Best Crime Fiction 2012

Kerrie of Mysteries in Paradise is collecting our best crime fiction reading for 2012.The titles can have been published any time, but must be crime fiction.

I read 61 crime fiction books in 2012 – see the full list here.

My top ten are as follows. (Inevitably this post includes six of the books I’ve already identified as my ‘best’ books read in 2012.)

Books with 5 stars:

  1. After the Funeral by Agatha Christie, first published in 1963. Poirot investigates the death of Cora Abernethie, who had announced at the funeral of her brother Richard that he had been murdered.
  2. The Crimson Rooms by Katherine McMahon, published in 2010 – historical crime fiction set in London in 1924, with Britain still coming to terms with the aftermath of the First World War. Evelyn Gifford, one of the few pioneer female lawyers takes on two cases, one child custody case and the other a murder case.
  3. Fatherland by Robert Harris, published in 2009,  a fast-paced thriller set in Germany in 1964, a murder mystery, beginning with the discovery of the naked body of an old man, lying half in the Havel, a lake on the outskirts of Berlin. The homicide investigator is Xavier March of the Kriminalpolizei (the Kripo) and the victim is Josef Buhler, one of the former leading members of the Nazi Party who had been instrumental in devising €˜the final solution’.
  4. Silent Voices by Ann Cleeves, published in 2011, a Vera Stanhope mystery, set in Northumbria. It begins with Vera’s discovery of a dead woman in the sauna of her local gym.

Books with 4.5 stars:

  1. The Chalk Circle Man by Fred Vargas, published in 2010, a very cleverly constructed and quirky murder mystery set in Paris  where strange blue chalk circles start appearing on the pavements. Only Commisaire Adamsberg takes them €“ and the increasingly bizarre objects found within them €“ seriously. 
  2. Hickory Dickory Dock by Agatha Christie, a Poirot mystery, first published in 1955, set in a London students’ lodging house where death strikes. There are plenty of suspects and red herrings and some interesting reflections on crime and the psychology of behaviour.
  3. The Girl on the Stairs by Louise Welsh, published in 2012. It’s set in Germany, a dark, psychological thriller, full of atmosphere and claustrophobic tension.
  4. One, Two, Buckle My Shoe by Agatha Christie, first published in 1940, in which Hercule Poirot and Inspector Japp investigate the apparent suicide of Mr Morley, Poirot’s Harley Street dentist, who was found dead in his surgery, shot through the head and with a pistol in his hand.
  5. The Redeemed by M R Hall, published in 2011. Coroner Jenny Cooper investigates the death of a man found lying outside a Bristol church with a sign of the cross gouged into his flesh, It looks to her like another grisly, routine suicide, but the unexpected arrival of an enigmatic Jesuit priest reveals deeper levels of mystery.
  6. The Sixth Lamentation by William Brodrick, published in 2010, it looks back  to the Second World War in occupied France, telling a dramatic tale of love and betrayal, full of suspense, and interwoven stories.


  1. Nice selection of books Margaret – I had missed your review of that Katharine McMahon book but it looks great.. interesting character and time period…it has gone immediately to my wishlist. I’m not sure these ‘best of’ lists are such a great idea after all 🙂


  2. I’m so impressed with “61”. I’ve read many of the Christies books, but am so into it that I can re-read at the drop of a bookmark. I’m thinking I need to read the Fatherland. Great list.


  3. Fatherland is one of those books I’ve had on my radar for years but never got around to. I must do it one of these days as it sounds very good indeed.

    I’m rather impressed with 61 crime books too.


  4. Love Agatha Christie! And I just read my first Fred Vargas book this year–her non-series book The Three Evangelists which made my top Crime Fiction list. Ann Cleeves is also a favorite of mine, but I haven’t read this one yet. Great list!


  5. Fatherland is a book that has stayed with me for a long time. I thought it one of the best books Harris has written. The portrayal of a grim stifling stagnant Europe under Nazi domination was convincing and frightening.


  6. This is a great list! I am always looking to get more book ideas, and share my latests reads as well. I can add several of these to my list, I am really into the Crime books lately. I have just recently read R.S. Guthrie’s Blood Land, it was excellent. I have a couple of his other books I am going to read as well. if anyone is interested. Thanks so much for this list!


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