Three for the weekend… crime series

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.

The Various Haunts by Men#5#
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 Backand didn’t feel that I’d missed out on character details.

4 responses to “Three for the weekend… crime series

  1. I love crime fiction as well and it helps me be happy… and it keeps me grounded. Detectives are usually tired and have too much to do, they are constantly challenged and their amazing work is taken for granted. I think as a PhD student is easy to relate to them; but it is also easier to find relief. At least your life is not in danger!

    I am curently reading Someone Else’s Skin and it is a wonderful novel. However, I am more into modern crime fiction rather than Golden Age, mainly because I think the lines between good and bad are more blurred and that makes you think more about values and society.

    To anyone interested in crime fiction I would totally recommend the Jackson Brodie series as well. I see you read Life After Life… Her detective series have that masterful writing combined with great stories and a very interesting and complex main character.


  2. I’m reading the latest Peter James, Want You Dead this weekend and I can’t wait to get back to my favourite series!


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