When The Stars Go Dark -Paula McLain

Anna is a police detective who flees San Francisco for Mendocino due to a personal tragedy where she becomes involved in a missing person investigation. What distinguishes this novel from most police procedural stories is the impeccable research. The context for missing persons: fleeing an abusive situation, or an abduction? This is a very fine book, to be expected by the author of The Paris Wife and Circling The Sun.

The Winter Wives – Linden MacIntyre

A superb relationship book: Allan and Byron have married the Winter sisters, Peggy and Annie, respectively. What is love and friendship in the face of manipulation? What is memory when confronted with dementia and suppressed recall? How much wilful disbelief accompanies work for someone who has criminal activities? This is a cracking good psychological thriller – highly recommended.

Forest Green – Kate Pullinger

A story of Art Lunn in different BC locations. His life is defined by a tragic incident at 8 years of age, which he blames himself for the rest of his life. Consequently, he is unable to make commitments to other people, and descends into alcoholism and eventual homelessness, an acute example of how early trauma can initiate a life-long feeling of worthlessness. Actually, the story is less depressing than the above description implies, so worth a read.

Apeirogon – Colum McCann

Simply put – this is a remarkable book, one that must be read slowly and savoured. First, a definition: an apeirogon is a shape with a countably infinite number of sides. Thus, a perfect title for a book addressing the complex many-faceted Israel-Palestine situation. Bassam is Palestinian; his daughter Abir was killed by a rubber bullet fired by an Israeli border guard. Rami is Israeli; his daughter Smadar was killed by Palestinian suicide bombers. They separately deal with perceptions of revenge and justice, and the many versions of truth. And unexpectedly, they become friends. Their stories unfold in a non-linear manner with incredible detail. Overall, a breathtaking narrative that merges fact with imagination, violence and grief.

Mirrrorland – Carole Johnstone

 A psychological thriller that reminds me of Gone Girl. Two estranged identical twin sisters are living with repressed memories that have been replaced by childhood imagination. There is a sinister gothic family home in Edinburgh, a missing person, and many devious plot twists driven in part by clues from a mysterious source. What is real and what is imagined? Overall, a deeply satisfying story.

The Man Who Died Twice – Richard Osman

Another delightful Thursday Murder Club mystery: Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron, and Ibrahim investigate missing diamonds and then several murders. As before, this is a warm and clever story, in large part about friendships. It is also deeply philosophical about aging – a real pleasure to read.

Beautiful World, Where Are You – Sally Rooney

Ms. Rooney’s new book is about four 30-year-olds: Alice and Eileen, Simon and Felix. Although older than the teenagers in Normal People, these adults are no more successful in their relationships. Despite deep friendships and yes, love, they can be frustratingly emotionally distant, deflecting a question with a question as the rejoinder. Overall, a fabulous examination of the modern world. Desire is complicated with delusion; perceptions of happiness are clouded by anxiety and uncertainty. A brilliant book – highly recommended.

Hamnet and Judith – Maggie O-Farrell

It is the late 16th century. Agnes marries a Latin tutor and they have three children, Susanna and twins Hamnet and Judith. The death of one of the twins produces intense grief, so readers be warned that the final 100 pages of this historical novel are extraordinarily sad, culminating in the writing of Hamlet by the Latin tutor, aka William Shakespeare.

The Spectacular – Zoe Whittall

A “spectacular” new book from the author of the acclaimed The Best Kind Of People. This is a book about family relationships, mainly female relationships: erratic behaviour and complicated decisions. At its core, the issue between three generations of women is motherhood with emotions ranging (often) between elation and love, to paralyzing fear. Thanks Sarah, for this book which is highly recommended.