Tuesday 28 May 2019

From Agatha Christie to Gillian Flynn: 50 great thrillers by women

In response to a list of the 100 best crime novels that had only 28 female authors, Ann Cleeves, Val McDermid and Dreda Say Mitchell and other leading writers nominate some alternatives

When the Sunday Times picked its 100 favourite crime and spy novels published since 1945 last weekend, only 28 were by women. “Seeing the chronic conscious and unconscious bias against work by women is enraging,” wrote Marian Keyes on Twitter. “Yeh, and don’t @ me, saying that men are just better, don’t be that tool.”

Keyes got the ball rolling with some suggestions of books that could have been included. So we asked some of the UK’s best female crime writers for further suggestions, just to get us up to 50 and even the scales.

Sophie Hannah
Hannah has chosen “amazing novels that your readers probably haven’t yet discovered. All were absolutely vital to my development as a psychological crime writer.”

Summertime by Liz Rigbey
Follows a woman who loses her baby and whose father unexpectedly drowns. When her husband and sister close ranks against her, she begins to suspect they are lying to her.

The Spider’s House by Sarah Diamond
Also published as In the Spider’s House. When Anna Howell discovers that a 1960s child murderess was the previous resident of her old cottage, her marriage, sanity and life come under threat.

Hidden by Katy Gardner
When a young mother’s seven-year-old daughter disappears, she finds herself questioning everything in her life. Then a police officer starts asking about the murder of a woman 14 months earlier …

A Shred of Evidence by Jill McGown
DI Judy Hill and DCI Lloyd investigate the murder of a 15-year-old girl on a patch of open parkland in the centre of town.

Searching for Shona by Margaret Jean Anderson
The wealthy Marjorie Malcolm-Scott trades suitcases, destinations and identities with orphan Shona McInnes, as children are evacuated from Edinburgh at the start of the second world war.

 Denise Mina, author of two books on our list, The Field of Blood and The End of the Wasp Season. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian
Val McDermid
The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey
A teenage war orphan accuses two women of kidnap and abuse, but something about her story doesn’t add up.

Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer
The Booker-longlisted author of Snap follows it up with the tale of a medical student with Asperger’s who attempts to solve a murder.

The Field of Blood by Denise Mina
The first in the Paddy Meehan series sees the reporter looking into the disappearance of a child from his Glasgow home, with evidence pointing the police towards two young boys.

A Fatal Inversion by Barbara Vine
Writing under her pen name, Ruth Rendell tells of the discovery of a woman and child in the animal cemetery at Wyvis Hall, 10 years after a group of young people spent the summer there.

When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson
In the third Jackson Brodie book, a man is released from prison 30 years after he butchered the mother and siblings of a six-year-old girl in the Devon countryside.

Ann Cleeves
Little Deaths by Emma Flint
Inspired by the real case of Alice Crimmins, this tells of a woman whose two children go missing from her apartment in Queens.

The Dry by Jane Harper
During Australia’s worst drought in a century, three members of one family in a small country town are murdered, with the father believed to have killed his wife and son before committing suicide.

Devices and Desires by PD James
Adam Dalgliesh takes on a serial killer terrorising a remote Norfolk community.

The End of the Wasp Season by Denise Mina
Heavily pregnant DS Alex Morrow investigates the violent death of a wealthy woman in Glasgow.

Fire Sale by Sara Paretsky
The inimitable VI Warshawski takes over coaching duties of the girls’ basketball team at her former high school, and investigates the explosion of the flag manufacturing plant where one of the girl’s mothers works.

Lauren Beukes, author of time-travel crime drama The Shining Girls. Photograph: Ulf Andersen/Getty Images
Sharon Bolton
Gone by Mo Hayder
In Hayder’s fifth thriller featuring Bristol DI Jack Caffrey, he goes after a car-jacker who is taking vehicles with children in them.

Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris
A murderous revenge is being plotted against the boys’ grammar school in the north of England where eccentric Latin master Roy Straitley is contemplating retirement.

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
A time-travelling, murderous war veteran steps through the decades to murder extraordinary women – his “shining girls” – in Chicago, in this high-concept thriller.

The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood
Two women who were sentenced for murdering a six-year-old when they were children meet again as adults, when one discovers the body of a teenager.

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty
Married scientist Yvonne, who is drawn into a passionate affair with a stranger, is on trial for murder.

Sarah Ward
A Place of Execution by Val McDermid
Journalist Catherine Heathcote investigates the disappearance of a 13-year-old girl in the Peak District village of Scarsdale in 1963.

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths
Forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway investigates the discovery of a child’s bones near the site of a prehistoric henge on the north Norfolk salt marshes.

The Ice House by Minette Walters
A decade after Phoebe Maybury’s husband inexplicably vanished, a corpse is found and the police become determined to charge her with murder.

The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard
When a body is found in Dublin’s Grand Canal, police turn to the notorious Canal Killer for help. But the imprisoned murderer will only talk to the woman he was dating when he committed his crimes.

This Night’s Foul Work by Fred Vargas (translated by Sian Reynolds)
Commissaire Adamsberg investigates whether there is a connection between the escape of a murderous 75-year-old nurse from prison, and the discovery of two men with their throats cut on the outskirts of Paris.

Elizabeth Mackintosh, who wrote mystery novels as Josephine Tey, photographed in 1934. Photograph: Sasha/Getty Images
Elly Griffiths
R in the Month by Nancy Spain
Sadly out of print, this is an atmospheric story set in a down-at-heel hotel in a postwar seaside town. The period detail is perfect and jokes and murders abound. This is the fourth book featuring the fantastic Miriam Birdseye, actress and rather slapdash sleuth.

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
A gripping crime novel in which the detective never gets out of bed and the murder happened over 500 years ago. Griffith says: “I read this book as a child and was hooked – on Tey, crime fiction and Richard the Third.”

The Detective’s Daughter by Lesley Thomson
Cleaner Stella Darnell finds herself tidying up her detective father’s final, unfinished case, after he dies. It is the first in a series featuring Stella and her sidekick Jack, an underground train driver who can sense murder.

A Place of Execution by Val McDermid
Griffiths says: “I could have chosen any of Val’s novels, but this book, about a journalist revisiting a shocking 1960s murder, is probably my favourite because of its wonderful sense of time and place. It’s also pitch perfect about journalism, police investigation and life in a small community.”

He Said, She Said by Erin Kelly
An account of a rape trial at which nothing is quite as it seems. Griffiths says: “The story centres around a lunar eclipse, which also works wonderfully as a metaphor and image.”

Dreda Say Mitchell
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
The Gone Girl author’s debut follows journalist Camille’s investigation into the abduction and murder of two girls in her Missouri home town.

Dangerous Lady by Martina Cole
Cole’s first novel sees 17-year-old Maura Ryan taking on the men of London’s gangland.

The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid
Clinical psychologist Dr Tony Hill is asked to profile a serial killer when four men are found mutilated and tortured.

Indemnity Only by Sara Paretsky
A client tells VI Warshawski he is a prominent banker looking for his son’s missing girlfriend. But VI soon discovers he’s lying, and that the real banker’s son is dead.

The St Cyr series by CS Harris
Mitchell has nominated the whole of this historical mystery series about Sebastian St Cyr, Viscount Devlin – master of disguises, heir to an earldom, and disillusioned army officer. It’s a bit of a cheat but we’ll let her have it.

Tana French, whose Broken Harbour follows the work of the Dublin murder squad. Photograph: Yvette Monahan/The Guardian
Erin Kelly
No Night Is Too Long by Barbara Vine
Tim Cornish thinks he has gotten away with killing his lover in Alaska. But then the letters start to arrive …

Broken Harbour by Tana French
The fourth in French’s sublime Dublin Murder Squad series, this takes place in a ghost estate outside Dublin, where a father and his two children have been found dead, with the mother on her way to intensive care.

Chosen by Lesley Glaister
When Dodie’s mother hangs herself, she has to leave her baby at home and go to bring her brother Jake back from the mysterious Soul Life Centre in New York.

A Savage Hunger by Claire McGowan
Forensic psychologist Paula Maguire investigates the disappearance of a girl, and a holy relic, from a remote religious shrine in the fictional Irish town of Ballyterrin.

The Cry by Helen Fitzgerald
Parents Joanna and Alistair start to turn against each other after their baby goes missing from a remote roadside in Australia.

Sarah Hilary
The Hours Before Dawn by Celia Fremlin
A sleep-deprived young mother tries to stay sane while her fears grow about the family’s new lodger, in this 1950s lost classic.

Cruel Acts by Jane Casey
Leo Stone, sentenced to life in prison for the murder of two women, is now free and claims he is innocent. DS Maeve Kerrigan and DI Josh Derwen want to put him back in jail, but Maeve begins doubting his guilt – until another woman disappears.

Sex Crimes by Jenefer Shute
A lawyer’s New Year’s Eve pick-up spirals into an erotic obsession which leads to graphic cruelty.

Skin Deep by Liz Nugent
Nugent, whom Ian Rankin has compared to Patricia Highsmith, tells the story of a woman who has been passing herself off as an English socialite on the Riviera for 25 years – until the arrival of someone who knows her from her former life prompts an act of violence.

Cuckoo by Julia Crouch
Rose’s home and family start to fall apart when her best friend Polly comes to stay.

Margaret Atwood, who wrote about Canadian killer Grace Marks in Alias Grace. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian
Louise Candlish
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
Christie’s classic – with a legendary twist. The best Hercule Poirot?

The Two Faces of January by Patricia Highsmith
A conman on the run with his wife meets a young American who becomes drawn into the crime they commit.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
The author of The Handmaid’s Tale imagines the life of the real 19th-century Canadian killer Grace Marks.

Little Face by Sophie Hannah
Hannah’s thriller debut is about a young mother who becomes convinced that, after spending two hours away from her baby, the infant is not hers.

Alys, Always by Harriet Lane
Newspaper subeditor Frances is drawn into the lives of the Kyte family when she hears the last words of the victim of a car crash, Alys Kyte.

(Source: The Guardian)

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