Cumbrian author M W Craven has ignited the crime fiction world with his Washington Poe series and series opener, 'Puppet Show' was the winner of the prestigious Gold Dagger Award in 2019. They feature grisly murders, an aching dose of suspense and witty clever dialogue set in Cumbrian towns and countryside. We recommend them highly to any crime fiction fan! The novels are all available from our Cumbrian Crime list.
Here, Mike reveals his top 10 books of all time...unsurprisingly there are a few crime novels here! But his love of fantasy and a good laugh are also obvious and perhaps reveal the influences behind the quick-witted dialogue and gritty humour apparent in his books.
Richard Adams£8.99 £8.36
This book traumatised an entire generation of children with its themes of rabbit genocide, a rabbit Gestapo, foxes, snares and roadkill . . . Still, it had a swearing seagull, some cool mythology and, at its heart, it was a story about friendship and loyalty. That’s why it endures to this day.
Michael Connelly£8.99 £8.36
This was the book that made me want to be a crime writer. I’d dabbled in fantasy up until then, but this was my light bulb moment. Connelly used his knowledge of Los Angeles and his experiences as a police reporter to develop what is now the best-selling crime series in the world, and The Black Echo kicked it all off for him. It pushed me to use my knowledge of Cumbria, and my experiences as a probation officer to try to emulate the great man.
Dennis Lehane£9.99 £9.29
While Hannibal Lecter rightly wins most people’s votes for most iconic serial killer, this outing from Dennis Lehane perfectly captures the sheer banality of evil. And, with the author unafraid of hurting his protagonists, it’s genuinely frightening stuff.
Stephen King£8.99 £8.36
Stephen King could have had ten or twelve books on this list (The Mr Mercedes trilogy came very close) but I’ve gone for his lesser-known work about carny life. All his trademarks are there: a coming-of-age arc, lost love, vicious killers, a bit of horror . . . And the cover’s beautiful.
Terry Pratchett£8.99 £8.36
My favourite book by my favourite author featuring my favourite fictional character – Commander Sam Vimes, Ankh-Morpork City Watch. I read it at least once a year, as I do all the guards books.
Chris Whitaker£8.99 £8.36
This book about small town America will be in my top 10 books for years to come I suspect. Heart-warming, heart-wrenching and laugh-out-loud funny, We Begin At The End is astonishing.
Mick Herron£14.99 £13.94
The perfect book in the perfect series. Mick is probably the best British author in a generation and this new outing (not out until Feb 2021) is, in my opinion, his best book so far. Jackson Lamb is grotesque but utterly compelling, and he dominates every scene he’s in. Incredibly well written, astonishing plotting and genuinely funny.
J. R. R. Tolkien£7.99 £7.43
It was a toss up between this and The Lord of the Rings, but in the end I chose The Hobbit as I’ve read it many more times. Written in a lighter tone than LOTR, it’s still a high-stakes book, and not every character gets through to the last page. Tolkein’s world-building is unmatched to this day and I suspect people will still be discussing it in a thousand years it’s so timeless.
Ed McBain£13.95 £12.97
I actually chose 'Cop Hater', the first book in McBain’s 87th Precinct series as it introduces everyone’s favourite detective second grade, Steve Carella, along with his wife to be, and my childhood crush, the deaf and mute ‘Teddy’. Tragically 'Cop Hater' is unavailable but any books in the series are legendary.
Carl Hiaasen£7.99 £7.43
I originally chose Sick Puppy for this list featuring the iconic one-eyed ex-governor, Skink, some dog-napping and a ‘decrepit pachyderm’ with asthma. But, again it was unavailable. Thankfully, any of Hiaasen’s Florida-set, environmentally-charged books could have made my desert island eight so I've opted for 'Squirm' instead. Hilarious.