First Thoughts

XO

Jeffery Deaver

Hodder & Stoughton, €25.10;

ebook, €11.99 

Review: Shereen Low 

King of suspense Jeffery Deaver promised that he would alternate books about quadriplegic detective Lincoln Rhyme and Kathryn Dance, a body analysis expert with the California Bureau of Investigation, and he has remained true to his word.

One of the genre’s most prolific writers, XO follows The Burning Wire in 2010 featuring Rhyme and Carte Blanche — the latest instalment in the James Bond series, published in 2011.

Dance finds herself in the right place at the right time when her country singer friend Kayleigh Towne reveals she is being stalked by an obsessed fan, shortly before a homecoming concert.

Despite being off-duty, Dance jumps into action when one of Towne’s crew is killed, echoing the lyrics of one of her own songs. Fans of Deaver — a folk singer who has written 11 ‘Towne’ tracks and even recorded an accompanying album — will enjoy the thrills with his latest book, even if they have an inkling of what to expect, but it is also ideal for those wanting an introduction into his works.

Wife 22

Melanie Gideon

HarperCollins, €18.60;

ebook, €15.85

Review: Lyndsey Cartwright

The second novel from Melanie Gideon entitled Wife 22 is a refreshing and funny read about a woman named Alice Buckle.

Alice is a part-time drama teacher, mum to two children, and wife to William. She’s also a woman going through a slight mid-life crisis after finally reaching the age at which her mum died. Subsequently, Alice has found herself bored with her life, conjuring up anxieties about her son’s sexuality and daughter’s eating habits, not to mention the growing void between her and her husband.

When a marriage survey pops up unexpectedly in her inbox, Alice can’t resist taking part, and as she delves further into her innermost thoughts, feelings and memories about her life and relationships, she finds herself increasingly drawn to the mysterious Researcher 101.

Interspersed with Alice’s online exploits, Wife 22 is a witty and well-written reflection on modern-day marriages, that examines powerful questions about love and family.

You Came Back

Christopher Coake

Viking, €18.60;

ebook €8.99

Review: Philip Robinson

Following high praise for his short stories, Christopher Coake’s first novel You Came Back doesn’t disappoint.

The story takes place several years after the accidental death of Mark and Chloe’s much-loved seven-year-old son, Brendan. Mark and Chloe have since divorced and Mark believes he has conquered his emotions as he rebuilds his life with new girlfriend Allison.

However, when a mysterious stranger turns up out of the blue saying that she has bought Mark’s old house, the shock doesn’t end there. She is also adamant Brendan’s ghost haunts the building. Little do Mark, Chloe or Allison realise just how much their lives are about to change. Is Brendan trying to reach them from beyond the grave?

This novel exposes the raw nerve endings of love, life and death and will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

Mateship With Birds

Carrie Tiffany

Picador, €19.15;

adobe ebook, 16.51

Review: Kate Whiting

The latest from Orange Prize-shortlisted Australian author Carrie Tiffany is a gentle story set in the 1950s countryside, where single mother Betty looks after her children and the neighbourly farmer Harry looks out for Betty.

Part-narrative, part-ornithologist Harry’s diary entries about a small family of kookaburras, the novel is a tender exploration of normal lives and finding love when you thought all hope was lost.

Each character, from lustful teen Michael, to feisty Little Hazel and creepy neighbour Mues, is carefully crafted to capture the reader and keep them interested all the way through.

Tiffany paints the post-war era, with its sexual repression, poignantly and questions what it means to be a family.

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