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Simon Kernick's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Simon Kernick recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Simon Kernick's favorite book recommendations of all time.


Gone, Baby, Gone

“Powerful and raw, harrowing, and unsentimental.”

Washington Post Book World


“Chilling, completely credible….[An] absolutely gripping story.”

Chicago Tribune


“Mr. Lehane delivers big time.”
Wall Street Journal


In Gone, Baby, Gone, the master of the new noir, New York Times bestselling author Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Shutter Island), vividly captures the complex beauty and darkness of working-class Boston. A gripping, deeply evocative...
Recommended by Irvine Welsh, Simon Kernick, and 2 others.

Irvine WelshHe is one of the few classic thriller writers who really writes about contemporary social issues. The quality of the writing is absolutely superb and it moves you along. (Source)

Simon KernickI love this book; this really is a thriller, and a beautifully written one. For me, Dennis Lehane is one of the best American thriller writers alive today. This is one of his early books from his Kenzie and Gennaro series – a male and female partnership of private investigators based in Boston. He wrote five books featuring them in the 1990s. (Source)

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Belgian Inspector Hercule Poirot has retired to the countryside in the small English village of King's Abbot. Dr. Sheppard, observing his new neighbor, is sure that he must be a former hairdresser. But the brutal murder of a local squire reveals the truth: the peculiar little man is actually a detective par excellence. The Murder of the wealthy industrialist Roger Ackroyd begins the night before with the suicide of Mrs. Ferrars, a wealthy widow. Her death is believed to be an accident, until Roger Ackroyd is stabbed to death in his locked study. There are rumors she poisoned her first... more
Recommended by Simon Kernick, and 1 others.

Simon KernickI think this is a thriller, like all of her books, because plot is king in them and characterisation takes more of a back seat. This is probably the most famous of all her books, and certainly, for me, the cleverest. It was written in 1926 and it’s original because the twist at the end is stunning. How much can I give away with something like this? (Source)

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The Pledge

Set in a small town in Switzerland, The Pledge centers around the murder of a young girl and the detective who promises the victim’s mother he will find the perpetrator. After deciding the wrong man has been arrested for the crime, the detective lays a trap for the real killer—with all the patience of a master fisherman. But cruel turns of plot conspire to make him pay dearly for his pledge. Here Friedrich Dürrenmatt conveys his brilliant ear for dialogue and a devastating sense of timing and suspense. Joel Agee’s skilled translation effectively captures the various voices in the original, as... more
Recommended by Simon Kernick, and 1 others.

Simon KernickThis is a brilliant book because it turns crime fiction on its head. It is a story told by a retired detective to a crime writer who has just given a lecture on crime writing at a police conference. The detective is talking about one of his former colleagues and how he became obsessed with this case about a little girl who was found murdered in some woods on the outskirts of a small Swiss town in... (Source)

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Tell No One

For Dr. David Beck, the loss was shattering. And every day for the past eight years, he has relived the horror of what happened. The gleaming lake. The pale moonlight. The piercing screams. The night his wife was taken. The last night he saw her alive.

Everyone tells him it's time to move on, to forget the past once and for all. But for David Beck, there can be no closure. A message has appeared on his computer, a phrase only he and his dead wife know. Suddenly Beck is taunted with the impossible- that somewhere, somehow, Elizabeth is alive.

Beck has been warned to tell...
Recommended by Simon Kernick, and 1 others.

Simon KernickThis is one of those classic thrillers, and it’s brilliantly plotted. It starts with a husband and wife celebrating the anniversary of their first kiss in their lakeside holiday home. The wife is kidnapped and murdered by a known serial killer and the husband is beaten and left for dead. And then we fast-forward eight years to the present and the man is a doctor who, although still traumatised,... (Source)

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In Matt Scudder's mind, money, power, and position elevate nobody above morality and the law. Now the ex-cop and unlicensed p.i. has been hired to prove that socialite Richard Thurman orchestrated the brutal murder of his beautiful, pregnant wife. During Scudder's hard drinking years, he left a piece of his soul on every seedy corner of the Big Apple. But this case is more depraved and more potentially devastating than anything he experienced while floundering in the urban depths. Because this investigation is leading Scudder on a frightening grand tour of New York's sex-for-sale underworld... more
Recommended by Simon Kernick, and 1 others.

Simon KernickYes. I have to say, despite what I just said about thrillers, that this is probably less of a thriller than some of my other choices. Lawrence Block is an American writer who is very much influenced by earlier crime writers like Raymond Chandler, and he has written a number of different books. But the series that I really like, and that has always been a great influence on me, has been his New... (Source)

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