2018 was an amazing year for books and I read some absolute crackers and 2019 is already looking like another book-tastic year with some incredible debuts and fantastic novels being published.
I asked a few of my favourite publishers which books they are most excited about and here’s what they recommended for January, February and March.
A dead river. A dying town. A killer’s secrets…
In an isolated country town ravaged by drought, a charismatic young priest opens fire on his congregation, killing five men before being shot dead himself.
A year later, journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in Riversend to write a feature on the anniversary of the tragedy. But the stories he hears from the locals don’t fit with the accepted version of events.
Just as Martin believes he is making headway, a shocking discovery rocks the town. The bodies of two backpackers – missing since the time of the massacre – are found in the scrublands. The media descends on Riversend and Martin is the one in the spotlight.
Wrestling with his own demons, Martin finds himself risking everything to uncover a truth that becomes more complex with every twist. But there are powerful forces determined to stop him, and he has no idea how far they will go to make sure the town’s secrets stay buried.
THE DEBUT NOVEL FROM THE CREATOR AND WRITER OF THE KILLING
One blustery October morning in a quiet suburb of Copenhagen, the police make a terrible discovery. A young woman is found brutally murdered in a playground and one of her hands is missing. Above her hangs a small doll made of chestnuts.
Ambitious young detective Naia Thulin is assigned the case. Her partner, Mark Hess, is a burned-out investigator who’s just been kicked out of Europol. They soon discover a mysterious piece of evidence on the chestnut man – evidence connecting it to a girl who went missing a year earlier and is presumed dead – the daughter of politician Rosa Hartung.
The man who confessed to her murder is behind bars and the case is long since closed.
Soon afterwards, another woman is found murdered, along with another chestnut man. Thulin and Hess suspect that there’s a connection between the Hartung case, the murdered women and a killer who is spreading fear throughout the country. But what is it?
Thulin and Hess are racing against the clock, because it’s clear that the murderer is on a mission that is far from over . . .
THE WHISPERS is a timeless yet progressive middle-grade debut with an astoundingly authentic narrator who is coming to terms with his sexuality amid his mother’s mysterious disappearance and increasing isolation from his friends and family.
Before she disappeared, Riley’s mama told him stories about the Whispers, mysterious creatures that live in the wood and have the power to grant wishes. Riley wishes for lots of things. He wishes his secret crush Dylan liked him back. He wishes the bumbling detective would stop asking awkward questions. But most of all he wishes his mother would come home. Four months on, the police are no closer to finding out the truth – and Riley decides to take matters into his own hands, heading into the woods with his dog, Tucker, and his best friend, Gary, to find the Whispers, and the truth.
YOU’LL NEVER FORGET THE FLOWER GIRLS
The Flower Girls. Laurel and Primrose.
One convicted of murder, the other given a new identity.
Now, nineteen years later, another child has gone missing.
And the Flower Girls are about to hit the headlines all over again…
It’s 1980s New York. Heady, excessive times. Alice Burns – a young book editor – is deep into a manuscript about the morass of family life. The observations resonates, perhaps because she has just watched her own family implode.
As she reads she wonders: When did the sadness start? And could it be that unhappiness is a choice?
Thus begins a great American epic which follows Alice as she navigates high school bullying, first love and sexism at an elite college, a spell in 1970’s Ireland, and a tragedy that sends her stateside as the US embraces a cowboy actor named Reagan. But it is also the tale of her endlessly complex parents and brothers; how their destinies are written by the lies they tell themselves and others.
The Great Wide Open is an immensely ambitious and compulsive saga; a novel which will speak volumes to anyone who has marvelled at that pain that can only be caused by family itself.
‘I’m here to remember – all that I have been and all that I will never be again.’
At the bar of a grand hotel in a small Irish town sits 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan. He’s alone, as usual – though tonight is anything but. Pull up a stool and charge your glass, because Maurice is finally ready to tell his story.
Over the course of this evening, he will raise five toasts to the five people who have meant the most to him. Through these stories – of unspoken joy and regret, a secret tragedy kept hidden, a fierce love that never found its voice – the life of one man will be powerfully and poignantly laid bare.
Heart-breaking and heart-warming all at once, the voice of Maurice Hannigan will stay with you long after all is said.
When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing on their gap year in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft and frantic with worry.
Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth – and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, who she hasn’t seen in two years, since he left home to go travelling. This time it’s personal.
And as the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think . . .
A dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child.
Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.
Is it a miracle?
Is it magic?
Or can it be explained by science?
An exquisitely crafted multi-layered mystery brimming with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale.
I remember my dreams but not where they start.
Further back, I recall some of yesterday and the day before that. Then everything goes into a haze.
Fragments of memories come looming back like red London buses in a pea-souper.
Time plays funny tricks these days.
I wait for the next memory. I wait and I wait.
At 117 years old, Billy Binns is the oldest man in Europe and he knows his time is almost up. But Billy has a final wish: he wants to remember what love feels like one last time. As he looks back at the relationships that have shaped his flawed life – and the events that shaped the century – he recalls a life full of hope, mistakes, heartbreak and, above all, love.
Ziba Mackenzie profiles killers. Now one is profiling her.
Rush hour, London. A packed commuter train is torn apart in a collision. Picking through the carnage, ex-special forces profiler Ziba MacKenzie helps a dying woman who passes on a cryptic message: He did it. You have to tell someone.
When a corpse is found bearing the gruesome signature of a serial killer dormant for twenty-five years, Ziba is pulled into the hunt for the perpetrator. As the body count rises it becomes clear he’s on a new spree. But what’s brought the London Lacerator back after such a long hiatus? And does his sudden return have anything to do with the woman on the train?
Ziba scrambles to profile the killer in the hope of predicting his next move. But time is running out. And the closer she gets to uncovering his identity, the closer he gets to destroying hers.
Alicia lives a life most dream of. She lives in a house in one of the most desirable areas of London. She is a famous painter, and her husband, Gabriel, is an in-demand fashion photographer. Her life is perfect.
That is, until one evening when Gabriel returns late from a fashion shoot and Alicia shoots him five times and then never speaks another word.
Theo Faber, a forensic psychotherapist, has been consumed with the case for five years, and is the only person able to unravel the mystery of why.
The Silent Patient is a heart-stopping debut thriller about a woman’s brutal and random act of violence against her husband – and the man obsessed with discovering why.
Click here to read my 5 star review
The award-winning author of The Hate U Give returns with a powerful story about hip hop, freedom of speech – and fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you.
Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill. But when her first song goes viral for all the wrong reasons, Bri finds herself at the centre of controversy and portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. And with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it – she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.
It was their darkest secret. Three schoolgirls made a promise – to take the horrible truth of what they did to the grave.
Thirty years later, Beth and Sally have tried to put the trauma behind them. Though Carol has distanced herself from her former friends, the three are adamant that the truth must never come to light, even if the memory still haunts them.
But when some shocking news threatens to unearth their dark secret, Beth enlists the help of private investigator Matthew Hill to help her and Sally reconnect with estranged Carol – before the terrible act they committed as teenagers is revealed.
Beth wishes she could take back the vow they made.
But somebody is watching and will stop at nothing to ensure the secret stays buried. Now, with her beloved family in peril, can Beth still keep the promise?
When two teenagers – Johannes and Mari – are found murdered inside their school, in the small Norwegian village of Fredheim, the finger is soon is pointed at eighteen-year-old Even, whose relationship with Mari ended just before she died.
Mari was writing a story for the school newspaper about Even and his dad, who died in a car accident ten years earlier. But was it really an accident? And had Mari uncovered information that someone was willing to commit murder to protect?
Charged and facing trial, Even pores over his memories of the months leading up to the murders, and it becomes clear that more than one villager was acting suspiciously. And as Even recounts his side of the story, it seems that there may be no one he can trust.
But can we trust him?
A taut, moving and chilling thriller, Inborn examines the very nature of evil, and asks the questions: How well do we really know our families? How well do we know ourselves?
Audrey’s family has fallen apart. Her two grown-up daughters, Jess and Lily, are estranged, and her two teenage granddaughters have never been allowed to meet.
A secret that echoes back thirty years has splintered the family in two, but is also the one thing keeping them connected.
As tensions reach breaking point, the irrevocable choice that one of them made all those years ago is about to surface. After years of secrets and silence, how can one broken family find their way back to each other?
A life-affirming novel with a secret that will break your heart and an ending that will put it together again.
One night, Annie went missing. Disappeared from her own bed. There were searches, appeals. Everyone thought the worst. And then, miraculously, after forty-eight hours, she came back. But she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, say what had happened to her.
Something happened to my sister. I can’t explain what. I just know that when she came back, she wasn’t the same. She wasn’t my Annie.
I didn’t want to admit, even to myself, that sometimes I was scared to death of my own little sister.
Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…
Just one more night. Then I’ll end it.
Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.
I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up.
Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself.
I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing.
But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….
Look around you. Who holds the most power in the room? Is it the one who speaks loudest, who looks the part, who has the most money, who commands the most respect?
Or perhaps it’s someone like Christine Butcher: a meek, overlooked figure, who silently bears witness as information is shared and secrets are whispered. Someone who quietly, perhaps even unwittingly, gathers together knowledge of the people she’s there to serve – the ones who don’t notice her, the ones who consider themselves to be important.
There’s a fine line between loyalty and obsession. And when someone like Christine Butcher is pushed to her limit, she might just become the most dangerous person in the room . . .
The gripping new thriller from M. J. Arlidge, Sunday Times bestselling author of the Helen Grace series.
Adam Brandt is a forensic psychologist, well used to dealing with the most damaged members of society.
But he’s never met anyone like Kassie.
The teenager claims to have a terrible gift – with one look into your eyes, she can see when and how you will die.
Obviously, Adam knows Kassie must be insane. But then a serial killer hits the city. And only Kassie seems to know where he’ll strike next.
Against all his intuition, Adam starts to believe her.
He just doesn’t realise how deadly his faith might prove…
Behind every successful man is a woman.
Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.
Sophie Mayhew looks like she has the perfect life. Wife of rising political star John F Mayhew, a man who is one step away from the top job in the government, her glamour matches his looks, power, breeding and money. But John has made some stupid mistakes along the way, some of which are threatening to emerge. Still, all this can still be swept under the carpet as long as Sophie ‘the trophy’ plays her part in front of the cameras.
But the words that come out of Sophie’s mouth one morning on the doorstep of their country house are not the words the spin doctors put in there. Bursting out of the restrictive mould she has been in since birth, Sophie flees to a place that was special to her as a child, a small village on the coast where she intends to be alone.
But once there, she finds she becomes part of a community that warms her soul and makes her feel as if she is breathing properly for the first time. Sophie knows she won’t be left in peace for long. Now she must decide: where does her real future lie?
THE ONLY THING DETECTIVE ABIGAIL BOONE REMEMBERS…IS THE WORST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO HER.
From a blistering new voice in crime fiction, PAST LIFE is a daringly original and razor-sharp debut perfect for fans of Susie Steiner, Ian Rankin and Joseph Knox.
Waking up beside the dead girl, she couldn’t remember anything.
Who she was. Who had taken her. How to escape.
Detective Abigail Boone has been missing for four days when she is finally found, confused and broken. Suffering retrograde amnesia, she is a stranger to her despairing husband and bewildered son.
Hopelessly lost in her own life, with no leads on her abduction, Boone’s only instinct is to revisit the case she was investigating when she vanished: the baffling disappearance of a young woman, Sarah Still.
Defying her family and the police, Boone obsessively follows a deadly trail to the darkest edges of human cruelty. But even if she finds Sarah, will Boone ever be the same again?
LAST ONES LEFT ALIVE is the unputdownable debut novel from Sarah Davis-Goff, sure to grip readers of dystopian literary fiction such as STATION 11 or THE END WE START FROM.
Remember your Just-In-Cases. Beware Tall Buildings. Watch Your Six
Raised by her mother and Maeve on Slanbeg, an island off the west coast of Ireland, Orpen has a childhood of love, rockpools and stories by the fireside. But the stories grow darker, and the training begins. Ireland has been devoured by a ravening menace known as the skrake, and though Slanbeg is safe for now, the women must always be ready to run, or to fight.
When Maeve is bitten, Orpen is faced with a dilemma: kill Maeve before her transformation is complete, or try to get help. So Orpen sets off, with Maeve in a wheelbarrow and her dog at her side, in the hope of finding other survivors, and a cure. It is a journey that will test Orpen to her limits, on which she will learn who she really is, who she really loves, and how to imagine a future in a world that ended before she was born.
Six friends. One killer. Who do you trust?
“A dark, deep, terrific thriller and a scorching portrait of friendship and its betrayal” Nicci French
On a hot July night in 1983, six school friends go camping in the forest. Bright and brilliant, they are destined for great things, and young Aurora Jackson is dazzled to be allowed to tag along.
Thirty years later, a body is discovered. DCI Sheens is called to the scene, but he already knows what’s waiting for him: Aurora Jackson, found at long last.
But that’s not all. The friends have all maintained their innocence, but the body is found in a hideaway only the six of them knew about.
It seems the killer has always lurked very close to home…
In 1942, Jewish courier Ester is betrayed, narrowly avoiding arrest by the Gestapo. In a great haste, she escapes to Sweden, saving herself. Her family in Oslo, however, is deported to Auschwitz.
In Stockholm, Ester meets the resistance hero, Gerhard Falkum, who has left his little daughter and fled both the Germans and allegations that he murdered his wife, Åse, who helped Ester get to Sweden. Their burgeoning relationship ends abruptly when Falkum dies in a fire.
And yet, twenty-five years later, Falkum shows up in Oslo. He wants to reconnect with his daughter. But where has he been, and what is the real reason for his return? Ester stumbles across information that forces her to look closely at her past, and to revisit her war-time training to stay alive… Written with Dahl’s trademark characterization and elegant plotting, The Courier sees the hugely respected godfather of Nordic Noir at his best, as he takes on one of the most horrific periods of modern history, in a exceptional, shocking thriller.
Abandoned by her mother and seldom visited by her unpredictable, violent father, 10-year-old Justine is raised by her grandfather, Pop – a man tormented by visions of war.
Through years of poverty and neglect, Justine finds solace in the staggering natural beauty of the nearby Murray River. But when outside threats infiltrate even this sanctuary, who is there to protect her from danger?
Exposed to a lethal world, Justine must navigate the final years of her precarious childhood alone. She must find ways to endure, she must run when she has to, and, ultimately, she must fight back.