In Peter Swanson’s Rules for Perfect Murders, a bookseller idly recommends a few of his favourite crime reads on the bookstore blog. Years later, a detective shows up at his door: she’s looking for a serial killer, who appears to be killing people in the same style as the “perfect murders” on his blog post.
We don’t want to inspire a serial killer — but we were inspired to put together some spooky recommendations for you, and October seemed the perfect time to do that.
From classics, to translations, to poetry, here’s a list of books for those of you looking for something spooky, and those of you who would rather read something calmer. Find these books on our online store.
No list of crime and horror recommendations is complete without this classic. Our unnamed protagonist is haunted by the spectre of her husband’s late wife. Featuring a gothic mansion, a sinister housekeeper, and a relationship to rival Gone Girl!
You might have grown up with Marmadesam on Sun TV in the late 1990s, a series of mysteries written by Indira Soundar Rajan, the stalwart of Tamil pulp. Soundar Rajan wrote screenplays and monthly stories in magazines using stories from Tamil Nadu, and his work has reshaped the genre of horror in Tamil television. In this book we have a small farming village of Aayakudi, to which a journalist Rajendran travels to encounter the grisly supernatural and murder and intrigue. The translation that keeps the flavour and air of the context and language intact is brought to us by the wonderful Blaft publications.
An investigator of the supernatural gathers a group of people to stay in Hill House overnight, hoping to prove, one way or another, if the house is haunted. What follows is a story of suspense, as we watch the characters unravel — though whether that’s the house’s fault is anyone’s guess. Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and Carmen Maria Machado all name this as the scariest book of fiction they’ve ever read!
Dalpathado is at the Meenambakkam airport when he runs into the nameless narrator, who is mourning his dead daughter. This novella takes place over that one stormy night. Taut and powerful, The Ghosts of Meenambakkam is a novella about loss and love, and is as much about what is said as what’s between the lines.
One night in 1937, a family celebrates the wedding of Kenzou Ichiyanagi and Katsuko Kubo. The next morning, both bride and groom are found dead — inside their room, with no signs of forced entry. The reader is given the facts — can you solve the case yourself? This is a translation of a classic Japanese locked room murder, first published in 1946.
This crime novel takes us deep into an Irish forest, and deep into its protagonist’s mind. When Rob Ryan was twelve, he and his friends went into the woods — and only he came back. The other two were never found. Decades later, the body of a young girl is found in the exact same woods — now a detective, Ryan is called to investigate, and past and present collide. This is perfect for anyone who likes their crime to get under their skin — its eerie atmosphere lingers long after the book ends. This book and its sequel The Likeness were adapted into a BBC show Dublin Murders.
For those of you that would prefer not to be scared, The Faber Book of Beasts is a collection of poetry about all sorts of creatures: tame and wild, real and imaginary, from snail to skunk and jellyfish to Jabberwocky. Find your favourite animal in its pages.
Hauntings collects ghost stories translated from Bengali, by authors of the twentieth century. The imaginative stories feature ghosts, vampires, witches, and other supernatural beings, and all with women as protagonists. It’s an interesting look into how the genre allows for the expression of certain anxieties, and how writers in Bengali imagined the supernatural outside of the Western imagination. It’s also a great book of stories to curl up with on a rainy night.