This week's book reviews in brief


Meg Wolitzer Chatto & Windus, £16.99;

ebook, £9.49

Review: Anita Chaudhuri

It’s 1974 and Julie Jacobson, “an outsider and possibly even a freak”, wins a scholarship to Spirit-in-the-Woods, a summer camp for arty kids. From the moment she is invited into Tepee Three by the glamorous Ash Wolf, her life is transformed. A lifelong friendship is born with a group of more privileged individuals, The Interestings of the title.

The novel follows the six characters from the 1970s to the present day, taking in the fall of Nixon, the spread of Aids, the rise of feminist politics and the evolution of New York from crime-infested mean streets to yuppie paradise.

At its heart though, this is a novel about ambition and success, and whether true friendship is ever strong enough to weather the corrosive forces of envy and disappointment.

As ever with a Wolitzer novel, her characters are so compelling. A novel to lose yourself in.


Kelley Armstrong

Sphere, £16.99;

ebook, £8.49

Review: Lyndsey Cartwright

New York Times best-selling writer Kelley Armstrong takes a break from her usual paranormal genre with Omens — an atmospheric and gripping thriller. Main character Olivia Jones wants for nothing — born into a wealthy family and set to marry the CEO of Chicago’s fast growing tech firm, life couldn’t be better.

Weeks before her wedding, however, she finds out two shocking facts — she was adopted as a youngster and her real parents are prolific murderers.

On the run from the media who uncovered her secret and are now desperate to snare an exclusive, and determined to find out the truth for herself, Olivia winds up in Cainsville, a small town she believes is the perfect place to hide while she searches for answers. But Olivia’s arrival in Cainsville was no accident.

Omens is a heady blend of intrigue, betrayal and conspiracy which all link together to create a real page-turner, perfect for Armstrong fans and newcomers alike, and a very strong start to her next series.


Hannah Kent

Picadord, £12.99

ebook, £6.02

Review: Catherine Small

In 1829, in northern Iceland, Agnes Magnusdottir is condemned to death for murdering her lover. She is sent to an isolated farm belonging to district officer, Jon Jonsson, his wife and two daughters, to await her execution. Horrified at having a murderer under their roof, they ostracise her.

A young priest is appointed as Agnes’s spiritual advisor and visits the farm regularly, in an attempt to save her soul. As they talk on the long, dark evenings, a different story emerges from the one the court heard, and the family realise all is not as they had assumed.

Based on a true story, Burial Rites is a haunting account of the last woman to be beheaded in Iceland. It’s also a darkly gothic romance, a love song to the bleak beauty of Iceland, and a moving eulogy to a woman who had the odds stacked against her.


Marisha Pessl

Hutchinson, £16.99

ebook, £9.49

Review: Wayne Walls

Disgraced journalist Scott McGrath explores the dark, hidden side of New York, desperate to rebuild his career by unravelling the apparent suicide of the daughter of cult film director Stanislas Cordova. The city never sleeps in this modern noir as we stalk, bribe and chase leads at all hours, always one step behind and two to the side of the truth.

Masked by obscure sex clubs, religion and the occult, the trail takes us on a dizzying trip through the films and fans of the illusive Cordova, with every frame of his work apparently a clue to his daughter’s fate.

Pessl’s use of excerpts from articles, web pages and police reports serve as a refreshing technique that elevate it from traditional storytelling and prove her understanding of good detective narrative. The scenes are written in a way you forget you’re reading at all. You might well think you’re watching a film — a very disturbing one, at that.

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