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Dark Waters by G R Halliday

4star.jpg Crime

Twenty-two-year-old Annabelle Whittaker made her second mistake when she opted to drive down the private road in Glen Turrit. It was a long road through some breath-taking scenery and she could push the car to its limits without fear of being caught speeding. When the blond child stepped out in front of her she instinctively jerked the steering wheel and hit a tree. When she came round after the accident she couldn't work out where she was, but it obviously wasn't a conventional hospital. She'd made her first mistake some time ago, although the realisation wouldn't be obvious to her for a long time. She'd made it when she chose to have her father buy her a pale blue BMW M4. Full Review



Cry Baby by Mark Billingham

4.5star.jpg Crime

It's June 1996 and football's European Championships are about to start in London. DS Tom Thorne is having a nightmare and it's one he has regularly. It relates to a case from ten years earlier when he knew that a man was guilty, but didn't take any action until the man's wife and three children had been murdered and the man had killed himself.

Cat Coyne and Maria Ashton are with their sons Kieron and Josh. It's a happy combination in that the boys are devoted to each other and - despite differences in the where and how they live - the women are best friends. The boys are seven-year-old and they play on the swings in the park and then dash off to play hide and seek in Highgate Wood. Josh was the one doing the hiding - but he returned tearfully to the women: Kieron never came to find him and now he can't find Kieron. Full Review


The Lies You Told by Harriet Tyce

5star.jpg Thrillers

Year six student Robin Spence isn't happy about having to start a new school. She's left the school she loved in New York and now she's going to Ashams in North London. It's very upmarket; places are rare as hens' teeth and as the pupils have all been there forever, they have their established groups. Robin's going to be an outsider. And why is this happening? Well, over a matter of a few days her parents' marriage fell apart. Andrew Spence is staying in New York - he works for a securities firm - and her mother, Sadie Roper, has come back to London to pick up her practice as a criminal barrister. That's easier said than done when you've been out of the market place - and the country - for more than ten years. Full Review


The Turning Tide (Dandy Gilver) by Catriona McPherson

4star.jpg Crime (Historical)

Those who were with us at the end of A Step So Grave will remember that Donald was engaged to Mallory Dunnoch. They're now married and Mallory is having twins. When they arrive no one can doubt the charms of Lavinia Dahlia Cherry and her brother, Edward Hugh Lachlan Gilver. There are two drawbacks: they're noisy and they're staying with Dandy and Hugh. Dandy and her detective partner, Alec Osborne, had not taken up the chance to look into a problem at the Cramond ferry when it was offered to them twice before, but suddenly the possibility of being out of the house at Gilverton seems irresistible. Full Review


Shed No Tears by Caz Frear

4.5star.jpg Crime

In November 2012 Christopher Masters, the man who would become known as 'the roommate killer', strangled three women in a fortnight. When he was arrested he admitted the killings. A fourth death was attributed to him - that of Holly Kemp - and on occasions, Masters admitted to the killing, then he denied it - then admitted it, then denied it. He played with the police, but there was sufficient evidence on the first three killings to put him away for a long time and the CPS were not convinced about the Holly Kemp case. There was no body and once Masters was murdered in prison, no hope of progressing the case further. Full Review


Hawk: A Maximum Ride Novel by James Patterson

4star.jpg Teens

Hawk has been waiting on the same street corner, every day, for years. She is waiting for her parents to come and get her. They left her there when she was just tiny, and although she's almost certain that they are never coming back for her, she continues to head back there each day, just in case. Hawk isn't your ordinary street urchin though...she has wings, and can fly! Since she was abandoned she's been living with a group of other children, all with interesting characteristics of their own and together they've made their own family. But now the city is seemingly even more troubled than usual, there's a mysterious child-killer who has been brought to the prison next door to where the children live, and then one day Hawk comes home to find her family have been taken away. Where have they been taken, and can Hawk rescue them before it's too late? Full Review



The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard

5star.jpg Thrillers

When we first meet Jim Doyle, he's about to get a shock. He's security at a supermarket and he's watching a woman who is acting suspiciously. She has a book tucked under her arm and he wonders if she's planning to pay for it. Suddenly it drops to the floor with the spine splayed upwards. Nothing Man by Eve Black, is the title. Why is Jim shocked? Well, Jim was - is - the Nothing Man who, until eighteen years ago raped and killed. The author of the book was twelve years old when Jim raped her mother, and then killed her, her father and her seven-year-old sister, Anna. Full Review


Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

5star.jpg Thrillers

When you wear a hood, you're invisible.

Saffyre Maddox is seventeen-years-old and beautiful. By her own admission, she's a bit of a boffin, doing and enjoying maths, physics and biology at A level. Life hasn't been easy for her: most people who have been close to her have died and she's now living with her Uncle Aaron in an eighth-floor flat. Something really, really bad happened to her when she was ten and she self-harmed for a long time. Aaron organised psychological help and for three years Roan Fours was her therapist. He gently unpeeled the layers of her psyche, but somehow managed to miss that 'something really, really bad'. When the therapy ended Saffyre felt cast adrift, but she retained an interest in Roan. Full Review


Every Little Piece of My Heart by Non Pratt

4star.jpg Teens

Freya was a beautiful, popular and complex girl, loved by many and seemingly stable in her existence as a queen bee 16-year-old student, complete with best friend and the promise of the end of GCSEs just months away. But one day, on January 1st, she just... left. No explanation. No warning. No goodbye. No one heard from her since. A once active social profile left deserted. So, when her best friend Sophie receives a mysterious parcel from her 5 months after, she expects it to contain answers of some kind, but is surprised to find the parcel contains another layer addressed to a complete stranger, and then another layer to another person and another, each containing an item unique to them and Freya, connecting 4 strangers through her mystery and the promise of 'treasure' at the end of it all. With each parcel, a new layer of the story and of Freya is unwrapped - and painful truths come to light that threaten to break bonds, both new and old. Can what's been broken be fixed? And why did Freya leave? Full Review


Seven Devils by Laura Lam and Elizabeth May

4star.jpg Science Fiction

Eris is one of the foremost operatives of the Novantae, a resistance movement fighting against the ruthlessly expansionist Tholosian Empire – an Empire she was destined to inherit in her past life as Princess Discordia, whom everyone believed has been dead for years. Clo, an ace pilot for the Novantae, has a mission: hijack a Tholosian spacecraft to gather information vital to the war effort. Although she's less than pleased to discover that her former friend Eris is her partner on this mission. Things get more interesting as the mission commences; aboard the ship are three defectors with a secret that could potentially cripple the Empire. Eris's brother Damocles, the runner-up heir to the Empire, is plotting to disrupt peace talks between Tholos and the last of the free alien species. It's a race against time as the rebels move to put a stop Damocles' plans, with millions of lives hanging in the balance… Full Review



Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi

5star.jpg Crime (Historical)

It's 1930 and Megan and Henry are staying with Bunny at his house in Spain. It's unbearably hot and Bunny drank too much at lunch: he's going to have a rest and then he wants to talk to Megan and Henry about something serious. Only it never gets that far: when Bunny doesn't emerge after his siesta his guests find that he's been murdered. How can that have happened? There's no one else in the house, so one of them must be the killer. Full Review


Love Frankie by Jacqueline Wilson

4.5star.jpg Teens

Frankie is nearly fourteen. Being nearly fourteen is not easy when your mum has been diagnosed with MS when your dad has decided to leave her for another woman, when your older sister has turned into the girliest girl who ever lived, and, above all when Sally and her mates are bullying you at school. Oh, and when Sam, your best friend since forever, suddenly starts sending out signs that he might fancy you - and you don't fancy him back.

Poor Frankie! Full Review


The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky

4.5star.jpg Science Fiction

Wow – this novel is gigantic, in every sense of the word. "Epic" is a word that's thrown around a lot these days, but if a book ever earned the name it's this one. It's a doorstopper full of big ideas, and at times it almost felt too big for my brain. Full Review



Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed

3.5star.jpg Teens

In the end, we all become stories

Spending the summer in Paris sounds like a dream for most people, especially art-lovers, but Khayyam can't relax and stop thinking about the mess she left behind in Chicago. On a chance encounter with a descendant of Alexandre Dumas, Khayyam finds herself on a historical journey with him to unveil the truth about the 19th century Muslim woman who may have crossed paths with Alendre Dumas, Eugene Delacroix and Lord Byron. As the two teenagers travel the city they not only discover themselves, but uncover the true story of the woman and why it was one that should never have been forgotten. Full Review



Voyage of the Sparrowhawk by Natasha Farrant

5star.jpg Confident Readers

Set in England in the aftermath of World War One, this is the story of two children, Lotti and Ben, who have lost everyone they love, but don't want to let go of their last, tiny glimpses of hope. Ben is living on a narrowboat on the canal, lying to the police about his brother's imminent return from the battlefields to take care of him. Lotti, meanwhile, has been expelled from school and is back at home; it's a beautiful house that belongs to her but that her terrible Aunt and Uncle currently have guardianship for. The day Lotti meets Ben (the day she steals a dog!) is the beginning of a deep, and powerful friendship. It sees them become each other's family, and undertake a perilous trip to France, in the boat, to try to find out the truth of the people they both love. Full Review



She Lies Close by Sharon Doering

4star.jpg Thrillers

Ava Boone was five years old when she went missing, around 6 months ago. There has been no sign of her since, and no arrests have been made. And yet, this book is not about Ava. Not really. This book is about Grace, who has just discovered her neighbour in her new house is a suspect in Ava's disappearance. As a single mother to two young children, she's really wishing this sort of information had come to light before they moved in. Full Review



The Bone Shard Daughter (The Drowning Empire) by Andrea Stewart

4.5star.jpg Fantasy

I could never be what he wanted if I did not take what I wanted

In an empire controlled by a bone shard magic that powers animal-like constructs, an heir to the throne, a smuggler, and a warrior will fight to find their place in the world.

Lin is the emperor's forgotten daughter, kept locked away in a palace of secrets and closed doors. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to show him she is capable of reviving a dying empire and in secret, she begins to unlock one door after another, searching for the mysteries of her past and the forbidden art of bone shard magic.

Yet Lin is playing a deadly game and her quest for power will come at great cost. With revolution in the air and creeping closer and closer to the gates of the palace, Lin must decide just how far she will to go to become a catalyst of change and save her people. Full Review



The Readers Room by Antoine Laurain and Emily Boyce, Jane Aitken and Polly Mackintosh (translators)

3.5star.jpg General Fiction

Violaine's publishing house has had a great success, and it was through the slush pile of unsolicited manuscripts. The three people who work in the Readers' Room to sift through what is ninety nine per cent dross – plus the fourth advisor in her rarefied mansion up the road – all agreed the book would be a huge smash, and so it has proven. But there are several 'howevers' to that. As in, however – Violaine herself is not having life all her own way, for she has been involved in a near-fatal accident, and starts this book coming round from a coma. And, however – despite all urging, the author of the book has never once made themselves known to the publishers in person, and in fact offered up a most peculiar statement-come-threat in their last email. What is going to befall Violaine, her memory, her staff – and how much is any of it due to the hit novel? And just where the heck did that come from? Full Review



The Time Traveller and the Tiger by Tania Unsworth

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Elsie is an ordinary sort of girl. The sort of small girl who often gets overlooked, and forgotten. She is quiet, and compliant, and makes the best of whatever happens to her. So when her parents forget that her school holidays have started before they are free to take care of her, they have to arrange for her to go and stay with her Great Uncle for a week. Poor Elsie, forgotten again, just decides to make the best of things. On investigating the house she finds that her Great Uncle had lived in India as a boy, and he has an enormous tiger rug on the floor of one of the rooms. When Elsie asks him about the rug he seems unhappy, and he says he has to keep it because he was the one who shot the tiger when he was 12 years old, and he says it was the worst thing he ever did. So when Elsie suddenly finds herself magically transported back many, many years, to the time in India when her Great Uncle was 12 years old, she believes that she must try to stop him from killing the tiger, in order to put something right that happened a long time ago. Full Review


Betrayal by Lilja Sigurdardottir and Quentin Bates (translator)

3star.jpg Crime

Meet Ursula, the stand-in minister, drafted in from outside the leading party to cover the post for a year. You might get to meet her hunky husband she can't believe she deserves, and the children who are ignorant of just how she spent all her empathy for them on previous jobs in the foreign aid charity sector. You'll meet her ministry's cleaner, who bizarrely has fallen into the task of helping a famous newsreader with her Tinder profile. You'll certainly meet a homeless tramp, who has taken one look at a newspaper image of Ursula, and, knowing her of old, decided she needs saving from the devil posing beside her. You'll meet the ministerial bodyguard and driver the tramp almost immediately forces Ursula to accept. But as for the first ministerial case, of a woman demanding her daughter's rape get looked at and pronto, nobody can say, for all records of Ursula's meeting with the woman have been wiped… Full Review



When I Come Home Again by Caroline Scott

4.5star.jpg Historical Fiction

1918 and a young man is arrested in Durham Cathedral. He refuses to give a name, no matter how hard they push he will not say who he is. Eventually they determine this isn't wilful obstinance, he doesn't answer because he doesn't know. He remembers being on the road for a long time, and being frightened, and some of the faces from the road, but other than that – everything that came before has gone. They need a name for the forms and so they call him Adam and, because he was found in the Galilee Chapel, it becomes Adam Galilee. A fanciful name for a tired young man in a dishevelled uniform who doesn't know who he is, where he is or how he got there. Full Review

19 AUGUST 2021


End of Summer by Anders de la Motte

4star.jpg Crime

In the summer of 1983, little Billy Nilsson goes missing. He was chasing a rabbit, through the garden, and into the maize field behind. He has not been seen since. In the present day, Veronica Lindh is a grief counsellor running group therapy sessions for the bereaved – although she clearly has problems of her own: anxiety, panic attacks, a scar on her arm that she keeps obsessively hidden and she is barely hanging on to her job. It's clear that she has just returned to work after an episode that seems to have resulted in restraining orders against her, a deal of therapy, a change of location and her supervisor is watching closely. As well, he needs to. Full Review



House of Correction by Nicci French

5star.jpg Crime

When we first meet Tabitha Hardy, she's in prison, on remand. She's sharing a cell with Michaela, who's more caring than she first appears. She delivers tough love and gets Tabitha eating and drinking - and encourages her to have a shower, unpleasant as the whole processes might be. And how did Tabitha get here? Well, on 21 December the body of Stuart Robert Rees was discovered in her garden shed by Andrew Kane, who was helping with the renovations to Tabitha's house. So far as the police are concerned, Tabitha is the only person who could have killed Rees - and when they arrived at her house she was covered in his blood. Full Review



The Seven Doors by Agnes Ravatn and Rosie Hedger (translator)

4star.jpg Crime

Come here for a thriller that interestingly doesn't even try to suggest a genre of any kind until we're a full fifth of the way through. We start with our couple, she a literature lecturer, he big in medical provision and decisions at the council, being forced to move out of their home, a building that had existed throughout her life since childhood and which they'd occupied for over thirty years. The building he's inherited, meanwhile, and which they let out to a single mother, is needed by their adult daughter, who quite blatantly says to its occupant 'take a hike, I'm moving in and you're moving out'. Now, at this stage you may well, if you know this is a genre read, think it's going to be a throwback to those 'home invasion' thrillers Hollywood gave us in the 1980s, but no. We avoid genre completely, as I say – instead learning about Greek tragedy, in case that has any bearing on what happens here, and seeing how an older-middle aged couple live their lives. Until at that twenty per cent stage we find something that raises an eyebrow as any crime book should – until the point where the evicted tenant is found to have completely vanished. Full Review