In a boiling hot West London, a sort of vision of hell, Amy Vaughan drives to her late mother's flat to clear out the last of her belongings. Inside she finds a box addressed to her. It contains letters, mementos, photos and a diary, written by a woman unknown to Amy. One of the photographs is of a woman with a baby that looks exactly like Amy when she was the same age. Could the two women be one and the same, and what happened to the child? A mystery indeed. Meanwhile, in North London, a skeleton is discovered in some woods by a dog out for a run. So what's the connection? Amy turns detective, but asking questions often turns up answers we'd rather not hear. Laura Wilson has written a mean, compulsive thriller, where violence, child abuse, murder, incest, cruelty, and long hidden family secrets mix together in a stew of passion and guilt. Heavy stuff. And already hotly tipped as a prize winner. Mark Timlin
Excursion to Tindari by Andrea Camilleri PICADOR £12.99 £11.99 P&P FREE) 08700 798 897
The fifth of Stephen Sartarelli's English translations of the Inspector Salvo Montalbano detective novels, which feature the head of police investigations in the fictional town of Vigàta in Sicily, is in several respects the most interesting so far. Beginning with the murder of a young man, and the subsequent discovery that an elderly couple from the same block of flats has disappeared, the plot unfolds swiftly, drawing in more and more apparently disparate characters. Camilleri's gift for sketching people and places with remarkable vividness and astonishing fecundity is deployed to the full in Excursion to Tindari, ensuring that the charm of these works is maintained even as a growing sense of menace envelops the story. And the conclusion, in the best detective-story manner, surprises while, on reflection, seeming inevitable. Camilleri is well-known in Italy for his left-wing views, which in this novel he allows to animate Inspector Montalbano's passion for justice. For a knowing, caustic portrait of contemporary Italian society, seen through the familiar lens of the classic poliziesco, this novel will not disappoint.
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