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  • Writer's pictureB.M. Allsopp

5 crime reads to love on Valentine's Day

chosen by B.M. Allsopp, February 14th, 2017

Progress Report: I stopped work on Fiji Islands Mysteries 2 in December as I had a lovely long visit from family living overseas. Then I was given wonderful books for Christmas which I just had to read. Sounds like procrastination? Absolutely not, I really haven’t had time. Truly…

So here are my picks of the crime fiction I’ve read so far in 2017. Why not try them?

Rather Be the Devil (Inspector Rebus 21)

Nov 3, 2016 by Ian Rankin

"For John Rebus, forty years may have passed, but the death of beautiful, promiscuous Maria Turquand still preys on his mind."

My take: This is No 21 in Rankin’s compelling Rebus series, and I’ve read nearly all. Rankin is the master of exposing the gritty underbelly of the beautiful Edinburgh and once again we meet Rebus’s nemesis, Big Ger Cafferty. Rather Be the Devil focuses on the battles for power within both organised crime and the police force. Riveting stuff, but apart from the trio of Rebus, Clarke and Fox, I found no sympathetic characters here.

Precious and Grace (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Book 17)

Sep 1, 2016 by Alexander McCall Smith

My take: I’ve been a fan of McCall Smith since I read the second in the series, Tears of the Giraffe, 15 years ago. Precious and Grace are my favourite private eyes of all time and this book, which focuses on their relationship, is delightful. The delicate juggling act of close working relationships anywhere is explored with humour and insight in the context of Botswana culture. Although this book doesn’t stir the heart like Tears of the Giraffe and many others, it is witty, perceptive and most enjoyable.

Taking Up Serpents

October 2016, by Ian Sutherland

My take: I've followed cyber-crime detective Brody Taylor since he first infected my computer two years ago (joke). Taylor is a 'white hat' professional hacker who strays into grey areas. Sutherland blends the digital thriller aspect with a police investigation as Taylor is used as a police consultant, if an uncontrollable one. The intricate plot and taut writing are truly exciting, and given depth by the author's step-by-step explanations of hacking techniques. Sutherland knows his cyber-stuff.

Murder under the Christmas Tree: Ten Classic Crime Stories for the Festive Season

Nov 3, 2016 by Cecily Gayford (editor)

My take: Ten substantial whodunits, most with a Christmas connection are presented here. Most are by ‘the greats’, including Sayers, Doyle, Chesterton, Allingham. It’s interesting that McDermid and Rankin have used complicated how-dunit/locked-door elements in the manner of their Golden Age predecessors for their 21st century contributions. I was delighted to read an Ellis Peters story, featuring one of my favourite detectives, 13th century Brother Cadfael. Put this one on your gift list for Christmas 2017.

The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories

by P. D. James

"As the acknowledged 'Queen of Crime' P.D. James was frequently commissioned by newspapers and magazines to write a special short story for Christmas. Four of the very best of these have been rescued from the archives and are published together for the first time."

My take: I didn’t know P.D. James had written any stories, so was delighted to be given these. Only two have a strong Christmas theme. As a huge fan of James, the halo effect may be at work. Her writing is deft, close to perfect. One of the stories is lighthearted, almost a spoof, while another is truly horrifying. A great gift for any P.D. James fan for next Christmas.

What's your take?

I would love to know your opinion of these crime recommendations. Just leave me a message on or email me on I look forward to hearing from you!

Why not share?

If you know someone who is a fan of crime fiction, please share this news post. If you enjoyed my own debut crime novel, Death on Paradise Island, I would be grateful if you considered posting a short review on Amazon and/or Goodreads.

until next time,

Bernadette (B.M. Allsopp)

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