Revenge by Tom Bower, The New House by Tess Stimson, Dark Objects by Simon Toyne, Unlawful Killings by Her Honor Wendy Joseph QC
Janet Gordon, who lives in Takeley, reviews bestsellers and early fiction for India…
There, my husband and I were congratulating ourselves that we hadn’t caught Covid the whole time it existed, when, oh my God, fate caught up with him over the past two weeks.
It was absolutely appalling. I have never felt so sick and I can only thank the vaccine gods for coming up with this thing because otherwise I really think we would have ended up in Princess Alexandra Hospital.
I just couldn’t breathe and at one point couldn’t even lift my head from the pillow. I certainly couldn’t eat (weight loss, hooray!) and poor old Rollo was reduced to sniffling rapidly early in the morning and late at night when no one else was around, before we went back to bed.
Although it was almost impossible for me to keep my eyes open long enough to read, I have now more or less managed to pull myself together.
Revenge: Meghan, Harry and the War Between the Windsors by Tom Bower (Blink Publishing £22)
The hype that has surrounded this book means that it had to do a lot to live up to all of its published excerpts and pre-publicity. But, believe me, it does.
Considered Britain’s finest investigative writer, Tom Bower has extracted so much previously unknown information that makes for an engrossing read and I simply couldn’t stop reading this.
I’m going to raise my hand and say I’m definitely not on the Sussex side. Once upon a time, Harry seemed like such a happy soul, and while I don’t doubt his trauma after his mother’s death, now he seems to be getting more and more unhappy.
I guess in hindsight all the pundits would say it was obvious he was looking for a “mummy” figure to marry and have kids with. But, now that he’s achieved that goal, I really don’t think he envisioned a life completely away from the UK, rather than the half-full/half-full accommodation he wanted.
The more I read about Meghan, the more I feel like she not only made no effort to fit into one of our wonderful British traditions, or even to respect the Queen during her platinum jubilee, but that she had an ulterior motive all about. Shades of Wallis Simpson I think.
It’s also annoying how she always clings to him like, if she doesn’t touch him every second, he’ll forget she exists!
So while I’m sure you’ve all read snippets in the newspapers about the intriguing things Bower uncovered, there’s so much more to read and ponder. I devoured it in one sitting.
Now, if you’re imagining heaven scared to death as you sit on your lounge chair, you’ll be hard-pressed to choose between these three…
The New Home by Tess Stimson (Avon £8.99)
Tess Stimson, who now lives in the United States, has been one of my favorite authors since I first read The Adultery Club, which was published in 2007, and Hard News in 1993. And, oh my God, his latest is incredibly tense and compulsive.
Take three couples and a desirable house designed by a fashionable architect that couple number two Millie and Tom covet. Millie is a top-flight cardiothoracic surgeon while Tom is a highly paid computer scientist.
In turn, their home is coveted by Harper and Kyle, who need a new home in the right school district to keep up with their nearly two million Insta followers who follow them under “Kyperlife.”
And Stacy and Felix, who own this designer home known locally as The Glass House, have decided to downsize. Stacy is a daytime magazine anchor (I immediately thought of a Ruth Langsford type – why, I don’t know) while Felix is a hedge fund manager. Both are living the lifestyle that all other couples want.
Told in chapters by each of the participants as well as an unknown psychopath (to us), The New House is so unbearably tense, mind-boggling, jaw-dropping and gripping that you just have to read it over and over again.
I just couldn’t put it down, and right down to the very last page there are twists and turns that you just wouldn’t have expected or imagined. The New Home is terrifically brilliant.
Dark Objects by Simon Toyne (Harper Fiction £14.99)
Somehow I feel like I missed Simon Toyne’s previous thrillers, but Dark Objects is a real humdinger of a read.
Yet another desirable mansion, this time home to a glamorous but very dead lady. Backing onto Highgate Cemetery, the house is a fortress, secured by ever-changing keypads and codes. Could this be the quintessential Closed House mystery?
Surrounding the deceased lady are four seemingly unrelated items, including a book on forensics by Dr Laughton Rees, who is the daughter of the current Chief Commissioner of Police.
The investigator is DCI Tannahill Khan. Laughton, who still suffers from the trauma of seeing her mother brutally murdered, swore she would only investigate cold cases, but, in the face of mounting evidence that this particular mystery concerns her very much, she eventually capitulates and joins the hunt.
Wow, this is yet another must-read thriller. The pair work so well together that I wonder if this is the start of another crime-solving duo?
Unlawful Murders: Life, Love and Murder: Trial at the Old Bailey by Her Honor Wendy Joseph QC (Doubleday £20)
After years of watching Judge Judy, I find it very hard not to call Her Honor Wendy Joseph Judge Wendy, but, my God, this lady deserves so much more than just a nickname like that.
Think back to the high-profile case of the fixed-wheel cyclist who was charged with driving furiously after shooting a pedestrian as she crossed the road in the City of London. Pushing his way in and out of stopped traffic, he yelled at the pedestrian to “get the fuck out of the way”. She froze and he rode straight at her. I hadn’t realized it was Judge Wendy presiding, her summary was an absolute masterpiece.
His Honor writes with such authority and has such a way with words. Take this from a scene where a school class visits the Old Bailey. His Honor has given them all appropriate names for their hair or clothing etc. and is busy assigning them roles in the courtroom. As she sits quietly, waiting for the class to enter her hearing room, she hears two voices – Shane and another. As they walk inside, Shane says “this is a fucking waste of time”. The professor replies, “You are entitled to your opinions Shane, but you will express them without the adjectival intensifier.”
His Honor is impressed. She had no idea that f****** was an adjectival intensifier.
His whole novel? Biography? Memories ? I really don’t know what to call it, all I know is that it’s the most fascinating legal read from one of the best judges to ever sit at the Old Bailey.
I have a legal background and once appeared at the Old Bailey – asking for something very simple before the Master, I hasten to add – and was scared to death. I hope to interview this wonderful lady later in the year and I don’t know whether to be thrilled or terrified.
Even if you have little interest in our justice system, this book is a must read. I would like to read more from His Honour.