First thoughts

This week's book reviews in brief

Wrongful Death

Lynda La Plante

Simon & Schuster, £18.99; ebook, £7.90

DCI Anna Travis is one of those fictional characters who has already made the transition from the written page to the small screen. So when Lynda La Plante, regarded as this country’s First Lady of the crime thriller, puts Travis on the case there are sure to be fireworks, both professionally and emotionally.

This latest battle for the glamorous detective is an incestuous tale which crosses the Atlantic from the West Indies to London and to the United States, pitting her wits against one of the most cunning criminals she has ever come up against.

La Plante is already a writer of screen successes like Widows and Prime Suspect and a perpetual author at the top of the best-seller lists. With Wrongful Death, she once again shows off her well-researched and engaging style.

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The Deaths

Mark Lawson

Picador, £14.99;ebook, £8.95

The many funny moments in Mark Lawson’s novel are matched by an equal number of perceptive ones.

And although the journalist and broadcaster pokes fun at middle-class pretensions, it’s with an engaging lightness of touch.

The story has murder at its heart but there is little who-dunnit, the emphasis is firmly on the why-dunnit.

It centres on the lives of four wealthy couples with apparently perfect lives. While the husbands commute to London from their rural idyll, the wives busy themselves with children, the gym, shopping and charitable endeavours.

Lawson paints a detailed and convincing picture of weekend jaunts to Marrakesh, au pairs and courier-delivered coffee pods to feed eye-wateringly expensive espresso machines.

Written from the viewpoints of several characters, including sulky, spoilt teenagers and pre-menopausal women, this is a wickedly witty snapshot of contemporary life.

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My Name Is

Alistair Campbell

Hutchinson, £18.99; ebook, £9.99

With his background, it would be shocking for Alistair Campbell’s literary works to be anything other than socially conscious, so it’s unsurprising that his third fiction title My Name Is... once again deals with the issue of addiction.

A series of interconnecting stories from people who have known protagonist Hannah Maynard, both intimately and fleetingly, tell her story from birth through to alcohol addiction. With accounts from her parents, friends and counsellors, you uncover Hannah’s life without actually hearing from her first-hand.

My Name Is... offers a compelling insight into addiction from the outside in, giving a 360-degree look at the cause and effect of the illness. It possesses an emotional weight for each speaker — an impressive feat when some of these characters feature for less than four pages.

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The Silent Tide

Rachel Hore

Simon and Schuster, £7.99; ebook, £5.88

Set in the book world, this is an enchanting and compelling novel.

In the present day, we meet Emily Gordon, editor at a small publishing house in London. As she begins work on a new biography of esteemed writer Hugh Morton, working with handsome author Joel Richards, a first edition of his most famous book, The Silent Tide, appears in her pigeon hole.

Inside, it is signed for ‘Isabel’; his mostly forgotten first wife. And so we meet another headstrong young woman, living in late the 1940’s, who has fled her family home for the bright lights of London.

Isabel secures a job at McKinnon & Holt, the often struggling publishing house who acquire a new author not long after she starts: Hugh Morton.

As Isabel’s professional relationship with him flourishes, so does her personal one, making for a dual narrative book that skilfully intertwines stories. A book for book lovers.

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