These are the new books that gave me the most pleasure, each in their own way:
The One I Wish Were Mine
Paula Daly: The Mistake I Made
Paula’s characters are neither wicked nor good, they are real people who do their best to muddle through – and make mistakes, fatal mistakes. Roz juggles with son, debt, job, a lover and her useless ex. One day all the balls come crushing down.
The Cleverist Twists
Clare Macintosh: I Let You Go
This book has the most skilled and effective use of the first person narrator I’ve ever come across. I can’t tell you anything about the plot because I don’t want to spoil any of the several surprises this book has in store. Read and admire.
The Most Intense
Doug Johnstone: The Jump
Ellie’s son killed himself by jumping off a bridge. Her grief is so intense she’s slowly losing her mind. When she has a chance to stop another boy jumping off she goes all out to save him. But the boy had his reasons and Ellie gets far more involved than she expected. Many a time I wanted to shout ‘stop, Ellie, stop right now’ but the woman just carries on, doing her reckless best.
The Most Vicarious Life
Phil Hogan: A Pleasure and a Calling
Mr Heming, the estate agent, appears mild and unremarkable but you really – I mean really – do not want to cross him. This book is an exquisite balancing act, teetering between funny, outrageous and creepy. Mr Heming has no qualms in doing what he either considers right or necessary to save his neck and he’s infinitely resourceful. My final resolution after reading about Mr Heming is that if I ever move to a new place I’ll change all the locks, at once.
Mark Douglas-Home: The Sea Detective
Ben McPherson: A Line of Blood
There are not many books that keep me reading through the night but in 2015 I was lucky to find these two. Both are psychological thrillers, on the opposite ends of the spectrum. The Sea Detective is more of a thriller and it deals with a global problem, human trafficking, intertwining that with the protagonist’s family history. It’s very cleverly constructed and all the elements blend together to produce an addictive brew.
A Line of Blood is focused on a family in London. Dad finds a neighbour dead in the bath and, at first, his primary worry is that his eleven-year old son witnessed the find. Soon he has much, much more to worry about. The psychological screw tightens and tightens until the reader is in cold sweat. This is a book that stays with you.