Friday, 26 January 2018

BEST OF CRIME with Eva Dolan

Welcome to my latest BEST OF CRIME feature, looking at crime writers' top picks, from their favourite author and fictional detective to their best writing tip. 

Today I'm delighted to welcome 


for her This Is How It Ends blog tour

to share her BEST OF CRIME ...

Patricia Highsmith is the author I keep returning to for the psychological precision of her work and the confidence of her prose. There might not be better for explorations of obsession and envy, the proximity of love and hate and just how devastating that proximity can be. I reread the Ripley novels every couple of years but her non-Ripley books contain some gems too. The Tremor of Forgery is oddly underrated and deserves a look, also her non-crime novel Edith’s Diary which is perfect for fans of domestic noir.

Die Hard. All of them, except the last one, even Die Hard 4 has plenty to recommend it. ‘You just killed a helicopter with a car!’ – that’s the kind of line I want in a crime film. Though they’re maybe more action than crime by that point the original stands as a great example of what a cop can do with no shoes, a sweaty vest and a really smart mouth.

Sneaky Pete is one of those shows that I totally loved but nobody I mention it to has seen. Marius is a con man who, on being released from prison, needs a place to lie low so assumes the identity of his former cellmate and insinuates himself into the man’s long estranged family. Little does he know that they have a few rackets of their own on the go. Bryan Cranston – who also co-wrote it – is an oily casino owner, Margo Martindale is a star as a savvy bailbondswoman, and Giovanni Ribissi turns in a brilliantly twitchy and often surprisingly emotional performance. It’s at the lighter end of the crime spectrum, warm hearted and very funny, but that only makes the moments of brutality even more effective. One to binge.

Clytemnestra in Colm Toibin’s The House of Names is the killer who stayed with me from 2017’s reading. Based on an ancient Greek tragedy it’s the story of a king, Agamemnon, who lures his family away from their safe home with the promise of a good marriage for his daughter Iphigenia, only to sacrifice her to the gods, in hopes that they’ll reward him by improving the weather and allowing him to sail into battle. Toibin flips the classic narrative by telling the story from the remaining family member’s points of view, rather than the triumphant king's and in so doing creates a devastating portrait of a grieving mother who doesn’t share her husband’s belief in the gods and realises that the sacrifice was to appease his army and maintain his position of power. We see Clytemnestra slowly and determinedly plotting her revenge, one it’s very easy to understand and support and for that reason she is a fascinating fictional killer, one of the very few I’ve found myself rooting for. While this isn’t strictly a crime novel it springs from a tradition which laid down many of the narratives writers are still riffing on thousands of years later. Definitely a book for crime readers to try. 

It’s always going to be Rebus. They were the first detective novels I read and the ones which made me want to be a crime writer. Here’s a bolshy, gobby, fighty bloke a million miles away from Miss Marple and all the genteel English crime novels I couldn’t get into at the time. Ian Rankin’s books laid down a template that a working class crime writer could follow.

The one I can’t forget and which makes me eye the author with suspicion even now, is the newspaper used in Craig Robertson’s debut, Random. What kind of sick mind would consider rolling up a paper and shoving it down someone’s throat to choke them to death? I’m gagging just thinking about it.

It’s near impossible to do this without giving away a massive spoiler and the film is far too good for me to risk ruining it for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. But Martin Sheen’s character in The Departed dies a death which flips everything we’ve seen up until that point and made me full on gasp. Brilliant writing.

Is any website more useful that Wikipedia? Google maps

Read bad books. You’ll learn as much by seeing what not to do as you will by studying the very best writing looking for tips. You’ll also feel a lot better about your own work. This one is particularly useful when suffering from writer’s block. Just don’t try it with wildly successful but badly written novels, because that’s depressing.

I’m pretty much cigarettes and espresso when I’m writing but the one bit of food I’ll eat is this amazing Indian chocolate with coconut from Waitrose 1 range. It tastes like Bounty bars if they were made by angels.


Eva Dolan was shortlisted for the CWA Dagger for unpublished authors when only a teenager. The four novels in her Zigic and Ferreira series have been published to widespread critical acclaim: Tell No Tales and After You Die were shortlisted for the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year Award and After You Die was also longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger. She lives in Cambridge.

Find Eva Dolan on her Facebook page and on Twitter - @eva_dolan


Publisher's description

This is how it begins.

With a near-empty building, the inhabitants forced out of their homes by property developers.

With two women: idealistic, impassioned blogger Ella and seasoned campaigner, Molly.

With a body hidden in a lift shaft.

But how will it end?

Read a snippet of my review
'Eva Dolan is a force to be reckoned with. This is How it Ends is her best novel yet - a book that will challenge you and leave you reeling.'

To read the rest of my review, click here.

This Is How It Ends was published by Raven Books on 25 January 2018.

Look out for more BEST OF CRIME features coming soon.

Click here to read more BEST OF CRIME features.

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