Thriller: Single by KL Slater Sphere, 342 pages, paperback €10.74; e-book £1.99
Darcy has been a widow for three years. She took her husband Joel’s sudden death very hard and had a breakdown. Joel’s parents, Brenda and Leonard, took temporary custody of her two little boys Harrison and Kane, but she has pulled through and is now living independently with them. Then one day in the local playground, her asthmatic six-year-old, Kane, has an attack and is near death.
As Darcy clutches his limp unresponsive body, a pair of strong hands gently lift the boy from her arms and she watches, amazed, as George, a local surgeon, saves her son’s life. George, it turns out, is not only a terrific and highly regarded physician, also happens to be a single parent and has a delightful little girl around Kane’s age. Darcy finds herself smitten and, fortunately, so too is George, and very quickly a thank you cup of coffee and a chat in a local café become a series of increasingly intense dates.
When Darcy is threatened with homelessness, George asks her to move with her boys into his luxury home, and there’s soon talk of spending Christmas together with the children in a luxury resort. But not everyone is delighted at this burgeoning romance.
As she settles in to her new home, Darcy receives flowers and a chilling message. George says they are from an obsessed ex-girlfriend, Opal. It also appears that her former in-laws are none too happy with the new romance.
Inadvertently, it appears Darcy may have put her boys in terrible danger. Suddenly what appeared to be a feel-good romantic novel becomes a cliff-edged intense psychological crime thriller, a metaphorical wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Anthology: The Stinging Fly: The Galway 2020 Edition; edited by Lisa McInerney and Elaine Feeney
Stinging Fly, 240 pages, paperback €14.95
This special edition of the literary magazine successfully celebrates the spirit of Galway in the year its tenure as a European Capital of Culture had to be artfully reimagined. With Lisa McInerney at the helm and Elaine Feeney as guest poetry editor, new work is showcased from Kevin Barry, Rob Doyle, Louis De Paor, Roisin Kiberd, Mike McCormack, Alan McMonagle, Nuala O’Connor among many others, as they explore themes of migration, landscape and language, and Galway’s identity as an Irish city, a European city, and a place of connection, disconnection and belonging.
Thriller: I am Pain by Ethan Cross
Head of Zeus, 448 pages paperback €11.24; e-book £2.59
There’s a twisted serial killer stalking America’s Midwest. Dubbed the Coercion Killer, his method is particularly cruel. Fathers arrive home to find their family has been kidnapped. They can get them back alive if they agree to pay the ransom. They must kill a selected innocent person. No ifs or buts; that person must be dead within a specified time or the families will die. FBI Special Agent Marcus Williams is perhaps the only man who can stop these dreadful crimes, but to do so, he must dig deep into his own family’s dark past and make a pact with America’s most infamous murderer, Francis Ackerman Jnr. A violent and exceptionally gory example of the sub-Hannibal Lecter genre.
Autobiography: Wintering by Katherine May
Rider, 288 pages, paperback €14; e-book £6.49
Winter is the fallow period of the year, a time when nature resets. And wintering is the process of getting through it. For English writer Katherine May, her ‘winter’ was year-long, as she had to contend with unexpected obstacles. A sudden illness in her family plunged her into a time of uncertainty and seclusion and forced her to assess what was and wasn’t important. When life felt at its most frozen, she managed to find strength and inspiration from the incredible wintering experiences of others as well as from the remarkable transformations of nature. This vivid memoir is a call to arms for us to draw from the healing powers of the natural world and to embrace the winters of our own lives.
Biography: Sir Sean Connery: 1930-20 by John Parker
John Blake, 352 pages, paperback €9.99
John Parker wrote a biography of Sean Connery several years ago and in this, newly updated book following the star’s death at 90 in October, he draws from previous interviews with the likes of Paul Newman and Michael Caine to offer an intimate portrait of the actor. It’s a career-spanning tome and much of it is focused on Connery’s early life in Edinburgh and his remarkable ascent into Hollywood’s top ranks. There’s considerable detail on his years playing James Bond and a look-back on a surprisingly varied career. Parker attempts to get to know the man behind the mask — no easy task for such a private figure — and offer an appraisal of his acting prowess too.