Robertson, Catherine (2018) Gabriel’s Bay. Black Swan. In Gabriel’s Bay Robertson has created a whole community, an amalgam of beachside small town New Zealand, aka 800 Words. Kerry is on the run from a failed wedding, and takes a job in Gabriel’s Bay to begin again. Along the way he becomes involved in the fabric of town life as he seeks to transform its fortunes. In a story that unwinds at a leisurely pace the heart of the novel is revealed by the voices of its quirky inhabitants. Warmly engaging. Rating: 8.5/10.
Spain, Jo (2018) The Confession. Quercus. Late one night a stranger walks into Julie and Harry McNamara’s living room and bludgeons the notorious Harry to death. Then the perpetrator hands himself into the police. Was the assault a random act of violence or was it premeditated? This is a cracking psychological thriller with lots of twists that makes you constantly question who is actually guilty. Compulsive. Rating: 8.5/10.
Ng, Celeste (2017) Little Fires Everywhere. Little Brown. Shaker Heights, Ohio, offers utopian promise – a life that is progressive, harmonised and prescribed. When an itinerant mother and daughter, Mia and Pearl, come to Shaker Heights they think they have found their forever place. The alluring pair are adopted by the affluent Richardsons but their disregard for convention threatens the family’s idyllic and orderly existence. It all begins with a fire, and ends with little fires everywhere. A well crafted novel about the force of motherhood, secret lives and incendiary family tensions. Consummate storytelling. Rating: 9/10.
May, Peter (2018) I’ll Keep you Safe. Riverrun. Ruairidh Macfarlane is killed by a car bomb on a business trip to Paris, after an accusation of betrayal. Niamh, his wife and co-owner of a flourishing textile company, is bereft and as she begins to look back on her life with Ruairidh she finds her own life in danger. The narrative moves between the police investigation and the couple’s past. The atmospheric setting of the Hebridean island of Lewis makes up for the weaknesses in the thriller’s storyline and characterisation. Enjoyable all the same. Rating: 8/10.
Mackintosh, Clare (2018) Let Me Lie. Sphere. The police had determined that both Anna’s parents had committed suicide, albeit months apart, but Anna suspects that they were murdered. On the anniversary her mother’s death she receives a message that starts off a train of events which will put her very future in jeopardy. In spite of all the pre-release hype on this title I found the plot flawed and rather ho-hum. Twisty but disappointing. Rating: 7.5/10.
Shriver, Lionel (2018) Property: A Collection. The Borough Press. At the heart of this collection is the novella The Standing Chandelier (previously reviewed February 2018). In a series of often uncomfortable stories Shriver has captured the essence of “ownership” – how people, places and objects are proxies of ourselves. The collection includes brilliant little topical tales about millennials, free-loading, self-involvement, repossession and domestic conflict. Superb collection full of irony and insight. Rating: 9/10.
Hamilton, Karen (2018) The Perfect Girlfriend. Wildfire. Juliette loves Nate, but he doesn’t love her. Juliette believes they are meant to be and she has a plan to win him back – nothing will stop her. She is the perfect girlfriend for Nate. A twisted and gleeful dark tale of obsession, stalking and murder but I was rather over her devious machinations by halfway through. Rating: 7.5/10.
Keyes, Marian (2017) The Break. M. Joseph. Amy’s husband says he’s not leaving her, he’s just taking a break from their marriage. He is going to lose himself in South East Asia, and there is nothing Amy can do about it. But a lot can happen in 6 months…. A warm tale of family and the choices we make. Reliable Keyes. Rating: 8/10.