It’s book haul time! Another wonderful month of hauling, so get comfy, and let’s take look at all the fab new additions to my shelves…
Birds of Wonder by Cynthia Robinson (Smith Publicity)
One August morning while walking her dog, high-school English teacher Beatrice Ousterhout stumbles over the dead body of a student, Amber Inglin, who was to play the lead in Beatrice’s production of John Webster’s Jacobean tragedy, The Duchess of Malfi. Barely able to speak, Beatrice calls the police. That is to say, she calls her daughter. Jes is a detective with two years of experience under her belt and a personal life composed primarily of a string of one-night-stands, including the owner of the field in which Beatrice has found Amber. In addition to a house and a field, Child Services lawyer Liam Walsh owns a vineyard, where Amber Inglin, along with a handful of other teens who’ve had difficulty negotiating the foster system, was an intern. Set among the hills and lakes of upstate New York and told in six vibrantly distinct voices, this complex and original narrative chronicles the rippling effects of a young girl’s death through a densely intertwined community. By turns funny, fierce, lyrical and horrifying, BIRDS OF WONDER probes family ties, the stresses that break them, and the pasts that never really let us go.
The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth H. Winthrop (Sceptre)
As the sun begins to set over Louisiana one October day in 1943, a young black man faces the final hours of his life: at midnight, eighteen-year-old Willie Jones will be executed by electric chair for raping a white girl – a crime some believe he did not commit.
In a tale taut with tension, events unfold hour by hour from the perspectives of nine people involved. They include Willie himself, who knows what really happened, and his father, desperately trying to reach the town jail to see his son one last time; the prosecuting lawyer, haunted by being forced to seek the death penalty against his convictions, and his wife, who believes Willie to be innocent; the priest who has become a friend to Willie; and a mother whose only son is fighting in the Pacific, bent on befriending her black neighbours in defiance of her husband.
In this exceptionally powerful novel, Elizabeth Winthrop explores matters of justice, racism and the death penalty in a fresh, subtle and profoundly affecting way. Her kaleidoscopic narrative allows us to inhabit the lives of her characters and see them for what they are – complex individuals, making fateful choices we might not condone, but can understand.
First Person by Richard Flanagan (Alfred Knopf)
Kif Kehlmann, a young, penniless writer, is rung in the middle of the night by the notorious con man and corporate criminal, Siegfried Heidl. About to go to trial for defrauding the banks of $700 million, Heidl offers Kehlmann the job of ghost writing his memoir. He has six weeks to write the book, for which he’ll be paid $10,000.
But as the writing gets under way, Kehlmann begins to fear that he is being corrupted by Heidl. As the deadline draws closer, he becomes ever more unsure if he is ghost writing a memoir, or if Heidl is rewriting him–his life, his future. Everything that was certain grows uncertain as he begins to wonder: Who is Siegfried Heidl–and who is Kif Kehlmann?
As time runs out, as Kehlmann’s world feels it is hurtling toward a catharsis, one question looms above all others: What is the truth?
By turns compelling, comic, and chilling, this is a haunting journey into the heart of our age.
Widows by Lynda La Plante (Bonnier Zaffre)
Before PRIME SUSPECT there was WIDOWS . . . Facing life alone, they turned to crime together. Dolly Rawlins, Linda Pirelli and Shirley Miller are left devastated when their husbands are killed in a security van heist that goes disastrously wrong. When Dolly discovers her husband Harry’s bank deposit box, containing a gun, money – and detailed plans for the hijack – she realises that she only has three options: 1. Give up and forget she ever found them; 2. Hand over Harry’s ledgers to the police, or to the thugs that have been hassling her for information they think she has; 3. She and the other widows could carry out the robbery themselves Novices in the craft of crime, the three women make their preparations. Along the way they discover that Harry’s plan required four people, not three. But only three bodies were discovered in the carnage of the original hijack – so who was the fourth man, and where is he now? Recruiting hooker Bella O’Reilly as their fourth, the widows are determined to execute their plan. Facing mounting pressure from DI Resnick, and local thugs Arnie and Tony Fisher, can they stick together and finish the job their husbands started . . .
Kill the Angel by Sandrone Dazieri (Simon & Schuster UK)
A high-speed train from Milan draws into the station in Rome, and an horrific discovery in one carriage rocks the city. Preliminary investigations are put in the hands of Deputy Police Commissioner Colomba Caselli.
The police receive a message claiming responsibility for the act and announcing more murders to come, and they duly turn their attention to a small terrorist group of Islamic extremists. But investigator Dante Torre does not believe this angle. For him, this feels like a smokescreen concealing the actions of a killer who has a far more terrible motivation to continue.
The trail leads to Berlin and Venice, where the waters of the Venetian Lagoon will turn blood red …
The Rabbit Hunter by Lars Kepler (HarperCollins UK)
It begins with a nursery rhyme. Nineteen minutes later you die…
There’s a face at the window.
A stranger wearing a mask stands in the shadow of a garden. He’s watching his first victim through the window. He will kill him slowly, make it last – play him a nursery rhyme – make him pay.
A killer in your house.
There’s only one person the police can turn to – ex-Detective Joona Linna – but he’s serving time in a high-security prison. So they offer him a chance to secure his freedom: help Superintendent Saga Bauer track down the vicious killer known as the Rabbit Hunter, before he strikes again.
Only one man can stop him.
Soon another three victims have been murdered and Stockholm is in the grip of terror. Joona Linna must catch a disturbed predator, whose trail of destruction leads back to one horrific night of violence – with consequences more terrifying than anyone could have imagined…
Indigo Lost by S.R Summers (Authoright)
The First book in the Infinity Squared Series. Don’t think. Just run. When what lies ahead is less fearful than what lies behind, and west-coast unknowns less terrifying than east-side tragedies, there is no choice other than the one through the window at the end of a third-floor police station corridor. Without another thought, the girl runs. Her jump will take her to the street below, to encounters with humanity that will both shock and save her, to the girl she becomes the one who knows how to fight, but also survive, even shine, in the darkest places. She does not go unnoticed. The mob boss, the ruler of Vegas, has seen her. But she is not ready to be seen. And this time there is no corridor, and no window.
Death of an Actress by Antony M Brown (Mirror Books)
DEATH OF AN ACTRESS is the second in the Cold Case Jury Collection, a unique series of true crime titles. Each case study tells the story of an unsolved crime, or one in which the verdict is open to doubt. Fresh evidence is presented and the reader is invited to deliver their own verdict.
October 1947. A luxury liner steams over the equator off the coast of West Africa and a beautiful actress disappears from her cabin. Suspicion falls on a dashing deck steward with a reputation for entering the cabins of female passengers. When the liner docks at Southampton, the steward is questioned by police. Protesting his innocence, he makes an astonishing admission that shocks everyone, and is charged with murder. His trial at the historic Great Hall in Winchester draws the world’s media. He is found guilty and sentenced to hang.
But was the verdict sound? Many believe not.
Now for the first time, Antony M. Brown has secured unprecedented access to the police file, enabling the definitive story to be told. Included in the file are original court exhibits, including a hairbrush with strands of the actress’s red hair. Could a personal effect left behind in her cabin provide clues to how she might have died? Take your seat on the Cold Case Jury…
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (Black Swan/Penguin Random House)
Just days before her sister plunged to her death, Jules ignored her call.
Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped. And Jules must return to her sister’s house to care for her daughter, and to face the mystery of Nel’s death.
But Jules is afraid. Of her long-buried memories, of the old Mill House, of this small town that is drowning in secrecy . . .
And of knowing that Nel would never have jumped.
Dead Blind by Rebecca Bradley (from the author)
How do you identify a ruthless killer when you can’t even recognise your own face in a mirror?
Returning to work following an accident, Detective Inspector Ray Patrick refuses to disclose he now lives with face blindness – an inability to recognise faces.
As Ray deceives his team he is pulled into a police operation that targets an international trade in human organs. And when he attempts to bring the organisation down, Ray is witness to a savage murder.
But it’s a killer he will never remember.
The pressure mounts as Ray attempts to keep his secret and solve the case alone. With only his ex-wife as a confidant, he feels progressively isolated.
Can he escape with his career and his life intact?
Total Review Copies: 27
The Death Knock by Elodie Harper (Mulholland Books)
Three women have been found dead in East Anglia. The police deny a connection. TV news reporter Frankie smells a story…
Ava knows that the threat is real. She’s been kidnapped by someone claiming to be the killer: a stranger who seems to know everything about her.
As Frankie follows the case, she enters a terrifying online world where men’s rage against women may be turning murderous – and where her persistence might just make her a target. And Ava must struggle not only to stay alive… but to stay sane.
Pressure by Betsy Reavley (Bloodhound Books)
When the submarine departed, none of the ten people on board knew it would turn into a nightmare.
Trapped on the sunken vessel and unable to escape, one of them is discovered dead. The tension escalates as the survivors realise there is a murderer among them, who is preparing to strike again and again…
With mounting desperation, people begin to turn on each other. While they struggle to identify who is responsible, each must contend with their own past and the secrets they are hiding.
But who is who? And which of them will be next to die?
The Good Son by You-jeong Jeong (Little, Brown Book Group UK)
YOU WAKE UP COVERED IN BLOOD
THERE’S A BODY DOWNSTAIRS
YOUR MOTHER’S BODY
YOU DIDN’T DO IT. DID YOU?
HOW COULD YOU, YOU’VE ALWAYS BEEN THE GOOD SON
When Yu-jin wakes up covered in blood, and finds the body of his mother downstairs, he decides to hide the evidence and pursue the killer himself.
Then young women start disappearing in his South Korean town. Who is he hunting? And why does the answer take him back to his brother and father who lost their lives many years ago.
The Good Son is inspired by a true story.
The Broken Girls by Simone St. James (Headline/Wildfire)
1950 – At the crumbling Idlewild Hall school for unwanted girls, four room-mates begin to bond over dark secrets and whispered fears – until one of them mysteriously disappears . . .
2014 – Journalist Fiona Sheridan can’t get over the murder of her sister twenty years ago, near the ruins of Idlewild. And when another body is found during renovations of the school, she begins to uncover horrors that were meant to remain hidden – and a voice that won’t be silenced.
The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola (Headline/Tinder Press)
Audrey Hart is on the Isle of Skye to collect the folk and fairy tales of the people and communities around her. It is 1857 and the Highland Clearances have left devastation and poverty, and a community riven by fear. The crofters are suspicious and hostile to a stranger, claiming they no longer know their fireside stories.
Then Audrey discovers the body of a young girl washed up on the beach and the crofters reveal that it is only a matter of weeks since another girl disappeared. They believe the girls are the victims of the restless dead: spirits who take the form of birds.
Initially, Audrey is sure the girls are being abducted, but as events accumulate she begins to wonder if something else is at work. Something which may be linked to the death of her own mother, many years before.
The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter (HarperCollins UK)
Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind…
Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s childhoods were destroyed by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father – a notorious defence attorney – devastated. And it left the family consumed by secrets from that shocking night.
Twenty-eight years later, Charlie has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer. But when violence comes to their home town again, the case triggers memories she’s desperately tried to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime which destroyed her family won’t stay buried for ever…
Trafficked Girl by Zoe Patterson (HarperCollins UK)
When Zoe was taken into care at the age of 13, she thought she was finally going to escape from the cruel abuse she had suffered throughout her childhood. Then social services placed her in a residential unit known to be ‘a target for prostitution’, and suddenly Zoe’s life was worse than it had ever been before.
Abused and ostracized by her mother, humiliated by her father’s sexual innuendos, physically assaulted and bullied by her eldest brother, even as a young child Zoe thought she deserved the desperately unhappy life she was living.
‘I’ve sharpened a knife for you,’ her mother told her the first time she noticed angry red wounds on her daughter’s arms. And when Zoe didn’t kill herself, her mother gave her whisky, which she drank in the hope that it would dull the miserable, aching loneliness of her life.
One day at school Zoe showed her teacher the livid bruises that were the result of her mother’s latest physical assault and within days she was taken into care.
Zoe had been at Denver House for just three weeks when an older girl asked if she’d like to go to a party, then took her to a house where there were just three men. Zoe was a virgin until that night, when two of the men raped her. Having returned to the residential unit in the early hours of the morning, when she told a member of staff what had happened to her, her social worker made a joke about it, then took her to get the morning-after pill.
For Zoe, the indifference of the staff at the residential unit seemed like further confirmation of what her mother had always told her – she was worthless. Before long, she realised that the only way to survive in the unit was to go to the ‘parties’ the older girls were paid to take her to, drink the drinks, smoke the cannabis and try to blank out what was done to her when she was abused, controlled and trafficked around the country.
No action was taken by the unit’s staff or social workers when Zoe asked for their help, and without anyone to support or protect her, the horrific abuse continued for the next few years, even after she left the unit. But in her heart Zoe was always a fighter. This is the harrowing, yet uplifting story, of how she finally broke free of the abuse and neglect that destroyed her childhood and obtained justice for her years of suffering.
Total Netgalley Copies: 14
Urbane Book Club:
Politics of the Asylum by Adam Steiner
Nathan Finewax is a cleaner in a hospital steadily falling apart. He’s working on a ward where staff cheat, lie and steal to get ahead, where targets, death tolls and finance overrule patient care, and every day the same mistakes are repeated in a seemingly unstoppable wave of failures. Nathan is sucked deeper into the hospital routine as he dreams of escape, trying to avoid one day becoming a patient himself in this house of horrors. Based on the author’s experience working in the NHS, Politics of the Asylum is a nightmare vision of the modern healthcare system. Adam Steiner’s challenging debut is a novel for our times, and an emotive and highly original story of people trying to do more than simply exist.
Goldsboro Books April BOTM:
Too Close to Breathe by Olivia Kiernan
TOO SOON TO SEE
Polished. Professional. Perfect. Dead. Respected scientist Dr Eleanor Costello is found hanged in her immaculate home: the scene the very picture of a suicide.
TOO LATE TO HIDE
DCS Frankie Sheehan is handed the case, and almost immediately spots foul play. Sheehan, a trained profiler, is seeking a murderer with a talent for death.
TOO CLOSE TO BREATHE
As Frankie strives to paint a picture of the killer, and their victim, she starts to sense they are part of a larger, darker canvas, on which the lines between the two blur.
Paradise Girl by Phil Featherstone (Brook Cottage Books)
A highly infectious and incurable virus spreads worldwide. Seventeen-year-old Kerryl Shaw and her family live on a remote farm and think they will be safe, but the plague advances. Despite deaths around them, the Shaws survive. However, this changes when a stranger arrives, and it soon becomes apparent he has brought the infection to their door. One by one the family succumbs, leaving Kerryl alone.
Kerryl is sure it’s only a matter of time before she, too, dies. She decides to record what she thinks will be her final days in a diary. She realised that it will never be read, so she imagines a reader and calls him Adam. As loneliness and isolation affect the balance of her mind, Adam ceases to be an imaginary character and becomes real to her.
Communications break down and services fail. Unexplained events build fear and menace: Kerryl hears her name called in the night; she’s attacked by stray animals; she’s molested when she visits the town; she sees a stranger outside her house, who vanishes when she tries to make contact; objects appear and disappear. The climax comes when she finds a test message on her phone. Who is texting her? How? She thinks it can only be Adam, because by now there is no one else left. Another text invites her to a rendezvous at the Bride Stones, beauty spot popular with lovers, and she leaves for what she is sure will be a meeting with Adam…
Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu
Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.
The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list.
The city’s elites are being taken out one by one as their mansions’ security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is about to become eighteen and inherit his family’s fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Industries and all the tech gadgetry that he loves. But on the way home from his birthday party, he makes an impulsive choice and is sentenced to community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city’s most nefarious criminals.
Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce’s only hope.
The most intriguing inmate in Arkham is Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. A girl who will only speak to Bruce. She is the mystery he must unravel, but is he convincing her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees?
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
The book that sparked a national conversation. Exploring everything from eradicated black history to the inextricable link between class and race, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is the essential handbook for anyone who wants to understand race relations in Britain today.
Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
A bold and beautifully written exploration of America’s fraught racial history and its contemporary echoes that will redefine wider understanding of race and the roots of American identity.
In the 150 years since the end of the Civil War and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment (the abolition of slavery), the story of race and America has remained a brutally simple one, written on flesh: it is the story of the black body, exploited to create the country’s foundational wealth, violently segregated to unite a nation after a civil war and, today, still disproportionately threatened, locked up and killed in the streets. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can America reckon with its fraught racial history?
BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME is Ta-Nehisi Coates’ attempt to answer those questions, presented in the form of a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son – and readers – the story of his own awakening to the truth about history and race through a series of revelatory experiences: immersion in nationalist mythology as a child; engagement with history, poetry and love at Howard University; travels to Civil War battlefields and the South Side of Chicago; a journey to France that reorients his sense of the world; and pilgrimages to the homes of mothers whose children’s lives have been taken as American plunder. Masterfully woven from lyrical personal narrative, reimagined history and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME offers a powerful new framework for understanding America’s history and current crisis, and a transcendent vision for a way forward.
Beware the Past by Joy Ellis
ONE TERRIBLE CASE ALWAYS HAUNTED DETECTIVE MATT BALLARD. NOW MANY YEARS LATER, THE KILLER SEEMS TO BE BACK. AND THIS TIME HE’S AFTER MATT.
When Matt Ballard was starting out his career, three boys were murdered in the same area, the remote and bleak Gibbet Fen. When the main suspect was killed in a hit-and-run, the killings stopped. But Matt was not satisfied that the real murderer had been caught.
Over 25 years later, Matt gets a photo in an unmarked envelope. It’s of the Gibbet Fen crime scene. And the picture was taken before the murder took place.
More photos arrive, relating to the historic murders, as well as intimate pictures of Matt’s very secret private life.
A KILLER WHO WILL STOP AT NOTHING TO DESTROY A DETECTIVE.
Then another murder happens, with some of the hallmarks of the old case. Has the killer returned or is this just a sick copycat determined to ruin Matt’s life and reputation? Everyone around Matt is in danger as the killer plays mind games with the detective.
In an absolutely breathtaking conclusion, Matt and his team race against time to stop a vicious killer who knows no limits.
The Radium Girls by Kate Moore
Ordinary women in 1920s America.
All they wanted was the chance to shine.
Be careful what you wish for.
‘The first thing we asked was, “Does this stuff hurt you?” And they said, “No.” The company said that it wasn’t dangerous, that we didn’t need to be afraid.’
1917. As a war raged across the world, young American women flocked to work, painting watches, clocks and military dials with a special luminous substance made from radium. It was a fun job, lucrative and glamorous – the girls themselves shone brightly in the dark, covered head to toe in the dust from the paint. They were the radium girls.
As the years passed, the women began to suffer from mysterious and crippling illnesses. The very thing that had made them feel alive – their work – was in fact slowly killing them: they had been poisoned by the radium paint. Yet their employers denied all responsibility. And so, in the face of unimaginable suffering – in the face of death – these courageous women refused to accept their fate quietly, and instead became determined to fight for justice.
Drawing on previously unpublished sources – including diaries, letters and court transcripts, as well as original interviews with the women’s relatives – The Radium Girls is an intimate narrative account of an unforgettable true story. It is the powerful tale of a group of ordinary women from the Roaring Twenties, who themselves learned how to roar.
Desperation by Stephen King (from Rosie @ MrsBunnyMum)
Welcome to Desperation.
Once a thriving copper mining town in the middle of the Nevada desert, Desperation is now eerily abandoned. It’s the last place that travellers like the Carver family, bound for vacation, and writer Johnny Marinville, astride his Harley, would expect to be stopped and charged. But Desperation still has a local cop – a unique regulator who patrols the wilderness highway.
The secrets buried in Desperation are as terrifying as the forces summoned to encounter them. A terrifying transformation is taking place and the travellers will soon discover the true meaning of desperation . . .
Total Unread Books (purchased & gifted): 368
I would like to proudly state that, despite all my book purchases this month, my unread books have only gone up by 3 – it seems I dedicated quite a lot of time to reading my own books this month. Although, lowering my review copies has suffered greatly, I’ll have to make up for it next month by reading mostly review copies.
Did you see any books that take your fancy?
Did we haul any of the same books?