THE HEIGHTS by Louise Candlish (S&S £14.99, 400 pp)


by Louise Candlish (S&S £14.99, 400 pp)

This is another very clever corker of a book from Candlish, though it has an overly tricky beginning.

Ellen Saint is a crime writer who tells us that she has just seen Kieran, a young man she thought she had killed two years ago. He is standing on the roof terrace of a swanky block of flats in London’s Tower Bridge district. Ellen is the smug, middle-class mother of Lucas, who, when a star pupil at his school, was selected to mentor troubled new boy, Kieran.

As with her recent hit The House, Candlish uses architecture as a thrilling backdrop and skewers the vanities and vulnerabilities of complacent middle-class types and what they are capable of when faced with protecting their territory. We all know people like these characters — she couldn’t possibly be talking about us. Could she?


by Samantha Downing (Michael Joseph £12.99, 400 pp)

The superbly named Ted Crutcher is a sinister teacher at the elite Belmont School in the U.S., who insists on using old-fashioned methods. But this guy is no Mr Chips. He relishes sabotaging his most entitled pupils, their parents and their Ivy League ambitions.

He has many secrets and one of them is impersonating young females online.

Things really heat up when one of his former victims returns to the school as a teacher. Then people start to die. But menacing Ted is far from being the only suspicious character around the school.

This is a brilliant psychological black comedy with a really fresh feel, packed with sly observation and outrageous twists. But creepy Crutcher is the standout character who is truly awful and equally compelling.

REPLACE YOU by Andrew Ewart (Orion £9.99, 352 pp)


by Andrew Ewart (Orion £9.99, 352 pp)

In the near future, a young woman, Mya Dala, is trapped inside a mysterious hospital. Her only contact with the outside world is through watching her boyfriend Marco on a screen. He is with a woman who appears to be her doppelganger.

The intriguing plot raises questions about a world where plastic surgery for physical defects could be taken to the next level and applied to our brains. Mya’s quest is to escape and reconnect with her old boyfriend with help from another inmate known as the Madboy.

This throws up a riveting set of twists and turns before reaching a starkly devastating denouement. Original storytelling with bags of tension based on contemporary themes, it informs and intrigues.

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