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Must-Read Crime books

Listening to true crime podcasts when you are bored, is a pastime most Criminology majors have at least once experienced. There is a different sort of comfort in delving into the nitty-bitty details of a crime story that has shocked millions across the globe and thrown entire nations into stunned horror. However, true crime is not something everyone can digest (quite literally, some stories will make the food in your stomach churn). This is where crime fiction novels come into play- stories tinged with mystery, and murder and all about exceptional plot twists that leave the reader asking more questions than the author can even begin to answer. They are entertaining, subtle in their gruesome detailed depictions of the crime, psychological and most of all, easy reads that get one hooked. Here is my list of the top five crime fiction books that I simply cannot get over:


5. One of us is lying by Karen McManus


Set in the daunting atmosphere of a classroom, five students are stuck in detention together, but only four of them make it out alive. Simon, the creator of the app “About That”, runs a platform where personal, intricate and potentially catastrophic secrets of those attending the high school are revealed- kind of like a vigilante intent on exposing people. Simon dies as a result of an allergic reaction, a death labelled an accident, but a Tumblr post prompts the investigation to look at all the puzzle pieces in this case which indicate that the detention was a setup and there might be a murderer on the loose. The four students who witnessed Simon collapse also happened to be the next targets of “About That”, bringing forth four individuals who were desperate to safeguard their secrets at any cost. It seems like too much of a coincidence that the four people who had legitimate reasons to harm Simon ended up in the same room where he collapsed, making them suspects of this criminal investigation. A novel with intense plot twists, tons of high-school drama and an alarming number of motives. Who killed Simon Kelleher?


4. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson


The story is set in the town of Kilton, where our protagonist Pippa is looking for answers to a case that was closed 5 years prior. The case had stupefied the residents of Kilton when schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh, who was later rumoured to have killed himself. But something in the narrative put together by the local police does not seem to add up, thus Pippa embarks on her own investigation to uncover the truth and confirm her beliefs of Sal being innocent. Disguising her research under the name of a school project, Pippa gets too close to finding what had actually happened 5 years ago and the calamitous secrets Andie was hiding- secrets which might have contributed to her murder. But with knowledge comes risks, because soon, Pippa starts crossing paths with people who do not want her to open a case that has been put to grave. With a potential murderer on the loose, and the justice system unaware of the erroneous conclusion it has reached, Pippa puts her life on the line to uncover what actually happened to Andie Bell. This is a novel depicting the negative social impacts wrongful convictions have on members of society, loaded with suspense and just a subtle tinge of romance- perfect for a relaxing Sunday read.


3. Last time I Lied by Riley Sager


This novel jumps back and forth in time, circulating around 15 years into the past where 3 girls had disappeared in Camp Nightingale and the present, where Emma, the roommate of the three missing girls returns to the camp as an art counsellor to seek answers and closure. While launching into her secret investigation, she uncovers sinister truths about the camp’s origins and the family who built the camp. When three new campers go missing again in similar circumstances to that resembling the disappearance that happened 15 years ago, Emma knows that something is not right, and it is no sheer coincidence. This book and its ending threw me off-guard, asking more questions than finding the answers to my previous ones. I had a really great time reading it and thought the ending wraps up the narrative in a very compact and clarified manner, making the book one I recommend to beginners.


2. The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson


This novel has two concurring timelines, one running in the present where our protagonist Lily, meets a charming man, Ted, in an airport lounge and offers to help him kill his wife Miranda, who is cheating on him; the other timeline explores Lily’s troubled past, painting to us, a pattern she has with her fascination towards murder. Throughout the novel, Ted and Lily keep meeting, furnishing their plan of killing Miranda and the man she is having an affair with. The novel is halted with sudden plot twists (ps. You will not see it coming) and quite a few murders, giving us a taste of how it is to think through the lens of a criminal. This novel had a solid plot, some strong characters and amazing character development highlighted through the progressing fearlessness of the protagonist. This was honestly one book which made me sure that I wanted to pursue Criminology and understand the mechanism of the psychology of criminals. It was a fascinating read with a great number of side stories following the main plot which made comprehension of the actions of the protagonist easier. A definite recommendation for crime/suspense/mystery and thriller fans!


1. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides


This novel deserves a drumroll for its sheer existence, but I will try to keep it short. With a whopping 4.18 on Goodreads, this novel circulates the life of Alicia Berenson, a famous painter who shoots her husband five times and stops talking for the next 7 years. Without her offering any explanation, she is kept at “Grove”, a forensic unit where she meets criminal psychotherapist, Theo. His insistence, patience, and interest in attempting to make her communicate, sheds light on the importance of the practice of therapy. The author makes us explore Theo’s past, which somehow is the greatest addition to the plot, and we can almost slowly but surely see the progress Alicia makes in regaining herself. The clever yet accurate incorporation of Euripides’s play “Alcestis” was a welcome narrative for a Greek Mythology enthusiast like me. This book is very much like a painting- it unravels piece by piece and takes its time to portray the entirety of the plot. Ranking very high on the list of my favourite books, The Silent Patient is a read that will not disappoint.


And that brings us to the end of my list; I wholeheartedly hope that you find something that suits your preference amongst these and that you enjoy the perceptual enlightenment that these have given me. Happy Reading!

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