Top Five Saturday: Detective Fiction

The Top 5 series is back!

Top Five Saturday is a meme hosted by Devouring Books in which the bookish community discover and share books that all have a common theme. Previously, the meme has focused on a range of different characters (witches and werewolves), genres (thrillers, detectives and re-tellings) and thoughts about the industry and life as a bookworm, and many more. 

Please read and share, comment and discuss this week’s topic!


It will come as no surprise to those who have followed my blog for a while that I adore detective fiction – so much so that I have even turned my hand at writing my own. A project that needs a heck of a lot more work and time! Nor will the entries on my top five detectives come as any real surprise at all!

And what is it that appeals with the detective genre, whether in its cosy or police procedural guises? The introduction of chaos and threat to disrupt the familiar, within a safe place perhaps, between the pages of a novel – is there in fact any place less safe than within the pages of a novel? Perhaps it is the reassurance of the detective, the rational face of law and order – and yet so many of the most famous detectives are flawed and just as dangerous as the criminals they pursue.

So, here we go! Let us also limit ourselves to modern detective fiction: the debt owed to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie

The Jackson Brodie series, Kate Atkinson

Three Reasons To Love Jackson Brodie:

Wonderful plotting drawing characters together across time and space and between series, weaving together incredible and incredulous coincidences.

A fantastic sense of humour that runs through a seemingly bleak scenarios and settings.

Beautifully literate and littered with literary quotes and allusions and references.

The Dublin Murder Squad series, Tana French

Three Reasons To Love The Dublin Murder Squad:

A genuinely creepy gothic sensibility that imbues all the novels with a real depth.

Wonderfully intense and intimate relationships explored through the novels from the intensity of police partners to the cloistered lives of privileged university students, to working class families.

A shifting range of point of view characters, who undermine and disrupt each others’ narratives and all of whom are flawed and unreliable.

The Simon Serrailler series, Susan Hill

Three Reasons To Love Simon Serrailler:

Deeply damaged character in Serrailler, attractive and sensitive within his work, but somehow unable to have a decent relationship with any woman – in fact, rather a shit towards women in his romantic entanglements.

A wide supporting cast of family all with their own flaws – except for Simon’s sainted sister, Cat. It makes the series feel more like a soap opera at times than a detective fiction, but it does create a palpable sense of family.

Lafferton – the town at the centre of most of the novels with its cathedral, its hospital and hospice, its prostitutes and its murderers! Each crime reverberates and ripples around the town itself beautifully.

The Dry, Jane Harper

Three Reasons To Love The Dry:

An intense sense of atmosphere and place, in the middle of the Australian drought and heat, a town that feels like a tinderbox ready to explode.

An incredibly well plotted narrative in which little is as it first appears and hidden secrets are unearthed and dusted over.

Aaron Falk, the outsider to the town he grew up in and has been excluded from.

The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau, Graeme Macrae Burnet

Three Reasons To Love The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau:

Burnet is a writer who spots a convention of the genre and delights in turning it on its head, twisting it through 180 degrees and flipping it inside out. Is there even a crime here? Is justice served?

Manfred Baumann, a character who is awkward, repressed, angular, uncomfortable and somehow deeply tragic.

Beautifully evocation of a quiet sleepy French town in Saint-Louis.

And of course there are so many more detective demanding recognition here that it is nearly impossible to limit myself to five!

9 thoughts on “Top Five Saturday: Detective Fiction”

  1. These all sound fantastic! The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau sounds especially good. I mean for a start I love the cover – but it also sounds like a really gripping story! Thanks for the recommendations

    Liked by 1 person

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