PositiveThe Guardian (UK)Erma, who is writing a book about interactive narratives for young adults, habitually plays fast and loose with the truth – the complaint against her is not unjustified – but the narrative becomes ever stranger as the fictional barbarian Sero begins to take over her dreams, and then a great deal darker as the reason for the repeated disappearances of young women is revealed. The Spiral is ambitious and well executed, with a zippy writing style, but may prove hard going for those with a low tolerance for fantasy.
RaveThe Guardian (UK)The characterization of the girls is particularly strong: all the manufactured attitude, intense loyalty, harsh judgment and vying for alpha status with a rival clique in the way that only adolescent girls can. Joanne Heffernan, a rival clique\'s queen bee—dealing out casual humiliation even to her acolytes and claiming virtual, if not actual, droit du seigneur over any boy she fancies—is an absolute masterpiece of vulnerable cruelty. Here...the incessant and often vicious jockeying for position is described with such appalling accuracy as to leave this reviewer practically weeping with gratitude that she is no longer a teenager. As well as divides of age and class, French handles the gender clashes superbly ... The Secret Place isn\'t a speed read. It\'s on the long side, and could have benefited from some editorial fat-trimming in places, but it\'s enjoyably well written and the winning combination of intricate plotting and psychological depth means that the reader\'s patience will be amply rewarded.
MixedThe GuardianWhile Lagercrantz’s prose is more serviceable than the peculiarly clodhopping original writing, by this point the main characters have, sadly, become subject to the law of diminishing returns – in particular Salander, who is now just another all-purpose kick-ass heroine; despite the all-guns-blazing ending, there’s a half-heartedness to the story of her continued battle with twin sister Camilla. Far more intriguing, despite its unlikely beginnings, is the investigation into an ill-fated Everest expedition, although the necessity of shoehorning the narrative into the Millennium framework distances the action, thereby lessening its dramatic impact.
PositiveThe Guardian... a police procedural with supernatural overtones ... A gripping exploration of father-son relationships with a propulsive plot, The Whisper Man is a true skin-crawler.
PositiveThe Guardian... a compelling slice of early Victorian gothic ... Vivid and well researched, this book is an evocative portrait of a society that punishes women who dare to contravene social norms – Ruth’s mother has suffered appallingly as a consequence of marrying against her family’s wishes – as well as a splendid mystery with suitably melodramatic flourishes.
C. J. Sansom
PositiveThe GuardianAlthough the main storyline is sometimes lost in all the hurly-burly, Sansom handles his huge cast with aplomb. This is a totally immersive and vividly written tale: compelling reading for history lovers and crime aficionados alike.
RaveThe Guardian\"Mind games and Herron’s distinctive dark humour abound, and readers will spot that Harvey isn’t what he appears to be long before Maggie does. It all serves to rachet up tension for a compelling and claustrophobic three-hander, told with admirable economy.\
Alexander Söderberg, Trans. by Neil Smith
MixedThe GuardianSophie Brinkmann, nurse and single mother of teenager Albert, becomes caught up in a global turf war between organised crime syndicates when she falls for her patient Hector Guzman ... There's an enormous cast, a lot going on in the way of unreported hits-and-runs, house-breakings, shootings and kidnappings – the citizens in this version of Stockholm must be the least observant people on the planet – and some rather loose plotting, so it can be difficult to keep track of exactly what's happening and why. Moral expectations are inverted, too, to such a degree that, at the end, what should be a real tragedy lacks the poignancy required for a satisfactory conclusion.