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
Domestic 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
Ask 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.