It’s been another fairly slow reading month, with a mix of new books alongside an old favourite.
The highlight of the month was probably No Harm Can Come to a Good Man by James Smythe, which I finished last week. I’ll be reviewing this novel in more detail soon, but for now it’s enough to say that it was an intense and memorable read.
In fact, James Smythe is fast becoming one of my favourite contemporary authors. I read two of his previous books at the end of last year (you can read my reviews here and here) and I’m impressed by the way he can craft a genuinely dark and chilling atmosphere with a fairly simple story, often revolving around one man and his own personal demons.
You might have spotted my review of The Secret Place in July. It’s a twisty new crime thriller set in an Irish girls’ school, where a teenage boy is found dead. A year after the murder, someone posts an anonymous message on a noticeboard claiming to know who the killer is.
The story is memorable for its teenage characters and the way the author depicts the kind of friendships that will linger long after they’ve ended.
Left Turn at Paradise was an unusual choice for me: a thriller where the central character is an antiquarian book dealer, who discovers an old journal that may well have belonged to a crew member on Captain Cook’s final voyage. When two other journals are located, he sets out on a quest to reunite them, uncovering a dark secret along the way.
This book appealed to me for its connection to Captain Cook, as he was born in the same town that I’m from, and I’ve grown up with a strong awareness of his story, thanks to the local museum and history trail that highlights places that were significant in his life. The story also weaves in Captain Cook’s death at the hands of a group of locals during his final voyage to Hawaii.
This is a good, old fashioned adventure, but with a dark undertone involving violent Maori gangs, nasty attacks and grisly killings. It’s not the best book I’ve read all year, but it takes an interesting approach to the thriller genre.
And finally, after writing a six degrees of separation post based around The Bell Jar, I’ve been keen to reread the novel.
Here’s the full list of books read in July, with affiliate links.
- The Secret Place, by Tana French – read my review
- The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath – read my review
- Left Turn at Paradise: A Rare Book Mystery, by Thomas Shawver
- No Harm Can Come to a Good Man, by James Smythe
Disclaimer: I received copies of Left Turn at Paradise from the publishers via NetGalley, No Harm Can Come to a Good Man and The Secret Place via Amazon Vine. All opinions are my own.