Home Leisure Reviews A dozen brilliant books to get you through December ...

A dozen brilliant books to get you through December …

Kelly Ramage pops out to meet a friend on a bitterly cold night – and never comes back. When she’s found murdered in what looks like a sex game gone horribly wrong, detectives believe finding the killer won’t take long. PJ Tracy (pseudonym for the mother-and-daughter team of PJ and Traci Lambrecht) leads readers of Ice Cold Heart on a tantalising trail as the search for Kelly’s sinister lover begins to look like the search for a serial killer – who could kill again. Michael Joseph, R290.

Baby Zephany Nurse hit the headlines when she was kidnapped from beside her mothers hospital bed more than 20 years ago. She hit the headlines again when, by pure chance, her birth parents discovered she’d been living just a short distance away. Now, in Zephany, written by Joanne Jowell, Miché Solomon tells the often harrowing story of the past four years and her struggles to come to terms with living with two sets of parents – those who brought her up, who love her and whom she loves and her birth parents who are strangers. Adding to the trauma is the fact that the woman she believed was her mother,  ‘who was there for me every day’ was jailed for the kidnapping. Fortunately, the man she calls Daddy, Michael Solomon, has never wavered in his love and support, which has hugely helped Miché courageously continue to forge ahead in her efforts to make a success of her life. Tafelberg, R260.

Christmas is coming. But for Women’s Murder Club, crime never stops. In James Patterson and Maxine Paetro’s 19th Christmas, Sergeant Lindsay Boxer is looking forward to spending time with her family over the holidays. But then she receives a tip-off that the biggest heist ever to hit San Francisco is being planned for Christmas Day, and the architect of the ambitious attack unleashes chaos across the city, laying traps and false alarms to distract Lindsay and the SFPD from his ultimate goal. Penguin, R290.

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Dear Mr Wrexham, I know you don’t know me but please, please, please, you have to help me. Ruth Ware’s The Turn of the Key opens with a young woman begging a barrister for help. Her name is Rowan, and she’s the nanny in the Elincourt case. And, she says, ‘I didn’t kill that child’. A dream job of live-in nanny with a staggeringly generous salary and a picture-perfect family turns into a nightmare for Rowan, one which ends with a child dead and her in a cell awaiting trial for murder. A murder she swears she’s not responsible for. Described as a gripping modern-day haunted house thriller, this is one you shouldn’t read when you’re at home alone! Harvill Secker, R290

In her new home, Brodie’s Watch, Ava thinks she’s found the perfect place to hide from a past she’s ashamed of. But in The Shape of Night it’s not long before Ava begins to suspect she’s not alone in this house full of secrets. If she’s wrong, then maybe she’s losing her mind. Tess Gerritsen cranks up the suspense … it’s all haunted houses and handsome ghosts and (phantom) sex.  Bantam Press, R290.


The CEO of a major publishing company dies suddenly at his desk – but was he murdered or did he commit suicide? Senior editor Joelle Jesson – fired by the CEO just hours before his death – sets out to discover exactly what happened in Steven Boykey Sidley’s Leaving Word. Which of three people could have been involved – a detective and aspirant author, the CEO’s inscrutable brother or a sad and deluded loner? Joelle’s editorial instincts come to the fore in her search for meaning, reason, plot and motive in this literary murder mystery laced with sly, dry wit. MFBooks, R240.

On Monday, a Manhattan elevator plunges from the topmost floor to the bottom of a skyscraper, killing all four people on board. On Tuesday, it happens again. And again on Wednesday. These are obviously not random killings, and New York is plunged into chaos. And what do these deadly acts of sabotage have to do with the fingerless body found on the High Line? Linwood Barclay’s Elevator Pitch is a nail-biter of note. And be warned! After you’ve turned the last page, unless your office is on the topmost floor, you might be tempted to slog up all those stairs rather than press the button for the lift! HarperCollins UK, R260.

Jane Tennison has worked hard at becoming the first female detective in the infamous Flying Squad, a notorious boys’ club, members of which clearly don’t think it’s the place for a woman. Determined to prove herself, she discovers a massive robbery is about to be carried out by a local gang. But she doesn’t know who they are, or where and when they’ll strike. The Dirty Dozen is the latest Jane Tennison thriller from Lynda La Plante … gritty, thrilling, and full of twists. Bonnier UK, R290

Oh my. Joy of joys! A new book from Jojo Moyes, just in time for the holidays. Inspired by a remarkable true story, the book is described as ‘the unforgettable journey of five extraordinary women living in extraordinary and perilous times’. The Giver of Stars is the story of Alice Wright, a woman who leaves England for America, only to discover that swapping the twitching curtains of suburbia for being the wife of an American businessman and living in the wild mountains of Kentucky isn’t, actually, the answer to her prayers. Then she meets Margery O’Hara, a woman who isn’t afraid of anything or anyone. And a woman on a mission! The pair, along with three others, join up and, ignoring obvious dangers and loads of social disapproval, travel hundreds of miles a week to deliver books to isolated families. When a body is found in the mountains, and one of the group becomes a suspect, their newly formed friendship is put to the test. The Giver of Stars is unputdownable. Penguin, R270

At their wedding, Mia and Roy Kapoor promised to love and cherish each other, and while their marriage is not perfect, it is sacred and the commitment is absolute. But when the police question Roy about the disappearance of a young woman, they begin to question everything they know about each other. Your Truth or Mine? by Trisha Sakhlecha is all about dark secrets and trust and twists in the ending! Pan Macmillan, R299 • We love a good murder mystery, and are huge fans of Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, who’s back in Peter James’ Dead at First Sight. This time, Grace is investigating the suicide of a woman, a woman he discovers is one of 11 who’ve been scammed while looking for love online. Grace finds himself exploring a global empire built on clever, cruel internet scams and the murder of anyone who threatens to expose them. Macmillan, R299


Ever since reading the marvellous Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight, we’ve pounced on any new Alexandra Fuller with delight (unlike her mother, who thinks they’re ‘dreadful’). Just released is Travel Light, Move Fast, a tribute to Alexandra’s father, who died unexpectedly – and not with the drama the family expected – in Budapest, ‘the poor man’s Paris’. Read in equal parts of envy and horror – her parents launched from one calamity to the next, fuelled with gin and in a haze of cigarette smoke, along with the children, a handful of dogs and a collection of orange Le Creuset pots – the memoir jumps from present to past. Alexandra tells of the lessons her father taught her. Lessons about life, love, loss and tragedy. Lessons that led her to cope with the loss of her father, of the fallout with her sister, and of the unbearable final bereavement she reveals in the final chapter, when you may find yourself, as we did, holding the book further away than normal, so as to distance yourself from the grief she pours into the pages. Brilliantly written, heartbreaking, and often laugh-out-loud funny. Not much more you need from a great read, really. Profile Books, R300

If there was ever anyone as glam as the marvellous Jackie Kennedy Onassis, it was her sister, Lee. One of the most iconic women of her time – and the favourite of their rakish father, John ‘Black Jack’ Vernou Bouvier – she lived in the shadow of her older sister, their mother’s favourite. Both had a keen eye for beauty – in fashion, design, painting, music, dance, sculpture, poetry – and both were talented artists. Both loved prerevolutionary Russian culture. Both adored the blinding sunlight, calm seas and ancient olive groves of Greece. But the two, although extremely close, were hugely competitive and their relationship included much rivalry and jealousy. When Jackie died and her will read, Lee discovered that cash bequests were left to family, friends and staff, but nothing to her.  ‘I have made no provision in this my Will for my sister, Lee B. Radziwill, for whom I have great affection, because I have already done so during my lifetime,’ it read. The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger, who had many candid interviews with Lee, explores the tragic and glamorous lives of these two fascinating women. HarperCollins, R310.

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