From Crime Thrills to Kosher Delights: a book review dual feature

Hopefully, you’ve finished the Turkey leftovers, the Baileys and all the Christmas food.  The chocolates are all gone, as are all those cakes. You’ve seen the New Year in and eaten all the party food, even if you didn’t have a party.  And you’ve made – and broken? – all those New Year resolutions.

So what’s next?  Well, my husband and I have decided – along with probably millions of others – that we need to lose some weight.  Don’t ask me how but he’s put on nearly a stone over the Christmas period – me, not quite so much. But just taking Rollo out for walkies certainly won’t cut it. Time to open up the treadmill – currently doing service as a clothes horse in the back bedroom, and actually use it – daily!

I don’t know when you find time to read but my favourite reading time is at night after we’ve watched the News and we’re tucked up in bed. No television allowed, just Boom Radio (and if you haven’t tried it, OMG, can I recommend it), and with Rollo snoring contentedly on the bed, and Ambercat curled up in the middle of the floor – prime tripping over place –  we’ll read for an hour or so.  As you’ve probably realised, I’m a super speedy reader (just as well, considering the number of books I need to get through), whilst my husband is content to slowly re-read most of his favourite sci-fi.

Actually, I always find it weird that people are incredulous that you can re-read a book – after all, don’t we re-watch favourite films and tell over and over again the same stories to our grandchildren, so why shouldn’t we re-read a favourite novel?

2023 promises to be a bumper year for crime novels – one of my favourite genres, so I’m featuring some shortly to be hitting the bookshops.

My Husband’s Killer by Laura Marshall ( Sphere)

This one came out in November, and I really enjoyed this, especially if you’re craving a little sunshine – currently, it’s blowing a hoolie outside, and the rain is bucketing down.  Three couples decide to celebrate a significant birthday by spending a few days together in a luxurious villa on the Amalfi coast.

The holidaying couples have all been besties for donkey’s years and know – or think they know – all each other’s secrets.  But when one husband is found dead, his wife finds she cannot mourn after she found a condom in his jacket pocket and concludes that he must be having an affair with – well – one of her friends.   She thought his death was an accident – surely it was. Twists and turns galore.

The Only Suspect by Louise Candlish (Simon & Schuster)

Alex and Beth live in a nice terraced house in a suburban street in London – no different to hundreds of others except that behind the row of houses is the wilderness – a grassy linear area that’s been closed for decades.  But now the landscapers have discovered it and are set to turn it into a family-friendly nature trail.

Alex, always an introvert, becomes quieter, moody, and fearful.  He met Marina in his twenties, and their relationship sparked a murder hunt.

Louise Candlish is the best-selling author of more than a dozen top-notch psychological chiller thrillers, and “The Only Suspect” is terrific.

The Second Stranger by Martin Griffin (Sphere)

Up in the wilds of the remote Scottish Highlands, it’s the Hotel Mackinnon’s last night before closing for the winter – although, with the amount of snow and ice which has fallen over the last couple of weeks, winter has already arrived.   For Remie, already packed and with her ticket booked to the sun, the end of her shift can’t come soon enough. Alone in the Hotel, apart from two guests who checked in the night before, it’s quite spooky, to put it mildly. 

Remie is alarmed when she hears a pounding knock on the locked front doors, and a stranger In police uniform insists that she opens up, telling her that he was transporting a prisoner from the high-security prison she can see over the fells, when there was an accident, and he needs help.  He introduces himself as D.C. Don Gaines.   Naturally, Remie opens up and lets him in.  He tells her that the only survivor of the crash was the prisoner who was badly injured.  With no phone signals and the only contact an on-and-off radio transmitter, naturally, Remie agrees to help.

A little while later, there’s yet another pounding on the door and a man – also in police uniform – insists that he is D C Don Gaines and that she needs to open up to help him.

Oh my goodness, this is one heart-pounding twisty turny locked room thriller of a read – who do you believe is telling the truth? Can Remie figure it out?  This is one hell of a read. So so scary

This is Martin Griffin’s debut novel, and I can’t wait to read what he comes up with next.  

Jewish Flavours of Italy – A Family Cookbook by Silva Nacamullie (Green Been Books)

Just before Christmas, I received the most beautifully packaged parcel and was thrilled when I discovered this wonderful cookbook.

As you’ve probably realised, I’m Jewish – but very secular. I also describe myself as “Jewish by Food”; when my son and daughter-in-law with the grandchildren came over on Boxing Day, they had already requested Jewish stuff.  I’m not the best cook in the world, but I cooked salt beef, gefilte fish, and loads of sides like potato salad, cole slaw, egg and onion.

Young Victoria (11), when she wasn’t choosing some wool and needles and painstakingly knitting a blanket for Ukraine, was leafing through this gorgeously illustrated book and photographing every recipe that she wanted to try.  There are loads of historical facts about the Jews of Rome, and believe it or not, the Pope used to send out for Jewish food.

Traditional Italian recipes have also been reworked to make them “kosher”, i.e. by not using pork or mixing milk and meat.  Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s lavishly illustrated, and with over 300 pages, it’s well worth having. This is one cookbook my son Daniel is not going to pinch. I’m keeping this one for myself. It’s stunning, and I can’t wait to try out some – if not all – of the recipes.

For more book reviews, click HERE.