Samaritan – Richard Price
WHY I LIKE IT: Well known for the novels, The Wanderers and Clockers, Richard Price went on to write what is, to me, the perfect urban crime story with The Samaritan.
Price’s dialogue is magnificent (it’s no coincidence he’s also a screenwriter, credits including Ransom and The Wire) but it’s the characterisation – notably Ray Mitchell, a down-on-his-luck TV writer and Nerese Ammons, disillusioned cop and one-time flame – which sets this novel apart in a crowded genre. Everything stems from character here. Sure, there’s a crime, an investigation and a very real sense of peril but it’s not at the expense of character, it is because of it, because of real depth and real situations. Brilliant.
Child 44 – Tom Rob Smith
WHY I LIKE IT: You might be familiar with the film starring Tom Hardy and written by Richard Price (yeah, yer man above!) but I urge you to forget it. The book works better; a pleasingly lean, unrelenting thriller set in Stalinist Russia.
I’d call it a ‘non-stop thrill-ride’ but then you might expect a rating out of 5 Bulldogs or Champagne Bottles. Again, character is key here and in part Child 44 is a love story, one complicated by paranoia and loss. Throw in an entertainingly loathsome antagonist and a compelling story which sees MGB agent, Leo Demidov, track down a child killer, and you have that overused but wholly accurate phrase: Child 44 is a bloody page turner.
The Devotion of Suspect X – Keigo Higashino
WHY I LIKE IT: I could have gone for Jo Nesbo (The Snowman) or Gillian Flynn (anything!) but, reasoning that they get more than enough love, I’ve opted for Higashino’s The Devotion of Suspect X as my final choice. Dubbed ‘The Japanese Stieg Larsson’ by The Times, Higashino is one of Japan’s bestselling authors and with this novel, he has crafted a mystery worthy of Arthur Conan Doyle. Indeed, the deep logic of the investigation and the intricacies of the plot bring to mind a Sherlock Holmes story, to say nothing of the bold and well-handled reveal. It is in essence a cover-up story – we know who’s been murdered, by whom and why. The pleasure comes from seeing Detective Kusanagi piece it all together with the help of genius physicist Dr Manabu Yukawa. If you dig Sherlock, Wallander or Salander (obvs), you’ll love this!
BIO: Ewen Glass is a screenwriter. His latest feature, Lies We Tell starring Gabriel Byrne, Mark Addy and Harvey Keitel, is in post-production. Check out his website HERE and follow him on Twitter as @ewenglass.