The Crimson Petal and the White. Set in the Victorian age it's essentially a study of the period's attitudes to women, sex and class, told through the story of a prostitute, and her relationship with William Rackham, heir to a perfume business. Beautifully written and utterly fascinating, I adored it.
Another excellent novel was Florence and Giles by John Harding, the story of a young brother and sister living with servants in a big house, whose routine is interrupted by the arrival of a Governess, who, Florence comes to believe, is not what she seems. The story is told to us by Florence in her own unique voice and had echoes of The Turn Of The Screw. Recommended.
Other books I enjoyed this year were The Killing of Emma Gross, the debut novel of Damien Seaman, a dark and gritty crime thriller set in Weimar-era Germany and taking inspiration from the crimes of serial killer Peter Kurten, and The Midwinter of The Spirit by Phil Rickman, the second in his series about Merrily Watkins, a Church of England woman priest controversially given the job of Diocesan Exorcist (or Deliverance Consultant) just as spooky things start happening in the locality. Great characters and a strong atmosphere with some genuinely creepy scenes, I shall be reading more from him over the coming months.
Back on my side of the pond and stepping back to the years directly after the Second World War, Gordon Ferris' crime novels set in London ( Truth, Dare, Kill and The Unquiet Heart)and Glasgow (The Hanging Shed) are very Noir and very enjoyable - private investigators, femme fatales, crime syndicates and corrupt coppers - it's all here.