Your Neighbour’s Wife by Tony Parsons

I have been lucky enough to be gifted a copy of ‘Your Neighbour’s Wife’ as part of a Tandem Collective UK readalong. What a gift it has been to read this novel at the start of a second very strange year.

One of my absolutely favourite novels is ‘Man and Boy’ by Tony Parsons, but I had never read any of his thrillers. And it is fair to say that I have been missing out, as Parsons can pen an excellent thriller.

As I always mention, writing about thriller novels can be difficult because I never want to risk letting any spoilers slip out. So, what I am going to say is that this is a real page-turner. I genuinely struggled to put this down, as it builds so many fascinating mysteries as the story unfolds. Secrets, lies and mysteries relating to every single character (other than the lovely and innocent Marlon and Buddy the dog) have you drawing all sorts of conclusions, rightly or wrongly. And you really are surprised as some of these are revealed to you.

Also, as Tony Parsons does so well, there is an interesting study of relationships throughout this book. Romantic relationships, family relationships and friendships all come under the microscopeas we follow the thrilling tale from start to finish.

So, in conclusion of you are looking for a new, tense thriller for 2021, then this is the book for you.

Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh

The second book second book of 2021 was one that caught my attention on that lovely bookish TV show ‘Between the Covers’. It just sounded like a fascinating crime thriller. And it was!

To begin with, I thought this tale was a little slow. Two sisters, each blaming the other for the murder of their father – and each having called 911. Yet, as the tale progressed, the pace and tension picked up dramatically as Eddie Flynn and his team investigate their defense of Sofia Avellino and new kid on the block Kate investigates her defense of Alexandra Avellino. I really can not talk much about the story, as I do not want to give away any spoilers, other than to say it’s a very well-crafted thriller that becomes a real page-turner. There is quite a collection of characters who you do become quite invested in. And Cavanagh really does manage to manipulate your beliefs about some of the key characters – even if you do not realise it.

Steve Cavanagh has become an author who I would like to read more from. I did not realise that there had been a number of adventures for Eddie Flynn before this one. I guess that is always the joy of reading – you can always make new discoveries of new stories.

This also allowed me to tick off a little bonus prompt from ‘The Unread Shelf Project’, as ‘the unread book most recently acquired’.

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

The Unread Shelf Project 2021 has influenced my choices for my reads this year. The January prompt ‘A Book with High Expectations’, so I decided to take ‘The Nickel Boys’ from my shelf.

This is a book that I have seen around a lot and, obviously, is one that I had wanted to read. However, I did not expect it to be a book that could become one of my favourite reads, but part of the joy of ‘The Unread Shelf Project’.

With a book like this, I am not sure that I can do it justice in my blog posts. ‘The Nickel Boys’ is inspired by the story of the Dozier School, a reform school in Flroida – and the reality of the experience of those who had to attend. I was concerned that this would be a difficult read; however, Whitehead’s handling of this tale is sensitive and thought-provoking. It is shocking that events described in the book were ever allowed to take place and be a part of America’s social history, but Colson Whitehead wants you to learn from this tale. His wonderful narrative style makes this a page-turner. Especially, as it becomes all too clear the part twists of fate really do play on the path some people have to follow.

This is a book that carries very high expectations, it is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, and understandably so. Yet, it lives up to all of these expectations, as it is a truly fantastic novel and has been a great start to ‘The Unread Shelf Project, 2021’.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

‘The Thursday Murder Club’ was my last read of 2020 – and one I had been really looking forward to – it was a joy to find under the Christmas tree.

There is always a fear that, when a book has been surronded by hype, it may not be what you expect. However, this fear was not realised with this book. ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ is a perfect piece of cosy crime fiction from start to finish. A joy to read and quite a page-turner.

You may have heard Richard Osman speak about a retirement village would be the place to find ‘The Thursday Murder Club’, as there is such a variety of skills and people in the place. Ande that is certainly true of his four key characters: Ibriham, Ron, Joyce and Elizabeth. Possibly not a quartet who would usually spend time together, but their love of cold case crime solving leads them to become quite the powerhouse when there are not one but two murders on their door step.

I found this such a joy to read. You feel as though you are on an adventure with the characters. The style of writing is like a soothing voice to bring that cosy crime genre to life.

This novel is a wonderful piece of escapism – and could well the equivalent of a warm hug in the form of a book.