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All engrossing, pure escapist, nail-biting anxiety, mind bending terror and psychological twists. We’re not sure why it’s so appealing. Good though, isn’t it! You might also like to browse our Crime and Mystery category.
A hugely entertaining and thrilling debut that feels as though a blockbuster film is playing out in front of you. Twin sisters Iris and Summer may look identical, but their personalities are a world apart. When Summer asks Iris for help sailing their yacht across the Indian Ocean, Iris has the opportunity to create the life she has always envied her sister. Oh my, where to start! Well, this would make the perfect summer read, as you gallop through, just remember to savour the journey. Rose Carlyle has created a thriller that sits right on the edge of unbelievable. She takes you into secrets and lies, and throws in a humdinger of a plot. As Iris revealed her story, as the tension increased, I found my feelings hesitating, then changing. Iris has the most distinct voice, she is brutally honest, and allows access to the thoughts most wouldn’t allow to surface. As such, she isn’t always likeable, but boy is she captivating. The setting is vibrant, the family drama is dramatic, in other words The Girl in the Mirror is a vivid and entirely stimulating read.
Dark, provocative, and addictive, The Beresford saunters out into the limelight as it plays in the shadows. In an apartment building, in a city somewhere, a never-ending cycle of death is watched over by landlady Mrs May. This standalone supernatural thriller enters a fascinating world where hope cowers in the corner. Will Carver skirts and plays with the unseen curtain that sits on the edge of irreverence. There is a knowing, almost teasing atmosphere that is dark and grim and entirely seductive. The short punchy chapters ensured I couldn’t stop for breath or take a break. It felt as though the rhythm increased, as though I had to read that little bit faster in order to keep up as the ending hurtled towards me. I devoured The Beresford in one all-consuming sitting, if you find the edge of darkness a fascinating place to stand, then this is the book for you.
A chilling tone and unsettling plot is wrapped up inside this cracking police procedural and psychological thriller. West Iceland CID investigate the death of a woman who went missing seven months previously. While suicide was the initial assumption, it's only when Marianna’s body is found that they can establish murder. This is the second in the Forbidden Iceland series, I recommend starting with The Creak on the Stairs which was a bestseller in Iceland, winning the Blackbird Award. While a police procedural, the other characters share the stage which ensures there are some fascinating trails of information to follow. In this book Eva Björg Ægisdottir cements the characters of the policing team. The vivid descriptions and haunting quality of the writing, which is so well translated by Victoria Cribb, ensured I could see and feel Iceland. Two stories sit side by side, each twisting around the other and allowing tension and intrigue access while themes of child neglect and social issues are thoughtfully handled. Girls Who Lie slithers and suggests and coils towards its thought-provoking conclusion, and I will be following this series with interest.
Vividly bold and full of attitude, in fact it's gutsy as heck, this provocative supernatural crime novel takes a fabulous premise and nails its colours to the mast. While on a drugs operation Detective Joe Lazarus is suddenly faced with his own dead body and a new partner from the other side. I have to confess that while reading I completely forgot to make any notes for my review as I just sank in and was consumed. The live side smacked me in the face with its gritty reality, while the dead side just blew me away. I could see, feel, taste and smell purgatory, it menaced into existence as a fully formed entity in my minds eye. Adam Simcox writes with the most imaginative, smirky, thought-provoking pen. I really had no idea where this reading journey was going to take me, and I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to learn that this is the first in a series, I will be camping outside my local bookshop when the next book is due. Chosen as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month, The Dying Squad is a fabulously unique novel that feels as real and yet outrageously inventive as can be. A standing ovation from me to Adam Simcox, absolutely blimmin loved it!
Carolyn Kirby’s When We Fall tells the gripping, read-in-one-sitting stories of two women who fall for the same man. Sparked by the long-suppressed WW2 Katyn massacre atrocity that saw 22,000 Polish military officers and intelligentsia killed by the Soviet Union, it presents the painful complexities of love and loyalty during terrible times in readably elegant style. England, 1943 and British pilot Vee is set on being given her Wings when she first encounters charismatic Polish RAF pilot Stefan. There’s an immediate frisson between them, and from this first meeting their lives are to be entangled for the rest of their days. Both of them are immensely likeable - Vee for her dogged and down-to-earth determination to succeed in a male dominated field, and Stefan for his amiability and respectfulness. Meanwhile, in the Polish town of Posen (formerly Poznań), Eva (formerly Ewa before Nazi occupation) has all but given up on her lover returning as she waits tables in her father’s guesthouse while working for the resistance. Matters are complicated when she falls for a handsome German officer, and then her lover - Stefan - returns and asks Eva to take a huge risk for him. He’s asked similar of Vee in England and so, unbeknown to each other, both women become caught up in a costly mission to disclose the horrors Stefan witnessed while in Russian captivity. Covering events from spring 1943 to late 1945 (with an unexpected addendum from 1963), this is a highly visual, highly sensory novel with relatable, powerful human dilemmas at its heart.
This piercing and smart crime novel almost creates a physical ache as it worms its way under your skin. Inspector Peter Hunkeler investigates a murder that appears to link to another and while colleagues blame a gang of drug smugglers, he begins to look in another less obvious direction. This is the award-winning and first to be translated book in the Inspector Hunkeler Series set in Switzerland on the border of France and Germany. The main character feels tightly wound as he stamps all over the pages, he is simple yet complicated, and entirely fascinating. Hansjorg Schneider writes with succinct sentences that gather and spill over into an evocative setting and plot. Translated by Mike Mitchell, the atmosphere slunk into my thoughts and haunted my reading. I witnessed Hunkeler as he scented the truth and allowed access to an awareness that sat just under the surface before breaking free. The Basel Killings is a story that lurks and scowls as it stomps its way to a compelling and interesting conclusion.
Such A Quiet Place is a slow-burning mystery, delving deep into the heart of a small, closed community that was shocked and rocked 18 months earlier by the murder of two residents. When I wasn't reading the book, I was thinking about it, visualising the location, in particular, thanks to the author's vivid descriptions. Hollow's Edge is a character in itself - a perfect, seemingly safe neighbourhood that's not so perfect after all - providing the ideal setting for a locked-room mystery. The verging-on-creepy characters quietly wormed their way under my skin, each one hiding secrets behind closed doors. I didn't particularly like any of them, but I could certainly feel the tension hovering in the air, suspicion building up gradually as the book progressed, each character slowly turning on each other. Beautifully written, haunting and compelling, with a narrator who may not be as relaible as they seem, Such A Quiet Place is a psychological thriller that's filled with dark secrets, lies and drama.
A smart, fast-moving, and riveting crime thriller, make sure you set aside plenty of reading time as I didn’t want to put Trust down. Martin races to help girlfriend Mandy after checking his voicemail and hearing her scream before the call cuts off. Trust is the third in the Martin Scarsden series, the first and Chris Hammer’s debut Scrublands won the Crime Writers’ Association John Creasy New Blood Dagger in 2019. So far, each book has seen a different setting, starting in the Australian interior followed by a small coastal town with Silver, and now we enter Sydney. While a couple of previous characters crop up, Martin and Mandy are the main draw. You could potentially head straight into this and read it successfully as a standalone but for the best experience I really do recommend that you start with Scrublands. I feel as though a lot of unanswered questions from Martin and Mandy’s past are thoroughly and successfully covered here. The author’s background as a journalist can be felt as the corruption of power and privilege is examined in the most punchy way. This is a series you can really get your teeth into, intelligent and challenging, yet as readable as can be, I really do hope there is more to come. Trust is a fabulously suspense filled, powerful and pacy read that we just had to include as a LoveReading Star Book.
Hugely entertaining and addictive, this psychological thriller presses all the klaxon alert buttons from the get-go. The diary of a murdered woman who had been monitoring her neighbours in Brighton holds some very dangerous secrets. Dorothy Koomson is such a consistent writer, her books are oh-so readable, smart and stimulating, and range from family drama and relationship right through to suspense and thrillers. This read is full of suspense and intrigue as it explores family, friendship, and just how well we really know each other. Different characters, all neighbours, head chapters with relevant dates, each person speaking in their own very distinctive voice. These are people who slowly reveal their secrets, and as an added lure the diary secrets are also gradually revealed. I was as hooked as a hooked thing can be as the tension increased, and the explosive ending was just fabulous. This would make a perfect summer read, and though you can just throw yourself in and let go, there are also some thought-provoking themes too. I Know What You’ve Done is a proper page-turner, you may never look at your neighbours in the same way again! Dorothy Koomson is our Summer 2021 Guest Editor. Click here to learn more
Jake Brigance, lawyer hero of A Time to Kill and Sycamore Row, is back, in his toughest case ever. CAN A KILLER EVER BE ABOVE THE LAW? Deputy Stuart Kofer is a protected man. Though he's turned his drunken rages on his girlfriend, Josie, and her children many times before, the police code of silence has always shielded him. But one night he goes too far, leaving Josie for dead on the floor before passing out. Her son, sixteen-year-old Drew, knows he only has this one chance to save them. He picks up a gun and takes the law into his own hands. In Clanton, Mississippi, there is no one more hated than a cop killer - but a cop killer's defence lawyer comes close. Jake Brigance doesn't want this impossible case but he's the only one with enough experience to defend the boy. As the trial begins, it seems there is only one outcome: the gas chamber for Drew. But, as the town of Clanton discovers once again, when Jake Brigance takes on an impossible case, anything is possible ...
The first rocket will take five minutes to hit London. You have six minutes to stop the second. Rudi Graf used to dream of sending a rocket to the moon. Instead, he has helped create the world's most sophisticated weapon: the V2 ballistic missile, capable of delivering a one-ton warhead at three times the speed of sound. In a desperate gamble to avoid defeat in the winter of 1944, Hitler orders ten thousand to be built. Haunted and disillusioned, Graf - who understands the volatile, deadly machine better than anyone - is tasked with firing these lethal 'vengeance weapons' at London. Kay Caton-Walsh is an officer in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, and a survivor of a V2 strike. As the rockets devastate London, she joins a unit of WAAFs on a mission to newly liberated Belgium. Armed with little more than a slide rule and a few equations, Kay and her colleagues will attempt to locate and destroy the launch sites. But at this stage in the war it's hard to know who, if anyone, you can trust. As the death toll soars, Graf and Kay fight their grim, invisible war - until one final explosion of violence causes their destinies to collide.
What would you do to protect your family? ANYTHING. During a family holiday in Italy, you get an urgent call from your sister. There's been an accident: she hit a man with her car and he's dead. She's overcome with terror - fearing years in a foreign jail away from her child. She asks for your help. It wasn't her fault, not really. She'd cover for you, so will you do the same for her? But when the police come calling, the lies start. And you each begin to doubt your trust in one another. What really happened that night? Who is lying to who? And who will be the first to crack? . . .
London is angry, divided and obsessed with foreigners. A dead Asian and some racist graffiti in Chinatown might trigger the race war that the white supremacists of the Make England Great Again movement have been hoping for. They just need a tipping point. And he arrives in the shape of Detective Inspector Stanley Low. He's brilliant. He's bipolar. He hates everyone almost as much as he hates himself. Singapore doesn't want him and he doesn't want to be in London for a criminology lecture. There are too many bad memories, like Detective Sergeant Ramila Mistry, who asks for Low's help. The dead Asian was Singaporean. Against everyone's better judgement, Low is plunged into a polarised city, where xenophobia and intolerance feed screaming echo chambers. His desperate race to find a far-right serial killer will lead him to charismatic Neo-Nazi leaders, incendiary radio hosts and Metropolitan Police officers who don't appreciate the foreigner's interference. No one wants him there, but too many victims with Asian faces keep him there. He craves vengeance, particularly when the murderer makes it personal and promises to kill the only woman that Low ever loved. The Chinese detective is the wrong face in the wrong place. But he's the right copper for the job. London is about to meet the bloody foreigner who won't walk away.
This all too plausible and atmospheric reimagining of the end of World War Two hits hard as it turns history on its head. It’s 1945 and Britain is under Nazi occupation after an atomic bomb strikes London. A shocking revelation discovered while on the run, means that David Erskine holds knowledge that could save the world from the Nazi’s. This is historian and award winning writer Alistair Moffat’s first novel. His ability to walk through time with his words, sets a stage that felt as though I was reading history. It really is all too easy to fall into this story and believe it is real, the prologue thoroughly sets the scene before the first chapters take you back a year to 1944 as the Allies were pushing through to victory. Erskine tells his own cooly matter-of-fact story in journal form, while other tales are added to form a wider picture. Action-packed yet succinctly told, The Night Before Morning is a chilling slice of speculative fiction.
ONE MURDER. FIFTEEN SUSPECTS. CAN YOU UNCOVER THE TRUTH? There is a mystery to solve in the sleepy town of Lower Lockwood. It starts with the arrival of two secretive newcomers, and ends with a tragic death. Law students Charlotte and Femi have been assigned to the case. Someone has already been sent to prison for murder, but they suspect that they are innocent. And that far darker secrets have yet to be revealed... Throughout the amateur dramatics society's disastrous staging of All My Sons and the shady charity appeal for a little girl's cancer treatment, the murderer hid in plain sight. Will Charlotte and Femi solve the case? Will you? The standout debut thriller of 2021 that delivers multiple brilliant twists, and will change the way you think about the modern crime novel.
Quentin Tarantino's long-awaited first work of fiction - at once hilarious, delicious, and brutal - is the always surprising, sometimes shocking new novel based on his Academy Award-winning film. RICK DALTON - Once he had his own TV series, but now Rick's a washed-up villain-of-the week drowning his sorrows in whiskey sours. Will a phone call from Rome save his fate or seal it? CLIFF BOOTH - Rick's stunt double, and the most infamous man on any movie set because he's the only one there who might have gotten away with murder... SHARON TATE - She left Texas to chase a movie-star dream, and found it. Sharon's salad days are now spent on Cielo Drive, high in the Hollywood Hills. CHARLES MANSON - The ex-con's got a bunch of zonked-out hippies thinking he's their spiritual leader, but he'd trade it all to be a rock 'n' roll star. HOLLYWOOD 1969 - YOU SHOULDA BEEN THERE
Weaving between complex social issues, this is a powerful, tense, and striking second novel by Rachel Edwards. When Etta turns to online gambling her entire life begins to crumble, she is willing to do anything to stop her world from imploding. Rachel Edward’s wonderfully captivating debut Darling was a LoveReading Star Book which concentrated on the new wife and young daughter of a man as they each fought for his love and attention. Lucky is entirely different in plot, yet a strong central character again sits to the fore. Etta can be stubborn (determined), manipulative (smart), she’s also addicted (lost and confused), kind, thoughtful, and loving. I found her frustrating and appealing in equal measures which lead to me forming a complex yet fascinating relationship with her character. Suspense kept me company throughout this novel, at times I almost read between my fingers as I waited to see what Etta would do next. I explored online gambling, migration, identity, race, and relationship traps and pitfalls all on top of a plot that that had me edging along a towering clifftop of tension. Rachel Edwards has created an intriguing and compelling main character, a cracking plot and sub-plot which collide to create the most fabulous ending. Lucky is an intriguing, smart, and thought-provoking novel I can highly recommend.
Set in rural Australia in the 1940s, 1960s and 1980s (the plot smartly slips between the decades), Lyn Yeowart’s The Silent Listener - her debut novel - is a dark and stormy psychological thriller focussed on family secrets and the search to fathom terrible truths. When Joy Henderson returns to her family’s farm to care for George, her dying dad, she’s confronted with a succession of horrendous events - both those that occur in her present, and traumatic experiences from her past. The very day after her father confesses to a horrific crime, he’s found dead with his own belt around his neck. As the narrative slips back to 1960, we learn how eleven-year-old Joy existed in utter fear of her father. An abusive bully who forced her to declare herself a “lazy, good-for-nothing sinner”. A brute who scarred her for life - psychologically and physically, for Joy has been left with “thick red strips of raised flesh creeping over the top of her shoulder and under her loose bra strap, wrapping themselves around the top of her arm like the tentacles of a red octopus.” This description is representative of the author’s taut, evocative style. Then there’s the Constable investigating George’s death - Alex Shepherd, a man still haunted by an unsolved case of a missing girl from 1960, and now deeply engrained in this new case, and the Henderson family’s secrets. As Joy and Shepherd talk, Joy is struck by a sickening thought: “The bastard killed himself so that you’d think I killed him. So I’d go to jail for murdering him. It was the ultimate punishment for disobeying him.” Shepherd isn’t sure what to believe, but his instincts lead him back to that unsolved case of the missing child. Exploring coercive control, violence, abuse and revenge with edgy levels of tension through potentially unreliable narrators, this is a satisfyingly suspenseful gothic thriller.
A twisty, intricate, and action-packed crime novel based in Scotland full of schemes, intrigue, and shenanigans. This is the ninth book in the DCI Daley series, which started with the truly fabulous Whisky from Small Glasses. Denzil Meyrick has also penned a collection of linking short stories in One Last Dram Before Midnight, and has stepped back into the past of one of my favourite characters in a tale from Kinloch, in A Large Measure of Snow. In other words, there is a fascinating world awaiting you if you’ve not yet visited Kinloch. Kick-starting straight into action, a crash-landing plane heralds chaos and change. Climate protestors, politics, blackmail, and greed all feature and sub-plots run amok, gleefully getting under the feet of Daley and Scott. This pairing is the glue that holds the series together, yet the other characters are wonderful creations in their own right. Hamish and Annie are much loved, and you may find yourself reading between your fingers at certain parts! For Any Other Truth demands that you keep on your toes as it splinters thoughts and catches emotions unawares.
A MESMERIZING BREAK-OUT CRIME THRILLER FULL OF BREATHTAKING TWISTS Nic always hated clubbing. She only went out that night because she’d promised a friend. She wakes up, naked and bound in an abandoned cottage in the middle of nowhere. Dappled light comes in through a dirty window. Her body is covered in cuts. Across the room her friend groans in pain. A shadow passes the window. He’s back. He picks up a knife. He begins to cut her friend. In that moment of bloody frenzy, Nic wrenches free and runs. She’s finally safe. But this is just the beginning. Detectives Asha Harvey and Aaron Birch arrive at the scene hours later. There is no body, there is no sign of the killer. It’s as if it never happened. YOU THINK YOU KNOW HOW IT ENDS? THINK AGAIN. Fans of Lynda La Plante, Tana French, Patricia Gibney, Brian McGilloway and Helen H. Durrant will devour this electrifying crime thriller by one of Northern Ireland’s newest talents.
AN ADDICTIVE MUST-READ WHODUNNIT FROM THE NEWEST TALENT IN CRIME FICTION A new life. A new town. A dead body. Andrea “Andi” Silvers needs a fresh start. Once a star reporter, she’s been dumped by her lover and by the paper they both worked at. Andi moves to the tiny fishing village of Coffin Cove, on the Vancouver coast, where she lands a job at the local Gazette. Expecting bake sales and unpaid parking tickets to be the biggest news items, she quickly discovers the small town holds dark secrets. Two sea lions wash up on the shore. They’ve been shot dead. Activists point the finger at local fishermen. Then things get far worse . . . A dead body turns up. How does it all relate to a fifteen-year-old girl’s tragic death twenty years ago? The girl was found drowned with her arms and legs tied together. The deeper Andi digs, the more dirt she finds. Discover a web of murder and mystery laced with humour and a thread of romance in this fast-paced whodunnit set on the gorgeous coast of Western Canada. Fans of Joy Ellis, L.J. Ross, Peter Robinson, Thomas King, Louise Penny and Shari Lapena will devour this mesmerizing debut crime thriller.
Detective Inspector Angelica Henley is just back at work after a six-month break because of more than one personal reason. Not least of which, her last encounter with a vicious serial killer called Philip Olivier, aka The Jigsaw Man. But her return is not going to be relaxed or simple – there is someone out there reproducing the Jigsaw Man’s crimes, and it looks like Angelica is going to have to get Olivier’s help to catch this latest killer. What will working with one of her deadliest foes do to Angelica’s life and mind? Not for the faint-hearted but definitely one to pick up if you like a well-written, clever tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat till the end. Selected by Dororthy Koomson, Our Summer 2021 Guest Editor. Click here to read the full Guest Editor piece.
All it takes to unravel a life... is one home truth. Marin used to have it all. Married to the love of her life, she owns a chain of upscale hair salons, and Derek runs his own company. They're admired in their community and are a loving family - until their world falls apart the day their son Sebastian is taken. A year later, Marin is a shadow of herself. The FBI search has gone cold. The publicity has faded. She and her husband rarely speak. With her sanity ebbing, Marin hires a private investigator to pick up where the police left off. But instead of finding Sebastian, she learns that Derek is having an affair with a much younger woman. This discovery sparks Marin back to life. She's lost her son; she's not about to lose her husband. Derek's mistress is an enemy with a face, which means this is a problem Marin can fix. Permanently.
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts comes Shelter in Placea powerful tale of heart, heroism . . . and propulsive suspense. It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. A boy flirted with the girl selling sunglasses. Mothers and children shopped together, and the manager at the video-game store tending to customers. Then the shooters arrived. The chaos and carnage lasted only eight minutes before the killers were taken down. But for those who lived through it, the effects would last forever. In the years that followed, one would dedicate himself to a law enforcement career. Another would close herself off, trying to bury the memory of huddling in a ladies' room, hopelessly clutching her cell phone until she finally found a way to pour her emotions into her art. But one person wasn't satisfied with the shockingly high death toll at the DownEast Mall. And as the survivors slowly heal, find shelter, and rebuild, they will discover that another conspirator is lying in wait and this time, there might be nowhere safe to hide.
This Liz Pick of the Month, is a thrilling yet thoughtful, highly charged read. Criminal psychologist Cyrus delves into the past of Evie, who was found hiding in a secret room after a murder six years ago. It’s the last thing Evie wants, as if Cyrus discovers the truth, death will soon start to hunt her down. This book follows on from Good Girl, Bad Girl (a particular favourite of mine), and boy is it shaping up to be an absolute belter of a series. If you haven’t yet read the first, you most definitely need to before starting here, as the development of the relationship between Cyrus and Evie is crucial. They both tell us their own stories in alternating short punchy chapters. This is a read where I was head down and totally absorbed. Evie as per the previous book, drew me in and I was desperate (like Cyrus) to find out what had happened to her. Michael Robotham deals with the crimes that are uncovered with consideration and compassion, yet we are left in no doubt as to their nature. I was on high alert throughout and the ending struck with an unexpected blow. When She Was Good comes out swinging after the fabulous first book in the series, and I can highly recommend it (just make sure you read Good Girl, Bad Girl first).
A hard-hitting, devastating, wow of a read, Karin Slaughter has hit this standalone thriller out of the park! The past hunts down Defence Attorney Leigh Collier as she takes on a high profile rape case, and it threatens to destroy her. I am still squirming with reading euphoria having finished this novel. It’s no secret that I love Karin Slaughter’s writing and regularly shout about her books, for me, this is her best novel to date. It most definitely isn’t an easy or comfortable read, it travels into the very darkest of places, including violent sexual assault and drug addiction. This is one of the first novels I’ve read that covers Covid 19, it sat in the background, there, but not overtaking the storyline. From the beginning, when the shadows sucked me down into their spiralling depths and understanding hit, I knew this would be a one-sitting read. I didn’t want to put this book down, even when flinching from the pain that transmits from the page. While it packs an overwhelming punch, it also contains Karin’s unmistakable magic touch. She knows exactly when a lighter moment is needed, when a smirk or blurt of laughter will aid the reader. Yes it made me wince, it also made me consider what makes us who we are. False Witness is powerful and provocative, it explores social issues and violence, and is all the more fabulous for doing that. A LoveReading Star Book, this is a novel that’s going to stay with me for some time. Karin Slaughter is our Early Summer 2021 Guest Editor. Click here to learn more.
From the number one bestselling author, Peter James, comes I Follow You, a nerve-shredding standalone thriller. To the outside world, suave, charming and confident doctor Marcus Valentine has it all. A loving wife, three kids, a great job. But there's something missing, there always has been. . . . or rather, someone . . . Driving to work one morning, his mind elsewhere and not on the road, he almost mows down a female jogger on a crossing. As she runs on, Marcus is transfixed. Infatuated. She is the spitting image of a girl he was crazy about in his teens. A girl he has never been able to get out of his mind. Lynette had dumped him harshly. For years he has fantasized about seeing her again and rekindling their flame. Might that jogger possibly be her all these years later? Could this be the most incredible coincidence? Despite all his attempts to resist, he is consumed by cravings for this woman. And when events take a tragically unexpected turn, his obsession threatens to destroy both their worlds. But still he won't stop. Can't stop.
Sarah always thought of herself and her husband, Tom, as good people. But that was before their son Freddy came home saying he'd done something terrible. Begging them not to tell the police. Soon Sarah and Tom must find out just how far they are willing to push themselves, and their marriage, to protect their only child... As the lies build up and Sarah is presented with the perfect opportunity to get Freddy off the hook, she is faced with a terrifying decision... Save her son... or save herself?
It’s little wonder that Russell Banks has won major awards for his subtle, seductive novels, and Foregone - the author’s first new novel for a decade - also deserves a place among prize-winners. It features famous left-leaning Canadian American documentary filmmaker, Leonard Fife. He’s in his late-seventies and dying of cancer, with a live-in Haitian nurse and attentive wife. The book opens with Fife wondering why he’s agreed to be filmed for a final interview to discuss his life and work. His nurse reminds him it’s “because he’s famous for something to do with cinema, and famous people are required to make interviews”. In the ensuing interview, after the irritation of the production team setting-up (a team led by his former star-pupil), Fife makes a long, dark, unexpected confession, with the plot cleverly switching camera angles from Fife to those who are filming him - a smart device, effectively realised. Taking in the history of US draft evaders who fled to Canada to escape serving in Vietnam (of which Fife was one of sixty-thousand), and written entirely in the present tense, Banks’s style is haunting, meditative and gripping, with its protagonist’s personal revelations striking compelling rhythmic, resonant beats.
An interesting and challenging speculative science fiction novel that begins in 2066. Covering a number of years and several time frames, Ben Holden is on the run after being targeted for his scientific research. It really does feel as though this world could be our future, enough is relatable and touchable to allow you to easily slip into what could be. Author Steve Holloway has a degree in Aquatic Biology and has worked around the world in marine science, it means that the scientific and oceanic world Ben finds himself in teems with possibilities and I particularly enjoyed these sections. The frequent moves in time and locations are clearly marked, which allowed me to flick between the different timelines in the plot with ease. Faith plays a part here, in terms of what is on offer in the future, and the main character’s transformation. I’m not in the slightest bit religious and found that this element, rather than overpowering proceedings, slotted into the story with ease. There is also enough action to keep the plot moving along at a good pace. Pelagia: Between the Stars and the Abyss makes for a refreshing and thought-provoking read.
Hauntingly beautiful and full of slicing suspense, this contemporary thriller twisted itself into my thoughts and still hasn’t let go. 17 year old runaway and former foster child Nell Ballard finds herself in London on the doorstop of a new opportunity, but a dark secret is keeping her company. Sarah Hilary is well known for her outstanding DI Marnie Rome crime series (one of my favourites) and this is her first standalone novel. The writing is unmistakably her, yet travels in a different direction. She was inspired by Rebecca and The Handmaid’s Tale and her publisher perfectly describes Fragile as a: “psychological thriller with a modern Gothic twist”. She tackles subjects such as child exploitation and homelessness, opening a door and allowing apprehension and awareness in. She has the ability to look between, into the forgotten spaces, either in the outside world or within our own minds, and she successfully reveals what most of us are unable at first to see. There was an almost gentle poetic quality to the words before they ganged together to create uncertainty, concern, and tension. At times, as the quiet moments soothed my thoughts, I was lulled into a feeling of calm. The ending, oh that ending, it hit home hard, and I had to read it again, just to allow it to sink in. Fragile is an achingly dark, wonderfully atmospheric novel, and I will more than happily climb a few rooftops to shout about it.
A really smart, readable, and pacy novel that not only thrills, it also encourages thoughts to explore beyond the obvious. Investigate Journalist Casey works to expose the horrors that take place in the factories behind the clothes trade. Holly Watt’s debut and start to this series, To The Lions won the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger in 2019. Dead Line is the second book and continues the winning format. What I really enjoy about these novels is the knowledge that the author is an award-winning investigative journalist, she knows her stuff. There is an immediate relevance to what you are reading, you could look up from the page at the world around you and see these stories taking place right now. Casey is a tenacious and fabulous main character with depth. This is a book that can make you flinch and feel uncomfortable, it’s also balanced with fabulous storytelling that is full of pace and attitude. One of my Liz Robinson Picks of the Month, Dead Line is an intelligent and convincing action-packed thriller.
Leonardo Padura’s Detective Mario Conde crime novels form the basis of Netflix’s Four Seasons in Havana and, after becoming utterly involved in The Transparency of Time (the ninth and final book in the series), it’s clear to see the appeal for producers. Padura’s writing balances a playful spirit of intellectualism with his distinct observations of people, place and time. Multi-layered, and rich with insights into Cuba’s history and current climate, The Transparency of Time sees Mario Conde become immersed in a centuries-old occult mystery. With his sixtieth birthday on the horizon, he ponders his shifting identity (“Didn’t they start calling Hemingway “Old Man” a few years before his suicide at sixty-one? What about Trotsky? Wasn’t he, at sixty, known as the Old Man when Ramón Mercader split his head in two with a Stalinist and proletarian blow from an ice ax?”) and decides “he had reason enough to avoid so much as aspiring to the category of Old Man”. Rather, “he was, at best, going to become an old fart.” That decided, Conde needs a new case to get stuck into and his need is answered when Bobby, a former high school classmate implores him to find a stolen Black Madonna statue that belonged to his grandmother. A vehement follower of Santeria, an African-Cuban religion that fuses Catholicism with West African Yoruba spiritism, Bobby is desperate: “She’s powerful! Truly powerful!.. You’re my only hope. And you have to help me, right? For old times’ sake?” Conde helps, of course, and with him readers are led on a complex journey through occult history, back to the Crusades as he works to ascertain the provenance of the statue, with interwoven episodes from the Spanish Civil War. At once entertaining and challenging, Padura is a writer with distinct style and scope.
Forming part of an incredibly well written, detailed yet vibrant and exciting historical crime series, this is a stonkingly good read. If you’ve not yet explored the Captain Damian Seeker novels (two of them have won the Crime Writers’ Association Historical Dagger Award), then I recommend that you start at the beginning with The Seeker. The House of Lamentations is the final book in the five book series, and while sad that it’s ended, I can shout from the rooftops that this is a series that is most definitely worth reading. Taking place in Bruges in 1658 the Royalists plan to fund a last-ditch attempt to place the exiled Charles on the throne. However, a traitor has been feeding information to Cromwell’s enforcer who now needs all of his wits about him to deal with the threat. While the main story plays out, a number of smaller mysteries weave their way around the plot. As I read my thoughts twisted and turned inside out as I tried to work out who to keep my eye on, and when the ending came it made me smile in satisfaction. The House of Lamentations is a fine final hurrah to the Damian Seeker Novels and I just want to stand up and applaud S. G. MacLean on her wonderful creation, so this sits as a Liz Pick of the Month.
An artfully composed and thought-provoking novel covering several sub genres within crime fiction. When Xander Shute reports witnessing a murder to the police, they don’t believe him, and as he begins to search for answers himself, he finds himself lost in his own mind and a vortex of memories. Xander narrates his tale, he lives on the streets and within a few pages his existence stamped itself all over my consciousness. Imran Mahmood is a practicing barrister and his debut novel was long listed for the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger. He writes with cunning pen, an intricate plot slowly and stealthily reveals itself creating the most wonderful page-turner of a story. Short sharp shocks of sentences ganged together driving my thoughts before them. Sometimes I felt as though I was inside Xander’s mind, a part of his awareness, sometimes I was on the outside, trying desperately to work out what was going on. I found this a clever, provocative novel, and when the ending came sat back and travelled back over my suspicions and presumptions. I Know What I Saw is a smart, stimulating, and compelling psychological thriller and mystery, enter the pages and prepare for your thoughts to scatter and explore.
A collection of four uniquely wonderful long stories, including a stand-alone sequel to the No. 1 bestseller THE OUTSIDER. News people have a saying: 'If it bleeds, it leads'. And a bomb at Albert Macready Middle School is guaranteed to lead any bulletin. Holly Gibney of the Finders Keepers detective agency is working on the case of a missing dog - and on her own need to be more assertive - when she sees the footage on TV. But when she tunes in again, to the late-night report, she realises there is something not quite right about the correspondent who was first on the scene. So begins 'If It Bleeds', a stand-alone sequel to the No. 1 bestselling THE OUTSIDER featuring the incomparable Holly on her first solo case - and also the riveting title story in Stephen King's brilliant new collection. Dancing alongside are three more wonderful long stories from this 'formidably versatile author' (The Sunday Times) - 'Mr Harrigan's Phone', 'The Life of Chuck' and 'Rat'. All four display the richness of King's storytelling with grace, humour, horror and breathtaking suspense. A fascinating Author's Note gives us a wonderful insight into the origin of each story and the writer's unparalleled imagination.
Every detail is accurate because one of the authors is President Bill Clinton. The drama and action never stop because the other author is James Patterson. ALL PRESIDENTS HAVE NIGHTMARES. THIS ONE IS ABOUT TO COME TRUE. Matthew Keating, a one-time Navy SEAL and a former US President, has always defended his family as fiercely as he has his country. Now these defences are under attack. And it's personal. Keating's teenage daughter, Melanie, has been abducted, turning every parent's deepest fear into a matter of national security. As the world watches, Keating embarks on a one-man special-ops mission that tests his strengths: as a leader, a warrior, and a father. Because Keating knows that in order to save Melanie's life he will have to put his own on the line . . .
Whip-smart, incisive and incredibly gripping, Zakiya Dalila Harris’s The Other Black Girl presents a powerful exposé of publishing’s unpleasant underbelly - the elitism, nepotism, poor pay, and petty power-play some senior editors exert over their assistants. Think The Devil Wear Prada with edge - its young editor protagonist wants to publish writers whose voices matter. It’s a world of white gatekeepers, white privilege, with displays of (cue tiny violin) white affront when poor behaviour is called out. And all this is done through twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers, the only Black employee at New York’s prestigious Wagner Books publishing house. After feeling isolated and exhausted by the everyday micro-aggressions of her workplace, Nella is delighted when Hazel, the “Other Black Girl”, starts working next to her - until Nella starts receiving threatening notes telling her to leave the company, while having to deal with increasingly problematic office politics. Though the novel is set in the publishing world, it will resonate with anyone, for example, who’s doubted the authenticity of their workplace’s commitment to diversity. In Nella’s case, she was part of Wagner Books’ diversity group, but company interest soon waned, with no one really getting the point, or understanding why representation matters - why it matters to get it right. The brutal reality of the company’s lip service attitude to equality and representation is exposed when Nella speaks out about a white male author’s offensively clichéd portrayal of a Black female character. When he (cue another tiny violin) gets upset, feeling accused of racism, she’s expected to apologise. Never mind about his lazy, dubious characterisation - the poor man’s feelings have been hurt, goddammit! That this is nothing new is revealed through the interwoven story of Kendra Rae, Nella’s editorial heroine who blazed inspirational trails before her - but what happened to Kendra after editing a huge bestseller, she wonders? It turns out that as Nella faced a backlash after (gently) calling out her author’s caricature, Kendra’s “sin” was also telling it like it is, being “someone who rejected what was expected of her as a Black woman in a predominantly white industry.” Chiming with wit and vital commentary, this debut is a thrilling feat of fiction, with twists that are impossible to see coming.
LONGLISTED FOR THE CWA GOLD DAGGER AWARD She's a murderer. Everyone knows she killed Stuart Rees - why else would his dead body be found in her shed? So now Tabitha is in prison, awaiting trial. Coming back to the remote coastal village where she grew up was a mistake. She didn't fit in then, and she doesn't fit in now. That day is such a blur, she can't remember clearly what happened. There is something she is missing, something important... She only knows one thing. She is not capable of murder. And the only one she can trust to help her out of this situation is herself. So she must fight. Against the odds. For her life. Beautifully written about prejudice, loneliness and fighting spirit, this new book by Nicci French is shocking, twisty and utterly compelling.
A thought-provoking and compassionate story that builds from a murder case, yet at its heart centres around the consequences of decisions made in trying times. Barrister Anna Milburn takes on the defence of a local drug lord who is accused of murdering a police officer. As the case evolves she has to balance home, her own values, and most importantly the safety of her child when she is threatened. This tale links with The Healing Knife though you can definitely read it as a standalone. S L Russell writes with a realistic pen, it feels as though a slice of real life is on the page. Elements of faith enter the picture yet don’t dominate, faith is a part of the story not the whole. The Thorn of Truth is a sensitive and engaging story about one woman’s struggle to balance her life and her job in the most demanding of circumstances.
An all-consuming read awaits in this wonderfully crafted, fast and sharp thriller. Colter Shaw wants to take down crooked company BlackBridge, but they will let nothing get in their way. This action-packed series began with The Never Game, and here we are already at the third book in and I’ve particularly enjoyed how the plot has continued and developed through the novels. Dare I say it, The Final Twist is my favourite in the series so far, Colter is really settling in as a must-read character. Jeffery Deaver is hugely adept at setting whip-smart plotlines and characters you care about. The reader is always kept in the dark about one or two things, which lead to exciting reveals that hit the spot at just the right moment. Here, the wow of the introduction and first chapter explodes into being, and that was it, I was as hooked as a hooked thing can be and read it in one glorious sitting. I felt as though I was in the heart and heat of the action right through to the smile-inducing end. The Final Twist is an engaging and enthralling thriller that proclaims Jeffery Deaver as the master storyteller he is.
NO BODY. NO TRACE. NO CRIME? Niall and Eden Paternoster start their Sunday the same way they always do – with a long drive, a visit to a country house and a quick stop at the local supermarket on the way home. But this Sunday ends differently – because while Niall waits and waits in the car park for Eden to pick up supplies, Eden never returns. She’s not waiting for him at home, and none of their family or friends have heard from her. Gone without a trace, Niall is arrested on suspicion of her murder. When DS Roy Grace is called in to investigate, it doesn’t take long to realize that nothing is quite as it seems – and this might be his most mysterious case yet . . . Sunday Times number one bestseller Peter James returns with the latest installment in his award-winning Roy Grace novels – now a major TV series.
Shalini Bolands’ My Little Girl is a riveting family-centred psychological page-turner that will have thriller fans on the edge of their seats. As whodunits go, it presents an intense tangle of threads for readers to follow as those threads take multiple unexpected turns. “Don’t get angry. Don’t get angry. Don’t panic. Stay calm. It will all be fine. It will be okay. Kids wander off all the time and their parents find them.” So reasons Claire Nolan when her mother-in-law, Jill, tells her that her daughter, Beatrice, has gone missing at the fair. Claire tries not to panic, tries not to think the worst, but she’s upset, and angry too - her husband was supposed to be with them, and he knows how forgetful Jill is, that they can’t trust her to care for Beatrice alone. As she drives to the fair, Claire’s stream of consciousness, first-person narrative captures the panic of her worst nightmare situation in all its intensity. Then the action switches to Jill’s account of events. “What a mess. How did this happen? Why did I take that call from Laurel? Is this really my fault? Surely not.” The fact that the story is told from multiple points of view adds to the suspense and intensity of the horrifying whodunit guessing game. As Claire’s world implodes, her doubts and paranoia escalate - stories aren’t adding up, and she doesn’t know who she can trust. Gripping stuff, and highly readable too. Purchase My Little Girl from: Amazon Apple Kobo Google
A tense and concerningly believable read, ‘Queentide’ by Donna Fisher is a dystopian fiction about women. Set in 2026 Australia (in the near future but not futuristic-feeling), authoritarianism is rife and women are fast losing their voice in the maelstrom of patriarchal outrage. In a sort of exacerbated truth, 2020 pandemic lockdowns led to an increase of domestic abuse reports, and a society that, instead of resolving these cases, turned the blame on women, leading to an escalation in harassment and prejudice. As I read I saw the modern world we live in now but twisted, as though perceived in a carnival mirror. The writing in this book is brilliant. The radio broadcast with Kathleen Rae had my blood boiling and the characterisation of slippery, manipulative politicians and media outlets were all so well crafted and believable. I enjoyed reading as Lillith grows in strength and confidence, and I was intrigued and daunted by Insley’s more aggressive path. There are plenty of strong female characters, with their own backstories, flaws and views that helped to demonstrate a realistic variety of feminist perspectives. Amongst the agenda of Queentide, and as with any brilliant story focusing on people, individual beliefs cause conflicts about what the end goal is, and the means to achieve it. Will Queentide be able to remain united? Will their plans make a positive difference or lead to a direct role reversal? An evocative merging of political thriller and dystopian fiction, ‘Queentide’ has claws. It is a gripping read with grit, heart and good intentions and I’d highly recommend it. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Paul Carlin’s ‘A Lawyer’s Story’ is a twisting and thrilling mystery filled with deceit and corruption. John Farrelly is a naïve young lawyer, forever in the shadow of his twin brother James and obsessed with a young single mother, Ava. Drawn into a web of secrets, where old patients are poisoned for their wealth, John has to choose between the object of his obsession and his family. 'A Lawyer’s Story’ focuses on John's reflections on his life, the actions he took early in his career as a young property lawyer in his father’s firm and the consequences of his actions. This is a thrilling read, rich in detail and infused with character. This is one of those books that has imagery that makes you pause and appreciate the writing “like a missing tooth in a punched mouth.” being the first of such instances for me. Taking us from 1947 to 2012, we see the landscape and the characters change from post war to the modern era, we see the characters develop and there’s time for the shadows of the past to slowly creep up and envelop the main characters. I found this novel a tense and gripping read. The flipping of perspectives between John and James allows you to witness events from both brothers, frame your opinions and sometimes have your theories on what happened unravelled. A great read for any crime thriller fans and one I’d recommend. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
‘The Spectacular’ by Billy Flynn, is a complex political thriller where three stories intertwine. Focusing on two modern conflicts involving the UK, Flynn’s action packed story is incredibly detailed and shows either his thorough understanding of Ireland and Afghanistan or a great deal of research. I was engrossed in the tense moment and educated on the nuances of both conflicts as I read. Although filled with action and twists, this book is more than a more superficial “all guns blazing” action story. The Author takes the time to introduce you to each storyline, letting you acclimate to each character and their perspective, all the while weaving threads of the storyline together. I was drawn even more into the story as key moments are re-lived from different perspectives, drip feeding extra detail. I felt each story is told objectively, there’s no “good guy vs bad guy” phrasing, as with most real-life conflicts, the perspective and knowledge you have when entering a situation is key. This is an immersive story, with plenty of action and grim gritty reality of warzones. A gripping and tense read from start to finish and a hint of potentially more stories to come. I think ‘The Spectacular’ will appear to anyone with an interest in political/military stories and those looking for a complex and twisting action read. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
‘A Spy In Quarantine’ is a brilliant and unique take on fiction using the recent pandemic as a plot device. When an academic study into coronavirus track and tracing stumbles across a U.S. spy, the named researchers and the ghost-writer who conducted and wrote the thesis, are at risk from more than just the virus. I think this plotline is really inventive and a twist on the “coronavirus fiction” I’ve seen appear that takes on a science fiction or almost dystopian twist. The concept of track and trace and what secrets each individual, each contact could be revealing is really excellent. I found it a really innovative plot choice and couldn’t wait to see where the story took me. We mainly follow Takis, a ghostwriter who is employed by university faculty and students alike to conduct research or write papers. A flawed but likeable character, as the plot starts to escalate this apparent ‘know-it-all’ quickly gets out of his depth, unsure of who to trust and what to do next. Along with Rachel, the girlfriend of one of the murdered grad students, Takis needs to work out whether he can be linked to the published paper and how to stay alive. I liked the characters and the developing relationship between Rachel and Takis as they slowly begin to trust one another as they try to work out what’s going on and why the grad students credited for writing the paper have been murdered. A brilliant concept executed well, with a great cast of characters and twists and turns that kept me immersed in the storyline until the very last page. I would recommend this book for all mystery fans. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
One Left Alive, the first in a new series by Helen Phifer, is a pacey, chilling psychological thriller driven by personality and a creeping sense of time running out. Rookie Detective Morgan Brookes is well and truly thrown in at the deep end when she’s called to a suicide scene. Though new to this, she feels bolstered “as the adrenalin kicked in. She hadn’t attended a suicide on her own before, but she had been to several when she was completing her training and in company with a more experienced officer. She was ready for this.” Ready or not, she’s first on the scene and takes charge. Too late to save the woman hanging from a tree in her front garden, Morgan realises that there’s more to this than initially meets the eye when the woman’s husband and daughters are found in the basement - at least one of her daughters is still alive. This fragile girl drives Morgan to do whatever it takes to solve the case, with added layers of intrigue and suspense coming courtesy of another body, and a case from the past. Fans of in-your-face thrillers will surely take satisfaction from trying to figure out the case alongside Morgan. The writing is bluntly impactful, with short to-the-point sentences, but evocative with it, and the tension escalates as it becomes clear that Morgan must make progress before someone comes for the girl. Purchase One Left Alive from: Amazon Apple Kobo Google
‘22 Stories Falling Up: A Novel’ by David Lawrence is a mystery steeped in technology and science fiction. In a world where technology is now able to merge with human consciousness, Emily and co-worker Phillip are on a quest to discover what happened in a secret project they were involved in. Left with few memories and feelings of distance and concern with no cause, the pair are eager to learn what happened in the Virtual Design project they signed up for, and why it was stopped. There’s lots of science fiction themes throughout this book. The advancement of technology, the AIs and interactions between people and technology are incredibly inventive and detailed, but not so detailed as to go over my head as I read. I like the idea of the party and Phillips and Emily’s journey taking place in a tower block, and their progression through the building almost like layers of encryption, requiring passing through before the truth and their memories are revealed. Aside from the technical aspects of Virtual Design, and the secret project, there’s other subtle science-fiction nods such as Emily’s apparent psychic abilities. These are referenced at the start and towards the end but I wonder whether these could be utilised a little more. The plot gets into full swing fairly quickly and the reader learns more about Phillip and Emily, their work, their relationship and the project as the story progresses. I did find at the start however that I would have liked a little bit more exposition, or something to help me form more of a connection with the main characters before the part got underway. I understand that more is meant to be revealed as the plot opens up but I personally feel I was missing an initial connection that made me care about finding the information out. I also still have questions about Phillip and Emily’s perspective. I felt I needed a bit more of an explanation about why they each perceived certain characters as different sexes, for example. This is a surreal story, which plays on the flaws we have as humans while presenting a technologically advanced quest for truth. Even though I was left with questions, it is a story I enjoyed and pondered over while I wasn’t reading. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Fast-paced and rippling with revelations, Samantha Hayes’s Date Night is a creepy page-turner for readers who like their thrillers unexpected - recommended for fans of Gone Girl. On the face of it, Libby seems to have it all - a husband, daughter, and expanding catering business. But disquieting truths lurk beneath the façade, beginning with the note left under her windscreen wipers. “Sean is having an affair,” it reads. Unsettled, Libby refuses to believe it, but doubts niggle and she confronts him. Then, on returning from a disastrous attempt at a reconciliatory dinner, they find their daughter alone - the babysitter has vanished and it’s not long before Libby stands accused of her murder. When she’s arrested, Libby’s shock and outraged disbelief are palpable: “This is me! I want to scream. Just me! I’m a mum, a wife, a daughter-in-law, a best friend. Aged thirty-nine with a four-year-old child, a husband, my own business, a stepson and a cat. I’ve got good friends, I’m well liked, I do Pilates and pay my taxes on time.” With shocking twists aplenty, and a dual timeline adding layers of intrigue, Date Night is written in an easily readable style, with lots of domestic detail as Libby is caught in a terrible web, wondering if anyone will believe her, as readers wonder who’s telling the truth. Purchase Date Night from: Amazon Apple Kobo Google
FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF OUR HOUSE, WINNER OF THE CRIME & THRILLER BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD COMES A NAIL-BITING STORY OF TRAGEDY AND REVENGE 'Louise Candlish is the queen of the sucker-punch twist' Ruth Ware He thinks he's safe up there. But he'll never be safe from you. The Heights is a tall, slender apartment building among the warehouses of Shad Thames, its roof terrace so discreet you wouldn't know it existed if you weren't standing at the window of the flat directly opposite. But you are. And that's when you see a man up there - a man you'd recognize anywhere. He's older now and his appearance has subtly changed, but it's definitely him. Which makes no sense at all since you know he has been dead for over two years. You know this for a fact. Because you're the one who killed him.
A snaking twisting ride into the middle of a young family torn apart by allegations of murder. When the police knock on the door of Beth and Tom Hardcastle the resulting investigation means that life will never be the same again. The author previously worked for the NHS and on completing a psychology degree then worked in a men’s prison facilitating rehabilitation programmes, she has also written thrillers under another name. While the title screams a high body count, the story weaves through the reactions of community and friendship as the allegation hits. The four narrators each have their own unique voice, with Beth and Tom speaking in the present, Katie in the past, while a further un-named narrator adds a decidedly chilling tone. These are characters who delight in provoking the reader, both in terms of decisions they make, and who they are. As I read my thoughts paused before moving down new paths as each voice and short chapter altered the plot in turn. The Serial Killer’s Wife is a read you can throw yourself into and race through, while the plot corkscrews itself through to a highly entertaining end.
I think the synopsis of ‘Anna’ describes this book perfectly. It is a “chilling” dystopian story. Many times throughout the story I felt chills and shudders of revulsion. Set in a near future where women can be captured, branded chained up and led around like an animal we meet Anna. Captured as she makes her way through the unlands we see her disturbing treatment at the hands of her captor. This is a dark and gritty story focused on domestic abuse, survival and a road to healing and recovery. It’s by no means a comfortable read and at times it reminded me of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. I always think there’s something expressly sinister about dystopian fiction in which characters remember “before”. There’s an initial atmosphere of loss that can be found in ‘Anna’; then not only have her loved ones been taken away, but to have her dignity and humanity stripped from her too is heartbreaking and painful at times to witness. As with ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, what Anna experiences is at times traumatic, and it’s not fun for the reader to watch it unfold, but we do. I carried on reading in the hopes that there would be revenge, redemption or freedom of some form at the end. This is a brutal story about a woman’s survival. This is an immersive read about finding hope in a dreary landscape, and that even idylls have dark corners. There are tempo changes and moments of hope, twists, reveals and times of real darkness too. The characters in this book are well-written and complex. The style of narration is interesting, we learn as Anna does and I was compelled to keep reading to discover what happens to her. The first part of the story made me uncomfortable but, although it sounds daft, I didn’t want to leave her there. A gritty, intense and powerful read. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Taut, intriguing and compelling, this story just flies as it weaves through the interwar years in Norway. A private investigator and his assistant take on what appears to be a straightforward case but their past haunts their present and they soon find themselves caught up in Nazi schemes. I adore Kjell Ola Dahl’s Oslo Detectives Series, and now his latest novels including The Courier, take a step into the past. He writes with an assured hand and translator Don Bartlett brings his world to life without you even realising he is there. The story flips between 1938 and 1924, each turn releasing information and tightening the connection between the two time periods. The plot is powerful, my thoughts spun, my feelings hesitated and altered as I read. It was fascinating to dwell in the time just before the Second World War, before the world experienced the full force and terror of the Nazi’s. A standalone novel, The Assistant is not only an action-packed, thrilling and chilling tale, it’s also smart and thought-provoking too. The LoveReading LitFest invited Kjell to the festival to talk about this thrilling and chilling tale. You can view the event by subscribing to the LitFest programme for as little as £6 per month - or you can pay per view. For just £2, go, see Kjell in conversation with Paul Blezard and find out why you won't want to miss this cracking read. Check out a preview of the event here
THE TRIAL OF A LIFETIME. BUT WILL IT BE HIS LAST? Heading home after winning his latest case, defense attorney Mickey Haller - The Lincoln Lawyer - is pulled over by the police. They open the trunk of his car to find the body of a former client. Haller knows the law inside out. He will be charged with murder. He will have to build his case from behind bars. And the trial will be the trial of his life. Because Mickey Haller will defend himself in court. With watertight evidence stacked against him, Haller will need every trick in the book to prove he was framed. But a not-guilty verdict isn't enough. In order to truly walk free, Haller knows he must find the real killer - that is the law of innocence...
Razor-sharp tightrope time with this belter of a read, it is as dramatic and different as it is fabulous. Discover two books in one novel as true crime is enveloped by breathtaking storytelling. Read Eve Black’s memoir as she searches for the man who murdered the rest of her family 20 years ago. Sitting by its side is the story of the killer Jim Doyle as he reads the book and fears he will be unmasked. This has such a clever premise, Catherine Ryan Howard ensures that this is one of the few instances where knowing the identity of the killer actually adds to the intensity and drama. The change from one book to the other doesn’t jar in the slightest, each embraces and calls to the other and the transition is seamless. The tension increases until it is fairly reverberating through the pages. I let myself be carried away in the story, and don’t forget, this is a story, and it works because there is no sneaking a peek at the end! The Nothing Man is a blast of pure reading entertainment, and has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book. Have a look at our Ambassador Book Buzz for The Nothing Man.
An absolute monster of a fabulous read! I smirked and chuckled my way through this thoroughly entertaining and smart comedic crime novel. It’s charity ball season in Palm Beach, when a prominent high-society member of the POTUSSIES (a group of women who support the President) goes missing, the President declares it was the fault of immigrant hordes. However, wildlife wrangler Angie Armstrong has just been tasked to deal with an influx of huge pythons, so the President might just be talking out of his behind. By the way, I am a titchy bit scared of snakes, but this didn’t affect my reading of this novel in any way. The President’s name is never mentioned, but Carl Hiaasen brilliantly lampoons the President that came between Obama and Biden, and I actually snorted with laughter on a number of occasions. I first read Carl Hiaasen’s novels for young adults, including Skink No Surrender but this is my first of his novels for adults. If you’re already a fan then you might just bump into a much loved character in Squeeze Me. This is a book that you can just throw yourself into and trust in the talent of the author. He isn’t just funny, the humour is pointed and makes a point. Squeeze Me is so irreverent, stimulating, and gorgeously readable, I already know that it will be one of my books of the year. Chosen as a Liz Pick and a Star Book, in the middle of dark times this is just what we needed, unless of course you are a fan of a certain someone!
Smart and smirky as heck, this is a furiously wonderful wow of a crime caper that will no doubt be sitting on my list of favourite books of the year. Ramesh has set himself up with a business sitting exams for the kids of India’s middle classes, it all goes spectacularly wrong when he accidentally scores the highest mark in the country. The opening slapped my attention, in fact from the first sentence I was as hooked as a hooked thing can be! This is Rahul Raina’s debut, and he has created the most extraordinary voice in Ramesh. Ramesh tells his own story, words spill from him in a torrent that feels so incredibly authentic even as my eyebrows reached for the stars. The words ganged together to create the most exhilarating story. The plot alternately sang or punched me in the guts, just when I felt comfortable, bang, my thoughts were swinging in free fall again. There is a political commentary to be found among the whirlwind wit and satire, however it certainly doesn’t preach, it just lays it out you to view, and then consider. How to Kidnap the Rich is a hugely entertaining wild ride, so good it had to be a Liz Pick of the Month and a LoveReading Star Book.
This is beautiful indeed, yet darkly intimate and almost claustrophobic in its intensity. 15 year old Natasha foretells tragedy when lights appear above her seaside town. As she tells the story of her past some 30 years later, she is still consumed by the events that occurred. I love Rachel Donohue’s writing, it is so haunting and powerful, she turns a spotlight on the shadow of things that sit in the background and brings them to the fore. Her first novel The Temple House Vanishing is on the surface very different, yet her assured and elegant eloquence is stamped over both books. I started to read The Beauty of Impossible Things and within a few sentences found myself intrigued and then consumed. I could taste Natasha’s words, they landed as a visual dance in my mind. There is an ageless quality to this storyline, even though it is set in the modern day. It felt as though the trappings of being different is a story that has and will be repeated again and again through history. Rich, close, and heavy with feeling, The Beauty of Impossible Things opens thoughts and sets them free. Rachel Donohue is our Putting Author in the Picture feature for May 2021. Click here to read our Q&A with her.
What an elegant, edge-of-your-seat triumph this is. Set near the ocean in 1980s San Francisco, Vendela Vida’s We Run the Tides explores the coming-of-age experiences of thirteen-year-old Eulabee and her best friend Maria Fabiola, an enigmatic, attractive, gets-whatever-she-wants kind of girl. They stride affluent Sea Cliff with supreme confidence - the streets are theirs, the world is theirs, and nothing can stop them: “We want to want. We want to love. We want to want love. We are on the precipice of having real boyfriends, of making out with them. We know this.” While walking to their elite girls’ school with other friends, they witness something disturbing. Or so Maria and the rest of the girls claim. Eulabee insists it didn’t happen - to her friends, and the police. Then, in the aftermath of this disagreement that sees Eulabee ostracised, Maria goes missing, prompting an outpouring of anxiety in the neighbourhood as the police investigate her suspected kidnapping. And so an intense entanglement - and unravelling - begins. The potency of teenage female friendship is masterfully evoked - tightly knotted, holding powerful sway, but also quick to fray. And Eulabee’s offbeat voice is mesmeric, authentic and often amusing, notably during the toe-curling account of her first sexual experience. Unique, unexpected, affecting and funny - you couldn’t ask for much more from a novel, and reading this has pushed the rest of Vendela Vida’s novels to the top of my must-read list.
From its arresting opening (“The child gushed out from twixt Vern’s legs ragged and smelling of salt. Slight, he was, and feeble as a promise”), Rivers Solomon’s Sorrowland is an exquisite fusion of folkloric atmosphere and raw human experience. Through the eyes of unforgettable, invincible Vern, and in luminously commanding language, Solomon explores racism, religion, misogyny and motherhood with magnificent boldness. Fifteen-year-old Vern’s firstborn arrived in the world without his mother’s albinism and his father’s “yellow-bonedness”. His skin was “dark-dark, and Vern found it hard to believe that the African ancestry that begat such a hue had ever once been disrupted by whiteness.” And then comes his twin - two brothers, Howling and Feral, born in the woods beyond the Blessed Acres of Cain compound that Vern fled two months ago. With origins in the Black Power movement, the religious community’s survivalist ethos stands her in good stead for a life in the wild - “she always had a way of getting what she needed from the earth”. Years pass and Vern tells her now-toddler sons about Cainland’s history, about the “white doctors who came in the night to rob Black People for medical experimentation” as she notices strange shifts in her body - it heals from terrible burns and rotting infections. “A side effect of the poison they’d been giving her giving her since birth” she thinks, soon deciding they must leave the woods. This unfamiliar outside world “increased Howling’s surliness and transformed Feral’s sweet curiosity into spirited adventurousness”, and the trio attract as much bewildered attention as the world bewilders them. As Vern’s sickness intensifies so too does the creeping sense of pursuit, and rising love and lusts, to create a bizarre and beautiful book that’s entirely unbridled by convention.
I rather enjoyed this book. A romance with a difference. Not your usual light romance, which I much prefer, something with a touch of the dark side about it. Grey finally leaves New York and a whole load of baggage behind her and heads to Berry Springs to rebuild her life. After a setback or two, she meets Declan, someone with his own history. Having said that he only appears in the book a third of the way through. The first part deals with Grey’s life challenges and how she takes them on. Ultimately, they both want to turn their lives around. I liked this book, it was refreshing and had honesty in it. Well written and plenty going on to keep my interest. Thanks for the opportunity to read this. Helen Lowry, A LoveReading Ambassador
An exquisitely unsettling and fabulous blast of speculative fiction awaits in this provocative, hard-hitting debut novel. An unknown virus that only kills men hits Glasgow in 2025, as it spreads, confusion, lies, and heartbreak follows. As Christina Sweeney-Baird explains in her author’s note, she wrote The End of Men before Covid 19 affected the world. While the current pandemic remained tucked away in my thoughts as I read, this is very much a work of fiction and the focus lies with a female lead society coping with life during and after a pandemic. This is told on a world scale over five years and is set as a gathering of memories, as though this event has already come to pass and you are reading a piercing slice of history. This novel contains a huge number of characters, and I felt as though I was observing them at a distance. Having said that, some characters return throughout the book, and I formed more of a bond, felt more of a connection with them. Short chapters, headed by the day after the outbreak and name of the character ensured my focus remained sharp and on point. There are bubbles of humour to be found along the way, as well as the more obvious emotions. Yes this is so very close to what is happening right now, but it is different enough to make this novel more readable as a result. Joining our LoveReading Star Book collection, The End of Men is a powerful, thought-provoking read that is both epic in scale and intimate in memories. The LoveReading LitFest invited Christina to the festival to talk about The End of Men. You can view the event by subscribing to the LitFest programme for as little as £6 per month - or you can pay per view. For just £2, go, see Christina in conversation with and find out why everyone should read this book. Check out a preview of the event here
A thrilling and enthralling novel that is just so beautifully easy to read I raced through it while inhaling every word. This is the prequel to the Detective Kubu series of books set in Botswana by the writing duo of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. If you’ve not read any of the previous books in the series then of course this is the perfect start! Detective David ‘Kubo’ Bengu is recruited from university straight into the position of Detective Sergeant in CID which causes consternation in his colleagues and makes his first job of a diamond robbery all that much harder. The cast of characters with phonetic pronunciations and map at the beginning are particularly helpful. I love the feel of this novel, it takes all the attributes of Kubo and paints with them, allowing you fall for this gently charismatic and fiercely intelligent man as he learns his trade. The storyline is riveting, sense of place vivid, and characters fascinating. Set in 1998 Facets of Death is an atmospheric, intriguing, and wonderfully readable crime novel I most definitely recommend.
TELL ME YOUR SECRETS… When Alice and Leo move into a newly renovated house in The Circle, a gated community of exclusive houses, it is everything they’ve dreamed of. But appearances can be deceptive… As Alice is getting to know her neighbours, she discovers a devastating, grisly secret about her new home, and begins to feel a strong connection with Nina, the therapist who lived there before. Alice becomes obsessed with trying to piece together what happened two years before. But no one wants to talk about it. Her neighbours are keeping secrets and things are not as perfect as they seem… The million-copy Sunday Times bestselling author B A Paris returns to her heartland of gripping psychological suspense in this powerful tale of a house that holds a shocking secret.
Beautifully-written, smoothly-readable, and waltzing with elegance and the intrigue of espionage, Tessa Morris-Suzuki’s The Lantern Boats is an accomplished work of historical fiction. Melding criss-crossing personal stories with the bigger-picture political climate of occupied Japan, it’s rich in details of time and place, with swathes of charisma that make single-sitting readings all but impossible to resist. Adding to the intrigue, the book’s characters are based on real people. The novel opens with an evocative scene describing the swell of the Sumida River illuminated by paper lanterns in a ritual for the dead, of which there are many as a result of the US firebombing raids that ended six years ago. Then we meet Kamiya Jun, a young war orphan with nothing - “no home, no family, no documents, no identity.” Being invisible makes him ideal spy material, and so he’s tasked by the Americans to spy on Vida Vidanto, a beautiful Japanese poet they suspect of being a communist spy. Meanwhile, part-Japanese, part-Scottish Elly Ruskin feels compelled to spy on Vida herself - she suspects her journalist husband, Fergus, of having an affair with the poet, and all while they’re in the process of adopting a child. The worlds of spy and spied-on intermesh powerfully when Fergus finds Vida’s strangled body, and then follows a gripping quick-fire succession of secrets unveiled, a tragic casualty, and hopeful beginnings.
Helen Stancey’s Relative Secrets is a highly readable story for readers who like to get lost in the drama and intrigue of other people’s relatable lives. Told in a straightforward style, with domestic detail and emotional ups and downs to heighten engagement, three generations of women are at the heart of this saga of family secrets. It’s set in 1999 and follows the family from the 1920s through to the millennium. The eldest of the women, Mary, is in a care home, her mind deteriorating. During a visit from grand-daughter Lucy, Mary makes strange statements that arouse Lucy’s curiosity. She tries to put them out of mind - until she finds a locket while clearing out Mary’s former room. Not wanting to upset her mother (not with her father gone, her elder brother away, and her little brother misbehaving), Lucy takes it upon herself to get to the bottom of the mystery - risking discovering truths that might unsettle the very foundations of their family. The drama builds slowly at first - there’s a considered, unhurried build-up, with lots of family backstory delivered before the revelations come. Then tension builds as Lucy delves deeper, and the questions keep coming - not merely what the secret is, but why it was covered-up. And, a question with universal resonance - is it sometimes better to simply let things be?
DISCOVER ONE OF THE MOST EXCITING CRIME THRILLERS YOU'LL READ THIS YEAR Detective Sara Hirst has moved from London to Norfolk Police’s Serious Crimes Unit. Under the brooding skies of North Norfolk, Sara faces her toughest case yet and finds that great beauty sometimes conceals great violence. Too many secrets. Too much pain. Too many leads. Dawn breaks as a dog-walker finds a dead body, half-naked and wrapped tightly in an old groundsheet. Sara is first on the scene. Who is the victim? And who will be next? Sara must take on some of Britain’s most wanted criminals if she’s to find out the truth. This crackling, twisty thriller set within the mysterious beauty of the east coast will have you flying through the pages right till the gripping end. Fans of Joy Ellis, J.M. Dalgliesh, Matt Brolly, Rachel Lynch and Angela Marsons, get ready for your next favourite detective.
A contemporary story of soulmate love set against the unusual backdrop of the Ithaca County Public Law Library. Jonah, the lead character in ‘A Thing With Feathers’ is a bit melodramatic and endearing as he searches for meaning, literary inspiration and his great love. The plot centres around two lawyers who feel deeply alienated from a corrupt legal system and decide to become law librarians who help the public by offering free legal information and research support in the Ithaca County Public Law Library. As with any community, the visitors and staff at the library are all distinct and unique, with their own problems, flaws and circumstances. The author’s love of literature and research comes through as references to great literary works and creators such as Poe and Emily Dickinson are threaded through the narrative. It almost makes you feel like you’re learning as you read and most definitely inspires you to go back and revisit your own favourite poets and poems. There’s humour and heart in this story and I enjoyed reading it. I understand that ‘A Thing With Feathers’ is in part inspired by the author’s own experience of the law profession and his knowledge of the subject matter shines through in a believable setting and context for Jonah and Julia to meet. I liked Jonah and found myself eager to read on to see if he would find his modern-day Emily Dickinson. A great read for fans of literary fiction.
Picture it. You’re going on holiday. The bags are packed and the family is ready, you’re at the gate, the plane is boarding, you’ve decided to start your brand new, especially purchased thriller right away. Suddenly, you’re immersed into the corridors of intrigue, conspiracy, murder, espionage and you don’t know who to trust. The plane has left without you. So has the family. You haven’t even noticed. At least you have a good book … and the whole house to yourself for a week!
This section is crammed with dangerously compelling adventures that will have your nails bitten and nervous system tested to the full. From Dan Brown, Stieg Larsson and James Patterson to Fred Vargas, Bernard Minier and C.J Sansom, there’s enough here to keep you ‘head-down and out-of-it’ for years. There’s certainly time to read one more before the family gets back from Torremolinos … and that’s where we come in!