As we are nearly a third of the way through the year, I’d thought I’d have a look back at books I’ve read this year so far and pick my top 5 of those already published. Quite a difficult task but in no particular order here goes:
The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling)
When a troubled model falls to her death from a snow-covered Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts, and calls in private investigator Cormoran Strike to look into the case. A war veteran, wounded both physically and psychologically, Strike’s life is in disarray. The case gives him a financial lifeline, but it comes at a personal cost: the more he delves into the young model’s complex world, the darker things get – and the closer he gets to terrible danger . . .
I enjoyed this first in a series by ‘Robert Galbraith’. Cormoran Strike is a great character – a typical, damaged maverick detective in the style of Jackson Brodie or John Rebus. I liked his feisty sidekick Robin too. Well plotted and an easy but satisfying read.
Finding Mr Flood by Ciara Geraghty
Dara Flood always says the most interesting thing about her life happened before she was born. Thirteen days before she came into the world, her father walked up the road and never came back. Now in her twenties, she lives a quiet life with her mother and sister Angel and works at the local dog pound – she finds dogs much easier to understand than people. But when Angel gets sick and neither Dara nor her mother is a match for the kidney she desperately needs, Dara knows she will do anything to save Angel – even track down the man who left them behind. So with the help of a rather surprising private investigator, Dara steps anxiously in to the big wide world with a dream of finding Mr Flood. But as you know, following your dreams can lead you to unexpected places . . .
I don’t think that Ciara Geraghty gets as much recognition as she deserves. Perhaps her book covers suggest a light read but her books are full of great characters, lots of humour yet also deal with weighty subjects. Well worth a read.
The Secrets We Left Behind by Susan Elliot Wright
It was a summer of love, and a summer of secrets. She has built a good life: a husband who adores her, a daughter she is fiercely proud of, a home with warmth and love at its heart. But things were not always so good, and the truth is that she has done things she can never admit. Then one evening a phone call comes out of the blue. It is a voice from long ago, from a past that she has tried so hard to hide. Scott knows who she really is and what she has done. Now he is dying and he gives her an ultimatum: either she tells the truth, or he will. And so we are taken back to that long hot summer of 1976 to a house by the sea, where her story begins and where the truth will be revealed…
I have read a few of Susan Elliot Wright’s books and like the way she writes in two time-frames. Moving back and forward, bits of the story are revealed. A real page-turner as you try to get what the secret is.
The Magpies by Mark Edwards
Meet the neighbours from hell, in the gripping thriller that reviewers and readers describe as “fast-paced,” “chilling,” and “impossible to put down.” When Jamie and Kirsty move into their first home together, they are full of optimism. The future, in which they plan to get married and start a family, is bright. The other residents of their building seem friendly too, including the Newtons, a married couple who welcome them to the building with open arms. But then strange things start to happen. Dead rats are left on their doorstep. They hear disturbing noises, and much worse, in the night. After Jamie’s best friend is injured in a horrific accident, Jamie and Kirsty find themselves targeted by a campaign of terror. As they are driven to the edge of despair, Jamie vows to fight back—but he has no idea what he is really up against. The Magpies is a gripping psychological thriller in which the monsters are not vampires or demons but the people who live next door. It is a nightmare that could happen to anyone.
One of the best thrillers I’ve read it ages! Scary because you can see how this could easily happen. This was a book I couldn’t put down – even though I was almost afraid to read on at times, knowing something awful was going to happen to the characters!
A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale
To find yourself, sometimes you must lose everything. A privileged elder son, and stammeringly shy, Harry Cane has followed convention at every step. Even the beginnings of an illicit, dangerous affair do little to shake the foundations of his muted existence – until the shock of discovery and the threat of arrest cost him everything. Forced to abandon his wife and child, Harry signs up for emigration to the newly colonised Canadian prairies. Remote and unforgiving, his allotted homestead in a place called Winter is a world away from the golden suburbs of turn-of-the-century Edwardian England. And yet it is here, isolated in a seemingly harsh landscape, under the threat of war, madness and an evil man of undeniable magnetism that the fight for survival will reveal in Harry an inner strength and capacity for love beyond anything he has ever known before. In this exquisite journey of self-discovery, loosely based on a real life family mystery, Patrick Gale has created an epic, intimate human drama, both brutal and breathtaking. It is a novel of secrets, sexuality and, ultimately, of great love.
I love Patrick Gale’s writing and even though this is very different in time and place from his other novels, this was yet another amazing book. An epic love story and a must-read. All the more moving as it is based on events from Patrick Gale’s own family.