MY LOVELY WIFE by Samantha Downing (Michael Joseph £12.99, 384 pp)
MY LOVELY WIFE
by Samantha Downing (Michael Joseph £12.99, 384 pp)
It is rare — and refreshing — that the storyteller in this slightly bonkers thriller is the male character: a handsome tennis coach, father of two and apparently conventional husband of a super-conventional estate agent, Millicent.
We meet him for the first time as he is pretending to be a deaf man called Tobias, picking up a girl in a bar and using his phone to talk to her. Soon, he is relaying the details of this rendezvous to Millicent. But just when you think this is some swinger’s story, the plot takes off in a really wild direction.
It does verge on crazy but, somehow, Downing has the wit to pull it off and, in the process, creates a highly original and dark look at the shifting power structures in a modern marriage. A neighbourhood serial killer on the loose is an important part of the madness that makes this such a funny, smart book.
KNOW WHO YOU ARE by Alice Feeney (HQ £7.99, 302 pp)
I KNOW WHO YOU ARE
by Alice Feeney (HQ £7.99, 302 pp)
Actress Aimee Sinclair’s husband suddenly disappears and the police are suspicious of her behaviour. But Aimee has secrets they couldn’t even begin to imagine, and these are gradually revealed to us in a riveting dual narrative that switches between her present life and her traumatic childhood.
Aimee’s smart-talking openness immediately draws the reader in, despite her fondness for cookie-cutter mottos such as: ‘The lies we tell ourselves are always the most dangerous.’
There is a touch of Reese Witherspoon’s Legally Blonde character about Aimee. She is a touching — if untrustworthy — heroine.
The showbusiness backdrop is convincing, and there is a constant flow of excellent one-liners. But best of all is the superb no-holds-barred plotting. This story romps towards a startling and totally unexpected conclusion, which will satisfy the most experienced thriller fans.
CRUSHED by Kate Hamer (Faber £12.99, 416 pp)
by Kate Hamer (Faber £12.99, 416 pp)
It’s impossible not to be impressed by Kate Hamer’s expert control of language. There are whole passages of interior monologue that are worthy of being called prose poems.
But it’s harder to get the hang of her characters and her very particular approach to building tension. The award-winning Hamer’s acclaimed book The Girl In The Red Coat will guarantee her an audience who are primed to be wowed once again. But first-time Hamer readers might struggle a bit.
Her focus is on the power and toxicity of a three-way female friendship group. The plot pivots on one girl’s belief that her thoughts can actually alter reality.
Add a touch of witchcraft, failing mother-daughter relationships and more than a dash of horror and you have a clever, if not always convincing, tale.