Cleeves, Ann (2015) The Moth Catcher. Macmillan. In a quiet community in Northumberland there are three murders in rapid succession, with little evidence to connect them. DI Vera Stanhope and her team of detectives arrive on the scene shattering the retirement peace of a claustrophobic local country development. What deadly secrets are this cloistered community hiding? In her seventh novel in the Vera Stanhope series Cleeves’ natural style and clever plot construction makes for a compulsive read, at the same time enlivening the characters from the Vera television murder mysteries. Rating: 8/10.
Hall, Sarah (2015) The Wolf Border. Harper. Rachel Caine is a zoologist working in Idaho’s wolf recovery project when she receives a call from the very wealthy and eccentric Earl of Annerdale who is seeking to repopulate Northern England with the grey wolf. She is certain she wants no involvement in his project, but it is her home turf and motherhood is beckoning! This is a beautifully constructed and lyrical tale of wildness, regeneration and relationships, with a political, ecological and human face. Amazing new author find – Hall is a twice Man Booker nominated author. Intelligent and wonderful. Rating: 9.5/10.
French, Dawn (2015) According to Yes. M. Joseph. Rosie, an eccentric thirty-eight year old English teacher, bounces into the lives of Manhattan’s very wealthy Wilder-Bingham family. Glenn, the family’s matriarch, rules the roost with an iron fist and lives her life according to ‘no’, however the unforeseen consequences of the Rosie ‘explosion’ changes her family’s lives forever. You can hear Dawn French’s voice throughout – she is Rosie. Quirky and a bit silly but loads of fun. Rating: 8/10.
Hall, Sarah (2011) The Beautiful Indifference. Faber & Faber. Exploring the earlier works Man Booker shortlisted author Sarah Hall led me to these dark and raw short stories. Set in various landscapes from the Cumbrian fells and lowlands to a yet undiscovered tourism destination in southern Africa, to a lake in the Finnish wilderness, her characters are flawed, conflicted, and sensuous. These stories are deeply disturbing but crafted with extraordinary genius. Rating: 8.5/10.
Brooks, Geraldine (2015) The Secret Chord. Little, Brown. Anointed by God as the chosen one David rises from obscurity to be king, and establishes an empire. His tumultuous and morally complex journey is captured and narrated by his seer Natan, who promises David the throne, an empire, and a line that will not fail throughout the generations. David is painted as brave, charismatic, talented songwriter, singer and harpist, but he is also the man who rapes Batsheva, then orders her husband be killed. This act loses him the loyalty of his narrator who predicts four cruel fates that David must endure. Part legend, part history this is a compelling and contemporary story of faith, family and power. Rating: 9/10.
Flynn, Gillian (2014) The Grownup. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. Following on from the success of Gone Girl Flynn’s Edgar award-winning short story has been republished. Originally published in George R.R. Martin’s Rogues anthology The Grownup is a chilling tale of manipulation. A young woman who scams people as a cut-price psychic gets drawn into the the life of Susan Burke and her creepy Victorian house – silly girl! Rating: 7.5/10.