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Harlan Coben's crime books to kill for

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As the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival starts, bestselling author Harlan Coben talks us through the books every man should read.

Marathon Man, William Goldman

“My first adult thriller, given to me by my father when I was 16. I never knew suspense could be like that. You could have put a gun against my head and I wouldn’t have put that book down. More than any other novel, this is the one that made me want to be a writer. The famed dental torture scene is worth the admission price all by itself.”

Ceremony, Robert B Parker

“Ninety per cent of detective- fiction writers admit that Robert Parker was an influence – the other 10 per cent lie about it. His greatest work is the beloved Spenser series. While it is hard to pick one – and there are a few that are better known – I’d start with this. The opening pages are my favourite in all of private-eye fiction.”

Where are the Children?, Mary Higgins Clark

“I read this when I was on spring break with my college buddies. Think about that: on break with my college buddies and I’m reading a book? Party animal, right? I remember getting a letter from my college chum David Foster Wallace, author of Infinite Jest, telling me how much this book scared him too.”

The Ghost Writer, Philip Roth

“I know what you’re thinking: ‘Philip Roth? He doesn’t write mysteries.’ But the premise behind this, the first Nathan Zuckerman novel, is a brilliant one: Nathan suspects the young girl he’s falling in love with may be Anne Frank, having survived the Holocaust. If that’s not a mystery, I don’t know what is.”

Gone, Baby, Gone, Dennis Lehane

“My favourite Patrick and Angie novel. It’s wonderful on so many levels – beautifully written, fully realised characters, scary, funny, gripping, emotionally complex and it features an ending that will haunt you for a long time.”

Coben appears at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival on 21 July. Stay Close is out now.

(Image: Rex Features)

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