Still stuck for Christmas present ideas? Today I am bringing a guest post by Billy Moran, author of Don’t Worry, Everything is Going to be Amazing.
Chris Pringle: simpleton, casualty or local hero?
Propped up by biscuits, benefits and a baffling faith in his plan, he lives in a world where every day is obsessively the same: wedged in his recliner, watching murder mysteries, taking notes. Until the day a serious and peculiar crime stumps the local police – and Chris announces he can solve it.
Accompanied by a loyal crew of chancers, committed to making amends, and pursued by a depressed Detective Inspector, trying to join the dots, Chris heads back to the raves of his past, where a heartbreaking personal tragedy lies abandoned. But what exactly is Chris Pringle looking for? Has he really worked out the way to find it? And what will happen if he does?
A quirky, nostalgic, heart-warming mystery for fans of Gail Honeyman, Agatha Christie, Jennifer Egan, Ian Rankin, Matt Haig, Irvine Welsh, Ben Aaronovitch, Dave Eggers, Jon Niven, John Kennedy Toole, Belinda Bauer and Harland Miller.
You can read my review here. But without further ado please enjoy the following list that Billy put together for my blog. There are a number of books here I will be adding to my own Christmas wish list.
10 Amazingly Funny Crime Books, You’ll Laugh Until You Die
This list reflects the kind of crime and mystery books I love the most – not so much the police procedurals, as those occupied by richly drawn characters, and defined by a compelling whodunnit that keeps you guessing. But the books below also made me laugh too. Sometimes that’s possible when murder and mayhem is on the table, and sometimes it isn’t, so sometimes the ‘it’ that someone has done in my favourite whodunnits, isn’t a deadly ‘it’. In fact, in a couple of cases, you might not even think the comedy crime books below are crime books at all. So in the spirit of Christmas, please will you let me explain myself?
I love straight-up crime books: there isn’t a series that has given me more hours of fun than Rebus; and there isn’t a genre that’s had a greater influence on me as an author than Agatha Christie inspired murder mysteries…albeit seen through the prism of nutty off-kilter characters from the 1990s rave scene! But…crime is both committed and experienced by people, and it’s the human stories I’m interested in above all else.
My debut mystery novel Don’t Worry, Everything Is Going To Be Amazing was a deeply personal project that took seven years for me to finish. I wanted to throw every authentic emotion into it that I possibly could – including humour. Limiting myself to the procedural side of things would have made that hard. I love books filled with colour, which can make me laugh, make me cry, make me scared for people, make me think. This is a list of ten very different comedy mysteries which I think you might like, if you’re the same. Happy Christmas!
I regard Mick Herron’s series as crime books, that happen to have been set in the espionage genre, but still, they have revitalized the latter, not by bringing us up to speed with the world of 21st century espionage, but by setting it around a timeless cast of flawed and brilliantly British failures. This ‘joke’ concept conjures up a slapstick sitcom – but whilst these books are really funny, they are true page-turning whodunnits as well.
I’ve gone for Book 4 of the Dublin Trilogy, as a reward for the absurdity of that concept. Think Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels meets In Bruge, and you’ll start to get the general vibe of Caimh McDonnell’s brilliantly enjoyable Irish crime capers.
AMS’s 2004 debut outing for the detective ladies was a warm, funny window into an alien world, with a great whodunnit heart.
If I’m ever making a list of books on paper or in my head – and I’m a bit of a geek, so I do love a list! – there’ll usually be an Irvine Welsh in there. This one’s his take on life inside the head of a policeman – so it goes without saying that this policeman is a depraved wrong’un. The way he unravels is spectacularly funny – but be warned, there’s lots of gross, x-rated imagery.
As always, Sharpe paints a bawdy picture of a slapstick Britain full of good old fashioned class divides – it’s all quite Shakespearean. The books first came to my attention through the TV series of Blott, and were then passed down through my family from mother and father all the way to me, the youngest, at the bottom of the pile. Blott’s tale surrounds the devious doings of a corrupt MP who doesn’t just want to drive a motorway through some gorgeous countryside to line his pocket, he wants to dispose of his wife in the process as well. There’s wrongdoing in all Sharpe’s books, but arguably this one’s where a ‘crime’ is most front and centre.
Bounty Hunter Stephanie Plum’s hilarious, razor-sharp debut outing.
The first book of the Brentford Trilogy, which channels Douglas Adams, JRR Tolkien and Terry Pratchett, with Chris Brookmyre, Jasper Fforde and Ben Aaronovitch as fair contemporary comparisons too. But these always-silly books were set near where I live today in deepest West London, so they hold an extra appeal for me over the work of those other fine writers. There’s always a worrying problem to be solved, and the returning middle-aged drunkards tasked with solving them are of course hopeless, yet strangely successful. We’re veering a long way away from crime in some people’s eyes here, I know – so please see my apology and explanation above!
I love, and will read everything, that Kate Atkinson writes. Her Jackson Brodie mysteries take you inside the smart, idiosyncratic and gently funny mind of a detective. I’d start at the beginning with Case Histories – but this one’s my favourite Brodie mystery. I love personality-based crime books like Belinda Bauer’s Snap, but Jackson Brodie brings the added bonus of some great, wry comedy.
If you want bloodshed, you got it. Not a huge role for the crime-stoppers in this one – instead it’s a truly twisted and darkly comic journey inside the mind of the fictional serial killer, Patrick Bateman.
Pease see American Psycho. If anything this one’s a bit more accessible, especially if you are UK-based.
If you enjoyed my list please do visit the other blogs on the tour for some quirky ideas. I would expect nothing less from Billy.
Billy Moran is an award-winning television writer for shows including Horrible Histories. He grew up in the West Country, where his teenage years were rudely interrupted by the Second Summer of Love. Since then he has been embracing mysteries, craving solutions and writing lots of lists. He lives in London and has two children, two cats, one football team and several favourite detectives. Don’t Worry, Everything Is Going To Be Amazing is his debut novel.
‘Zany, energetic and completely original!’
★★★★★ ROSAMUND LUPTON (AUTHOR, THREE HOURS)
‘An absolute blast – a riveting mystery that will satisfy any crime buff.’
★★★★★ JAMES NALLY (AUTHOR, THE PC DONAL LYNCH THRILLERS)
‘A murder mystery full of surprises and revelations – it made me laugh, it moved me, and I enjoyed every single page.’
★★★★★ BOOK AFTER BOOK BLOG
‘Forrest Gump meets Columbo at a rave. Moving, laugh-out-loud funny and truly original – I was completely hooked.’
★★★★★ MARK DIACONO (AUTHOR, A TASTE OF THE UNEXPECTED)
‘Will have readers reaching for their glowsticks and magnifying glasses.’
★★★★★ THE SHEFFIELD STAR
‘Fills in the missing link – most entertainingly – between Poirot’s little grey cells and the battered brain chemistry of an ex-raver.’
★★★★★ LUDOVIC HUNTER TILNEY (PRESS CLUB ARTS REVIEWER OF THE YEAR)
‘Edgy, buzzing and pulsing with life.’
★★★★★ PIERS TORDAY (AUTHOR, THE LAST WILD)
‘A unique story full of intrigue, mystery and suspense, as heartwarming as it is hilarious.’
★★★★★ CAL TURNER BOOK REVIEWS BLOG
★★★★★ THE DIVINE WRITE BOOK BLOG
‘A rollercoaster of buried memories and emotions, all wrapped up in a gripping detective thriller – I loved it.’
★★★★★ GAVIN WATSON (AUTHOR, RAVING ’89)
‘Simply the best book I’ve ever read about what rave was really like.’
★★★★★TJ, PHUTURE ASSASSINS (FUTURE SOUND)