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The Third Policeman
by Flann O'Brien (1967)


Somewhat deadly satire in true Irish style. Published posthumously, the book begins by revealing that the anonymous narrator is a robber and murderer. Thus begins the search for a black box carried by his victim which supposedly contains money, eventually leading him to enlist the aid of the three policemen stationed at the barracks of the bizarre. From there things get really weird.





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Perfume
by Patrick Süskind (1985)


Originally published in German, the English translation of this macabre novel was an international smash. Set in 18th century France, a man who is born with no bodily odour has a tough time in life. As a result he uses his remarkable sense of smell to enter the perfume trade. He becomes obsessed with commonplace smells, ending in a trail of murder and depravity.





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Boy's Life
by Robert McCammon (1990)


McCammon's first conscious attempt to break out of the horror mould is a quality first step towards starting to write more serious stories. Basically a coming-of-age mystery with elements of horror and fantasy, Boy's Life is set in small-town Alabama in 1964. An 11-year-old and his father witness a car plunging into a lake. On attempting rescue the father discovers a brutal murder.





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Imajica
by Clive Barker (1991)


Barker's epic metaphysical fantasy is set in the five dimensions of the great system called Imajica. A sensualist and master art forger, a woman with the power to influence the destinies of men and an alien assassin are at the centre of a trail of crimes and intimate betrayal. Dimensional reality will never be the same again. One of Barker's best.





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Only Forward
by Michael Marshall Smith (1994)


Genre-bending novel that is something of a mix between Douglas Adams and Neal Stephenson. Stark lives in a world where surreal colour-coded neighbourhoods compete for ascendency. When he is hired to investigate the disappearance of a scientist, things really start to get bizarre. Funny, surreal and wildly inventive.





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'The Dresden Files'
by Jim Butcher (2000)


Gumshoe Harry Dresden has the distinction of being the only wizard in the Chicago phone book, so when the police have a case that goes beyond the realms they have little choice. Good thing too, as the PI business hasn't been so good for Harry. A series that is proving delightfully successful, that spawned a TV mini-series in 2007. Both are worth checking out.





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'Kushiel's Legacy'
by Jacqueline Carey (2001)


Sold into indentured servitude as a child, Phèdre nó Delauney comes into the care of a nobleman who educates her in the ways of the world. A beautiful courtesan and topnotch spy, Delauney uncovers a plot that threatens her homeland. So begins Carey's popular series set in an imagined early-renaissance world full of sex and political intrigue.





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'Nightside'
by Simon R Green (2003)


'Dark City' meets 'Neverwhere'… sort of. John Taylor is a 'finder' who is reluctantly drawn back to the Nightside, an otherworldly place in the heart of London where it is always 3am. The first in the Nightside series is a mystery yarn populated with bizarre underbelly characters. The job at hand is the search for a missing girl, but questions surrounding the meaning of existence are never far away.


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