SinC25: Joanna Hines, #2 post of expert challenge

Having completed the Sisters in Crime book bloggers’ moderate challenge, I am now embarking on the expert level:

write ten blog posts about works of crime fiction by women authors. For each, mention three similar women authors whose works you would recommend.

Joanna Hines is known to me as the author of The Murder Bird, a book I reviewed for Euro Crime, having first heard of it via a review at It’s a Crime! blog. I summed up the book as “a compelling little psychological thriller of dark family secrets” – it’s a story of the apparent suicide of a poet, and the efforts of her daughter to find out how she really died. The post at It’s A Crime provides the opening paragraph of the book, which is extremely “must-read-on-ish”, as well as some background information about the author.

I am not sure why I haven’t read any more novels by Joanna Hines since I read The Murder Bird, but I have decided to rectify this omission as soon as I have reduced my stack of recently acquired books to manageable proportions. I enjoy reading suspenseful novels, and this author seems to specialise in the genre, with Improvising Carla, about a death on a Greek island; Surface Tension, another novel about family secrets concerning a 20-year-old murder; and Angels of the Flood, set in Florence and again about an old mystery. The author has also written historical novels set in Cornwall, in the south-west of England, and some earlier books “about secrets” which are categorised separately from the titles mentioned above. More about the books and the author can be found at Joanna Hines’s website.

Based on The Murder Bird, I’d recommend the following three authors who write in a similar vein:

Barbara Vine (a.k.a. Ruth Rendell), whose books are on “themes of human misunderstandings and the unintended consequences of family secrets and hidden crimes.” A listing of Barbara Vine’s books, with a synopsis of each, is available at Wikipedia. I’ve read seven of the thirteen listed.

Diane Janes has written two suspenseful novels of family secrets: The Pull of the Moon and the superior Why Don’t You Come For Me? Both these novels are in the same vein as Hines and Vine in tapping into the tensions bubbling below the surface of apparently normal domestic life.

Morag Joss has written a book called Half-Broken Things which is about an odd collection of people living in a country house – how they got there and the consequences of the secrets that they all keep. Joss has written several other standalone books and a series about a musician in Bath (England), none of which I’ve (yet?) read. But on the evidence of Half-Broken Things, Joss’s books can be said to fall into this suspenseful “domestic secrets” genre, where the tensions between a small cast of characters are the focus of the book as opposed to police-procedural investigations, private detectives, or “thrills and spills”.

I don’t think I am familiar with books from the USA in this subgenre, so any recommendations would be gratefully received.

My Euro Crime review of The Murder Bird.

Crime fiction reader’s review of The Murder Bird (at It’s a Crime!).

My previous posts in the SinC25 challenge.

The Sisters in Crime 25th anniversary challenge.

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3 thoughts on “SinC25: Joanna Hines, #2 post of expert challenge

  1. Maxine – Thanks for these recommendations! I agree with you about Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell. And I am woefully ignorant about Joanna Hines’ work, ‘though I’ve heard of her. I must mend that gap!

  2. Oh dear; historical fiction set in Cornwall AND similarities with Barbara Vine. Not fair of Ms Fister to come up with these tripple temptations.

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