The critics have been raving about these new fiction releases.
The Thursday Murder Club
By Richard Osman
This cosy crime caper by debut novelist Richard Osman, the hugely likeable British TV personality behind quiz shows such as Pointless, emerged as something of a literary lockdown sensation in the UK, becoming the fastest-selling crime debut novel since records began.
The story is set in a wealthy retirement village which has been built by a brash developer, Ian Ventham, with links to some dangerous criminals. Every Thursday four septuagenarian amateur sleuths, Elizabeth, Joy, Ibrahim and Ron, gather to solve cold cases from the files of Elizabeth’s friend Penny, a former police officer who now lies in a coma in the village.
When Ventham is murdered on their doorstep the team is in their element as they tackle their first live case.
Fiendishly plotted and delightfully witty, this is a crime novel with a big heart and the first in a promising series. Fans of Emma Healey’s Elizabeth is Missing and the TV show Midsomer Murders will be in their element here. – Sandy Cook
Leave the World Behind
By Rumaan Alam
Amanda and Clay arrive at the luxurious house they’ve rented on a remote part of Long Island, looking forward to a relaxing break with their teenage kids. But just a few nights into their stay, Ruth and GH Washington show up, claiming to be the owners of the property and seeking shelter.
Something bad is happening in New York City, they say. There’s been a major power outage and people are in a panic. At first, Amanda and Clay resent having to share their space with the newcomers. And the fact that they’re white and middle class and Ruth and GH are black and rich adds extra layers of complexity to an already tricky situation.
But as it becomes clear that something truly terrifying is unfolding in the outside world they are forced to start relying on each other. The tale is told from the perspective of each of the six occupants of the house as they try to understand what is happening. Some may find the painstaking level of detail the author goes into rather frustrating at times but despite this it’s a novel that really gets under your skin. Read it if you dare. – Jane Vorster
By Tana French
Tana French moves away from Dublin, the usual setting for her books, to a remote Irish village and changes it up with an American as her lead character.
Chicago ex-cop Cal Hooper has moved to a farming village in the west of Ireland. Divorced and feeling burnt out, he is hoping for a peaceful life. But 13-year-old Trey Reddy has other ideas and starts watching Cal. Eventually Cal wins the teenager’s confidence and hears that Trey’s 19-year-old brother, Brendan, has gone missing.
Trey persuades the reluctant Cal to look for him as the local police aren’t concerned about Brendan’s disappearance. Once Cal begins searching he discovers there are all sorts of secrets and tensions in the tiny village and the more he investigates the more he could be putting himself and Trey at risk.
In interviews French has described the book as an Irish Western and sees Cal as the retired gunslinger who comes to town and gets dragged into the local trouble - and that’s exactly how it feels. It’s a wonderful slow-burn with an air of creepiness as Cal knows there is something off about the village and Brendan’s disappearance, but no-one is talking. – Natalie Cavernelis