“Many people, myself among them, feel better at the mere sight of a book.”
Jane Smiley, Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel
Some personal thoughts on books I have read, starting with my top ten from 2017 out of 37 books including four debut titles (*). Towards the end of 2016, I joined The Book Club on Facebook – affectionately known as TBC. I have been introduced to many authors new to me through this group. Psychological / crime thrillers are undoubtedly my go to genre and that is certainly reflected in this list, but I do mix it up with some contemporary and literary fiction.
In no particular order (links included to Amazon Kindle editions):
The Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman
I also read two other titles by Rowan Coleman in 2017 – The Memory Book and We Are All Made of Stars – both wonderful. The Summer of Impossible Things was Rowan’s new publication and I loved it. In essence, a story of love set in the present and the summer of 1977 in Brooklyn. It is atmospheric, descriptive, magical, compelling and, for a while at least, you can believe that anything is possible. Definitely one to savour and take your time with.
PS This title is now on the list for Zoe Ball’s Book Club – more details on this here: www.thebookseller.com/news/itv-launches-zoe-ball-book-club-specsavers-786476
Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson*
This book is very dark at times and not for the faint of heart, but it is a real page-turner. Set in Falkenberg, London and Buchenwald, the story is cleverly plotted, very well written - the translator, Maxim Jakubowski, deserves recognition too, chilling, raw, emotional and a very impressive debut. I look forward to reading more from this author.
The Surrogate by Louise Jensen
Having also read The Gift and The Sister by Louise Jensen during 2017 which were both excellent, I was keen to read The Surrogate. It did not disappoint. Cleverly weaving strands from the past and present of the characters, you are kept wondering who is telling the truth. Plenty of twists and turns before the dark secrets are revealed.
Mother by S.E. Lynes
I thought Valentina, Susie Lynes' first book, was really good but Mother is exceptional. Superb writing, intriguing plot, brilliant characters and a cunning twist.
Quieter Than Killing by Sarah Hilary
The fourth in the DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake series which gets better and better. I would recommend reading them in order (Someone Else's Skin – which won the Theakston's Crime Novel of the Year in 2015, No Other Darkness and Tastes Like Fear) to get the back story of Marnie Rome which is harrowing to say the least. Sarah Hilary has an incredible knack of delving into difficult topics – domestic abuse, postpartum psychosis, homelessness and teenage gangs respectively in the series. Police procedurals really don't get any better than this. The fifth book Come and Find Me was published on 22 March 2018.
He Said / She Said by Erin Kelly
I've enjoyed Erin Kelly's books ever since her first, The Poison Tree, was published in 2010. He Said / She Said follows the story of Laura and Kit after Laura witnesses a brutal attack in the aftermath of the total eclipse of 1999 in Cornwall. It is tense, gripping, twisty and as superbly written as Erin's other titles.
Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
Cleverly marketed in social media with #WTFthatending, this book transforms from a love triangle to a superb suspense thriller. I defy anyone to guess the ending. WTF indeed.
Rattle by Fiona Cummins*
A chilling crime thriller that was recommended by a former colleague. It is dark, disturbing and creepy but also shows great humanity. I have now also read the sequel, The Collector, which was equally gripping.
Exquisite by Sarah Stovell*
Another dark and twisted psychological thriller, and yet so much more than that. A clever construction with events being related alternately by the two main characters, Bo Luxton and Alice Dark, who meet at a writer’s retreat. This is a story of obsession and just when you think you’ve got the measure of what is going on, you turn the page and have to reconsider. Truly exquisite.
Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear*
A deserving winner of the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition, this is a police procedural with brilliant dialogue, a tense plot and moments of humour. DC Cat Kinsella is a fabulous character – flawed but ultimately with her heart in the right place. I was pleased to learn that Caz is working on book 2 and that this may be serialised for television.