EXQUISITE by Sarah Stovell
Exquisite is one of those rare books where you 'think' you have a handle on what's going on, but it rips the carpet from under you! Always one step ahead, this intriguing tale of obsession, stalking and violence never lets up from the get-go; there's dark characters, sublime plotting, with a brutal sting in the tale. Set primarily in the Lake District, Alice’s character nevertheless starts her journey to the dark side in Brighton, where Stovell paints a realistic picture of an aimless millennial lifestyle, where drugs and drink are more readily available than work or adequate housing. A terrifyingly plausible tale, this is well worth the read.
BRIGHTON ROCK by Graham Greene
“Hale knew, before he had been in Brighton three hours, that they meant to kill him” has to be one of the most famous starting lines EVER – and rightly so. This classic crime tome marked a change in direction for the genre: the notion the detective did not have to be front and centre, but the villain himself! In this case, it’s Pinky, a 17-year-old killer … In 1937, this must have been REALLY shocking, and not least the fact there is no happy ending. To this day, it’s cemented itself in popular culture and more than deserves its spot in this top 5.
THE LIAR’S CHAIR by Rebecca Whitney
Domestic noir at its finest, The Liar’s Chair grabs us via Rachel who mows down a homeless tramp in the country back roads near Brighton. Female leads are frequently under greater sympathy than male ones, or even – God forbid – supposed to be ‘likeable’, but Whitney sidesteps this expectation effortlessly. Rachel’s mix of selfishness, guilt, self-destruction and grief are painted in a myriad of colours, taking us into a troubled mind who’s caught in the midst of a terrible dilemma.
CUCKOO by Julia Crouch
OMG, don’t female characters know by now never let attractive women stay in their home? Well, no one told protagonist Rose anyway and despite the fact she ‘has it all’ – the gorgeous children, the husband, the beautiful home – she lets best friend Polly come to stay. UH OH! Cue Rose’s cosy world starting to fall apart at the seams – her baby falls dangerously ill, her husband is ‘distracted’ … I was reminded of various movies like The Hand That Rocks The Cradle or even that episode of The Simpsons when Marge yells ‘USURPER!’ at Otto’s girlfriend Becky who tries to oust her. A melting pot of middle class woe set in the affluent side of Brighton, this book is great fun.
DEAD SIMPLE by Peter James
Obviously no ‘Best of Brighton’ list is complete without a Roy Grace novel! I think of Grace as a modern day Sherlock Holmes and Dead Simple is a total classic: time is running out for our hapless stag, buried underground in a coffin, when all his mates die in a car crash! But of course it’s not quite as SIMPLE (arf) as that for Roy Grace, who must track down not only the stag, but the secrets and lies surrounding him too!
The Other Twin by Lucy V Hay (Published by Orenda Books)
When India falls to her death from a bridge over a railway, her sister Poppy returns home to Brighton for the first time in years. Unconvinced by official explanations, Poppy begins her own investigation into India's death. But the deeper she digs, the closer she comes to uncovering deeply buried secrets. Could Matthew Temple, the boyfriend she abandoned, be involved? And what of his powerful and wealthy parents, and his twin sister, Ana? Enter the mysterious and ethereal Jenny: the girl Poppy discovers after hacking into India's laptop. What is exactly is she hiding, and what did India find out about her? Taking the reader on a breathless ride through the winding lanes of Brighton, into its vibrant party scene and inside the homes of its well-heeled families, The Other Twin is startling and up-to-the-minute thriller about the social-media world, where resentments and accusations are played out online, where identities are made and remade, and where there is no such thing as truth...