People often ask me: ‘what shall I read next?’ I often say I don’t feel I read enough. But since I blogged for the Crime Readers Association about reading habits, and about how I felt like a slacker in the company of such voracious readers, I’ve upped my game. Here are just three novels I’ve enjoyed recently, so if you’re looking for something to take on holiday, try these!
The Judas Scar by Amanda Jennings
A story of love, betrayal and pain, this psychological thriller builds gently at first, but with the just the right level of anxiety. Will’s boarding school past has always haunted him, but the memories flood back with a vengeance with the appearance of Luke Crawford, the smooth-talking lawyer who was once Will’s childhood friend. Meanwhile, Harmony, Will’s wife, is coming to terms with the effect of a miscarriage and coping with Will’s emotionally stunted response to her needs. The characters are nuanced and believable and their intimate relationships light the fuses for an explosive climax. A great read with a denouement that left me thinking long and hard about human nature and the subtleties of love and hate.
Café Assassin by Michael Stewart
Another tale of male friendship, jealousy and betrayal, Café Assassin is published by the excellent Blue Moose. I loved Michael Stewart’s coming of age novel, King Crow, (a fantastic read) and he follows with this excellent story of crime, imprisonment and revenge, which certainly qualifies it as a crime novel, but one that follows its own conventions. The Manchester and Leeds locations are perfectly detailed, and will be familiar to a multitude of readers who know either city. The places are so real that it gave me the feeling I knew the people too. This is something I noticed in King Crow: characters who are so well drawn that they put most fictional individuals in the shade. Nick is a warts and all character who most of us would be wary of if we met in the pub, but someone for whom we can’t help cheering when he begins to make a success of his post-prison existence.
Freedom’s Child by Jax Miller
With another deeply flawed central character (in a good way) this is a crazy road trip of a story with the fantastic Freedom, who lives her wild, hard-drinking life on a shaky witness protection programme. When she’s compelled to find out what has happened to the daughter who was taken away from her as a baby, she’s drawn into the nightmare of a religious cult. Like Thelma and Louise without the Hollywood shine, it’s hard not to love Freedom and her world of bikers, prostitutes, skinheads and hapless FBI agents. Jax Miller’s voice is fresh and energetic. This is her debut and I can’t wait to see what she writes next. Thank you to Jax’s publicist for giving me an ARC of Freedom’s Child.