The Best Crime Novels & Thrillers for Father's Day


Our crime reader Simon highlights the best crime novels and thrillers for Father's Day.

There've already been a number of fantastic crime and thriller releases this year, from Candice Fox's Crimson Lake, replete with the authors signature style, edge and humour, to Adrian McKinty's sophisticated, stylish and engrossing Police at the Station and They Don't Look Friendly, which rips along at a cracking pace (and packs more twists and turns than a street map of Belfast), to the psychological thriller Since We Fell, which underlines Dennis Lehane's status as a writer at the top of the genre’s food chain. 

Of the more recent releases, the most popular offering this Father's Day is likely to be the latest George Smily novel, A Legacy of Spies, by legendary espionage writer John Le Carré. But with new books by perennial favourites Michael Connelly, Michael Robotham, Daniel Silva and Don Winslow, as well as debut writer Mark Brandi, and Melbourne-based Emma Viskic, there's a crime novel or thriller out there for every dad this Father's Day.


The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

With its unorthodox protagonist, clever plotting, brilliantly imperfect characters, and escalating sense of urgency and intrigue, The Word is Murder is an instant crime classic that will keep you reading as fast as you can. Like the best mysteries, its plot can be summed up simply: a wealthy woman is found strangled in her home six hours after she has arranged her own funeral. Who killed her? And why? Enter: former police detective turned private investigator Daniel Hawthorne and his reluctant sidekick, Anthony Horowitz. Yes: as in,The Author Of The Very Same Book You Are Reading! 

It's one of the best and most compulsively readable mysteries of the year.


To Kill the President by Sam Bourne

InTo Kill the Presidenta White House legal aide uncovers a plot to murder the recently-elected US President who, though never named, seems uncannily similar to the current man in office. But should Maggie Costello intervene? Many would argue the world would be better off without the volatile demagogue as Commander in Chief. Bourne’s prose sings, and fully-fleshed characters and a compelling moral-dilemma make the pages almost turn themselves. Literate, top-notch action laced with geopolitical commentary, this thriller is superbly entertaining.


A Legacy of Spies by John Le Carré

This is the first George Smiley novel in more than twenty-five years, so there's just a little bit of hype surrounding the release of A Legacy of Spies. It reunites the beloved cast that made John Le Carré's work so seminal. Peter Guillam, loyal colleague and disciple of George Smiley of the British Secret Service, is living out his old age on the south coast of Brittany when a letter from his old Service summons him to London. His Cold War past has come back to claim him. Intelligence operations that were once the toast of secret London, and involved Alec Leamas, Jim Prideaux, George Smiley and Guillam himself, are to be scrutinised by a generation with no memory of the Cold War and no patience with its justifications.


The Late Show by Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly’s last Harry Bosch novel, The Wrong Side of Goodbye, was another in a long line of masterful police procedurals. Make no mistake: Connelly’s work is the standard to which all crime fiction should be held. It would be easy for the author, with his 30th book, to rest on his laurels: another Bosch novel; maybe another Lincoln Lawyer legal thriller. Instead, he’s gone and created a brilliant new protagonist, LAPD detective Renée Ballard, who has worked the night shift ever since her failed sexual harassment claim against Lt. Robert Olivas, her supervisor at the Robbery Homicide Division. And while there are plenty of similarities between Ballard and Bosch — a thirst for justice, and penchant for going rogue, to name just a couple — Renée’s no female carbon copy of the now-retired Harry. She’s fresh and distinct, inhabiting the same world of torment, fear and danger as Bosch, but providing a very different perspective.  


And Fire Came Down by Emma Viskic

In 2015, Emma Viskic produced one of that year’s best crime novels.

Resurrection Bay was a tour-de-force excursion into good, evil, and the labyrinth of human motivations. Even better, Viskic created a brilliant protagonist with the profoundly-deaf and irrepressibly obstinate Caleb Zelic, who returns as the lead in the fantastic noir thriller And Fire Came Down. Haunted by nightmares from the events of Resurrection Bay, his personal life a mess just as much as his professional one, Zelic is pulled back into the darkness when a young woman is killed in front of his eyes moments after pleading for his help in sign language. Determined to uncover her identity and discern the reason for her death, Caleb quickly discovers the trail leads straight back to his hometown. But Resurrection Bay is currently buckling from irrepressible racial tensions; not to mention the catastrophic bushfire alert that has the whole town on edge. Caleb’s homecoming couldn’t come at a worse time... 


Defectors by Joseph Kanon

Joseph Kanon’s Defectors moves deliberately but colourfully, with intelligent prose and a strong Cold War period feel. With his recent literary gems (Leaving Berlin, Istanbul Passage), the heir apparent to John Le Carré is doing a wonderful job re-sparking interest in classic spy fiction. Nobody is doing it better. Frankly, nobodycan do it better. Like Alan Furst’s The Foreign Correspondent and Le Carré’sThe English Spy, Kanon’s latest perfectly encapsulates the potency of a spy thriller devoid of explosions and shootouts. This is a thriller that eschews video game shoot-’em-up style action, and instead relies on the the complexities of its characters and their confused loyalties to maximise suspense.

Defectors is a virtuoso display by an author at his peak.


The Force by Don Winslow

Don Winslow, the acclaimed, award-winning, bestselling author of The Power of the Dog andThe Cartel, turns his sights away from the War on Drugs to deliver a truly epic, Godfather-eque cop novel,The Force.

It opens with NYPD Detective Sergeant Denny Malone in federal lockup, reflecting on the decisions that landed him behind bars. Formerly a hero cop and the self-proclaimed King of Manhattan North, Malone was in charge of an elite NYPD unit commissioned to battle drugs, guns and gangs, until something -- well, everything -- went wrong, and his whole world came crashing down. Seems 18 years of bending the rules has finally taken its toll. Not that Malone's remorseful. In his mind, he's done what he's had to, in order to keep the streets safe and line the pockets of his comrades, who deserve maximum compensation for the risks they take. Malone doesn't consider himself corrupt or dirty: when you're working under the hammer of a broken justice system, you make your own rules. Against the backdrop of community outrage from high-profile police shootings of young black men nationwide, Winslow unveils Malone's unravelling.

The Force is a propulsive crime novel, offering plenty of social commentary, and a dose of Winslow's trademark dynamism and flair.


Wimmera by Mark Brandi

Wimmera tracks the friendship of two boys from a defining moment in their childhood, when a mysterious newcomer arrives in the small Australian country town of Wimmera, through to the discovery of a body in the river twenty years later. Mark Brandi’s debut is a simply extraordinary literary crime novel, delivered with intelligence, power and heart.


The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham

In this standalone psychological thriller, Robotham explores the lengths we’ll go to bury the truth beneath a flood of lies. He never writes a dull page, ratcheting up the tension, pressing his foot against the accelerator, until the pages start turning themselves.

The Secrets She Keeps is gripping and heartbreaking in equal measure. You will doubt everything and everyone, because ultimately, the characters at the novel’s centre simply can’t be trusted. They are liars, cheats and scoundrels. And they are so utterly compelling, you might breeze through this one in a single sitting. It’s ‘forget your job, meals, friends and family’ kind of good.