Swanson, Peter (2019) Before She Knew Him. W. Morrow. Hen and Lloyd are newly settled in the suburbs of Boston. When their next door neighbours, Mira and Matthew, invite them to dinner Hen spies a disturbingly familiar object in Matthew’s office. It looks like something connected to an unresolved killing. The more Hen observes Matthew the more she suspects him to be a murderer. Is Hen’s psychotic past coming back to haunt her or is her obsession with Matthew the beginnings of a new nightmare? A complex tale of danger, delusion and manipulation from a consummate thriller writer. Rating: 8/10.
Foley, Lucy (2019) The Hunting Party. Harper Collins. A group of old friends unite for New Year at a remote snow-bound Scottish hunting lodge. Time and resentments have diminished the closeness of their friendship, although they can still party like they did at Oxford. When one of the friends is found murdered, everyone becomes a suspect. The multiple narrators are part of the intrigue, and initial enjoyment, of this novel. Heaps of potential but disappointed by the trite end. Rating: 8/10.
Simsion, Graeme (2019) The Rosie Result. Text. Don and Rosie are back in Australia. Their son, Hudson, is struggling at school and not fitting in. Hudson exhibits a few of the ‘red flags’ for autism. Neither Don nor Rosie want Hudson to be labelled. Don himself has never been diagnosed so he sets out to find a ‘solution’ by instigating the Hudson Project. This is the final book in the Rosie trilogy and is a kind on handbook on rearing a child with social challenges, albeit with lots of humour. Affable and warmhearted but without the magic of The Rosie Project (2013). Rating: 8/10.
Reid, Taylor Jenkins (2018) Daisy Jones and the Six. Hutchinson. This rock documentary novel is focussed on the meteoric rise and fall of a 1970s rock band. At first there was Billy Dunne and a group of talented mates who formed The Six, but when free-spirited barefooted Daisy Jones joined them on stage the band’s future was irrevocably changed. Their music was everywhere, then suddenly in 1979, they split. The volatile relationships leading to the combustion are exposed using an oral history format. Stylish homage to the seventies music scene. Rating: 8.5/10.
Lodge, Gytha (2019) She Lies in Wait. M. Joseph. Fourteen-year-old Aurora went missing on a camping trip thirty years ago. Now her body has been found and her friends, who had maintained their innocence through the years, have become chief suspects. One of them is a killer. DCI Sheens, who had known the teenagers back in the day, is determined to find the truth. The debut of a new police procedural series. Plenty of twists and red herrings. Rating: 8/10.
Griffiths, Elly (2018) The Stranger Diaries. Quercus. Clare teaches at historic Talgarth High and is writing a biography of reclusive Victorian Gothic writer, and former owner of Talgarth, R.M. Holland. When her friend and colleague is brutally murdered she turns to her diary for solace. Clare’s diary holds her darkest secrets, but someone else is writing in her diary and taking action on her deepest fears. As the murder count mounts the police must work out why the killer is so fixated on Clare. A supernatural tale with a modern twist, told by multiple narrators with overlapping perspectives and timelines, and interspersed with Holland’s writing. Smart but didn’t resonate. Rating: 8/10.
Dennison, Matthew (2018) Eternal Boy: The Life of Kenneth Grahame. Head of Zeus. Kenneth Graham, author of the enduring children’s classic The Wind in the Willows, had an obsession with childhood and the pastoral idyll. This new biography plots his life from a lonely childhood, through reclusive bachelorhood to a tormented married man and father. His salvation was his imagination. A nostalgic look at a life touched by tragedy. A bit dry. Rating; 8/10.