In the strictest sense of the word, I don’t really do reviews. I don’t like to. I feel drastically under-qualified, and as an author myself, massively hypocritical when judging other people. This is why, as you might have noticed, I only ever publish good reviews on here. If I don’t like something, then I won’t write about it.

Perhaps that’s wrong – there’s certainly value to be found in critical evaluation. But in a blog full of death it’s nice to have some positivity, and to bastardise Lesley Gore, it’s my murder blog, I’ll be nice if I want to.

With this in mind, I thought I’d do a brief recommendations round-up of books I have read and loved, long before this blog was a dark shadow on the very edge of your peripheral vision.

A lot of these are books which have been out a good long time, and pulled me deeper into the abyss of murder mysteries and sharpened my interest in psychology. When I’ve not read a book for a long time what I tend to remember about it is mood, and these books are dark, psychological, and moving. Oddly enough, three of these books live together on the same shelf on my bookcase.

The Pleasures of Men – Kate Williams

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A young woman who feels a connection to the victims of a serial killer searches for the key to uncovering his identity.

I started reading this in bed, late at night and quickly had to stop. I saved it instead for periods of bright sunlight because I am a giant wuss, and this is absolutely chilling. Like reading someone’s nightmare.

The Drowning People – Richard Mason

Proof (if proof were needed) that these are my badly cropped scans. £2.00! Bargain!

Proof (if proof were needed) that these are my badly cropped scans. £2.00! Bargain!

Reflections in the aftermath of a murder.

Discovered in a charity shop and couldn’t live without. Beautiful, bewitching and painful in equal measure. Foolish young things in love refusing to think of the consequences of their actions. One of those books which has stuck with me, and that regularly comes to mind.

True Things About Me – Deborah Kaye Davies

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A woman drawn into a destructive and addictive relationship struggles to find a way out.

I  kept it on my shelves for a while, then when I was feeling at my lowest ebb I ran a bath, poured myself some vodka, and read it in one sitting. When I was done I cried into the cold water, and the next day I began to sort myself out. There are books which change your life, and this irrevocably altered mine.

The Observations – Jane Harris

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A maid with a past she’d rather keep hidden is asked to carry out increasingly odd tasks by her new mistress, and encouraged to keep a diary of her most intimate thoughts.

My first foray into claustrophobic historical mysteries, and the first time I read “fuck” in a book, if I remember rightly. Unusual as well in that it’s a first person account told by a highly literate maid. Amusing and frightening by turns.

 

There are many more, of course, and I’ll likely do a couple more round-ups over the next few months. Have you read any of these? What did you think? What would you add to the list?