Book Reviews: February 2019

Salt Lane by William Shaw
Quercus £7.99

The first in a promising new series by acclaimed Brighton crime writer William Shaw, focussing on Detective Inspector Alexandra Cupidi, whom we first encountered in Shaw’s excellent novel The Birdwatcher. Recently transferred from London to the coastal Kent police department, Cupidi is having a tricky time adjusting, and, while a complex murder case unfolds around her, concerns about her daughter and her mother and political jostlings at work add another level of tension to what is already a taut and atmospheric thriller with a highly topical theme.
'William Shaw is one of the great rising talents of UK crime fiction. This is his best book to date, instantly engaging, beautifully written with really well observed and rounded characters.' Peter James.
'Shaw’s rattling good writing will hold readers to the very end.' Publisher’s Weekly.

Everything Under by Daisy Johnson
Vintage £8.9
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018, this debut novel by the youngest ever author to be nominated, 27 year old Daisy Johnson, has been described as a feminist re-telling of the Oedipus myth set in the modern day and has been likened to the work of Angela Carter. The narrator Gretel has found her mother after many years apart and is attempting to piece together memories of the odd and dreamlike life that they spent together on and around an old canal boat on an Oxfordshire canal. Her mother’s increasing dementia clouds the quest and deepens the mystery surrounding the pair. Eerie and disquieting, but a superb read.
'The kind of book that worms its way into your brain, leaving echoes of its story and world long after it is back on the shelf… beautifully creepy and affecting' Rebecca Nicholson. Observer.

Day of the Accident by Nuala Ellwood
Penguin £7.99

When Maggie wakes up, she can’t remember anything. Nothing about the accident that killed her daughter Elspeth, nothing about the events leading up to it, nothing about why her husband might have disappeared. All she knows is that everything good about her life has gone and the darkness of her past is threatening to engulf her. Slowly flashes of memory start coming back to her, but they only lead to more questions… Why had she taken Elspeth out that evening, and who had locked her in the car? What is the flash of red she keeps remembering? What really happened that day by the river and why does Maggie still feel that her daughter is alive?
Unsettling and compulsive reading with careful plotting and enough twists to keep you guessing.

Our Castle by the Sea by Lucy Strange
Chicken House £6.99

Twelve-year-old Pet lives with her parents and older sister Mags, in a lighthouse on the South-East coast of England. It is autumn 1939 and when war breaks out, Pet’s happy family life begins to shiver and fracture. There are acts of sabotage in the local village and Pet’s German mother is accused of spying and interned as a dangerous enemy alien. An act of heroism leaves the girls alone and threatened with evacuation, protected only by the Sisters of Stone, an ancient stone circle with its own legends…
This is a pacy, exciting and atmospheric story for 9-13 year olds which has an unusual take on the Second World War.
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