The Pisces, Melissa Broder

Why is it that the words of female sexuality – and of female anatomy – are either rendered taboo or fetishised in our society ? Vagina. Clitoris. Vulva. Menstruation. Compared to “cock”, there is a different quality in these words. A frisson of shock and challenge. And that is a frisson which Broder does not…

The Soul of Discretion, Susan Hill

Trigger Warning: child sexual abuse and rape. Ah, Susan Hill, you seemed to have taken a different direction with this book from the rest of the Serrailler series. Had the gentility of Lafferton started to wane for you? Was there only so much you could do with the cloistered – and I choose that metaphor…

The Sentence is Death, Anthony Horowitz

Why do we read detective stories? It is a strange genre.  Every piece of advice is that tension and conflict are the driver of a narrative and, with this genre, unlike the thriller genre, the most significant conflict – the one which traditionally culminates in murder, as it does with this one – occurs significantly…

The Mystery of Three Quarters, Sophie Hannah

Hercule Poirot. Arrogant and dandy and moustache firmly in place. An extended cast of somewhat two-dimensional characters. A convoluted and contrived plot – very contrived in this instance. Very contrived. Let’s face is, when the plot of a novel revolves around the construction of a battenburg cake, that novel is – for fear of being…

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…

Touch, Claire North

Poor Claire North. She brought out The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August as I read Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life; I pick up Touch just after reading A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge. And both times, she comes a slight second in similar and comparable fantasy scenarios. Imagine being able to switch your…