Liz Mistry high-res

The Good Books, Liz Mistry: ‘Life is too short for struggling on with a book that doesn’t grip me by the throat pretty quickly’

Crime writer Liz Mistry on the joys of Agatha Christie, the best books she has read this year, and why reading in bed is the epitome of relaxation.


The first book I remember reading: 

I think I was born reading. No seriously though, although I’m not sure it’s the first book I read, I inherited a large picture book of Johanna Spyri’s Heidi. It was certainly one of my most treasured books as a young child. Of course, I soon progressed to The Famous Five and Secret Seven before discovering Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys and then … joy of joys, Agatha Christie.

A book I recommend to everyone:

If you want a novel that hits all the spots, it’s got to be Liz Nugent’s Strange Sally Diamond.  I mean how can you go wrong with a novel that kicks off with the main character, Sally, following her father’s instructions when he dies and putting him out with the rubbish? What an emotional read this was. Filled with humour, beautifully drawn characters and filled with a darkness that takes your breath away. It’s such a keen observation of human nature with a twisty crime storyline woven in.

The best three books I have read in the last year:

The Trials of Marjorie Crowe by C.S. Robertson pushes the boundaries of the crime fiction genre. Part police procedural, part amateur detective it explores witchcraft and folklore against the backdrop of a murder and effectively draws parallels between the hate crime of the witch trials and the destructive elements of contemporary social media.  

Killing Jericho by William Hussey introduces a great new voice to the crime fiction genre in the form of Scott Jericho, who is a disgraced detective from the travelling community. This book was pure a combination of tricksy puzzle and dogged detection. Very refreshing.

Baby Does a Runner by Anita Rani starts off as a coming of age sort of Bridget Jones novel and ends up being a voyage of discovery for the main character Baby as she returns to India to trace the author of love letters sent to her grandfather. It’s all about self-discovery, belonging and finding your place in the world with a mystery that explores partition against the backdrop of being a British Indian. 

A book I didn’t finish:

There’s only been a couple of books I’ve not finished recently, which is quite refreshing. My younger self used to persevere with books till the bitter end, no matter how boring or unbelievable or badly written I found them. My older self thinks life is too short for struggling on with a book that doesn’t grip me by the throat pretty quickly, so I tend to shut them and forget them quite quickly, so I won’t bore you with those I’ve not finished. I find books can be a bit Marmite and what I hate might be someone else’s Book of the Year.

An author who has inspired me:

Stuart MacBride. I love the darkness balanced by humour that he writes so effortlessly and I think that’s why I always inject humour in my own novels. I think humour is a useful tool, especially when writing noir fiction. Also Vaseem Khan. He is indefatigable, a brilliant supporter of new writers and a fabulous writer himself. He is so self-deprecating and yet possesses a wicked sense of humour. 

My favourite place to read:

I can read anywhere, but my favourite pace is snuggled up in bed, lights out, kindle on and my hoodie blocking out any distractions. There’s something very soothing about being in bed. It’s the epitome of relaxation and is my happy place for reading.


Liz Mistry moved to West Yorkshire in the late 1980s. But her heart remains in Scotland, where childhood tales of bogey men, Bible John and grey lady ghosts fed her imagination. Her new book The Blood Promise (Harper Collins) is published on 23 May and can be bought here.


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