There is nothing quite like diving into the pages of a great crime story especially after a gruelling first year of masters. This season I have resolved to move away from binge-Netflixing to binge-reading so here are some of my favourite crime novels to read this summer:
1. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
There is a reason why this Poirot brain-scratcher has been voted the best crime novel of all time. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is lauded not just for its literary style but its startling ending. Like other Christie mysteries, the clues are hidden in plain sight but my guess is you won’t be able to guess the killer!
This book marks the third appearance of Hercule Poirot, who retires near the home of his friend Roger Ackroyd. However, Ackroyd is stabbed in the neck and killed in his very study reading a letter that could lead to the killer. But it has disappeared. Poirot employs all his “unconventional” methods to finally pin the killer. This story has the right amount blackmail, lies and twists needed to make it a success. You can get it here.
2. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)
If you are a Harry Potter fan – nay, a J.K. Rowling fan – like I am, you must read this one. The first in a four-part series, Galbraith’s (Rowling’s pseudonym) The Cuckoo’s Calling narrates the story of Coroman Strike, a disabled war veteran turned private investigator’s tryst with the murder of supermodel Lula Landry. It soon turns into a racy crime novel with twists and turns before the killer is revealed.
The other novels in the series are The Silkworm (2014), The Career of Evil (2015) and Lethal White (2018). The books have also been made into a TV series called Strike by the BBC.
Get it here.
3. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Nothing can beat a classic Sherlock tale and The Hound of the Baskervilles definitely checks all the right boxes. This 1901 story is set in the moors the old English Baskerville Hall. After its proprietor Sir Charles Baskerville is found dead in mysterious circumstances, Holmes and his trusty sidekick Dr Watson are called to protect the heir. The action takes place at night to the terrifying howls of bloodthirsty hounds. As most other Sherlock sagas, this narrative too is replete with Doyle’s impeccable deductive writing.
For ardent Sherlock fans too this story is a must read. Of course, one cannot compare Cumberbatch’s Sherlock to Doyle’s, but in my opinion the original tale has more to offer than its new-age sci-fi version. Get it here.
4. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
To be honest, I read this book some years ago but I am including it in this list because it is a classic that I recently revisited. Published in 1886, the narrative introduces two alter egos of the same character – Dr Henry Jekyll (the good guy) and Mr Edward Hyde (the evil guy). The story is narrated by a lawyer called Gabriel John Utterson who investigates weird occurrences between Jekyll and Hyde who he at first believes are two different people.
This book was so influential in that the term “Jekyll and Hyde” has entered the English vernacular to denote highly contradictory behaviour especially in the private and public sphere. You can get it here.
5. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Another Christie novel you say? Well she is THAT good! Plus I love the length of her stories because I can complete them in a day – no problem since they are so racy.
My summers as a child were spent travelling in trains (before air travel became accessible) across India and Murder on the Orient Express brings back memories of those long journeys spent reading books since there was nothing much else to do.
Another Poirot novel, this one takes place on the elegant Orient Express the site of a murder in the peak of winter. The mustachioed Belgian detective is called to save the day. What follows is a nail-biting turn of events as Christie’s writing leaves the reader wanting more. You can find it here.
What about you? Which are your favourite ones? Do you also love reading crime fiction? If yes, I’d love to know your picks for crime novels to read this summer!