Coben, Harlan (2016) Home. Dutton. Ten years after a high profile kidnapping of two six year old boys, one boy returns home. Sports Attorney, Myron Bolitar, is called in when his friend Win spots one of the boys in London. Win is related to the mother of one of the boys so he has a personal interest in searching for the now sixteen year olds. Where has Patrick been, and what has happened to Rhys? The full nature of the mystery is not known until the final page. This well-crafted thriller blends friendship, family and the meaning of home. Suspenseful with violence. Rating: 8/10.
Hawkins, Danielle (2016) The Pretty Delicious Cafe. Harper Collins. Lia and her friend Anna run a cafe in a restored villa, in a small Northland beachside town. Life and running a business is hectic, with little room for distractions. Then into Lia’s life comes a gorgeous stranger, with baggage, and Ana becomes”bridezilla”. A “down home” tale of romance, friendship, family and eccentricity, with recipes. Warm kiwi-tucker. Rating: 8/10.
Le Carré, John (2016) The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from my life. Viking. In his first memoir Le Carré shares his writer’s journey, and tales of people and events that have inspired his imagination. His world is one of secrets and humour – from his years serving in British Intelligence to his career as a writer in political hotspots. Alongside post-war and Cold War vignettes he is a peacemaker on the set of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, sponsors a Czech actor in a career change, plots the path of an Ingush interrogator, and is a long-suffering son of a conman fantasist father. Le Carré is a natural storyteller of a life that is bounded by intrigue and theatre. An absorbing primer for Le Carré fans. Rating: 9/10.
Novik, Naomi (2015) Uprooted. Del Rey. Agnieszka loves her valley home, with its forests and river, however a corrupted wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power. The Dragon is the wizard that keeps the wood’s powers at bay, but he demands a terrible price – one young woman must serve him for ten years. When Agnieszka is chosen she transitions into a powerful helpmate in the battle against the wood. Winner of the Nebula Award for Best Novel this fantasy is rooted in folktales and legends. An original story that casts a narrative spell. Magical. Rating: 8.5/10.
Hamilton, Alwyn (2016) Rebel of the Sands. Faber & Faber. In this young adult fantasy adventure we journey with sixteen year old Amani Al’Hiza as she escapes her hard life in Deadshot, only to join the cause of a rebel prince. This is a tale of a gun-slinging wild west, transposed onto a sweeping, romantic desert, with an evil Sultan and mythical creatures in the mix. We leave this alternative universe with the heroes poised for a new adventure in an upcoming sequel. Good yarn with plenty of action. Rating: 8/10.
Moyes, Jojo (2016) Paris for One and other stories. Michael Joseph. A collection of eleven kind of charming short stories about women with every day lives who seek independence and love. From tales of not-so-happily-ever-after to moments of blossoming confidence Moyes’ women are generally unsatisfied and seeking recognition. Slight bit of diverting fluff, missing the angst of Me before You and earlier works. Rating: 6.5/10.
Gee, Maurice (2017) The Severed Land. Puffin. Fliss has a dangerous quest to save the invisible Wall that protects the lands of the North from the barbarous southern ruling families. She is sent on a special mission with an enemy lad – a drummer boy from a ruling family – to rescue the Nightingale. The world they travel through is perilous. In a lethal power struggle between ruling houses they face slavers, thieves, beggars and spies. The chances of coming back alive are slim. This fantasy adventure for younger readers has all the hallmarks of Gee’s other secret worlds. Masterful storytelling. Rating: 8/10.
Grisham, John (2016) The Whistler. Doubleday. Lacy Stoltz is an investigator for the Florida Board of Judicial Conduct that oversees legal ethics. When she is assigned a complaint of misconduct against a respected Florida judge an investigation ensues involving a large casino on Native American land, and the secretive Coast Mafia. The crime – skimming and laundering the casino’s cash and hiding money offshore. The case escalates with deadly consequences for the BJC. This gripping fast-paced legal thriller of corruption and a crooked judge, successfully follows Grisham’s tried and true formula. Good read. Rating: 8/10.
Swanson, Peter (2017) Her Every Fear. Faber & Faber. After recovering from a brutal attack Kate decides to temporarily swap apartments with her Boston cousin, Corbin. Soon after her arrival in Boston she discovers that the young woman in the next apartment has been murdered, and the police are interested in Corbin. Kate is still emotionally fragile and her imagination works overtime. Can Kate trust the strangers whose world she has just entered, or is there something more sinister at play? A malevolent and gripping psychological thriller. Rating: 8.5/10.