Hi there! The last three months have gone by so quickly, as they’ve been full of really great reads. It’s been so hard to choose these twelve books as there have been some amazing new releases these last few months.
This Spring you’re going to be totally spoiled for choice whatever your reading preference and I hope I’ve found something that you’ll enjoy. It’s fantastic to see my column in print again and I absolutely loved talking about these fabulous reads!
DARLING – RACHEL EDWARDS
HarperCollins Publishers £8.99
Lola is not a fan of having a new stepmother. Three weeks seems far too short for this relationship to have bloomed. And she had no idea that her dad was into someone like Darling. This fantastic new read takes domestic noir in a whole new direction – it is perhaps the first Brexit thriller and the two female characters step right off the page. Darling is fabulous and you will love her interactions with the spiteful and spoilt Lola as you wait to see who will end up victorious. If you like your stories with an edge of malice, you’ll absolutely love this book. I read it straight through without stopping on my birthday trip to Budapest and I’ve been recommending it to everyone ever since. This is definitely a book that everyone will be talking about this Spring as it’s such a gripping and provocative read.
The Wych Elm – Tana French
( Penguin Books Ltd £14.99)
Toby has always led a charmed life – until a sudden and violent attack changes his life forever. He moves into the Ivy House to recuperate and take comfort in memories of debauched summer parties and endless summers with his cousins there. .Just after Toby’s arrival, his family uncovers a skull lodged inside the old wych elm in the garden which sets a whole chain of unthinkable events into motion – with devastating consequences. As the situation spirals out of control, Toby is forced to examine everything he thought he knew about his relationships his past, and himself. If you loved The Secret History by Donna Tartt, you will absolutely adore this standalone novel from one of my favourite crime writers. I’m still thinking about it weeks after I finished it and I think it’d make an absolutely fantastic TV adaptation. Watch this space…
Fallen Angel- Christopher Brookmyre
(Harper Collins £18.99)
I was so excited to receive a copy of the new Brookmyre to review, and I’m happy to report that it was every bit as impressive as I’d hoped. To new nanny Amanda, the Temple family seem to have it all: the former actress; the famous professor; their three successful children. But like so many ‘perfect’ families, far darker emotions lurk just below the surface. Sixteen years earlier, little Niamh Temple died while they were on holiday abroad. Now, as Amanda joins the family for a holiday reunion at their villa, she begins to suspect that one of them might know more than they appear to about this mysterious death. This book has everything -, fabulous characters, tension, deception and vengeance and you will not be able to put it down once you’ve started. This is Brookmyre at his compelling and creative best – a perfect weekend read this Easter weekend.
THE LOST MAN – JANE HARPER
Little, Brown Book Group £12.99
I was absolutely obsessed with Jane Harper’s The Dry and wanted everyone to read it. Its combination of fabulous characterisation and a killer plot meant that I couldn’t put it down. The Lost Man tells the tale of two brothers, Nathan and Bub who meet at the remote border of their vast cattle properties to remember their brother Cameron, who walked off into the Outback and never returned. The setting of this novel is stunningly realised and I was shocked at times to look up and see that I was in wintry Dunblane, rather than scorching Queensland. Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he choose to walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…This is a stunning read and will definitely keep you guessing – I cannot wait to see what Jane Harper does next, she’s a star.
The Familiars – Stacey Halls
(Zaffre Publishing £12.99)
I absolutely loved this stunning and unforgettable novel. Fleetwood Shuttleworth is 17 years old, married, and pregnant for the fourth time. But as the mistress of Gawthorpe Hall, she still has no heir. Fleetwood serendipitously meets Alice Gray, a young midwife who promises to help her give birth to a healthy baby – but these are dangerous times. Alice is inevitably drawn into the witchcraft accusations that are sweeping the country and Fleetwood risks everything trying to help her. But is there more to Alice than meets the eye? As Fleetwood’s pregnancy continues, it becomes clear that time is running out, and both their lives hang in the balance. The truth is both the most dangerous thing there is for these two women – and the only thing that can save them. This is my book of the year so far, and I’m so jealous of everyone who hasn’t read it yet. Read it as soon as you can!
Things In Jars – Jess Kidd
Canongate Books Ltd £14.99
In Victorian London, detective Bridie Devine is faced with her toughest case yet. Christabel Berwick has been kidnapped. But Christabel is not your average missing person – for you see, she is not supposed to exist. Bridie’s struggles to recover the stolen child leads her through a fantastical world of depraved anatomists, amoral surgeons and twisted showmen. The public love a spectacle and Christabel may well prove the most remarkable spectacle London has ever seen. This is a book for people who love their history dark, twisted and immersive. Jess Kidd is fabulous at creating whole worlds that allow you to feel that anything could happen at any time – and in this book, you should definitely bear that in mind. This is a fabulous read and I can’t recommend it highly enough. You definitely won’t forget Bridie Devine in a hurry – she’s a funny feisty and fearless heroine who will stay with you long after you’ve finished the book.
The Confessions of Frannie Langton – Sara Collins
(Penguin Books Ltd £12.99)
I love both Jane Eyre and Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith and this stunning novel gives you the best of both worlds. All of London is ablaze with the scandalous case of Frannie Langton, accused of the brutal double murder of her employers, famous scientist George Benham and his mysterious French wife, Marguerite. The evidence against her seems damning – but the truth is even stranger than it appears. This novel gives Frannie her voice for the first time. From a lonely child learning to read on a plantation in Jamaica, to a grand house in London, in thrall to a beautiful woman, Frannie’s life has made her a hostage to fortune and I turned the pages faster and faster to try and get to the bottom of what happened that fateful night and why. This is a fascinating and gripping debut l that asks questions about race, love and humanity and is almost impossible to put down. An absolute dazzler.
Little – Edward Carey
Gallic Books £10.99
We’ve all heard of Madame Tussauds, but I’m sure that many of you will be just like me and know very little about her humble origins before she became the famous waxworker. Born in Alsace in 1761, tiny Marie Grosholtz is nicknamed “Little.” After her parents’ death when she is only six, she finds work with the reclusive anatomist, Dr Curtius. This eccentric doctor soon takes an interest in his tiny and intriguing new companion, and begins to teach her the fine art of wax modelling which she excels at – and the rest, as they say, is history. This novel takes us deep into Les Miserables era France: from the decadence of the Palace of Versailles to the blood running in the gutters during ‘The Terror’ Little takes the reader on an amazing journey with a tiny heroine who had an enormous impact on the world. For those that love something wholly different, you’ll love this unforgettable tale full of pain, eccentricity and survival.
BLOOD ORANGE – HARRIET TYCE
Headline Publishing Group £10.99
Alison looks like she has the perfect life – from the outside, that is. A loving husband, an adorable daughter, and a successful law career that’s on the rise But if you scratch beneath the surface, the cracks begin to appear. Alison likes a drink, maybe a little too much, and she’s having an affair with a colleague which might be getting out of hand, in more ways than one. Someone has been sending Alison threatening texts, and the woman she’s defending has a confession that doesn’t ring true. This debut novel takes domestic noir and twists it hard – you’re never quite sure who is deceiving who here. If you loved Apple Tree Yard then you’ll adore this twisted and provocative look at morality and relationships. Blood Orange grabs you and doesn’t let you go as you get deeper and deeper into a tangled story of deception, lust and murder. A five-star read.
HANNAH JAMESON – THE LAST
Penguin Books Ltd £12.99
This was something really different for me – and I’ve been talking about it ever since. The Last is a page-turning read that will have you up late, desperate to see how it will end. A Nuclear weapon detonates over Washington whilst Historian Jon Keller is on a trip to Switzerland, leaving him stranded, not knowing whether his wife, Nadia and their two daughters are still alive. More than anything, Jon wishes he hadn’t ignored Nadia’s last message. In John’s remote hotel, there are only twenty survivors who wait there, isolated, to see what will happen next. Until the body of a young girl is found – murdered. As the situation escalates and accusations hang in the air, Jon decides to investigate. But how far is he willing to go in pursuit of justice? And what kind of justice is even possible, when society as we know it has been wiped out forever.
Inborn – Thomas Enger
(Orenda Books £8.99)
What turns a boy into a killer? When the high school in the small Norwegian village of Fredheim becomes a murder scene, the finger is soon pointed at seventeen-year-old Even. Social media is soon ablaze with accusations, rumours and even threats, and Even finds himself the subject of an online trial as well as being in the dock for murder. This is another simmering Orenda Books read that makes me want to read a lot more fiction in translation. The past and its events start to cast shadows on the present as detective Yngwe Mort has to try and separate his own tragedy in order to find the truth about the killer. I loved the chilling atmosphere of this book and the question of what makes someone a murderer is a really fascinating one. If you like your crime smart, dark and morally compelling then you’ll absolutely love this book.
Past Life – Dominic Nolan
( Headline Publishing Group £18.99)
Detective Abigail Boone escapes from a violent crime, almost losing her life in the process. Suffering from traumatic amnesia, she seems like a stranger to her husband and bewildered son when she returns to them. With no leads on her abduction, Boone’s only instinct is to revisit the case she was investigating when she vanished: the mysterious disappearance of a young woman, Sarah Still. Operating outwith the law, Boone obsessively follows a deadly trail to the darkest edges of human cruelty, encountering human traffickers and the murkiest edges of society in the process. Past Life is not a tale for the faint-hearted and your heart will be in your mouth as you race with Abigail to the thrilling conclusion. Dominic Nolan is going to be big – and with this read, it’s easy to see why. Read it as soon as you can.
I’m closing with a new feature – A local book that lots of you will love. It’s called Believe and it’s written by Elaine Henderson. It tells of her turbulent journey through the care system and her struggle to discover who she truly is, amidst secrecy and deception. This true story is all the more poignant because of it happening in our community; it will definitely make you think hard about the way society treats the vulnerable – especially our children. Elaine has written from the heart and this book will make anyone who reads it feel that she can achieve anything after what she’s been through. A very inspiring read.