Books

13 Canadian books to read during National Crime Writing Month

May is National Crime Writing Month, so curl up with a book that's sure to send chills up your spine.

May is National Crime Writing Month, so curl up with a book that's sure to send chills up your spine. Here are 13 books, from fiction to nonfiction to YA, to check out.

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny

Louise Penny's latest mystery is Kingdom of the Blind. (Raincoast Books, Jean-Francois Berube)

In Louise Penny's latest Armand Gamache mystery, the former head of the Sûreté du Québec has a new case to solve. An elderly woman he's never met before has named him one of the executors of her will and the contents are extremely strange, eventually leading to the shocking discovery of a dead body. Meanwhile, an internal investigation into the events that led to Armand's suspension is underway and deadly opioids threaten to hit the streets of Montreal.

Full Disclosure by Beverley McLachlin

Beverley McLachlin is the author of the legal thriller Full Disclosure. (Jean-Marc Carisse, Simon & Schuster Canada)

Full Disclosure, by Canada's former chief of justice Beverley McLachlin, traces a high-profile murder trial in British Columbia through the eyes of an astute defence attorney named Jilly Truit. Jill is a composite of lawyers McLachlin has known through her career, with perhaps some of her own personality traits tossed into the mix.

Cobra Clutch by A.J. Devlin

Cobra Clutch is a crime novel by A.J. Devlin. (Gina Spanos Photography, NeWest Press)

The B.C.-based writer's debut kicks off a series about a former pro-wrestler named "Hammerhead" Jed Ounstead, who finds himself in the clutches of Vancouver's underworld while looking for his former partner's kidnapped pet snake.

Cobra Clutch won the 2019 Arthur Ellis Award for best first novel.

The Real Lolita by Sarah Weinman

The Real Lolita is a nonfiction book by Sarah Weinman. (Knopf Canada, Anna Ty Bergman)

Vladimir Nabokov's 1955 book, Lolita, the controversial novel of a professor who falls obsessively in love with his 12-year-old stepdaughter, has sold over 60 million copies worldwide. The novel was based on the real abduction of an 11-year-old American girl named Sally Horner. Sarah Weinman pores over news articles and conducts interviews with Horner's living relatives to chronicle the young girl's life, including her kidnapping and rescue, in mid-century America. She also investigates how much Nabokov knew about Horner's case and the ways he hid it when publishing what is considered both an infamous and classic novel.

Though the Heavens Fall by Anne Emery

Though the Heavens Fall is a mystery by Anne Emery. (ECW Press)

Though the Heavens Fall is the latest instalment in Anne Emery's popular Collins-Burke mystery series. The book takes place in Belfast of 1995, as the Irish Republican Army calls for a ceasefire to the violence that has ripped through the city, which lures Collins and Burke to town. 

Though the Heavens Fall won the 2019 Arthur Ellis Award for best crime novel.

A Matter of Malice by Thomas King

A Matter of Malice is a mystery novel by Thomas King. (Trina Koster, HarperCollins Canada)

Trudy Samuels's death was ruled accidental, but Nina Maslow, the producer of a true-crime television show, is determined to prove otherwise. After ex-cop Thumps DreadfulWater declines her request for help, Maslow ends up dead in the exact same way as Samuels. The coincidence prompts Thumps to take on the case. A Matter of Malice is the fourth book in Thomas King's popular DreadfulWater mystery series.

Murder by Milkshake by Eve Lazarus

Murder by Milkshake is a true crime book by Eve Lazarus. (Kerp Photography Vance, Arsenal Pulp Press)

Murder by Milkshake revisits the suspicious 1965 death of a popular radio personality's wife that became one of British Columbia's most sensational criminal cases of the century. When Esther Castellani — wife to charismatic CKNW radio personality Rene Castellani — passed away after a painful and prolonged illness, the cause of death was initially undetermined. But soon after Rene quickly moved on with his girlfriend Lolly, the truth was revealed: he had methodically poisoned his wife by putting poison in her vanilla milkshakes. This nonfiction work by Eve Lazarus provides a well-researched look at murder, infidelity and the social and political realities in 1960s Canada.

The Kingfisher Secret by Anonymous

The Kingfisher Secret is a thriller by an anonymous author. (McClelland & Stewart, CBC)

The Kingfisher Secret revolves around a beautiful Czech expat who's a longtime Russian spy. Her mission is to seduce wealthy and powerful men and learn their secrets. Her next target is an egotistical man running for president of the United States. Many of the details of this fictional story parallel facts that are known about Donald Trump and his first wife, Ivana Trump, and the publisher of the book says that the author has chosen to remain anonymous to protect his sources.

Find You in the Dark by Nathan Ripley

Nathan Ripley is the author of the thriller Find You in the Dark. (Simon & Schuster)

Naben Ruthnum, under his pen name Nathan Ripley, delivers this tale of a family man obsessed with digging up the undiscovered remains of a serial killer's victims. His actions end up catching the attention of a murderer on the streets of Seattle. Ripley's next thriller, Your Life is Mine, comes out in June 2019.

A Deadly Divide by Ausma Zehanat Khan

A Deadly Divide is a novel by Ausma Zehanat Khan. (Alan Klehr, Raincoast Books)

Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty are sent to Quebec, where a community is reeling in the aftermath of a mass shooting at a mosque. Fuelling tensions is the arrest of a young Muslim man who was reported to be assisting the wounded, while a priest found holding a weapon was let go. A Deadly Divide is the fifth book in Ausma Zehanat Khan's Getty and Khattak mystery series.

Sadie by Courtney Summers

Sadie is a young adult novel by Courtney Summers. (Megan Gunter, Raincoast Books)

The titular character of Courtney Summers's YA novel Sadie lives in an isolated small town with her sister Mattie. When Mattie is found dead and the police botch the investigation, Sadie becomes determined to track down the killer herself. At a gas station, a travelling radio personality named West McCray hears about Sadie's story and starts a podcast about her investigation.

The Case of Windy Lake by Michael Hutchinson

The Case of Windy Lake is a mystery novel by Michael Hutchinson. (@Mike_Hutchins0n/Twitter.com, Second Story Press)

Cousins Sam, Otter, Atim and Chickadee are known as the Mighty Muskrats of Windy Lake First Nation. When an archaeologist goes missing, they investigate his disappearance amidst increasingly heated environmental protests. The Case of Windy Lake, written for readers aged 9 to 12, is the first book by Michael Hutchinson, who is a member of Misipawistik Cree Nation.

It All Falls Down by Sheena Kamal

It All Falls Down is a thriller by Sheena Kamal. (Malcolm Tweedy, Raincoast Books)

Facing her grief head-on, Nora Watts decides to investigate the circumstances of her father's mysterious death by suicide in Sheena Kamal's second thriller, It All Falls Down. Sam Watts was one of thousands of Indigenous children to be forcibly separated from his family by the government, a policy that started in the 1950s. As Nora digs into her father's early life in Detroit, she discovers troubling truths surrounding his upbringing and death.

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