Crime fiction is my comfort reading, odd though that might sound. I find the resolution of the crime and the restoration of order soothing, and detective novels are the books I tend to turn to when feeling less than awesome. My heart may be with the Golden Age of detective fiction but I’m not immune to serial killers* or Scandi crime either. I’ve left out anything by Agatha Christie because, clearly, that’s a given. Here are three of my (other) favourite series:
*novels about them, obviously. Hopefully I’m immune to the charms of actual serial killers…
Edmund Crispin’s novels featuring Gervase Fen never seem to lose their charm. They’re slightly mad-cap and frequently hilarious but also intelligent and intricately plotted, and they feel infinitely re-readable.
Where to start: There’s no real narrative arc throughout the series so start with whichever catches your eye first. I’d suggest The Moving Toyshop or Love Lies Bleeding.
Susan Hill’s crime novels about Simon Serrailler are miles away from Edmund Crispin’s manic adventures. As I said here, the series has brilliant writing, with characters that you really care about and clever plotting that will keep you guessing. They’re slow burners and are fairly chunky books, especially the first, but well worth sticking with.
Where to start: To get the most out of the novels, it’s worth starting from the beginning, with The Various Haunts of Men.
Last up is the Norwegian Queen of Crime Karin Fossum and Inspector Sejer. I love Sejer, who is completely different to the majority of other Nordic Noir detectives. He’s extremely unlikely to go on a Harry Hole-esque bender, and is thoughtful, polite and methodical. Fossum is a brilliant writer and is adept at conjuring up a real sense of unease.
Where to start: The first one of the series, In the Darkness, has now been translated so I recommend that you start there., although I started with the second, Don’t Look Back, and didn’t feel that I’d missed out on character details.