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Andrea Mara

THE POSTMAN DELIVERS . . . Lisa Jewell & Andrea Mara

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Two examples here of what readers seem to be lapping up at the moment – domestic noir. Definition? Not exclusive or definitive, but these stories regularly feature ostensibly happy and successful families where, very often, a woman in the family is not all she seems to be, or has a dark secret. The background is often well-to-do suburbia, or perhaps the potent recipe for gossip and malice which exists at the school gate where mums meet twice a day engaged on the school run.

THE FAMILY REMAINS by Lisa Jewell

Screen Shot 2022-07-04 at 20.15.14Domestic noir is often notable for the fact that police investigations only play a tiny part in the plots, with the author concentrating mainly on the nasty things that people who live on bland suburban estates do to each other. The latest novel from Lisa Jewell (left) is different, in that one of the central characters is London copper DCI Samuel Owusu, who takes charge of an investigation prompted by the discovery of a bag on human bones washed up on the Thames mud.

Owusu’s investigations lead to a trail of clues, in particular the seeds of a rare tree which lead DCI Owusu back to a mansion in Chelsea where, nearly thirty years previously, three people lay dead in a kitchen, and a baby waited upstairs for someone to pick her up. The Family Remains will be published by Century on 21st July.

HIDE AND SEEK by Andrea Mara

Screen Shot 2022-07-04 at 20.13.51Ask any book reviewer with children – or grandchildren – what is the most painful crime plot they have to read and, if they are anything like me, they will say the trope of missing (presumed murdered) children. Still, it happens all too often in real life, and so it remains a legitimate subject for crime fiction. Dublin writer Andrea Mara (right) takes a stab at this most difficult of subjects in Hide and Seek.

A game of hide and seek has gone tragically wrong, and little Lily Murphy has done the ‘hide’ bit, but the ‘seek’ part is beyond the police and her distraught parents.She cannot be found. Years later, Joanna moves into what was the Murphy family home. What follows is an unsettling chain of apparent coincidences which not only threaten to unravel the mystery of Lily’s disappearance, but cast a shadow over Joanna’s sanity. Hide and Seek will be published by Bantam Press on 4th August.

ON MY SHELF . . . Mara, Massen, Perks & Spain

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There’s some good stuff in the offing for crime fiction fans judging by this quartet of fine  writers. In alphabetical order, we have:

HIDE AND SEEK by Andrea Mara

Screen Shot 2022-05-14 at 18.23.42Confession time: while I have read and enjoyed previous novels by mesdames Massen, Perks and Spain, Andrea Mara is a new name to me. Turns out she is a compatriot of Jo Spain, also lives in Dublin’s fair City, and her previous novel All Her Fault was a bestseller. So, the loss is all mine. In Hide and Seek, it’s worst nightmare time, especially if you are a parent or, like me, a grandparent. The back-story is that little Lily Murphy goes missing from her Dublin suburb and is never found. Years later, Joanna moves into what was Lily’s home and from here, things just become more scary and spine tingling. This will be published by Bantam Press on 4th August.

FROM THE ASHES by Deborah Masson

Screen Shot 2022-05-14 at 18.25.37Eve Hunter is well established now in the sharp-elbowed assembly of fictional Detective Inspectors. Her beat is The Granite City of Aberdeen. I reviewed – and enjoyed –  two earlier novels, Hold Your Tongue (2019) and Out For Blood (2020) Ms Hunter returns now in an investigation into a fatal fire in an Aberdeen house used as a home for underprivileged children. There appears to be only one person who perished, but further enquiries uncover a rats’ nest of secrets and guilt which means all of the adults who were paid to care for the children may be implicated in an awful crime. From The Ashes is from Transworld Digital/Penguin and will be available from 21st July’

THE OTHER GUEST by Heidi Perks

Screen Shot 2022-05-14 at 18.27.12Heidi Perks is another writer whose previous books The Whispers (2021) and Come Back For Me (2019) were seriously impressive. Click the links to read my reviews. Here, we are basking in the sun in White Sands, an expensive resort on a remote Greek island. Laila and her husband have paid top dollar for their holiday in the hope that they can repair their increasingly fractured relationship. She becomes  what might be called ‘over-interested’ in another family at the poolside –  a woman called Em, her husband and their teenage sons. Then there is a horrifying event which forces Laila to question her own sanity, and what follows involves the exposure of family secrets, and human frailty stripped back to the bone. This is a very early ‘heads-up’ for a book which will be available in January 2023.

THE LAST TO DISAPPEAR by Jo Spain

This is a tiny bit of a cheat, as I have already read this book on my Kindle, and reviewed it here. However, the publishers, in their wisdom, have sent me a mint hardback copy of the book, so I am offering it as a prize to anyone in UK or RoI who retweets this post. What are you waiting for?

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