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EMILY NOBLE’S DISGRACE by Mary Paulson-Ellis (Mantle £16.99, 384 pp)

EMILY NOBLE’S DISGRACE

 by Mary Paulson-Ellis (Mantle £16.99, 384 pp)

Essie, a crime-scene cleaner, is called to a former seaside boarding house.

A two-years-dead body has just been found inside: that of the house’s owner, Isabella Dawson. She was a hoarder, it seems — bin-bags cram each room — but what’s behind the tiny bones which fall through a rotten ceiling?

When Emily, a policewoman, finds more bones in the sand, the hunt is on.

What happened in the boarding house? And how are Essie and Emily connected?

Their stories alternate with that of Isabella to reveal a tale as ghastly for its desperation and lovelessness as for its violence and murder.

Paulson-Ellis writes with poetry and compassion about the forgotten and overlooked. Helpless children, guilty adults and pragmatic practitioners of the death business combine in a brilliant, original read.

THE BELOVED GIRLS 

THE BELOVED GIRLS by Harriet Evans (Headline £14.99, 448 pp)

by Harriet Evans (Headline £14.99, 448 pp)

The Hunters are a glamorous, morally dubious clan. Their collapsing manor, Vanes, is as much metaphor as home. It’s the 1980s, outsider Janey comes to stay and is beguiled by beautiful Kitty and her charismatic siblings — plus parents arty Sylvia and pervy Charles.

This Bridesheady set-up has its back story and front story, as well as several narrators. We begin in the here and now with high-powered barrister Catherine. What’s her connection with Vanes?

Later, we go backwards to the 1950s and Janey’s father’s friendship with Sylvia. What did he want to save her from? The ultimate disastrous drama hinges on the Hunter family’s annual ritual with bees.

A rich and sweeping tale as dark and delicious as the hives’ special honey.

DID YOU MISS ME? by Sophia Money-Coutts (HQ £12.99, 416 pp)

DID YOU MISS ME? 

by Sophia Money-Coutts (HQ £12.99, 416 pp)

London lawyer Nell, living the Clapham dream, is called home north to her village.

The lord of the manor has died. His heir is posh, dishy Art, Nell’s teenage sweetheart who got away.

Once Nell and Art meet at the funeral and interest is rekindled, events move to a predictable outcome.

Peppered with feudal and metropolitan glamour, this good-natured read has a comic supporting cast of embarrassing parents and uptight boyfriends — plus a wry eye for lifestyle detail and some fairly graphic sex.

SM-C specialises in the traditional rom-com and this ticks all those boxes.

To buy any book reviewed here, visit mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3308 9193

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