Friday, 22 April 2011

KEITH GRAY looks at his 5 top crime novels

My favourite crime novels aren't really crime novels - if that makes sense.
 Out of my Top 5 you'll only ever find one of them on the genre specific shelf in a book shop or library.

For me there are so many brilliant novels that use crime and criminals to drive the plot, or to motivate the characters, or to shine a glaring spotlight on and ring the alarms about society's problems.

It's not just 'who-dunnit?' that interests me. But also 'how-dunnit?', 'why dunnit?', 'wish-I'd-dunnit' and even 'here's-hoping-they-get-away-with-it.'

These are my top 5:

'The Bottoms' by Joe R Lansdale; A book that should be much better known. A coming-of-age story set in the backwoods of 1930s East Texas where both a serial killer and the terrifying Goat Man are on the loose. Simply superb storytelling with a dark, dark heart.



'Oliver Twist' by Charles Dickens - Forget the campy musical, this is a wonderful story of underworld skulduggery and a young boy trying to escape a pair of the best villains ever created.

'Holes' by Louis Sachar - This isn't such an odd inclusion to the list as you may at first think. The whole story is driven by crime and populated by criminals. It's funny, inventive and a story that's all about stories and the impact they have.

'From Hell' by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell - I've always been fascinated by Jack the Ripper and this graphic novel is without doubt the best recreation of his horrific crimes.

'Only Forward' by Michael Marshall Smith - Kind of like if Phillip Marlowe had taken part in The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy.

One of those books I have to buy on a regular basis because I keep lending it to friends who never seem to want to return it.

What better recommendation can there be...?

Keith Gray is the author of several award-winning books for young people including the teen noir novel Malarkey



  1. Some really interesting choices, Keith, and a few more to add to my reading list. I've only read two of these, Holes which was excellent, and Oliver Twist (of course!)

  2. Take 2 for posting this - it's a mystery where the first one went!

    Great list! And with your broader definition, how about Patrick Ness' Knife of Never Letting Go? A blistering read!