Three thrillers & the diaries of the Queen of glam – all reviewed here

Autumn is drawing in so a good time to think about books and what to read as the evenings get longer. We are so grateful to Janet for these wonderful book reviews that she keeps giving us…..

The Siege by John Sutherland (Orion)

Debut novel author John Sutherland was a serving Met Police for over 27 years ending up as a Borough Commander for Southwark.   During that time, he was an experienced Hostage and Crisis Negotiator.

The Siege capitalises on all his experience over those years with an insider’s view of exactly how traumatic dealing with a “terrorist” can be with the ultimate aim of getting every one of the hostages – and, of course, the perpetrator – out safely.   Lee, the terrorist, is ultimately saved by one of the hostages, a woman of colour named Grace, who is the very antithesis of how Lee thinks of “immigrants”.   It’s a masterly debut novel.  

Having been caught up in the Balcombe Street siege (IRA 1975) when the IRA tried my locked door –  I know exactly how frightening a siege can be. A couple of things that are still stuck in my head are hearing the sound of running footsteps and my front door being rattled (thank goodness it was locked) and looking out of the window to see armed police pointing guns up at my window (this was at about 10 pm). Later the next day, with all the blockades in place, and dozens of news reporters all standing behind the tape, the police came up to see me and instructed us that we were not to stand in front of the large Georgian windows as the cameras looked liked machine guns, and we were in a direct line to the hostage flat.  So we had to crawl everywhere!

(The  BBC had offered me money if they could use my flat – with its wonderful vantage view –  and to be honest, my ex-husband was terminally ill in hospital, and I simply couldn’t turn down the amount of money they were offering).  And to be honest,  it was so scary being on my own with a  toddler that it was quite nice to have the BBC reporter around to keep me company.  And so, all the pictures shown on the television came from my living room.

But back to the books.

The Curfew by T.M.Logan (Zaffre)

Browsing through Netflix the other evening, I happened on the television adaption of The Holiday based on the novel by T M Logan, published in 2019.  If you haven’t seen it, it’s compulsive viewing and my husband and I literally had to stop ourselves from staying up all night to binge-watch it. (Don’t tell him that I watched the last episode whilst he was busy in his man cave!).

The Curfew is yet another “up-all-night” compulsive read from this author.  Five teenagers go into the woods to celebrate the end of their exams.  Only four come out.  Connor, who has a midnight curfew, is apparently safe and well in his bed, except that he isn’t.  It’s his best friend and cousin Zac who’d taken his place.

Connor’s father is a GP – a pillar of the community – but he can’t get Connor to admit to what he happened.  For Connor telling the truth simply isn’t an option.

The Curfew is simply compulsive reading – you can’t put it down, you have to keep turning the pages, but you don’t want it to finish.  It’s simply one of the best thrillers  I’ve read this year.

His other novels are Lies, 29 Seconds, The Holiday, The Catch, Trust Me and coming in 2023 The Mother.

Dark Objects by Simon Toyne (Harper Fiction)

Somehow I seem to have missed Toyne’s previous thrillers but Dark Objects is an absolute humdinger of a read.

A very desirable mansion –  Housing a very glamorous but very dead lady.  Backing onto Highgate Cemetery, the house is a fortress – secured by ever-changing key pads and codes.  Could this be the quintessential locked house mystery?

Surrounding the dead lady are four seemingly unrelated items, including a book on forensics by Dr Laughton Rees, the daughter of the current Chief Commissioner of Police.  Investigating is by DCI Tannahill Khan.    Laughton, still suffering under the trauma of seeing her mother brutally murdered, has also vowed that she will only investigate cold cases, but, faced with mounting evidence that this particular mystery is very much about her, she eventually capitulates and joins in the hunt.

Wow, this is yet another must-read thriller. Absolutely brilliant  –  The pairing of Laughton and Tannahill work so well together, and there is obviously a frisson there.  Is this the beginning of yet another crime-solving duo?

My Unapologetic Diaries by Joan Collins (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

And onto someone renowned for their glamour – the wonderful Joan Collins.  Husband, who before he retired, was a London black cab driver, often had this sensational lady in his cab. Taking in the years 1989 – 2006, Ms Collins’ diaries are packed with anecdotes and gossipy insider tales of television, film and travel and packed with names you’ll recognise (and just a few you won’t). And of course, getting together with the love of her life Percy.  This woman makes everything look effortless – she tells you it isn’t.