Treat yourself to reading something new this festive season – here’s a host of recommendations from our local author, Julie Anderson.

In the UK crime fiction outsells every other type of fiction, even romance (although it’s the other way around in the US, where readers prefer romance over crime). So, in time for Christmas, here are five recommendations all published this year and stretching across the range of crime fiction, from domestic noir to police procedural. None of them are by celebrity authors, nor even by the usual blockbuster suspects. Treat yourself to reading something new.

First, a book which is already climbing the best-seller charts. ‘No Place To Run’ by Mark Edwards (Thomas & Mercer) is a taut thriller in which Aidan, a Brit working in Seattle who is still feeling guilty about the disappearance of his younger sister, sets out to investigate a supposed sighting of her in a fire-ravaged north Californian town. An ordinary man, he finds himself in extraordinary circumstances as he uncovers a local conspiracy around a remote and mysterious place dubbed ‘The Ranch’. In over his head, Aidan has to adapt in order to survive and the reader cheers him on, even as his position seems hopeless and the forces against him invincible.

Next, in a different key, a slow burning domestic noir which draws you in until you can’t stop reading it. ‘What I Hid From You’ by Heleen Kist (Pollock Glen Publishing) follows the travails of Radha, a Glaswegian dentist trying to live up to expectations to be a perfect wife and mother, whose secret leads her into all sorts of trouble. With sympathy and insight Kist captures the psychology of a woman whose family requires her to excel, but who is knocked sideways by a patient’s death and is inexorably sucked into the orbit of the local underworld boss. A study of how evil can insinuate itself into the most ordinary of lives, leading to deceit and betrayal of those who we love the most.

‘The Hike’ by Susi Holliday (Thomas & Mercer) is a hard, sinuous and twisty thriller. Its characters are decidedly unpleasant and any one of them could be at the malevolent heart of this ill-starred excursion, as plans go seriously awry on a mountain in Switzerland. Toxic family history, rivalry, ambition and betrayal fracture the relationships as the quartet bicker and quarrel before the worst happens. Holliday’s plot swerves and doubles back like a tortuous mountain path, leading the reader a merry dance with consummate ease, rather like the villain in this tale. A relatively short novel, it’s likely to be consumed almost as quickly as the Christmas Day feasts.

Fiona Cummins’ ‘Into The Dark’ (Macmillan) also has a cast of unlikeables, though they live in beautiful and luxurious surroundings. This is Big Little Lies territory, fabulous houses, expensive consumer goods, private schools and millionaires on the south coast. Everyone is self-serving, murderous, grasping or weak (including the children) and even the detective has a very dark secret. Beginning with the apparently inexplicable vanishing of an entire family, layers of fiendish machinations are peeled away and individual characters pursue their own clandestine plans until the central puppeteer is revealed to the reader; but will they be caught?

J D Kirk’s DCI Jack Logan books have a loyal following and the latest ‘Here Lie the Dead’ (Zertek) is as enthralling a mystery as ever, with the usual large helping of grim humour. Kirk, also known as Barry Hutchinson, wrote the popular TV series Taggart and Logan and his team have the same laconic, dry style. Set in the Scottish Highlands, far from gritty Glasgow, the discovery of a teenager’s body months after she went missing prompts the investigation. Gradually the secrets of the small rural community are revealed and then another girl goes missing. A more traditional telling of the tale than others on this list, this police procedural still packs an emotional punch and a few surprises.

Five engrossing and intriguing tales for Christmas; darkness and vanishings in the most delightful settings. What’s not to like? Revel in them before or after the Christmas Day lunch.

Julie Anderson is a local crime fiction writer whose latest book ‘Opera’ is available here and in all good bookshops. ‘A thriller that calls to mind the joyfully clandestine dangers of Ian Fleming and John Le Carré.’ Callahan Books.