Desert Island Crime Books

Most of you will be aware of the long running BBC Radio 4 series, Desert Island Discs. For those of you who don’t, guests are invited to share the 8 songs they would take with them if stranded on a desert island, along with 1 book and a luxury item. I thought I would play a similar game, only changing it to 8 crime novels, 1 song and a luxury item.

1 – Along Came A Spider by James Patterson

I read this book in the late 1990’s and it was what got me first interested in the genre. I quickly worked my way through the Alex Cross series at that time and would then faithfully buy the new books on hardback when they, and other Patterson books, were published. Of course now he publishes so much that a number of years ago I stopped reading his books, but it would be good to go back to appreciate what got me started.

2 – And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Although I have yet to finish all her books, this is by far my favourite. A stand alone novel without Poirot or Miss Marple making an appearance. The set up is fun, 10 strangers are invited to stay on a remote island before one by one they start being murdered. A very clever plot and a well worked out resolution.

3 – The Blackhouse by Peter May

The first book in the Lewis trilogy, this was the first Peter May book that I read. I went on to read most of what he has written and have enjoyed them greatly. The Enzo MacLeod series was also exceptional, however, The Blackhouse grabbed my attention early and it didn’t let up until the end of the third book in the series.

4 – Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd

OK, so this is a little bit of a cheat as it is more thriller than crime novel, however, William Boyd is probably my favourite author and I just could not leave him off the list. Boyd’s characterisation is amongst the best in the business and he often takes his main character through the mill.

5 – Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell

The first book in the Kurt Wallander series, this is a great introduction to one of crime fiction’s favourite detective. I am currently working my way through the full series and it goes from strength to strength with each novel. I also love the Skane setting and having visited Wallander’s home town of Ystad, I have a real affection for these novels.

6 – The Naming Of The Dead by Ian Rankin

Being a fellow Edinburgh based author, as well as one the world’s greatest crime writers, it was inevitable that Ian Rankin would make the list. Another series that I am still working through, however, I have completed the original 17 novels. What I loved most about this Rebus novel was the development of DS Clarke which I thought brought more to the book that previously seen.

7 – Picture Her Dead by Lin Anderson

A friend of mine met Lin Anderson at a book event and told her that his friend (me) had written a book (Alive). She then produced a copy of this book, signed and dedicated to me with a good luck message. Although happy for me, I think my friend was a little disappointed in not getting a copy himself. I loved the book and in particular the setting in Glasgow’s old cinemas and I will certainly read more of the novels having purchased the first 3 in the series.

8 – A Maigret Christmas and Other Stories by Georges Simenon

For the last few years, I have tried to read a Christmas based crime novel at the end of year. I received this for Christmas a couple of years ago and read it between Christmas and New Year that year. If I’m on a desert island, this book will allow me to carry on the tradition, as long as I can work out what day it is.

SONG – Alive by Pearl Jam

Those whom know me will not be surprised at this pick as I class this as the greatest song ever written (in my humble option). I was a teenager when this song came out and I wrapped myself up in the Grunge scene of the early 1990’s. The opening riff, the vocals, the rhythm section and two great guitar solos make it a song that I have played 100’s of times and still enjoy to this day. So important the song is to me, I named my debut novel after it. In fact, I started with the title before I had decided what I was going to write.


My two main hobbies are writing and playing my guitar. I figured that I could either make up stories in my head, write them out on the sand or create some kind of writing implement during my stay on the island. It would be so much harder to create a guitar, so I would have to take that with me.

I hope you enjoyed my list, I may do a desert island disc blog at some point as I don’t think I will make it onto the show, unlike Ian Rankin who managed an appearance (and well worth a download incidentally). I hope you may have taken a fancy to one of the books on the list (or Alive even) which you will be able to pick up at the usual places (except Alive which is only on Amazon at present – link in the menu).

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