By Catherine Ryan Howard. Blackstone Publishing
Howard is a drop-everything must-read for me and I loved Run Time, a neat slice of paranoia as life imitates art on the set of a horror film in the remotest part of west Cork. Thrilling, hugely entertaining and highly inventive.
The Winter Guest
By WC Ryan. Simon & Schuster
The Winter Guest is an outstanding historical novel set during the War of Independence. An IRA intelligence officer, Tom Harkin, investigates the murder of his aristocratic former fiancee. Sublime writing, a satisfying mystery and an intimate understanding of a complex moment in Irish history.
By GW Shaw. Hachette UK
Nothing could be more timely than Dead Rich, as a Russian billionaire’s luxury yacht turns into a floating trap. You won’t root for the spoilt-brat main characters initially, but as their dream trip becomes a nightmarish fight to escape murderous assassins, they reveal hidden depths.
The Belladonna Maze
By Sinéad Crowley. Head of Zeus
This ticked every box for me: a big house in Sligo that’s haunted by the sins of the past, a ruthless villain, old money and new problems. Crowley handles the dual narrative of famine-era Ireland and modern life effortlessly.
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By Catherine Kirwan. Hachette Ireland
I absolutely love Catherine Kirwan’s heroine Finn Fitzpatrick, Cork solicitor. Cruel Deeds is a pacy novel full of skulduggery and professional misconduct. Solicitors are privy to all kinds of secrets and, like Andrea Carter’s Inishowen Mysteries, this excellent series fully exploits that.
The Last to Disappear
By Jo Spain. Quercus Publishing
Spain has always been one of the finest Irish crime writers and The Last to Disappear is her best book yet: the chilling setting in a luxury resort in Lapland is the ideal backdrop to a twisty tale of missing women and murder.
The Burning Boy
By Nicola White. Profile Books Ltd
This was a revelation to me; I missed the previous two in the series but you can start with this story of 1980s Dublin and the murder of an off-duty Guard in the Phoenix Park. White deals with homophobia and sexism sensitively, never losing focus on the gripping mystery. I particularly appreciated the tender platonic partnership of her detectives, Vincent Swan and Gina Considine.
The Murder Rule
By Dervla McTiernan. Harper Collins
A tightly plotted US-set thriller from McTiernan. Michael Dandridge is on death row. His last hope is the law students at the University of Virginia who have taken on his case. Hannah Rokeby is determined to work on the appeal – but what motivates her isn’t necessarily her belief in his innocence. Absolutely superb.
This article is part of our guide to the Irish Times books of the year. Follow one of these links to read Malachy Clerkin on sports books / Tony Clayton-Lea on music books / Rory Kiberd on nonfiction books / Adrian Duncan on art books / Seán Hewitt and Martina Evans on poetry /Niamh Donnelly on fiction / Claire Hennessy on young-adult fiction / Sara Keating on children’s books / Anne Enright, Colm Tóibín, Fintan O’Toole and more on their books of the year