Judging by the weather outside, Autumn is definitely starting to kick in. I took a bit of a blogging break in the Summer but I certainly didn’t stop reading. Some books I can’t tell you about yet because they’re not out until later this year or even next year. But there are three fabulous novels I want to tell you about whether you’re now home for the Autumn or about to go away to catch some last sunshine.
First up, The Whisper Man by Alex North. Here’s the blurb and my review.
If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken . . .
Still devastated after the loss of his wife, Tom Kennedy and his young son Jake move to the sleepy village of Featherbank, looking for a much-needed fresh start.
But Featherbank has a dark past. Fifteen years ago, a twisted serial killer abducted and murdered five young boys.
Until he was finally caught, the killer was known as ‘The Whisper Man’.
Of course, an old crime need not trouble Tom and Jake as they try to settle in to their new home.
Except that now another boy has gone missing. And then Jake begins acting strangely.
He says he hears a whispering at his window . . .
Much has been made of The Chain (and rightly so) but the other book highlight of the summer for me has been The Whisper Man. In some ways they are similar – an abducted child and a struggling parent who will do anything to get their child back – but the pace is very different. The Chain is fast and furious while The Whisper Man beats out a slightly more even tone as the drama is spread out over months rather than weeks.
The main storyline concerns the abduction of a young boy but so many more threads are weaved in through the lives of the main protagonists – Tom Kennedy and his son, Jake, and the two police officers charged with solving the abduction. Tom Kennedy is mourning the loss of his wife after her sudden death and is struggling to raise his son, Jake. I don’t think I’ve ever read grief portrayed so well in a Crime novel before. Alex North has balanced reality with sensitivity and my heart went out to Tom. There’s a wonderful line ‘grief is a stew with a thousand ingredients, and not all of them are palatable.’ Just as Tom is struggling, so is Jake. He turns to imaginary friends to help him get through the school day and life in general. DI Pete Willis has to fight the lure of alcohol on a daily basis. And with a child missing, the craving is stronger than ever.
There are some wonderful twists in this book. Some I saw coming, some I didn’t. Creepiness hangs over the whole story like early morning mist. I don’t want to give too much away but there’s a section towards the end that made me cry. It’s exquisitely written and trust me, you’ll know it when you get there.
Apart from the traditional elements of a crime thriller – tension, discomfort and a mysterious plot – this book is also infused with regret and hope. It’s one of the most moving Crime books I’ve ever read.
You can buy The Whisper Man here.
Alex North (aka Steve Mosby) was born in Leeds, where he now lives with his wife and son. He studied Philosophy at Leeds University, and prior to becoming a writer he worked there in their sociology department
Next up is The Holiday by T.M. Logan.
Seven days. Three families. One killer.
It was supposed to be the perfect holiday, dreamed up by Kate as the ideal way to turn 40: four best friends and their husbands and children in a luxurious villa under the blazing sunshine of Provence.
But there is trouble in paradise. Kate suspects that her husband is having an affair, and that the other woman is one of her best friends.
One of these women is willing to sacrifice years of friendship and destroy her family. But which one? As Kate closes in on the truth in the stifling Mediterranean heat, she realises too late that the stakes are far higher than she ever imagined.
Because someone in the villa is prepared to kill to keep their secret hidden.
We’ve been on holiday with some friends a couple of times. Two families away together. First time was great. Second time tested us a bit with car problems, stomach bugs (only one bathroom) and enough rain for us to consider building an ark. Kate though has considerably more problems than that.
Along with her husband, Sean, and her children, Lucy and Daniel, Kate is heading off to France to meet up with her university friends and their respective families. Kate, Rowan, Jennifer and Izzy were a tight bunch of friends twenty years before but children and careers have taken their toll. This holiday is meant to bring them together again. And with a stunning villa and scorching hot weather, what could possibly go wrong?
Kate is the main protagonist although we do get to hear from the others as well. She appears to be Little Miss Perfect but there are cracks in her marriage and things from her past that she’s not proud of. T.M. Logan skilfully draws out these secrets and the paranoia Kate feels about her husband is all too real. Added into the mix is business woman Rowan about to do the biggest deal of her life. Then there’s Jennifer, a neurotic mother who guards her teenage sons like a swan. She might look graceful but she’ll go for you if you criticise her boys. Only Izzy appears content, back from travelling and seemingly happy with her life.
We get to hear from the children too and I really enjoyed these parts. I particularly loved Daniel, Kate’s nine year old son. I have a son of similar age and there were lots of elements I recognised, especially his relationship with his sister, Lucy.
The setting sounds idyllic. A luxury villa in the Languedoc region, basking in the hot summer sun. Extreme heat doesn’t help at the best of times though and it definitely fuels frayed tempers. Paradise rapidly turns into hell as old grievances and new suspicions are aired. I really hadn’t seen the twist coming so it was interesting to see how T.M Logan weaved the different narratives together.
The Holiday is the perfect beach book but it’s also a great read for Autumn if you want to relive the hot, tense days of Summer.
If you’d like to buy The Holiday then click here.
Bestselling author TM Logan was a national newspaper journalist before turning to novel-writing full time. His debut thriller LIES was one of Amazon UK’s biggest ebooks of 2017, selling 350,000 copies and gathering more than 1,400 5-star reviews.
Together with his second standalone thriller, 29 Seconds (2018), his books are now published in 14 countries around the world including the USA, South Korea, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Romania and the Netherlands.
His latest thriller, The Holiday, is a Richard & Judy Book Club pick for summer 2019. It takes place over a sweltering summer week in the south of France, as four best friends see the holiday of a lifetime turn into a nightmare of suspicion, betrayal and murder…
Tim lives in Nottinghamshire with his wife and two children, and writes in a cabin at the bottom of his garden.
For exclusive writing, new releases and a FREE deleted scene from Tim, sign up to the Readers’ Club: http://www.bit.ly/TMLogan. You can also follow him on Twitter @TMLoganAuthor, find him on Facebook at /TMLoganAuthor or on his website at http://www.tmlogan.com
And my third choice is Deadland by William Shaw.
YOU CAN RUN
The two boys never fitted in. Seventeen, the worst age, nothing to do but smoke weed; at least they have each other. The day they speed off on a moped with a stolen mobile, they’re ready to celebrate their luck at last. Until their victim comes looking for what’s his – and ready to kill for it.
YOU CAN HIDE
On the other side of Kent’s wealth divide, DS Alexandra Cupidi faces the strangest murder investigation of her career. A severed limb, hidden inside a modern sculpture in Margate’s Turner Contemporary. No one takes it seriously – not even the artwork’s owners, celebrity dealers who act like they’re above the law.
YOU CAN DIE
But as Cupidi’s case becomes ever more sinister, as she wrangles with police politics and personal dilemmas, she can’t help worrying about those runaway boys. Seventeen, the same age as her own headstrong daughter. Alone, on the marshes, they’re pawns in someone else’s game. Two worlds are about to collide.
Kent and its social divisions are brilliantly captured in Deadland, a crime thriller that’s as ingeniously unguessable as it is moving and powerful.
For the last two years, William Shaw has made it into my top ten reads for the year, firstly with The Birdwatcher and then Salt Lane. The Birdwatcher featured William South, a police officer with a very guilty secret. DS Alex Cupidi also appeared in a supporting role but she was upgraded to the main protagonist in Salt Lane. She’s back in Deadland and so is William South. I have to say I got very excited when I read that part!
As the number of police officers have declined nationally, trying to cover all of Kent isn’t an easy job for Alex and her fellow detectives. Especially when there’s so much petty crime such as teenagers on mopeds nicking mobile phones. But a severed arm found in a modern sculpture in Margate’s Turner Contemporary gallery? Well, that’s a bit more unusual. For some of her colleagues it’s a bit of a joke case but Alex, along with DC Jill Ferriter, take it more seriously. There are two options for Alex. Either the owner of the severed arm is alive and in desperate need of medical attention or the victim is dead. And that’s a possible murder case.
Sloth and Tap are two teenagers with too much time on their hands and not enough cash. Nicking phones is easy. Until you nick the wrong one. I absolutely loved these two characters. All too often teenage criminals are portrayed in the press as thugs – hoodlums in hoodies. They start off that way in Deadland but William Shaw pulls off a marvellous trick. Rather than despising them, I found myself warming to them and by the end, cheering them on. Their crimes start off motivated by boredom but end up being committed through fear. The adult world is more frightening than they had first thought.
Amongst all of this, DS Alex Cupidi is worrying – about her daughter, her neighbour (William South) and her colleague, DC Jill Ferriter. I love how real she feels. She’s tangible in all her roles as a police detective, a mother and a friend.
Although a lot of the action takes place in Margate, Dungeness continues to be a focal point, the desolate landscape contrasting with Dreamland and the shiny new Turner Contemporary gallery. And that sort of sums up Deadland in a way. There’s enormous wealth vs poverty and traditional vs new. Kent (and the rest of the UK) is changing fast and everything feels on the edge. William Shaw has the knack of weaving social issues into his stories without ever preaching. Certainly Sloth and Tap are going to stay with me for a long time.
To buy Deadland click here.
The Sun hails William Shaw as “a master of modern crime”. His latest novel Salt Lane takes a character from his hugely praised standalone novel The Birdwatcher, to start a new series set in Dungeness. Val McDermid called it “Taut, terrifying and timely.” He’s also the author of the acclaimed Breen and Tozer series set in London in 1968-69. The Sun called The Birdwatcher, a crime novel set in Kent, a contender for crime book of 2016. Peter May says: “William Shaw is, quite simply, an outstanding storyteller.”
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He’s also the author of several non-fiction books including Westsiders: Stories of the Boys in the Hood, about a year spent with the young men of South Central Los Angeles, and A Superhero For Hire, a compilation of columns in the Observer Magazine.
Starting out as assistant editor of the post-punk magazine ZigZag, he has been a journalist for The Observer, The New York Times, Wired, Arena and The Face and was Amazon UK Music Journalist of the Year in 2003.
You can come and here William Shaw talking about Deadland at West Barnes Library in South West London on Tuesday 1st October, along with Mark Hill. See the poster for details.