British Book Awards 2020: Crime and Thriller Book of the Year shortlist reviews

Written by Alison Flood

All the books shortlisted for the British Book Awards Crime and Thriller Book of the Year category reviewed. 

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the British Book Awards – aka The Nibbies – and excitingly, the Crime and Thriller Book of the Year category is this year supported by Stylist. And what a year it’s been!

Last night it was annouced debut Nigerian novelist Oyinkan Braithwaite won the Crime & Thriller Book of the Year award for her novel My Sister, The Serial Killer

Fancy giving it a read? Well, Alison Flood, who chaired the Crime and Thriller judging panel for this year’s British Book Awards, has reviewed every book shortlisted in the category.

Scroll down for the best Crime and Thriller books to read this year. 

  • My Sister, the Serial Killer

    My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Atlantic Books)

    One of the vanishingly rare crime novels to be longlisted for the Booker and shortlisted for the Women’s prize, this is a darkly funny, dizzyingly enjoyable read. Set in Lagos, it opens as Korede is summoned by her sister, Ayoola, who has dispatched yet another boyfriend (her third) in “self-defence”. Korede brings the bleach and the rubber gloves, and starts cleaning, but when Ayoola’s eye lands on the doctor Korede has long adored, her sister’s murderous propensities really start to concern her. A ridiculous amount of fun, this manages to be both blackly hilarious and enjoyably disturbing, with the relationship between the two sisters its beating heart.

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  • How the Dead Speak

    How the Dead Speak by Val McDermid (Little, Brown)

    This is the 11th novel in Val McDermid’s excellent series following clinical psychologist and profiler Tony Hill and detective Carol Jordan, and life isn’t great for either right now. Tony is six months into a four-year prison sentence – he was sentenced for killing a murderer, so that Carol didn’t have to do it. And Carol, having resigned from the police force, is trying to deal with PTSD. There’s also a serial killer on the loose, and Carol’s old team are looking into the discovery of bodies buried in the grounds of a convent. McDermid might be 11 books in, but her plotting and her writing remains fresh and gripping.

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  • The Hunting Party

    The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley (HarperCollins)

    A group of old university friends are spending New Year in a luxury lodge in the snow-covered Scottish Highlands in Lucy Foley’s chilling The Hunting Party. But as they eye each other up and pick over where life has brought them to, a huge storm snows them into the property, and then a body is found. Moving from perspective to perspective, this is sharply insightful and tons of fun: the sort of thriller to gobble up in one sitting.

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  • Imposter

    Imposter by LJ Ross (Dark Skies Publishing)

    The first in Ross’s new series about Dr Alexander Gregory sees the forensic psychologist drawn to a small village in the hills of County Mayo. A young mother has been murdered and the rural community is terrified, knowing the killer comes from amongst their number. With the local Garda at a loss, Gregory’s expertise as a profiler is needed to solve the crime. Dark and twisty, this is a race to the denouement.

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  • The Silent Patient

    The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (The Orion Publishing Group)

    This impressive debut slowly uncovers the reason why the famous artist Alicia Berenson was found six years earlier spattered with blood, standing beside her husband, who had been tied to a chair and shot in the face. Alicia has been held in a secure unit ever since – she hasn’t spoken a word, only painted – and forensic psychotherapist Theo is determined to fix her and find out why she became “a person capable of murder”. Enjoyably sinister.

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  • Blue Moon

    Blue Moon by Lee Child (Transworld)

    Jack Reacher, ex-military police, “six feet five of bone and muscle and 250 pounds of moving mass”, sees an old man on a bus about to be robbed, and does his usual hero thing. But as he continues to protect the old man and his wife, he finds himself in the middle of a turf war between rival Ukrainian and Albanian gangs. This is the 24th outing for Lee Child’s creation, and the tough, nomadic hero is as compelling as ever.

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Images: Amazon/Waterstones

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