January Picks

Auletta, Ken (2022) Hollywood Ending: Harvey Weinstein and the Culture of Silence. Penguin.

This meticulous portrait of all-powerful Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein reads like a brutal horror story. His significant talent and creative ability gave him unassailable power and the opportunity to lead a life of great indulgence and rapacity. His monstrous sexual appetites, bullying and violent rages ruined lives. The cover-ups and silence that surrounded his many transgressions allowed him to operate with impunity, that is until his downfall. Auletta’s narrative on Weinstein tells us of a predatory beast devoid of empathy who is classified as a narcissist and a sociopath. A complementary read to Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey’s She Said and Ronan Farrow’s Catch and Kill. Engrossing.

Rating: 5/5

Ware, Ruth (2022) The It Girl. Scout Press.

Life revolves around Hannah’s vivacious room mate, April, both first year students at Oxford. But April, for all her generosity, often plays vicious practical jokes on her friends. By the end of the year April is dead, and Hannah is the prime witness to her murder. Ten years on Hannah is married to April’s former boyfriend, Will, and they are expecting their first child. When April’s convicted killer dies in prison a young journalist claims that her killer may be innocent. Hannah begins to doubt what she actually saw on that night and reconnects with her friends to solve the mystery of April’s death once and for all. Someone has something to hide. Good whodunit.

Rating: 3/5

Keefe, Patrick Radden (2022) Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels and Crooks. Doubleday.

A collection of twelve enthralling stories of people who have behaved badly, from straight-out rebels to fraudsters and criminals. Keefe meticulously investigates and unmasks skulduggery, greed, denial, corruption, and lies, with a human face. We learn about wine forgery, money laundering, black market arms sales, and the work of a death penalty attorney, as well the story of El Chapo’s capture and TV icon Mark Burnett’s role in Donald Trump’s rise to fame. Many of these stories are in the public domain but are explored here with balance, panache and detail. Truth is often stranger than fiction!

Rating: 5/5

Lewis, Susan (2022) Who’s Lying Now. Harper Collins.

When wealthy high-flying publisher Jeannie Symonds unexpectedly goes missing her close-knit community are puzzled. Is she game-playing with her husband as she is wont to do, or has something sinister happened to her? As trainee police investigator Cara Jakes, and her colleagues, start searching for clues they discover that Jeannie’s friends and neighbours are all harbouring secrets. Can Cara sift truth from lies? There are lots twist and turns, and suspects. Enjoyable relationship mystery told in a pre and post disappearance timeframe.

Rating: 3/5

Hunter, Cara (2022) Hope to Die. Penguin.

When an elderly reclusive couple shoot an intruder at point-blank range DI Adam Fawley and his Thames Valley team initially suspect it is a burglary gone wrong. As they investigate they discover a connection to a long ago high-profile murder of a child and the potential for a miscarriage of justice. In this gritty police procedural Fawley’s team, in their sixth outing, dig deep with unexpected outcomes. Plenty of twists and turns in this fresh story. A fan of the series.

Rating: 4/5

Miller, Kirsten (2022) The Change. HQ.

The Change is an empowering feminist satire about three menopausal women with super-powers who rage against misogyny in Marrauk, a Long Island seaside village. Girls are dying in Marrauk. Nessa (The Seeker) can hear voices of the dead and with her friends, Harriet (The Punisher) and Jo (the Protector), they seek to channel their skills to find and avenge young women murder victims in a town where the laws are designed to protect the wealthy and not the vulnerable. It is time to punish the guilty! A bit of fun and suspense whilst tackling the issue of female exploitation.

Rating: 3/5

Griffiths, Elly (2022) The Locked Room. Quercus.

Ruth Galloway has a new mystery to solve when she finds a photograph of her Norfolk cottage, with a notation “Dawn 1963”, amongst her mother’s belongings, taken long before she lived there. Ruth is also involved with the excavation of a skeleton, possibly a plague victim, found in Tombland. Then Covid hits. Meanwhile DCI Harry Nelson and his team are investigating a series of suicides. As Ruth draws closer to her mysterious neighbour Zoe, home schools her daughter, conducts lectures via Zoom and rekindles her relationship with Harry, Zoe goes missing. Is there a murderer in their midst during lockdown? Another cosy domestic crime story in the Ruth Galloway series.

Rating: 4/5

Reyes, Ana (2022) The House in the Pines. Constable.

Deep in the woods is a cabin built by Frank. The cabin is in a clearing ringed by a wall of trees, two rocking chairs on its porch… Awake Maya forgets about this place but in her dreams she has the key. Maya suffering from klonopin withdrawal, and an over indulgence in alcohol, is the unreliable narrator of this tale. What power does Frank continue to have over her, and how have others, including her best friend, died in his presence? This is a spooky psychological thriller that never quite reaches its potential, leaving disappointment with its denouement.

Rating: 2/5


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