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Chris Carter Recommends his Favourite Crime Novels

Posted on 1st March 2018 by Martha Greengrass

As his latest breakneck thriller, Gallery of the Dead, hits the Sunday Times bestseller lists, author Chris Carter recommends some of his own favourite crime fiction reads.

As soon as I was asked to name my favourite crime books, my first thought was – “Oh damn, that’s going to be a tough task.”  Not because there are so many, but because I don’t read nearly as much as I should and there are two main reasons for that.  One - I’m one of those authors that can’t read while I’m writing a novel.  I just can’t concentrate.  Two - I’m a very, very slow reader. 

This year, I found even less time to read than usual. Halfway through writing my latest book, Gallery of the Dead, I suddenly had a crisis of confidence. I felt as though the book wasn’t nearly as good as anything that I had written previously, and I was already up against a deadline. Thankfully, I have an amazing editor, so I was lucky enough to be able to work through it and still bring my book out on time (I was only slightly after my deadline – please do not check this with my editor). With all that said, below is a list of some of the best books I’ve read in recent years.

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

Please don’t let the film fool you, it doesn’t even begin to do justice to the book.  The book is much more than just an amazing serial killer story – it is set in Stalin’s Soviet Union, where disloyalty to the State can lead to your execution. Officer Leo Demidov has always believed in the system, until he is ordered to interrogate his own wife. If you haven’t read it yet, do pick up a copy.  I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

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In Stalin's Soviet Union, crime does not exist. But still millions live in fear. Officer Leo Demidov, an idealistic war hero, believes he's building a perfect society. But after witnessing the interrogation of an innocent man, his loyalty begins to waver, and when ordered to investigate his own wife, Raisa, Leo is forced to choose where his heart truly lies.
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I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

Awesome, just awesome.  Nothing else needs to be said about it.

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It is a textbook murder - and Pilgrim wrote the book. Pilgrim will have to make a journey from a public beheading in Mecca to a deserted ruins on the Turkish coast via a Nazi death camp in Alsace and the barren wilderness of the Hindu Kush in search of the faceless man who would commit an appalling act of mass murder in the name of his God.
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The Eye Collector by Sebastian Fitzek. 

Sebastian is the German master of suspense.  If you haven’t read any of his books, this is a great one to start with.  Ex-police officer and journalist Alexander Zorbach finds himself implicated in a series of murders. He knows that he is innocent, but it seems the killer wants to make him suffer… Do you like Hide and Seek?

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It's the same each time. A woman's body is found with a ticking stopwatch clutched in her dead hand. A distraught father must find his child before the boy suffocates - and the killer takes his left eye. Now Alexander Zorbach, a washed-up cop turned journalist, has exactly forty-five hours, seven minutes to save a little boy's life. And the countdown has started...
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The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris. 

I guess the reasons behind this one are obvious. I know everyone in the world has watched the film, but in my opinion the book is even better. It gives real depth to the character of Hannibal Lecter, and it is incredibly well written. 

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Written with a pulsating elegance that sets Harris apart from his crime writing contemporaries, The Silence of the Lambs is the novel that made the devilishly charismatic psychopath Hannibal Lecter infamous and spawned a multi-Oscar winning film adaptation. One of the most groundbreaking thrillers of the past 40 years.
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