TAKE THE RECOMMENDATION AND WRAP YOUR HANDS AROUND ONE (OR ALL) OF HARPERCOLLINS’ ‘BOOKS TO LOOK OUT FOR IN 2019’ SHORTLIST
HOW TO BE SECOND BEST Jessica Dettmann Released in January – RRP $32.99
What happens when you cast the crown of perfection aside and dare to aim for second best? This funny and charming novel follows one woman’s quest to reclaim her life after a dubious co-parenting arrangement with her ex leaves her feeling like the hired help. Going from one child to two is never easy for a family but when Emma’s husband simultaneously fathers a third child three doors up the street, things get very tricky, very fast. No longer is it enough for Emma to be the best wife and mother, now she’s trying to be the best ex-wife and the best part-time parent to her ex’s love child – and that’s before she even thinks about adding a new bloke to the mix. Set in an upwardly mobile, ultra-competitive suburb, this is a funny, biting, heart-warming, modern comedy that looks at the roles we play, how we compete and what happens when we dare to strive for second-best. This is Marian Keyes meets Allison Pearson, with a dash of Caitlin Moran.
NOT BAD PEOPLE Brandy Scott Released in February – RRP $32.99
A compelling debut novel about old friendships and the corrosive power of secrets, for fans of Liane Moriarty and Robyn Harding. It’s New Year’s Eve. Three 30-something women – Aimee, Melinda and Lou – best friends for decades, let off sky lanterns filled with resolutions: for meaning, for freedom, for money. As the glowing paper bags float away, there’s a bright flare in the distance. It could be a sign of luck – or the start of a complete nightmare that will upend their friendships, families and careers. The day after their ceremony, the newspapers report a small plane crash – two victims pulled from the wreckage, one a young boy. Were they responsible? Aimee thinks they are, Melinda won’t accept it and Lou has problems of her own. It’s a toxic recipe for guilt trips, shame, obsession, blackmail and power games.
THE SCHOLAR Dervla McTiernan Released in March – RRP $32.99
Dervla McTiernan’s debut novel, The Rúin, became an instant best-seller that soared up the Australian charts and became one of the top five best-selling Australian crime novels for 2018. McTiernan’s second novel, The Scholar, sees the return of the much-loved DS Cormac Reilly in a compulsive new crime thriller that brings his objectivity and integrity into question. Late one night outside her laboratory at Galway University, Cormac Reilly’s partner Dr Emma Sweeney stumbles across the victim of a hit-and-run. A security card on the dead woman identifies her as Carline Darcy, a gifted student and heir apparent to Irish pharmaceutical giant Darcy Therapeutics. The multi-billion-dollar company, founded by Carline’s grandfather, has a finger in every pie, from sponsoring university research facilities to funding political parties to philanthropy – it has funded Emma’s own ground-breaking research. Cormac is thrust into investigating the high-profile and high-pressure case and soon evidence begins to mount that the death is linked to the Darcy laboratory and, increasingly, to Emma herself.
THE VAN APFEL GIRLS ARE GONE Felicity McLean Released in April – RRP $32.99
A haunting coming-of-age mystery from a brilliant new Australian author. Felicity McLean is already an international publishing sensation, with rights to her debut novel The Van Apfel Girls are Gone already sold to the US, UK, Spain and France. Part mystery, part coming-of-age story, The Van Apfel Girls are Gone is set in a distant suburb on the encroaching bushland, over the long hot summer of 1992. It’s the summer of the school’s Showstopper concert. The summer Tikka never forgot. Tikka Molloy was 11-and-one-sixth years old during the summer of 1992 – the summer the Van Apfel sisters disappeared. Hannah, beautiful Cordelia and Ruth vanished during the night of the school’s Showstopper concert at the amphitheatre by the river, surrounded by bushland. Now, years later, Tikka has returned home to try and make sense of the summer that shaped her and the girls that she never forgot. Blackly comic, sharply observed and wonderfully endearing, this is Picnic at Hanging Rock for a new generation.