The manuscript of I Shot The Devil by Ruth McIver won the coveted Richell Prize for Emerging Writers in 2018. It certainly has it all. McIver’s writing is eloquent and stylistic, we’re offered an intriguing plot as well as interesting and complex characters.
Such a Quiet Place is the fourth of US author, Megan Miranda’s novels I’ve read. It’s about the aftermath of murder in a (kinda) gated community, setting up an intriguing locked room-type mystery. Almost. To the relief of the locals someone was arrested and convicted of the crime. But there’s now the question of whether they were actually guilty.
It has to be said… ‘Oh my god, how many secrets can one family have?’ Although, having said (exclaimed?) that some of the secrets Adler family members are keeping are blown (by the keeper) way out of proportion. Of course, others are doozies, so….
The Perfect Family by Robyn Harding is centred around a family that seems to be just that. And we’re told parents Thomas and Viv work hard to make it appear so. But cracks are appearing. All at once, and it’s a reminder that – from the outside – you never know what’s happening on the inside.
The Whispers by Heidi Perks is an intriguing read. It’s one of those books featuring a narrator who may – or may not – be reliable. On one hand they appear entirely normal and only worried about a missing friend, but on the other their behaviour seems excessive. Bordering on obsessive and increasingly worrying.
But then it seems that others are keeping secrets so we’re not entirely sure who to trust.
One of Michael Robotham’s very popular standalone books The Secrets She Keeps, examines an unlikely friendship between two women. His latest release When You Are Mine is similarly themed, featuring a toxic friendship that shifts into obsession.
It occurs to me some of Robotham’s best work seem to be less about the solving of crimes and more about people; human nature – the best of it and the worst – and it’s this insight into our behaviour, that make his books addictive reads.
It’s very weird to read two similar books in close succession. Obviously it’s not the fault of either author, both of whom have invested significant time and energy in their story ideas.
Falling by TJ Newman is an excellent thriller featuring a pilot whose family (back home) is held hostage; the captors threatening to kill them if he doesn’t purposely crash his plane, killing everyone onboard.
Clare Mackintosh’s latest book Hostage is similarly themed, though focussed on a flight attendant whose young daughter is threatened unless she (the mother, not the 5 year old!) takes down the plane.
In her latest novel, Dream Girl, Laura Lippman is able to draw on her knowledge and experience of writing and the publishing industry to offer up a fairly blunt insight into the life of an author.
Through her lead character Gerry, she also offers some commentary on ‘cancel culture’. I couldn’t quite decide if she was supportive of society’s current penchant for calling out bad or inappropriate behaviour and prejudices, or slightly cynical about how easily some to use (the notion of) ‘cancel culture’ to dismiss stuff that annoys us or with which we disagree. Either way, Gerry finds himself constantly wondering if he’s able to say something or think something lest he be berated for its inappropriateness. It’s interesting because, as we gain more insight into his character and his background there’s a sense that the ‘he doth protest too much’ thing is actually rather warranted.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides was released in 2019 and I very much enjoyed the British-Cypriot’s debut novel. In my review I talk about Michaelides’s background in psychology which allowed him to offer readers insight into therapeutic relationships. I also commented that I was very surprised by a twist at the end and – it has to be said – the same things are true of his new novel, The Maidens.
There’s less of a focus on psychotherapy here – though our lead character is a group counsellor – but it’s still very much a psychological thriller and I really did not pick whodunnit as Michaelides crafts a brilliantly complex web of intricate threads that could take us any number of places.
I was a tad worried Legacy by Nora Roberts would be a bit saga-ish. I love her romantic suspense novels and ADORE her JD Robb series, but the blurb here sounded a bit more Barbara Taylor Bradford circa 1990ish.
Thankfully it wasn’t. We do meet our lead Adrian at various stages of her childhood then on a few occasions during her adult life but it’s less about generations of women or families and their legacies and more about Adrian herself.
It takes a little while to get to the ‘suspense’ part of this book but I liked Adrian and the fact her ambition is balanced with a sense of humanity, so was happy to be along for the ride.