Sunday Times

Book Bites


The Woman Inside ★★★★ MT Edvardsson, Macmillan

Nordic noir mostly doesn’t disappoint, and this thriller is definitely a solid representa­tion of the genre. At 384 pages, it was a bit drawnout, but made up for this with amazing character-driven execution and alternatin­g points of view explaining and exposing the various players in the murder mystery. There are many different ways of telling a story if the writer sticks with the characters and their questionab­le behaviour. There are excerpts of interrogat­ions, newspaper cuttings, and even a peek at the crime scene in the beginning. The ending was a little nuts, and was completely surprising. But the final wrap-up was both neat and satisfying. — Gill Gifford

The Ghost Ship ★★★★ Kate Mosse, Raven Books

The third book in a series of novels inspired by Mosse’s Huguenot diaspora, The Ghost Ship draws on her extensive research into the religious wars fought between French Catholics and Huguenots, the VOC and good old pirate stories and those who inspired — them. It’s not entirely a stand-alone, though it can be enjoyed without the reader having read the previous two. Mosse has done a stellar job of telling the imagined stories of people who might have lived in the 1660s, including the heroine: the brave and rebellious Louise Reydon-Joubert. There’s a love story at the heart of this historical fiction narrative, inspired by two 18th-century female pirates. The book might start somewhat slow but if you persevere, you’ll soon find yourself utterly immersived in uncovering the intrigue, mutiny and defiance in the name of justice captured in its pages. — Sanet Oberholzer

The Storm We Made ★★★ Vanessa Chan, Hodder & Stoughton

The British occupied Malaya for more than 100 years, but were toppled by the Imperial Japanese Army in 1941. The Japanese occupation began in World War 2 and ceased when the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, ending the war. This novel tells the story of a young Malayan woman, Cecily, who is married to a local civil servant. She is dissatisfi­ed with her mundane domestic life and her husband’s attempts to please and emulate the Brits. At a British party in 1935, she meets Bingley Chan, who is posing as a merchant from Hong Kong, but is actually a Japanese spy. Chan senses her discontent and seduces her with stories of an Asia governed by Asians. He reveals himself as Fujiwari (from a powerful family of imperial regents in Japan). Cecily becomes a spy for Fujiwari, stealing informatio­n from her husband. The author is a wonderful storytelle­r, and the plot is complex and exciting. She draws an almost three-dimensiona­l picture of tropical Malaya with her descriptio­ns of the oppressive humidity, thundersto­rms, lashing monsoons, lush vegetation, as well as the heat of Cecily’s desires. — Gabriella Bekes

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