Sulari Gentill adds an intriguing wrinkle to the mystery genre with “The Woman in the Library,” which sees Winifred “Freddie” Kincaid arriving in Boston from Australia as the recipient of a prestigious writers’ fellowship. While contemplating her manuscript in the Boston Public Library, a woman’s scream pierces the stillness, which becomes the central conceit of her novel: that of a group of strangers united by a piercing cry.Read more
Mick Herron’s caustically satirical spy series continues with “Bad Actors,” its eighth instalment, which deals with the disappearance of Sophie de Greer, a ‘superforecaster’ employed by the British government — who might be a Russian agent, which would be very bad news indeed for the man who hired her; Anthony Sparrow, the Prime Minister’s key adviser; and for MI5 chief Diane Taverner, who must rely on Jackson Lamb’s ragtag collection of misfits, failures and exiles to dig her out of a very black hole.Read more
Tristan Bancks is my go-to author for young readers who come into the bookshop desperate for something pacy and addictive. I can’t rave highly enough about “Two Wolves,” “Detention” and (my favourite) “The Fall.” Bancks knows how to create a killer hook, a scintillating premise that demands exploration; and his characters are always fully-fledged concoctions, accoutred with authentic foibles and imperfections. He writes thrillers with heart and personality; page-turners that pose moral dilemmas for their young protagonists.Read more
“The Heron’s Cry” is my first Ann Cleeves, and it most assuredly will not be my last. There’s no reason why it’s taken me so long to get around to reading the prolific creator of the Vera Stanhope mysteries and the Shetland series (among others…) — my only excuse is that I only have so much time to read so many crime writers, and Cleeves slipped through the cracks. Well, no longer.Read more
Continuing my sojourn through the books I studied in High School with William Golding’s “The Lord of the Flies,” which wears its themes on its sleeves, and whose lack of subtlety makes it easy to digest and commentate. Of all the books I remember reading for class, this is the one whose essay formed most easily.Read more
“Shadows Reel” is not the place to start the Joe Pickett series. Never mind that it’s the twenty-second instalment — really, the expanse of a series should never prohibit new readers from jumping into the fray — but C.J. Box’s latest picks up directly from last year’s stellar “Dark Sky,” with Joe’s old pal, master-falconer Nate Romanowski teaming up with Black Lives Matter activist Geronimo Jones to hunt down Axel Soledad, who we last saw beating Nate’s wife, threatening his baby, and stealing his birds.Read more
In Jessamine Chan’s “The School for Good Mothers,” Frida Liu — a recently divorced Chinese American mother of 18-month old Harriett — makes the imprudent, sleep-deprived decision to leave her daughter at home alone for a few hours to head into the office and catch up on work. When the authorities discover Harriett unattended, Frida’s parental rights are rescinded pending the outcome of her stay at a live-in rehabilitation program for bad mothers. If she can prove herself a better mother, she’ll be reunited with Harriett. If not, her parental rights will be severed entirely, and she won’t be able to see her daughter again — ever.Read more
I believe Harlan Coben is at his best when he writes about everyday people — like you and me — thrust into crazy situations. Take “No Second Chance,” for example, which is about Marc Seidman’s desperate measures to recover his kidnapped daughter. Or “Run Away,” when Simon Greene spots his runaway daughter in Central Park, reigniting his quest to reunite his family.Read more
My relationship with Anne Tyler seems to me like a fine wine — it improves with age. I marvel at her ability to recycle familiar themes and reconstitute them. It is incredible to think that she has been examining middle-and-working-class Baltimorean families for almost 60 years and is still able to glean the tiniest, subtlest observations that bring her characters to life, and contribute to their authentic veneer. There is no such thing as a bad Anne Tyler novel: they exist on a sliding scale that wavers between good and great. This one is somewhere in the middle, which means it’s definitely worth your time.Read more
Adrian McKinty’s The Island is an audacious, breathless, pulse-pounding survival thriller that’ll have readers biting their nails to the quick as they race through its pages to see who makes it out alive.
An idyllic working vacation to Australia turns holiday from hell when a family from Seattle ventures onto Dutch Island in Victoria, where trespassers aren’t so much prosecuted as they are, well, executed by the close-knit and sadistic clan who calls it home.
The family in question consists of father Tom, his new wife Heather, and his adolescent children, Owen and Olivia. Although Tom’s in Melbourne for a medical conference, he agrees to play tourist for a day to gratify his kids and possibly ease some of the tension between them and their step-mum.Read more