This week the heat gang popped our slippers on, took the phone off the hook and polished our spectacles as we sat back and enjoyed a spot of reading. On this week's heat bookshelf: In Her Shadow by Louise Douglas and Whatever It Takes by Adele Parks.
Here's what we thought:
In Her Shadow
LOUISE DOUGLAS (Bantam, £14.99)
The plot: Hannah Brown’s whole adulthood has been consumed by the death of her childhood friend Ellen. Obsessively close in their early teens, the girls were inseparable until Ellen’s relationship with Hannah’s adopted brother Jago got in their way. When Ellen is found dead on the beach after a presumed drowning accident, Hannah’s grief and guilt builds to the point of a nervous breakdown. Almost 20 years later, Hannah still believes she sees Ellen – could it be possible she’s alive?
What’s right with it? It’s creepy, enthralling and unnervingly absorbing, and you’ll become obsessed with the relationship between Hannah, Ellen and Jago. Hannah’s infatuation with Ellen’s dangerous father is an extra subplot that keeps you constantly on the edge of your seat.
What’s wrong with it? The ending is a little too neat for such an unexpected plot.
Verdict: It’s no mean feat to combine all of our favourite bits of a multitude of book genres, but with a hint of romance and a subtle suggestion of a ghost story against the backdrop of a psychological thriller, this does exactly that. Our top holiday recommendation so far this year. 5/5 @StarStyleJo
Whatever It Takes
Adele PARKS (Headline, £11.99)
The plot: When Eloise agreed to leave London for her husband’s hometown of Dartmouth, she knew she’d miss her city life and best friend Sara. But surelya dream country home and her mother-in-law Margaret being on hand to help with her kids would make up for it? One slight problem: both Margaret and Sara are going slowly but undeniably mad.
What’s right with it? Eloise’s character is one you genuinely believe everyone would rely on to fix their lives as well as her own. There’s also a horrible but absorbing anticipation of disaster from the moment Margaret casually sweeps all the dirty dishes into the bin.
What’s wrong with it? There are a couple of clunky stereotypical clichés that sound hollow, like the dinner party where the men argue about efficient travel routes, while the women munch on cupcakes after “having turned down all offers of food all evening”. Who actually does that? No men or women we know, thank God.
Verdict: It’s engaging and wonderfully written, and you’ll genuinely feel for all the characters, particularly Margaret. It’s just slightly let down by some unnecessary generalisations. 3/5 @jousmar