Snap, Belinda Bauer

It’s that time of year again, the Man Booker Longlist has been released and I do try to keep.up to date with them – as I do with the Costa and Women’s Prize lists. Sometimes they can be a bit hit-and-miss, sometimes a little pretentious, but generally a good addition to my TBR list and…

Home Fires, Kamila Shamsie

With two stories in the news today – Safir Boular, at 18, being the youngest girl to be convicted of terrorism offences; and Alia Ghanem speaking of her son. Osama bin Laden – about terrorism and the legal system and family, the importance and relevance of a book like Home Fire is painfully apparent. The…

Faithful Place, Tana French

Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series is a delight, but has sometimes only vague connections to the eponymous Murder Squad. In The Woods, the first novel, centred on it; but the follow-up The Likeness, centred on Cassie Madox from the first book who is now in Domestic Violence rather than murder and being supervised by…

The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau, Graeme Macrae Burnet

Graeme Macrae Burnet came to my attention through the Booker Prize: I loved his His Bloody Project novel with its multiple voices and setting, evocatively recreating the brutality of life in Scottish crofting communities. It was on the strength of that that I picked up this, the first of his Detective Gorski novels and –…

The Betrayal of Trust and A Question of Identity, Susan Hill

Ahhhh Lafferton. Possibly even more dangerous than Midsomer or a dinner party with Jessica Fletcher and Jane Marple! The serial killer centre of England. I’ve lost track of the numbers of serial killers in the Simon Serrailler series: they’ve targetted women for medical reasons, abducted young children; they’ve targetted weddings and, now, the elderly in…

The Word Is Murder, Anthony Horowitz

Sometimes you want to like a book just so damn much that it feels like you’re the failure when you end up not liking it. So it was for me with this novel. Now there is no doubt that Horowitz can plot a cracking crime story: Midsomer Murders, Foyle’s War, Magpie Murders are all testimony…

See What I Have Done, Sarah Schmidt

Lizzie Borden took an axe And gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, She gave her father forty-one. Oh, Sarah Schmidt can write! What a strange strange thing to start a review with! But there is writing and there is writing and Sarah Schmidt can write! Not only can she create a…

The Black Book of Secrets, F. E. Higgins

Every year, I determine to teach at least one text which is new to me that year – which with a shrinking pool to choose from at GCSE becomes harder year-one-year – and that is why I have stumbled upon F. E. Higgins’ The Black Book of Secrets. It is an odd little book –…

The Bear and the Nightingale and Girl in the Tower, Katherine Arden

  I feel terribly guilty reviewing these books two at a time. They are too good to be treated like this! They are a delicious treat and parcelling them up together simply for convenience and to save time feels wrong. But, I’m still doing it. These novels are two parts of a mythic fairytale set…

A Skinful Of Shadows, Frances Hardinge

Cards on the table. I adore Frances Hardinge. She can, in my humble eyes, do no wrong. I would buy a telephone directory with her name attached to it as an author! Her Cuckoo Song was a masterpiece. The sort of novel which I wish I had more than my self-imposed five stars to give…