The Momentum Blog

Five of the Best Worst Women in Crime

Posted February 3, 2016 by Sophie Overett

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Women have always driven crime to interesting places, but it’s hard to argue that they’re having their moment right now. Between Gone, Girl and The Girl on the Train, morally dubious women are taking centre stage, committing crimes as fast as they solve them. But what do you read after you’ve read those? Check out these five great crime novels and take a look at the sharply compelling women who lead them.

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Libby Day, Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

You loved to hate Amy Dunne from Gone, Girl (or, if you’re like me, just loved her), so why not settle in with another Flynn heroine? Libby Day’s a little more self-destructive than Amy, but she’s a little sharper too. After her family is massacred by her brother, Libby has lived a stunted life, shepherded between relatives and family friends and living off donations from strangers. But when the money runs out, Libby finds herself speaking to a group of amateur sleuths who aren’t convinced her brother did the crime Libby’s testimony put him away for. It’s a tightly told novel, and one that will twist you in circles before its explosive ending.

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Vivian, The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

When private investigator, Philip Marlowe, is approached by a father seeking to end another man’s blackmail of his wild daughter, Marlowe probably doesn’t expect to get roped into a murder investigation. There’s sex, porn, shoot outs and stalkings, but it’s Vivian who commands the most interest. Seductive, charming, opaque. She slinks her way through this classic novel so well you’re hard-pressed to pin anything to her.

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Ree Dolly, Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell

Ree’s probably the best-best on this list. She doesn’t commit the crimes, but she goes to dark places to solve one – namely the disappearance of her deadbeat father. This book’s better known for its adaptation – a little indie film of the same name which launched Jennifer Lawrence into the stratosphere – but the book shouldn’t be overlooked. Woodrell has a masterful turn of phrase, and he ramps up the creepy to  eleven.

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Beth, Dare Me by Megan Abbott

You could really list any character from Megan Abbott’s subversive take on cheerleaders which one reviewer described as Heathers meets Fight Club, but it’s Beth who steals every scene she’s in. Best friends, Beth and Addy have long ruled the school as top cheerleaders, but when they get a militant new coach, Addy becomes enamoured and obsessive and, well, things take a turn for the murder-y.

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Diane Downs, Small Sacrifices by Ann Rule

Maybe this is a cheat. After all, Anne Rule is known best for her true crime and Diane Downs is very much a real woman and very much still alive, serving out her life sentence in the Valley State Prison for Women. But Diane’s story reads like a torrid soap opera – an ugly duckling turned glamorous swan who marries young, has three cherub-faced children, leaves husband, falls in love again only this time with a man who doesn’t want any children, let alone Diane’s. When faced with the conundrum, Diane decides to murder her children and settle down with her lover. But she only succeeds in killing one of them, and leaves the other two with serious disabilities. The story itself is fascinating, but even more so is the fallout of the case, with Diane enjoying celebrity – first as a grieving mother, then, as the conviction settles, beautiful Medea – facing trial pregnant again, and a lead prosecutor who would go on to literally adopt Diane’s two surviving children. It’s stranger than fiction, and might just be the biggest page turner on this list.

Who are your favourite women in crime?

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Great opening lines from thrillers

Posted February 10, 2014 by Mark

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We’ve done science fiction, fantasy and horror novels. Now, we turn our attention to some great opening lines from thrillers. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments!

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“I was arrested at Eno’s diner.”Killing Floor by Lee Child

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“The truth is, if old Major Dover hadn’t dropped dead at Taunton races Jim never would have come to Thursgood’s at all.”Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John LeCarre

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“Her stomach clutched at the sight of the water tower hovering above the still, bare trees, a spaceship come to earth.”What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman

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“Behavioural science, the FBI section that deals with serial murder, is on the bottom floor of the Academy building at Quantico, half-buried in the earth.”The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

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“When I think of my wife, I always think of her head. The shape of it, to begin with. The very first time I ever saw her, it was the back of her head I saw, and there was something lovely about it, the angles of it. Like a shiny, hard corn kernel, or a riverbed fossil. She had what the Victorians would call a finely shaped head. You could imagine the skull quite easily.”Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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“The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning.”Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

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“Johnny Merton was playing with me, and we both knew it. It was a fun game for him. He was doing endless years for crimes ranging from murder and extortion to excessive litigation. He had a lot of time on his hands.”Hardball by Sara Paretsky

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“She lay on her back fastened by leather straps to a bed with a steel frame.”The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

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“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

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“Since Maria had decided to die her cat would have to fend for itself.”Child 44 Tom Rob Smith

 

 

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