FictionFan Awards 2013 – Crime/Thriller Category and Book of the Year 2013

A round of applause please…


…for this year’s nominees and winners of the annual FictionFan Awards of 2013 in the Crime/Thriller Category.

If you’ve been around the last couple of weeks, you might want to skip this bit and go straight to the awards. But for the benefit of new readers, a quick reminder of the rules…


All nominees must be books I’ve read and reviewed between November 2012 and October 2013 regardless of publication date, but excluding re-reads. The books must have received a 5-star rating.


There will be Honourable Mentions and a Winner in each of the following categories

History/Biography/Politics – click to see awards

Literary/Contemporary Fiction – click to see awards

Science/Nature/Environment – click to see awards




Book of the Year 2013


For the winners!

I guarantee to read the authors’ next book even if I have to buy it myself!

For the runners-up!




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So, without further ado, here are this year’s runners-up and winner in



This turned out to be an almost impossible category. While there was a clear winner, there were so many contenders for runners-up that in the end I’ve had to include 6 honourable mentions. And because the choice was so hard, I’ve also decided to list the nominees that didn’t make quite make it into the final list. All of these books were great reads, and I look forward to seeing where the authors take us in the future.


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Pilgrim Soul (Douglas Brodie 3) by Gordon Ferris

pilgrim soulThe first two novels in the Douglas Brodie series were very good noir thrillers – fast-paced, explosive and full of black humour. This one is very different and takes the Brodie series to another and much darker level.

Brodie is asked to investigate a spate of burglaries in Glasgow’s post-war Jewish community. But when the burglar is found murdered it gradually becomes clear that there is a connection that leads back to the horrors of the concentration camps – horrors that Brodie has been trying to forget since his role as interrogator of war criminals after the war.

 Click to see the full review

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Like This, For Ever (Lacey Flint 3) by SJ Bolton

Llike this for everacey Flint’s third outing shows Bolton at her best – inventive plotting, great characterisation, plenty of humour, much of it black, and a sense of tension that builds throughout to a thrillingly dramatic climax.

The book starts with the discovery of the body of twins under Tower Bridge, the most recent victims of a serial killer who steals young boys and cuts their throats. The MIT squad, still led by Dana Tulloch, is getting nowhere fast – these murders don’t fall into the normal pattern as there’s no sign of a sexual angle. Dana and the squad are already feeling the pressure and it’s going to get worse…

Click to see the full review

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The Chessmen (Lewis Trilogy 3) by Peter May

The ChessmenThis third part of Peter May’s Lewis trilogy is stunningly good. As a long-standing enthusiast for May’s work, I believe these three books are by far his best work*, and this last one may even be the best of the three. (*That is, until I read his new one, Entry Island, which is better yet…)

May’s descriptive prose and sense of place are, as always, wonderful. The bleakness and yet beauty of this harsh weather-beaten landscape, the way of life and traditions of the islanders, the still strong grip of the ultra-conservative Church – all of these are woven seamlessly through the story. And the story once again is focused on shadows of the past coming back to haunt the present.

Click to see the full review

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The Stranger You Know (Maeve Kerrigan 4) by Jane Casey

the stranger you knowOne murder might be a one-off, two might be a coincidence, but a third means there’s a serial killer at work. Maeve Kerrigan is assigned to the investigating team and is shocked to discover that the chief suspect is Josh Derwent, her colleague and boss. OK, he’s an unreconstructed male chauvinist pig, he’s a bully and a womaniser but…a murderer? Maeve can’t believe it. At least, she almost can’t believe it – but this murderer is plausible, he gains the trust of his victims and his psychological profile does sound an awful lot like Derwent…and it seems this isn’t the first time he’s been a murder suspect…

Click to see the full review

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Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer

RubberneckerPatrick is a young man with a mission – to find out the meaning of death. And having Asperger’s Syndrome means that he takes his mission to extremes. When he signs up for a course in anatomy, his team is tasked with dissecting cadaver Number 19 to see if they can spot the cause of death. Meantime, elsewhere in the hospital, Sam is in a coma, but although he can’t wake up he can see and hear what’s going on around him and it’s not all good. But Sam is gradually coming back and is desperate to regain the ability to speak…

Grisly, macabre and in places gloriously blackly funny, this book is a compulsive read. It may be a cliché, but I really couldn’t put it down.

Click to see the full review

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Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

burial ritesHaunting and heartbreaking, this is the story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, condemned to die for her part in the murder of two men, one her lover. While waiting for the date of execution to be set, Agnes is put into the custody of Jón and Margrét Jónsson and, at Agnes’ request, a young priest, Reverend Tóti, is given the task of preparing Agnes spiritually for her death. At first the family are horrified to have a murderess amongst them, Margrét fearing for the safety and moral well-being of her own two daughters Lauga and Steina, while Tóti doubts his own experience and ability to help Agnes find some kind of repentance and acceptance. But as summer fades into the long, harsh winter, Agnes gradually breaks her silence and begins to reveal her story of what led to that night…

Click to see the full review

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Laidlaw by William McIlvanney

“Glasgow was home-made ginger biscuits and Jennifer Lawson dead in the park. It was the sententious niceness of the Commander and the threatened abrasiveness of Laidlaw. It was Milligan, insensitive as a mobile slab of cement, and Mrs Lawson, witless with hurt. It was the right hand knocking you down and the left hand picking you up, while the mouth alternated apology and threat.”

When Jennifer Lawson’s body is found in Kelvingrove Park, it falls to Laidlaw and his colleague Harkness to find the man who raped her and beat her to death. But they’re not alone in the search. Jennifer’s father, Bud Lawson, wants to get there first, to mete out his own form of justice. And both Lawson and the killer have contacts in the city’s underworld – men for whom violence replaces judge and jury. So the race is on…

McIlvanney’s Glasgow is a bleak place, with violence never far beneath the surface, fuelled by drink and prejudice. A place of contradictions, where love exists but doesn’t flourish, where loyalty is a product of fear and betrayal is met with uncompromising brutality. Laidlaw is our everyman, our observer – a player, yes, and a flawed one, but with an understanding of humanity that allows him to look beyond events to their causes, and to empathise where others condemn.

Click to see the full review

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And finally…

the winner of the



fallen land 2

(And if you’re surprised by that, then you really haven’t been paying attention… 😉 )

In this extraordinary book, Patrick Flanery delves deep into the troubled American psyche in the post 9/11, post global crash world where the tectonic plates of certainty and complacency have shifted with volcanic and destructive results. A disturbing psychological thriller, this works just as well as a metaphor for a society where love and trust have been overwhelmed by suspicion and fear. Flanery’s prose is wonderful and the characters he has crafted are complex and compelling, each damaged by history and experience and each inspiring empathy in the reader. He develops them slowly, letting us see the influences, both personal and political, that have made them what they are. This was the first book I blogged about – indeed, the book that inspired me to blog, in an attempt to spread the word about Flanery. His first book, Absolution, was my FF Award Winner in 2012 and this year he has achieved the double with Fallen Land. What next from this exciting and talented author? Who knows, but I can’t wait to find out…

Click to see the full review

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Thanks to all for joining my reading journey this year and, with your help, I look forward to finding some more great books in the year to come.

64 thoughts on “FictionFan Awards 2013 – Crime/Thriller Category and Book of the Year 2013

  1. Well why am I not surprised but the winner:-) ? But I’m definitely very grateful for your long list of crime novels because there are a number there that I haven’t read, including, I have to say, your winner. I’ve got as far as picking it up on a number of occasions but there’s always been something that called to me just that little bit louder. Next time I must listen to no other voice.


    • Laidlaw was a fantastic read – especially because it’s set in the Glasgow of my own youth, but I’m sure just as good even if it didn’t have that resonance. I’m hoping Santa might bring me the other two in the trilogy. Also if you haven’t read Burial Rites yet, I’d highly recommend it – some people have complained that the language is a bit too poetic, but I must say I loved that aspect of it. It’s as much lit-fic as crime, I’d say. I nearly went for it as a joint winner.


    • Oh, and do try the Lexie Conyngham, if you haven’t. Historical crime set in post-Enlightenment Scotland, but it’s the historical aspect that appeals to me with them more than the crime. The series is getting better with each new book… 🙂


  2. Nope, Can’t say I’m surprised at all! Nice choice :-). Actually I think you’ve done read some excellent books this year, and I like the variety, even within the genre. Well done


    • I was surprised at how many good crime reads I’d had this year when I looked back. And equally surprised that the vast majority of my top picks are by British writers – I think I may have a pretty insular view when it comes to crime. Must try to widen my horizons next year!


  3. In truth, I always love reading that bit up front!

    I think I remember most of the Crime/Thrillers–but Rubbernecker seems of most interest. And your description is great: “gloriously blackly funny.” The professor seriously loves that!

    And I recognize Flanery. I believe we talked about him before…

    The professor is honored to have been along. And it has been most profitable. I’ve got two books on my TBR–which for me, is a huge deal!


  4. No, not surprised!
    I’m glad you went for” Laidlaw”; it just shows that really good books don’t date. I’m sure Santa could be encouraged to give you the others – or( of course!) I could lend.
    A really interesting collection, of which, amazingly, I have read none, although I do have some on Kindle. I seem to have been reading a lot of non-fiction this year and rereading old favourites.
    And how did you persuade Tommy and Tuppence to wear those hats? – if I tried that with Ginge you’d be visiting me in intensive care.


    • I thought you probably would have. But Laidlaw’s brilliant so I hope you enjoy it! There’s some Glasgow dialect but it’s not strong enough to make the book hard to read.

      And thank you for reading and commenting! 😀


    • Hope they enjoy! Just bear in mind a couple of them are pretty gruesome – Rubbernecker and My Second Death. Not for the squeamish! (But both with loads of black humour.)


  5. Hurrah hip yip for Mr Flanery. I hope he’s pleased – 2 books of the FF in a row – will he do a hat trick next year? This is far more exciting than the Booker. I hope you realise i am all dressed up in my celebratory awards dinner best to read your post?


    • Me too! I’ve been holding out this trophy for hours now and still Mr Flanery hasn’t made his way to the stage…so ungrateful!

      i was sorely tempted to give the award to someone else just to surprise you… 😉


  6. The first of the ‘Best of’ I’ve seen. In relation to crime, I’ve read more of your honourable mentions than your shortlist, although I enjoyed ‘Someone to Watch over You’. I have ‘The Exectution of Nora P’ on my shelf to read. I met the author at a do earlier in the year. I must read it ASAP.


    • I enjoyed ‘The Execution’ a lot, though it got fairly mixed reviews, I think. It had a couple of weaknesses, the main one being some fairly overblown language at points, but I thought the charcaterisation was very good and all round it was an impressive debut. I’ll be looking out for her next one.


  7. Well, I’ve got my reading list for next year…they all sound so good. I intend to pitch a number of these to my bookclub. Thanks for doing all the legwork, culling and reviewing.


  8. Fiction Fan: I recommended your book award link to several book clubs for making their yearly selections of what to read. I think you give a good synopsis of each and honest opinion.


    • Thanks, Irtrovi! What a lovely compliment! If any of them do use my recommendations, I really hope they get as much pleasure from reading them as I did. There were some great books last year – let’s hope there are as many goodies this year. 😀


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