smorgasbord of brilliant and blood-soaked delights for the stout of stomach. Read on here:John J. Niven- Cold Hands.

I’ve developed a bit of a penchant for Australian crime fiction this year, fuelled by my love of Peter Temple and there is a veritable array of new Aussie writers on my teetering to-be-read pile. Fully earning his Top 5 status is debut author Luke Preston with his explosive and high-octane thriller ‘Dark City Blue’. With it’s rapid pace and entertaining characters, this was a rollercoaster of a read that kept me hooked from the beginning. A bonzer read! See the review here:Luke Preston- Dark City Blue.

And so to my absolute favourite of the year…drum roll…

Antonin Varenne’s ‘Bed of Nails’ was an exceptionally original and remarkable take on the crime thriller, with it’s twisting, sophisticated plotting and a cast of beguiling and emotionally flawed characters.  Capturing perfectly the seedy underbelly of Parisian society, I have rarely felt so completely engaged with a crime novel and drawing on the cliche ‘if you only read one crime book…’ I would implore you to read this. Breathtaking. Read the full review here:Antonin Varenne- Bed of Nails.

So as the year draws to the end I can only reiterate what a vintage year it’s been in terms of crime writing, and having already had the privilege of reading some forthcoming books for 2013, I think next year will be equally as good and even more taxing for us bloggers to come up with our Top 5! It’ll be fun…


  1. There’s fresh territory for me to explore here, so thanks. I may well do the ‘if you only read one book thing’ on your recommendation.

    The Killing of Emma Gross is a tremendous read and I’d suggest that one to anyone who’s visiting.



    • Thanks for your comments Nigel. As I said it was no mean feat to come up with my Top 5. I was stuck on 13 for ages! Enjoy your foray into new territory…

  2. An interesting list. I’ve just read the Varenne which I enjoyed very much. The Seamen is sitting on my kindle and I must try and read it soon. Here’s to an interesting 2013.

  3. Hello,
    I don’t know who is behind this blog, and it is unusual for me to post comments, but I’d like to thank the enthousiastic reader who liked so much “Bed of nails”, aka “Fakirs”.
    I’m the one behind the book…
    So thank you, and I hope you’ll enjoy as much my next book, soon to be translated and published by Maclehose Press.
    Happy holidays and reads.



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