I’m a bit of a book nut – it’s gotta be said. Apparently one of my first words as a small child was readabookdad. Although as an adult when my nose is in a good one, I do tend to block out the world around me and immerse myself completely in the fiction. That’s not always a good thing, I realise that. Lately though, I seem to have such little time for reading, so when I do pick up a book I want to be sure it’s a goodie. And with World Book Day coming up this Thursday, it seemed the perfect time to ask an expert to steer us in the right direction. The lovely Peter Snell, owner of the gorgeous independent Barton’s Bookshop in Leatherhead came up with these 10 must reads.
1. Tastes Like Fear by Sarah Hilary
The third book in the Marnie Rome series of crime thrillers, it can also be read as a standalone novel. And already, like its predecessors, this one has been described as crime fiction of the highest calibre. Fabulously disturbing, this is about a young girl who causes a car crash and then disappears from the scene. She’s a runaway who doesn’t want to be found. She just wants to go home to the one man who understands her and gives her shelter. Just as he does to the other lost girls who live in his house. He’s the head of her new family. He’s Harm.
Hardback £16.99 (paperback out in September), Headline
2. Maestra by L S Hilton
A shockingly original and darkly decadent thriller, Maestra is like nothing else you have ever read. Judith Rashleigh works at a prestigious London auction house, but her dreams of breaking into the art world have been gradually dulled by the blunt forces of snobbery and corruption. To make ends meet she moonlights as a hostess in one of the West End’s less salubrious bars. When Judith stumbles across a conspiracy at her auction house, she is fired before she can expose the fraud. In desperation, she accepts an offer from one of the bar’s clients to accompany him to the French Riviera. But when an ill-advised attempt to slip him sedatives has momentous consequences, Judith finds herself fleeing for her life.
Hardback £12.99, Zaffre
3. Things We Have in Common by Tasha Kavanagh
This starts out like a young adult novel but it is darker than that and with more malice, not on the page but in your mind. Told very simply through the eyes and voice of a teenage girl this tale will leave you feeling that you have enjoyed a satisfactory ending. A week later I began to ponder and wonder. I think you will too.
Paperback £8.99, Canongate
4. The Last Fiesta by Andy Rumbold
The moment you start this book you will be hooked. The characters grow on you like friends and the revelations and plot twists force you to keep turning the pages. In the summer of 1995 a group of old school friends meet up in the Basque country. Their hedonistic journey proceeds through the Picos de Europa and to Pamplona for the running of the Bulls. Dark truths and dreadful revelations from the past entwine their lives in a way that will ultimately lead to disaster.
Paperback £7.99, Red Door Publishing
5. Revolution Earth by Lambert Nagle
Another impossible-to-put-down book. In this pacey story from a husband and wife writing team, a cyclist is killed in a seemingly ordinary hit-and-run incident. This story develops into a full blown, worldwide thriller involving social and eco activists and the fight against Big Oil.
Paperpack £8.99, Lambert Nagle Media
6. Someone Out There by Catherine Hunt
Set in Brighton, this is the debut psychological thriller by Catherine Hunt, with a twisting story of obsession, revenge and deceit. Top divorce lawyer, Laura Maxwell appears to have it all – perfect career, perfect husband, perfect life. But a series of accidents lead Laura to believe that someone is deliberately trying to harm her. The fear starts to pervade every part of her life, affecting her work and her marriage. Increasingly, she feels that no one believes her story, and she must face down her attacker alone.
Paperback £7.99, HarperCollins
7. The Ballroom by Anna Hope
If you haven’t read Anna’s previous novel Wake, then you need to. This, her second is inspired by the true story of her great-great-grandfather. Set over the heatwave summer of 1911 at the end of the Edwardian era, this is a tale of unlikely love and dangerous obsession, of madness and sanity, and of who gets to decide which is which.
Hardback £12.99, Doubleday
8. The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes
This is Julian Barnes’ first offering since winning the Man-Booker prize in 2011 with The Sense of an Ending. In The Noise of Time, The Guardian says, Barnes “has given us a novel that is powerfully affecting” and “a condensed masterpiece”. High praise indeed. It’s a short fictional account of the life of the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich. In May 1937, Shostakovich, aged in his early 30s, waits by the lift of a Leningrad apartment block. He waits all through the night, expecting to be taken away to the Big House. And few who are taken to the Big House ever return.
Hardback £14.99, Jonathan Cape
9. The Island Escape by Kerry Fisher
This promises to be an unputdownable summer read with many surprises unearthed along the way. It’s about Octavia Shelton, who thought she would have a different life. One where she travelled the world with an exotic husband and free-spirited children in tow. But safe reliable Jonathan, packed lunches, school runs and mountains of dirty washing are the reality in which she can scarcely recognise herself. Watching her best friend’s marriage break up gets her thinking…
Paperback £6.99, Avon
10. After the Storm by Jane Lythell
This is a suspenseful thriller, that keeps you waiting. But it’s worth it when they come. Rob and Anna have only just met Owen and Kim, and now they’ve boarded their handsome old boat to travel to a far off island in the Caribbean. With only the four of them on board, it should be paradise: lazy afternoons spent snorkelling; long nights enjoying the silence and solitude of the sea. But 10 days is a long time to spend with strangers. Especially when one of them carries a secret.
Paperback £7.99, Head of Zeus
If you’ve read any of the books on Peter’s list, I’d love to hear what you thought about them. Feel free to leave your comments below. I intend to make my way through the list, starting at number 1. I shall share my thoughts – although it may be in 2020, at the rate it takes me to read a book lately!
Barton’s Bookshop, 2 Bridge St, Leatherhead KT22 8BZ. Tel: bartonsbookshop.co.uk