As crime fiction lovers, we all have different tastes. Cosy crime fiction has been resurgent in 2023 – no surprise given the chaos going on around the world, with the cost of living crisis, climate change and too many wars happening. We can escape from all that into good books where, hopefully, the do-badders receive justice, whether it’s a cosy read, a twisted psychological thriller or an all-guns-blazing action novel. It’s crime writers who make this possible and each year we celebrate the finest among them with our Best Author award.
This shortlist was derived from nominations made by readers and oh boy, oh girl, oh non-binary, do our readers have good taste or what? This is an amazing selection, and you can see all the other shortlists for this year’s awards here. Please check out the shortlist and then vote in our Best Author award using the link at the bottom of the article. Our editorial team will also select an Editor’s Choice award in this category.
Let’s check out the shortlisted authors…
Journalist, author, executive producer… is there no end to Michael Connelly’s talents? The busiest man in crime fiction has just released his 38th novel, Resurrection Walk, featuring two of his most beloved characters – Mickey Haller and Harry Bosch. Meanwhile, the second series of Bosch: Legacy recently began rotation on Freevee and season three of The Lincoln Lawyer will begin filming early next year for Netflix. Oh, and it’s been announced that a series featuring LAPD late show detective Renee Ballard is on the way too! Notwithstanding all the crime drama comings and goings, Connelly keeps turning out well crafted novels of the highest quality and shows no signs of letting his standards slip. We’re already eagerly awaiting his next one!
Sadly, we failed to review Jordan Harper’s 2023 novel Everybody Knows and readers have been letting us know what they think of this lapse by nominating the California author in droves and busting him into the shortlist for the Best Crime Author award. This is an author whose past novels have shown us life on the fringes in between living in poverty and joining a gang to move up in the world, but with Everybody Knows he drives a screwdriver hard into the glitzy sheen of Hollywood and reveals the dark matter beneath via the story of a publicist whose job is to hide the dirt and make problems go away. One problem she can’t make go away is the murder of her boss. Jordan Harper has become a hit on both sides of the Atlantic.
Queen of the fiendishly complex and twisted mystery Janice Hallett has gathered quite a following with her cleverly layered books that delight in keeping any reader on their toes. The latest addition to her canon is The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels, darker than her previous books The Appeal and The Twyford Code – but that darkness is essential for the story of two rival authors, Amanda Bailey and Oliver Menzies, who are both researching a cult that brainwashed a teenage girl 18 years ago, and convinced her that her newborn baby was the anti-Christ. The novel is inspired by true crime and is written in an epistolary style – something that is a trademark of this author. You can read more about it in our shortlist for Book of the Year, 2023.
The Virginia author SA Cosby won our Best Novel Award in 2021 for Razorblade Tears, and has been shortlisted in this year’s Best Novel category for All the Sinners Bleed. At the moment, he is one of America’s most prominent crime authors, is hugely popular at live events and his books seem to get better and better with each new release. All the Sinners Bleed goes in at the deep end, with a black sheriff trying to contain the situation when a popular teacher is shot, and the gunman in turn is killed by one of his deputies. It sends the community towards meltdown and is another great example of SA Cosby’s ability to write about horrific crimes and terrible inhumanity, while somehow treating his characters (and readers) with empathy and compassion.
How does an author who turns his back on all forms of social media communicate with his fans? Through his work, of course, and Mick Herron’s Slough House series of books goes from strength to strength, attracting an ever-growing fanbase of readers and viewers – check out the Apple TV+ series that’s on our shortlist for Best Crime Show of 2023. This year his writing stepped away from Jackson Lamb and his band of failed spooks – but not too far – with the standalone The Secret Hours, which revolves around an inquiry into the secret services. It is chock-full of Herron’s sly wryness, clever characterisation and nods to the crazy world we are all inhabiting these days. Can Herron add our accolade to his groaning awards shelf? It’s in your hands…
The strength of Joanna Wallace’s first novel, You’d Look Better as a Ghost, has propelled her onto the shortlist for Best Debut of 2023 and the Best Author shortlist too – an amazing feat. Like other authors who are put forward for this award by readers, Wallace is able to create captivating crime stories where horrible and distressing things happen – death by claw hammer is not a good way to go out, for example – while also dealing with topics and characters with great sensitivity. The juxtapositions in You’d Look Better as a Ghost are as jaw-dropping as the murders carried out by main character Claire, who buries people in her back garden. Can you imagine a serial killer attending bereavement counselling? Whatever the outcome of the voting, Joanna Wallace is the author to watch in crime fiction at the moment.