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We review the latest fiction releases
TRIO BY WILLIAM BOYD Penguin
William Boyd is in sparkling form in this novel set in 1968 in the seaside town of Brighton in the UK where a Swinging Sixties movie is in full production. The trio in question are Talbot Kydd, an ageing movie producer, Elfrida Wing, a successful writer married to the film’s caddish director, and beautiful actress Anny Viklund, star of the film.
Each is harbouring a secret: married Talbot is a closet homosexual, Elfrida is a raging alcoholic with writer’s block and Anny, who’s having a steamy affair with her leading man, is being hassled by the CIA over her links to her terrorist ex-husband.
Through his exploration of these three lives, Boyd hilariously sends up the writing process and the movie business but also probes deeper questions about identity and what happens when our public and private personas collide. And the business of suicide is deftly explored, with both humour and tenderness. A rollicking plot with a wonderful sense of time and place, this is vintage Boyd.
– SANDY COOK
THE LIES YOU TOLD
BY HARRIET TYCE Headline Publishing
Sadie Roper abruptly leaves the US and moves back to London where she enrols her daughter, Robin, in an exclusive private school. But she can’t tell her daughter why they had to move in such a hurry and why she has to go to the same school her mother went to. A school that Sadie hated, but she can’t tell Robin that either.
Next she tries to get back the career as a criminal barrister she had before she got married and left, but things don’t work out as planned – not with her career and not with the school either. The moms are super competitive and bitchy and Robin has to bear the brunt of the hostility.
Then all of a sudden things change when the über mom hears that Sadie herself is an “old girl” and was school vice captain to boot. But there’s a twist or two to come. The book has several different plots, all of them interesting, especially the trial of a high profile case which gives Sadie the opportunity to show she still has the skills to be a top criminal lawyer. The Lies You Told is a dark and compulsive psychological thriller.
– ANDRÉ J BRINK
BY JAMES PATTERSON & MAXINE PAETRO Century
A hysterical woman storms into the office of Cindy Thomas, ace crime reporter of the San Francisco Chronicle, insisting that she investigates the disappearance of her daughter and granddaughter, both of whom she believes have been murdered by her sonin-law.
Sergeant Lindsay Boxer starts investigating and things hot up when the body of the little girl washes up on the shore of San Francisco Bay. Soon more bodies of women are found, all killed in a similar fashion. On the basis of only circumstantial evidence, Lucas, the son-in-law, is arrested and charged with murder. But he tells the police he’s being framed by his own father.
21st Birthday is the 21st novel in the long-running Women’s Murder Club series but while I enjoyed the others I found this new instalment rather underwhelming. The ending is utterly unsatisfactory and it leaves a lot of questions unanswered. I think it’s time for Cindy the journalist, Lindsay the detective, Yuki the assistant district attorney and Claire the medical examiner to all gracefully retire.
– ANDRÉ J BRINK