Top Cop Books for 2021 by Joy Kluver


Hi, my name’s Joy Kluver and I’m new to the Electric Authors blog. Thanks to Debbie for allowing me to join. I write police procedurals and my detective is DI Bernadette ‘Bernie’ Noel, based at Wiltshire Police. So I thought I’d kick off by telling you about some of my favourite police procedurals from 2021.


The Trawlerman by William Shaw

This is the DS Alex Cupidi series sent in Kent. As Cupidi lives in Dungeness, it’s a wonderfully atmospheric book. Shaw always brings themes into his stories and this one looks at mental health in particular. Cupidi is dealing with PTSD and is signed off work but that’s not stopping her from investigating the case of a murdered couple.


Love Lies Bleeding by Rebecca Bradley

This is the eighth book in the DI Hannah Robbins series. It’s fair to say that Rebecca Bradley has been pretty unkind to Hannah in the last few books and she’s a woman on the edge. Hannah is overusing prescription painkillers to deal with injuries caused by a sadistic kidnapper who held her prisoner. The tablets are dulling the pain, both physical and mental, but also Hannah’s senses. She’s making mistakes with a serial killer that could cost lives.


Black Reed Bay by Rod Reynolds

We’re moving over to the Atlantic now for some US cop action. Black Reed Bay is inspired by a real cold case but Reynolds puts his own stamp on it. Detective Casey Wray has to work hard to prove her worth at Hampstead County PD, whether that’s drinking her colleagues under the table or showing she’s not afraid to shoot a suspect. When a young woman is reported missing, the repercussions go deeper than she first thought and startling discoveries are made.


The Colours of Death by Patricia Marques

This is my debut of the year. It’s police procedural with a very realistic twist of sci-fi. Set in Lisbon, Inspector Isabel Reis is the main detective. But there’s something particularly special about Isabel – she’s one of the Gifted. The Gifted are a minority of people who either have the gift of telepathy or telekinesis. There are strict regulations around using the gifts e.g. Isabel is not allowed to question a witness using telepathy unless the witness gives permission and a non-Gifted officer is also present. As Isabel investigates a murder with suspected Gifted involvement, she has to tread carefully to maintain her credibility and integrity as a detective.


You may have noticed that all the police detectives are female. I haven’t set out to only read about female officers but it’s interesting to see how many there are in the publishing market now. This ties in with more female leads in TV crime dramas, such as Nicola Walker as DCI Cassie Stuart in Unforgotten, Keeley Hawes as the real life detective – DCI Caroline Goode – in Honour, and Suranne Jones and Rose Leslie as DCI Amy Silva and DS Kirsten Longacre in Vigil. (As an aside, I thought the dual storylines in Vigil were equally strong and Suranne Jones and Rose Leslie were both excellent). It’s great to see more women in these leading roles but I’m waiting for the next step.

My character, DI Bernie Noel, is biracial. I was very aware of cultural appropriation when writing and took great care to get it right. As yet, I haven’t seen a female person of colour have the lead role in a TV cop show. We’ve come close with Thandie Newton in Line of Duty and more recently, Tala Gouveia in McDonald & Dodds and Emma Naomi in Professor T. The latter two played second fiddle to two white, quirky men. I’m hoping it’s only a matter of time before this is rectified. (And yes, the TV option for DI Bernie Noel is still available).


Peter Leyland said…
I'm a great lover of police procedurals Joy, having taught my Detective in Fiction courses for ages and seen the genre develop from Ed MacBain onwards until it's now almost impossible to count them. My favourite female fictional detective is Vi Warshawski, and I think that Nichola Walker's Cassie in Unforgotten is unmatched for a TV one. I don't recognise any of the writers you mention but will keep a look out now, and for your books of course. Happy Christmas
Julia jones said…
Thanks. I've just read The Trawlerman and agree with you that the Dungeness location is very well done. I felt a little misled by the title - had bought it hoping for more action at sea but tat was probably my own silly fault. Slightly too many twist by the end? But definitely an accomplished, enjoyable read.
Elizabeth Kay said…
A reading list just in time for Christmas! Thanks, Joy.
Joy Kluver said…
Thank you for all your comments! Only just found them. The time before Christmas was a bit mad.

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