PSYCHOPATHS ANONYMOUS by Will Carver (Orenda £8.99, 276 pp)
by Will Carver (Orenda £8.99, 276 pp)
According to Maeve Beauman, the only difference between drunks and alcoholics is that the alcoholics go to AA meetings. Many of the best-written and funniest scenes in this book take place at AA meetings. Maeve, the foul-mouthed heroine, has a successful career in advertising but, more importantly, she is also a functioning psychopath whose hobbies include drinking, drugs, loads of sex and killing men.
Maeve decides to set up her own self-help group for psychopaths. The drama really gets going when that group is threatened with being shut down. So what should a psychopath do? Maeve’s solutions are predictably gory and hilariously over the top. Carver is a smart, stylish writer who has created a uniquely scary personality. We glimpse the world seen through the eyes of a grotesque character who is just normal enough to leave us entertained and disturbed in equal part.
THE LOST GIRLS
THE LOST GIRLS by Heather Young (Verve Books £9.99, 352 pp)
by Heather Young (Verve Books £9.99, 352 pp)
This story sets out to explore whether family trauma passes down the generations. It unravels against the beautifully evoked backdrop of a remote house on a silent lake in Minnesota.
Justine, a troubled mother of two, is seeking refuge from a controlling boyfriend and moves into the home she inherits from her great-aunt, Lucy.
She also inherits Aunt Lucy’s journals, and learns of the mysterious disappearance of a six-year-old girl, Emily, back in 1935. Justine soon realises that her inheritance comes with new problems. Her troubled daughter’s obsession with the story of the missing Emily combines with the dangerous motives of her boyfriend to threaten her chances of ever finding equanimity.
Cleverly told through dual timelines of Lucy’s journals and Justine’s voice, this is sensitive and tense storytelling.
TO THE LAKE by Yana Vagner (Swift £12.99, 432 pp)
TO THE LAKE
by Yana Vagner (Swift £12.99, 432 pp)
A deadly flu virus forces our narrator, Anya, to flee Moscow and head for the safety of her house on the borders of Finland with a group of family and friends. The treacherous journey exposes them to myriad dangers, not least dealing with a population constantly making moral choices about what lengths they will go to in order to survive.
This is a brutal, dark and penetrating look at what humans are capable of under duress. Anya can be a bit annoying and self-involved but the plot is well-paced and twisty. Of course, it’s a particularly powerful story in the time of Covid.
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