Mo Hayder (also known by her pen name of Theo Clare) was a British novelist famous for her grisly and gruesome thrillers. Her most popular novels are the Jack Caffrey series.
Mo Hayder was born Beatrice Clare Dunkel and worked briefly as a page 3 model during the 1980s.
However, after her modeling career was over, she moved to Japan to become a teacher and an amateur filmmaker.
It was at this point that she pursued a career as a novelist.
The initial manuscript for Birdman was sold for £200,000 and became an immediate bestseller upon release.
Hayder has won the WHSmith Thumping Good Read Award and the Edgar Award for Best Novel.
She has also been nominated for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award and a Barry Award for Best British Crime Novel.
All of these novels starred the detective, Jack Caffrey.
So, if you can’t get enough of the deliciously grim world of Mo Hayder, you’ll want to grab books by Thomas Harris, Patricia Cornwell, Val McDermid, and Mark Billingham. Keep reading to see which of their books are the best.
Books By Thomas Harris
Thomas Harris is probably the most famous for his series of books based on the cannibal serial killer Hannibal Lecter.
Thomas Harris is an author from Tennessee who worked as a police journalist before working on his first novel ‘Black Sunday’.
The novel ‘Silence Of The Lambs’ is his most successful, being adapted into a film starring Anthony Hopkins that won 5 major Academy Awards.
- Silence Of The Lambs – this is the gruesome tale of FBI agent Clarice Starling who is quizzing academic and serial cannibal Hannibal Lecter to gain insight into the mind of a serial killer who starves, skins, and disposes of women.
- Red Dragon – This is a prequel to Silence Of The Lambs, this time following agent Will Graham as he captures Hannibal Lecter before seeking him out to identify the motives of another serial cannibal called ‘The Tooth Fairy’.
Dealing with themes of mutilation and gory body horror, the works of Thomas Harris will be ideal for anyone who is looking for something like Hayden’s Birdman novel.
The novels of both Hayden and Harris are detective thrillers involving one person pitted against a murderer who uses cryptic clues to lead them to their crimes.
- Suspenseful – Thomas Harris’s books are known for their creepy sense of dread and grisly payoffs.
- Three-dimensional characters – Hannibal Lecter is one of the most well-known characters in the history of crime literature, readers love him because of his compelling personality.
- Action-packed – Thomas Harris writes plenty of action scenes that will keep the reader gripped
- Too graphic – some readers have been unable to carry on reading because of the graphic depictions of mutilation.
Books By Patricia Cornwell
Patricia Cornwell is a crime writer that is known for her Kay Scarpetta novels, which involve the eponymous character finding clues during the forensic analysis of the corpse, which then leads to a confrontation with the suspected serial killer.
As of 2022, there have been 26 Kay Scarpetta novels, these include ‘Postmortem’ (1990), ‘Body of Evidence’ (1991), ‘All That Remains’ (1992), ‘Cruel and Unusual’ (1993), ‘The Body Farm’ (1994), ‘From Potter’s Field’ (1995) and ‘Cause of Death’ (1996).
- Postmortem – This novel starts with Kay Scarpetta called in to investigate the strangling of a woman in a series of murders that have occurred in Richmond. This novel involves her attempts to track down the killer with an FBI profiler.
- Scarpetta – This is the 16th in the Scarpetta series. It begins with Scarpetta being called into a psychiatric hospital to treat the injuries of a criminally insane patient who then begins to recount to her a tale of how his injuries were inflicted via a murder that he did not commit.
Again, as with Mo Hayden’s series, this one involves a singular narrator describing the events of a particular case as they try to solve a gruesome crime.
Both narrators are investigators involved in determining crimes and criminal motives.
Both Cornwell and Hayden’s plots usually begin with an investigation and end with a face-to-face confrontation with the killer in which they are usually killed or imprisoned.
- Tense – Cornwell’s novels are famous for being gripping page-turners.
- Great central character – the character of Kay Scarpetta has kept readers coming back for decades now.
- Graphic – again, as with Thomas Harris, the Scarpetta novels are known for their graphic depictions of murder.
Books By Val McDermid
Next up, we have Val McDermid, who is a Scottish crime writer that has created the subgenre Tartan Noir.
She is most well-known for her novels that feature the clinical psychologist Tony Hill, the most notable being ‘The Mermaids Singing’, which was released in 1995.
Some of her novels include ‘The Wire in the Blood’ (1997), ‘The Last Temptation’ (2002), ‘The Torment of Others’ (2004), ‘Beneath the Bleeding’ (2007), ‘Fever of the Bone’ (2009), ‘The Retribution’ (2011), ‘Cross and Burn’ (2013), ‘Splinter the Silence’ (2015) and Insidious Intent (2017).
Her novels can be broken up into 4 distinct categories: the Lindsay Gordon series, the Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series, the Kate Brannigan series, and the Inspector Karen Pirie series.
- The Mermaids Singing – This novel is the first to feature Dr. Tony Hill and the plot revolves around a series of murders where men are killed in medieval ways. After investigating the case, Dr. Hill finds himself the target of the serial killer responsible for the murders.
- Beneath The Bleeding – This is another novel that features Dr. Tony Hill and involves a plot where a series of pupils that went to the same school are poisoned with ricin. Dr. Hill soon begins to suspect a link and eventually pinpoints a killer that went to the same school.
Like Mo Hayden, this features a singular character that is tracked through multiple novels.
The stories deal with murder and mutilation, often exploring themes of personal identity, particularly in gay men and women.
- Great plotting – as with all our other thriller writers, McDermid has excellent plotting skills, weaving a suspenseful narrative.
- Three-dimensional characters – These novels all have very strong lead characters that readers have stuck with across multiple books.
- Some books lack tension – some reviews have claimed that these books really lack narrative drive and are meandering in places.
Books By Mark Billingham
Mark Billingham is a writer, actor, and comedian responsible for the Tom Thorne series of crime novels.
- Sleepyhead – This is the first in the detective Tom Thorne series, focused on the survivor of a serial killer that now has locked-in syndrome. However, he soon finds out that her survival is no mistake, but rather a sick fantasy played out by the killer.
- The Dying Hours – In this book, Tom Thorne puts his job and his life on the line by investigating a series of supposed suicides of elderly patients over the last few decades. However, he soon discovers the handiwork of a cold-blooded killer who targets the most vulnerable.
This is another book that deals with the grisly murder and mutilation of marginalized members of society including gay men and women, the elderly, and children.
- Well-paced – Mark Billingham’s novels are known for their tight pacing and clever narrative structure.
- Grim atmosphere – like Hayden, Billingham creates a rich atmosphere set in a regional British town.
- Some of Billingham’s novels have been criticized for having weak endings.
Our Final Thoughts
If you are a fan of Mo Hayden’s distinctive brand of crime thrillers but have exhausted her rather short back catalog, then don’t worry, there are plenty of authors that write in the same vein.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who Is The Most Popular Crime Author?
There are plenty of modern crime writers with a myriad of bestsellers under their belt.
Among the most popular crime and thriller writers today are Stephen King, John Grisham, and James Patterson.
Which Is The Best Mo Hayden Book?
According to reviews and sales, ‘Birdman’ remains Hayden’s top-selling book.
‘The Treatment’ remains her second most popular.
Should I Read From The Beginning Of The Jack Caffery Series?
You don’t have to read the first book, but some of the events of the earlier books are mentioned in the later novels, so we would recommend you start from the beginning to have a better idea of the later story.
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