Shari Lapena’s Someone We Know is set in a small suburb, where everyone is polite and friendly and neighbourly. When newcomers arrive in town – a handsome man and his extraordinarily attractive wife – the main conversation appears to be how much of flirt she is with the men in the area. Then she’s found murdered, and more than one man is “a person of interest’’ to the police. At the same time, a family’s teenage son has been breaking into some of the houses… not to steal, but to practise his fairly impressive computer hacking skills. With secrets and affairs and revenge, Lapena keeps you guessing until the very end. Penguin, R290.
In A Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood envisioned a world in which the US had become Gilead, a totalitarian world ruled by Commanders in which women were totally subservient. Told by one handmaid, Offred, it describes how women are forbidden to learn to read or write and are solely there to serve men in all ways, including sexually. The sequel, The Testaments, is set 15 years later and is told by three women – Aunt Lydia, a trainer and manager of handmaids, and two of Offred’s daughters, Agnes, who became the privileged child of an elite family, and Nicola, who was smuggled out to Canada. Resistance is growing in Gilead and Lydia is plotting its downfall… At a time when women are increasingly protesting against femicide, rape, unequal pay and often worse injustices at the hands of men, this book hits an extremely sensitive nerve. Chatto & Windus, R360.