Henderson, Susan (2018) The Flicker of Old Dreams. Harper. Mary Crampton has spent her whole life in Petroleum, a small Great Plains grain town. She lives a quiet introspective life and works as an embalmer for her father’s mortuary business. Petroleum has been crumbling for the past 20 years, ever since the grain elevator killed a young local hero. The victim’s brother, who was widely blamed for the tragedy, returns home to care for his terminally ill mother and strikes up an unlikely friendship with Mary. Shunned by the townspeople Robert opens Mary’s eyes to the potential of life beyond her home town. A moving tale of loss, grief and redemption. Original and finely crafted. Rating: 9/10.
Hunter, Cass (2018) The After Wife. Trapeze. When Rachel a high-flying scientist dies suddenly her family are bereft. Now she is gone her husband and daughter must carry on alone, but Rachel has left them a gift – her life’s work, a humanoid called iRachel. A warm exploration on what it means to grieve, love and be human. Will be enjoyed by those who have a passion for fantastic fiction and maximising the potential of AI. Rating: 7.5/10.
Hunter, Cara (2018) Close to Home. Penguin. When eight-year-old Daisy Mason disappears on the night of her parents’ summer party no one saw anything. How can a child vanish without a trace? Recently bereaved DI Adam Fawley has the task of solving the mystery. As the Press and social media watch on he begins to uncover the web of lies at the heart of the Mason family. This is the first in a series of police procedural books featuring DI Adam Fawley and his team. Plenty of red herrings and twists in this fast-paced crime thriller. Rating: 8/10.
Lynch, Christina (2018) The Italian Party. St Martin’s Press. Glamorous newlyweds Scottie and Michael Messina arrive in post-war Sienna burdened by secrets. Scottie is carrying another man’s child, and Michael is an undercover agent in love with a male colleague. Into the mix we are introduced to a cast of eccentric characters who add to the complexity of proceedings. A sophisticated view of marriage, politics, and betrayal, with an Italian flair. Intriguing premise but this Hollywood escape novel fails to deliver on promise. Rating: 7/10.
Macy, Caitlin (2018) Mrs. Little Brown. In this Big Little Lies meets New York’s Upper East Side we are introduced to a group of well-heeled parents outside the gates of the prestigious St Timothy’s preschool. At the centre is mysterious Philippa Lye, wife of a wealthy scion of a family-held investment bank, and her acquaintances with connections to her past, the very middle-class Gwen Hogan, wife of a U.S. Attorney, and upwardly focused newcomer Minnie Curtis, wife of a sly financier. It is through these two women that we learn Philippa’s story. Rather unsatisfactory taste of the vapid and pretentious world of the super rich. Rating: 7.5/10.
Wolff, Michael (2018) Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. Holt. In the week of the release of James Comey’s tell-all Fire and Fury feels very much like history. So much more has happened in the intervening months in the drama that is The White House. The first nine months of Donald Trump’s term were volatile and full of discord. Wolff’s revelations, although now in the public domain, nonetheless make compelling reading. Grimly fascinating. Rating: 8/10.
Matthews, Jason (2018) The Kremlin’s Candidate. M Joseph. In the finale of the Red Sparrow saga fearless double-agent Dominika is facing promotion as the Kremlin’s Intelligence Chief, but her cover is endangered by a Russian mole, a high-ranking American traitor operating under the code name MAGNIT. Her CIA lover Nate Nash runs interference. Dark political intrigue with sublime emotional and surveillance-detection plot lines. Best of its genre. Rating: 8.5/10.
Wichtel, Diana (2017) Driving to Treblinka: A long search for a lost father. Awa Press. New Zealand journalist Diana Wichtel was brought up in Vancouver. Her mother was a Catholic New Zealander, her father a Polish Jew who had survived the Holocaust. When she was 13 her mother takes her and her siblings to New Zealand, with her father to follow. She never saw her father again. As an adult Diana begins to search for her father taking her on a journey to uncover his haunting story and ultimately her own roots. Moving narrative on survival and the trauma of loss and memory. Rating: 8.5/10.
Swanson, Peter (2018) All the Beautiful Lies. Morrow. Days before his graduation Harry’s father dies. The police think it is suicide. Distressed, Harry returns to his father’s Maine home and his grieving stepmother, Alice. Harry had always found his stepmother sensual but now she has become possessive, and he begins to fall under her spell. Into their lives comes Grace with a dark secret. Intriguing plot about sly manipulation, seduction, murder and deadly obsessions. Twisty but a bit fragmented by the back stories. Rating: 8/10.