My Darling Daughter is the fifth book written by Tony Strong under the pseudonym of JP Delaney and I’ve (now) read and enjoyed all five. They lean strongly to domestic noir, featuring secrets kept between partners or husbands and wives and challenging relationships to breaking point. They’re also consistently clever and offer a number of twists and surprises so readers generally need to be prepared to strap themselves in.
Even the blurb for The Blame Game by Sandie Jones is quite clever. Two voices. Two truths. Or one truth seen two ways perhaps? Either way… Jones offers up quite a few twists and a myriad of ethical dilemmas. I wonder if this should be used (for example) as a text book for psychology / counselling students as a warning about what happens when you cross the therapist / client boundary!!! Like a ‘what not to do’.
I must begin my review of Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney by saying how much her writing blew me away. I was only 9 pages in and realised I’d flagged quotes I’d like to use – either beautifully written prose or casually delivered poignant insights – and almost filled a page of the notebook I keep beside the bath (where I read).
I sometimes assume the writing in plot-driven books should hover in the background. Unnoticed so as not to distract readers from the unfolding action, but the seemingly effortless eloquence (I very much noticed here) did not detract at all from the plot.
A publishing friend of mine (who knows of my penchant for crime fiction) suggested I’d like debut novel, White Noise by Mercedes Mercier. And they certainly weren’t wrong. I had the opportunity to read an early copy back in February, but decided to wait for the final before posting my review. Of course an unexpected trip away meant I wasn’t here when the final copy arrived, but now I’m back home I’ve been able to re-read Mercier’s debut novel and again very much enjoyed meeting prison psychologist Lauren.
Into the Dark by Fiona Cummins is the fourth book I’ve read by the English author and she certainly does domestic noir brilliantly. I was fooled here for much of the novel and quite surprised by the direction it takes. I note in my review of When I Was Ten I commented on her adding in a few twists when we assumed we had all of the answers and she does the same thing here. It takes a clever writer to keep secrets from her readers when her narrators are seemingly telling us everything we need to know.
In naming his third novel Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone, I think Benjamin Stevenson might have been attempting to rival Adrian McKinty’s Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly. When it comes to book title length I mean!
I’ve very much enjoyed Stevenson’s previous novels, Greenlight and Either Side of Midnight. They both featured a crime documentary-maker and were set in TV land. The lengthily named Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone is a departure, but almost certainly my favourite (of his) to date and I can’t imagine it not being one of my favourite books of the year. And that’s all because of its telling.
All She Wants by Kelli Hawkins is about a woman who wants a family… a woman who is desperate for a family. I mean ostensibly she wants a baby, but she really wants the whole kit and caboodle. A family. As someone who went through fertility treatment in my early 40s (as a single woman) I could relate to some of Lindsay’s obsessiveness and the daydreams of a long-expected child.
I could similarly relate to how much it smarted to see others with children, taking it for granted and seemingly rubbing it in my face – though of course they weren’t. The pill nonetheless was bitter.
The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen is the fourth book I’ve read by the editor/writer duo and all four books have a place on my bookshelf which is a clear indicator I’ve enjoyed them enough to decide to keep them – which I don’t often do nowadays.
Their latest is another twisty and intriguing tale that I very much enjoyed. It wasn’t quite what I expected which is a good thing. At its centre is a disgraced therapist and I was expecting someone dodgy with nefarious motivations which is not at all the case.
Lucy Foley’s 2021 novel The Guest List was popular with readers and critics alike so it bodes well that I actually enjoyed her latest novel The Paris Apartment even more. It’s choc-o-block full of twists and surprises – bumping this up to a rare 4.5 star rating from me.
However… I have to confess the unlikeability of basically ALL of the characters meant I was tempted to be less generous. Though, of course I realise (in some ways) Foley’s issuing a challenge to we readers to dislike yet engage with [our lead protagonist in particular] at the same time.