5. Morse and Lewis – Colin Dexter
I read the first three books, Last Bus To Woodstock, Last Seen Wearing and The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn soon after they came out in the mid- to late- 1970s; hand-me-downs from my Grandpa who loved crime novels. For me, Morse is a great character – on the page, he’s world-weary and battered and makes mistakes following false trails. Lewis – Welsh in the early books – is a good foil.
The TV series takes Morse and Lewis in a different direction and is equally wonderful – so much so that Dexter started writing with the TV characters in his head rather than his original creations. My favourite is The Secret Of Annexe 3 with an old-school Morse and a twisty, turny plot plus some stoutly un-PC characters that might explain why it was never adapted for TV.
4. Dalgliesh & Others
P.D. James’ detective Adam Dalgliesh ran through 13 novels with a range of partners; Martin, Masterson, Massingham and Kate Miskin. The first, Cover Her Face, in 1962. The last, The Lighthouse, in 2005. An astonishing span of time. I was introduced to these by my mum who had read them all and said that they got better and better. My favourite two - and you’ve really got to begin at the beginning – are Cover Her Face (1962) and The Private Patient (2008). Dalgleish investigates the violent death of a maid at a manor house – shades of Christie – in Cover Your Face and, as Commander Dalgleish, returns to country house territory on the death of a patient at a cosmetic surgery clinic there. ‘Better and better’, as my mum said.
3. Harcus and Laird – Claire MacLeary
I love MacLeary’s books and have read three so far -Cross Purpose, Burnout and Runaway. These are gritty thrillers set in Aberdeen and feature the mismatched duo of Maggie Laird & Wilma Harcus. The characters are as much of a strength as the plots with Maggie and Wilma being a chalk and cheese odd couple. Lots of humour here – Big Wilma’s my favourite. Start with Cross Purpose.
2. Matthew Ryan and Eloise O’Neill - Mari Hannah
I came to The Silent Room and The Death Messenger after reading Hannah's DCI Kate Daniels series. One of the great strengths of Hannah’s work is that it is underpinned by know-how and understanding of how things work – if memory serves, she worked in the probation service and her partner was in the police force. That shows. I’ve just finished reading The Death Messenger and it’s even better than The Silent Room IMHO. I adore the premise – DVDs of crime scenes with chilling narrations of the murders there - are sent to the police. The killer is taunting the police – come and catch me. Ryan and O’Neill are on their way.
1 Hakim and Arnold – Barbara Nadel
An Act Of Kindness is the first book in this series, featuring Lee Arnold and Mumtaz Hakim who run a detective agency in London's East End. I’ve been reading these since the first one came out in 2013 through to Displaced in 2018. I’ve just pre-ordered the next one, A Time To Die, which is available this summer.
Barbara has a strong background in mental health. She was a mental health advocate for the mentally ill in a psychiatric hospital. That knowledge shines through in her work. I’ve just discovered another Nadel series, Inspector Ikmen, set in Turkey, and there are 20 of these. I’m halfway through Belshazzar's Daughter, the first, and it’s fab.
The Scribbler by Iain Maitland (Published by Saraband)
The Scribbler from Contraband Books, the crime imprint of Saraband Books, is the first Gayther and Carrie novel. If they can catch The Scribbler and bring him to justice, Gayther and Carrie will be back again in the second book in the series, The Key Man.