Murder Room Guide: Contemporary

A look at the contemporary classic authors at the forefront of modern crime fiction from The Murder Room’s publisher, Julia Silk.


We have a real mix of authors in this category, who are beloved of the crime-reading and -writing community, and we’ll be publishing interviews, reviews and features on them via The Murder Room blog. These authors represent the whole range of current crime writing, from police procedural to psychological thriller, from chilling domestic suspense to ‘cosy’ mystery. Take your pick and let us know what you think – and if you’d like to send us your reviews, we’d love to publish them in the blog.

To get you started, here’s a few words on a selection of our contemporary authors:

Hilary Norman’s chilling portrayals of domestic crime creep under the skin by virtue of their suspenseful psychological edge and detailed study of character. She is the author of the much-loved Sam Becket series, as well as several standalone novels based both in the UK and the US. Honour Thy Father, acclaimed by Hilary Mantel as ‘frightening yet eerily beautiful’, introduces us to an idyllic country childhood of four sisters, that develops tensely into a world of eccentric isolation.

Mistress of suburban gothic Lesley Glaister will appeal to fans of Ruth Rendell and Kate Atkinson, with her brand of unsettling suspense and the skill with which she exposes human frailty. She was discovered on a writing course by Hilary Mantel, who describes her as ‘adept, original and mature’.

Margaret Murphy writes gritty, compulsive British-based psychological thrillers with large doses of the slick, page-turning style of American authors such as Harlan Coben and Michael Connelly. The Irish Times describes her as being ‘a dab hand at creating menace’. Definitely one to read with the light on!

Betty Rowlands has long been a favourite in the ‘cosy’ crime subgenre, a true mistress of the less bloody, but equally suspenseful, art of the genteel murder. In The Murder Room you can find all twelve of her Melissa Craig mysteries, and where better to start than the first in the series, A Little Gentle SleuthingThe Financial Times calls the quintessentially English Betty ‘a gifted and knowledgeable writer . . . engaging and readable’.

Bill James is regarded as one of the finest contemporary police procedural novelists, and has released 29 novels in the acclaimed Harpur and Iles series. You’d Better Believe It, the first in the series, sets the pieces in motion for a morally ambiguous detective series cut from the same cloth as Ian Rankin’s Rebus.

And finally to Wyoming, with Craig Johnson’s Longmire series sure to enthral fans of C. J. Fox. Sheriff Walt Longmire, the stoic hero of Johson’s Absaroka County mysteries is your folkloric western detective, working against a backdrop of small town oppressiveness and cultural tensions. The Cold Dish is The Murder Room’s bestselling title and the series has proved so successful that the televised adaptation Longmire has aired its second season on 5USA.


See also the Murder Room’s guides to Detective novels, Noir, Thrillers and Historical Fiction.