A.J. Finn, a self-confessed addict of crime fiction, was an executive editor with publisher William Morrow in New York before his first novel, The Woman in the Window (HarperCollins), became a number one bestseller.
THE WESTING GAME – Ellen Raskin
Little-known outside America, this spiderweb murder mystery – winner of the Newbery Medal, the country's premier award for children's literature – remains fresh and nimble 45 years after its release. A kid's book, ostensibly, but warmer, wittier, wilier than most novels geared towards adults. Alongside Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie, Raskin inducted me into the pleasures of suspense fiction. And I defy any reader to guess the surprise ending.
PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK – Joan Lindsay
Justifably iconic, yet impossible to categorise – psychodrama? Thriller? Fantasy? Tone poem? Whatever you call it, the story pitches easily enough: In early 20th century Australia, three schoolgirls and their teacher disappear during an outing. The fallout, which ensnares (among others) a formidable headmistress, a gay grounds-keeper, and a young Englishman on holiday, reshapes lives and rewrites destinies. This altogether indelible novel proves the adaptability of mystery storytelling. Twenty years after I first read it, it still shimmers like a mirage; it lingers like a fever dream.