Our Top Summer Picks

Category: Favourites

Make the most of the last of the warm temperatures with our pick of holiday thrillers – from the simmering heat and dark secrets of Bitter Sun, to bestselling author Alex Lake’s page-turner Copycat, these are the books to read before Autumn is in full swing!

 

The Last Mrs Parrish by Liv Constantine

The Last Mrs Parrish packshot

How far would you go to make all your dreams come true?

Amber Patterson is tired of being a nobody: an invisible woman who melts into the background. She deserves more. She deserves a life of wealth, luxury and leisure.

Daphne Parrish is the golden girl of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut. With her model looks, her picture-perfect mansion and her millionaire husband, Jackson, she has everything Amber wants.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive—if she didn’t have a plan. Before long, she has become Daphne’s closest friend, and is catching the eye of Jackson. But a skeleton from her past could destroy everything and, if discovered, Amber’s well-laid plan may end in disaster…

 

In A Cottage In A Wood by Cass Green

In a Cottage in a Wood

Her dream home will become her worst nightmare…

Neve comes across a troubled woman called Isabelle on Waterloo Bridge late one night. Isabelle forces a parcel into Neve’s hands and jumps to her death into the icy Thames below.

Two weeks later, as Neve’s wreck of a life in London collapses, an unexpected lifeline falls into her lap – a charming cottage in Cornwall left to her by Isabelle, the woman on the bridge. The solution to all her problems.

But when Neve arrives, alone in the dark woods late one night, she finds a sinister-looking bungalow with bars across its windows. And her dream home quickly becomes her worst nightmare – a house hiding a twisted secret that will change her life forever…

 

Bitter Sun by Beth Lewis

Bitter Sun

It all started when we found the body. Then nothing was ever the same.

In the heatwave summer of 1971, four kids find a body by a lake and set out to solve a murder. But they dig too deep and ask too many questions.

Larson is a town reeling in the wake of the Vietnam draft, where the unrelenting heat ruins the harvest, and the people teeter on the edge of ruin.

As tension and paranoia run rife, rumours become fact, violence becomes reflex. The unrest allows the dark elements of the close-knit farming community to rise and take control.

And John, Jenny, Gloria and Rudy are about to discover that sometimes secrets are best left uncovered…

 

Copycat by Alex Lake

Copy Cat

Imitation is the most terrifying form of flattery…

When an old friend gets in touch, Sarah Havenant discovers that there are two Facebook profiles in her name. One is hers. The other, she has never seen.

But everything in it is accurate. Photos of her friends, her husband, her kids. Photos from the day before. Photos of her new kitchen. Photos taken inside her house.

And this is just the beginning. Because whoever has set up the second profile has been waiting for Sarah to find it. And now that she has, her life will no longer be her own…

 

Killing Season by Faye Kellerman

Killing Season

He went searching for the truth. Now a killer has found him.

Three years ago, fifteen-year-old Ellen Vicksburg went missing in a quiet town in New Mexico. On the first anniversary of her death, her brother Ben found her body in a shallow grave by the river’s edge.

The police believe she was the victim of a known psychopath. But Ben continues to pore over the evidence and finds patterns that link Ellen’s case to similar unsolved murders.

Soon, a picture emerges of a ruthless killer, and Ben’s obsession marks him as a threat. Will he uncover the truth in time to keep him and those he loves safe?

 

The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

The Lies We Told

Do you promise not to tell?

Beth has always known there was something strange about her daughter, Hannah. The lack of emotion, the disturbing behaviour, the apparent delight in hurting others… sometimes Beth is scared of her, and what she could be capable of.

Luke comes from the perfect family, with the perfect parents. But one day, he disappears without a trace, and his girlfriend Clara is left desperate to discover what has happened to him.

As Clara digs into the past she realizes that no family is truly perfect, and uncovers a link between Luke’s long-lost sister and a strange girl named Hannah. Now Luke’s life is in danger because of the lies once told and the secrets once kept. Can she find him before it’s too late?

 

You Let Me In extract

Category: Extract

Meet Elle – a famous writer living in a beautiful house in Cornwall. Today, she’s giving a Facebook live with her top writing tips…

 

The timer on my phone beeps.

One minute to go.

My stomach turns over with nerves. Several thousand people tuning in live.

I sit up straighter, pull my shoulders back. I know what I need to do. What everyone is expecting from me.

I reset my focus, drawing my gaze to my laptop. My own face glares back at me on screen using the laptop’s camera. Perhaps it’s just the tilt of the screen, or the way the light pours into the room, but for a moment, I don’t recognise myself.

I reach for the mouse, hovering it over the GO LIVE button.

I click.

My smile stretches across my face. I can hear it in my voice as I say, ‘Hello, everyone. I’m author, Elle Fielding, and I’m live today from my writing room here in Cornwall. Thanks so much for joining me. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m the author of Wild Fear, a psychological thriller that was published last year.

‘Over the coming weeks I’m planning on chatting about my writing journey, sharing tips of what I’ve learned so far, and answering any of your questions.

‘Right, I suppose a good place to start would be with today’s writing tip. It’s something simple that we can all do: get a notebook. Keep it with you at all times. Our short-term memory retains information for three minutes, so unless it’s written down, ideas can be lost. This is my current one,’ I say, holding up a plain black notebook. ‘I keep it in my handbag, or by my bed at night, or anywhere I go. It reminds me that I’m always a writer, wherever I am, whatever I’m doing.’

I’m careful not to open it.

Not to show what is inside.

I take a breath. ‘Okay, so now it’s over to you and your questions.’ I peer at the left-hand side of the screen, where viewers are typing them in real-time. ‘I’ll do my best to answer as many as I can. The first one is from Cheryl Down. She asks, Your debut novel was an international bestseller. Does that put pressure on you for your second novel?

I’m aware that Jane and her team will be watching. ‘Yes, there is some pressure – but, the good thing is that I began my second novel before Wild Fear was released, so I didn’t have any expectation at that point. I must admit, I’m a little behind in delivering – there was a house move and a big book tour – but things are finally settling, so I’m planning on getting my head down now.’

Tick.

‘Next up, Adam Grant asks, What did you do before you became an author?’ I smile. ‘What didn’t I do? I waited tables, served coffees, worked on a reception desk, manned a nightclub cloakroom, cleaned offices. I travelled as much as I could afford. I lived in New Zealand for a while, and later, Canada. I pretty much spent my twenties bouncing from one thing to the next trying to work out what I wanted to do.’

Who I wanted to be.

‘And then I found it: writing. It just clicked. I felt stupid for not recognizing it earlier. The moment I started to write, I fell in love with it. I didn’t know if I was any good at it, or whether I could ever make my living from it. All I knew was that I loved it.’

That is the truth.

I answer half a dozen more questions, then take a sip of water and glance at the clock.

‘Time for just two more questions today. Amy Werden asks, Do you have any writing rituals? PS You have the perfect life!

‘Perfect life? I’m obviously using too many filters! With regards to writing rituals, something that is important to me is writing down my early ideas by hand. There is something about the germ of an idea, when it feels too precious, too delicate to be tapped into a computer screen and locked there. I like the curve of words on the page, a lack of uniformity, the scratch of a pencil on cream paper. The ideas can flow and find their rhythm.’

If Fiona is watching this, she’ll be rolling her eyes.

‘The final question is from Booklover101.’ I immediately recognise the username. The accompanying profile picture is of a bike, its wicker basket filled with books. Booklover101 has followed me from the very beginning, commenting on almost every post I write. She tweets me, sends me direct messages, has sent me handwritten cards via my publishers.

As your no.1 fan,’ I read now, ‘I’m interested to know, does an author need to have a dark mind to write dark books?

I should have skipped it – chosen a different question.

I keep my face set in a smile.

‘What you need,’ I say slowly, giving myself a moment to think, to get it right, ‘is an enquiring mind. To be able to look at any situation and see the possibility for shadows. To always ask, What if?

I leave it there. I thank everyone again for tuning in and remind them that I’ll be live again next week.

My face disappears from the screen.

*

I sit for a moment, taking several deep, slow breaths. Almost pitch-perfect, I think. Jane will be pleased.

Then I push to my feet, moving away from the desk, and I open the window wider. Hooking a finger under the neckline of my top, I shake it to let air circulate to my flushed skin.

I stand there, gaze mapping the waves, waiting for my heartbeat to settle.

 

 

Tune into HarperCollins UK at 1pm on Thursday 30th August for a Facebook Live with real life author of You Let Me In, Lucy Clarke.

Thrilling extract from the brand new book by Karin Slaughter – Pieces of Her

Category: Extract

To celebrate publication of the brand new standalone thriller from Karin Slaughter next week, check out this sneak peak thrilling extract from Pieces of Her…

“Jesus,” somebody whispered, low and mean, but with a tinge of surprise, all at the same time.
The air had changed. That was the only way to describe it. The fine hairs on the back of Andy’s neck stood up. A chill went down her spine. Her nostrils flared. Her mouth went dry. Her eyes watered.
There was a sound like a jar popping open.
Andy turned.
The handle of the coffee cup slipped from her fingers. Her eyes followed its path to the floor. White ceramic shards bounced off the white tiles.
There had been an eerie silence before, but now there was chaos. Screaming. Crying. People running, ducked down, hands covering their heads.
Bullets.
Pop-pop.
Shelly Barnard was lying on the floor. On her back. Arms splayed. Legs twisted. Eyes wide open. Her red T-shirt looked wet, stuck to her chest. Blood dribbled from her nose. Andy watched the thin red line slide down her cheek and into her ear.
She was wearing tiny Bulldog earrings.
“No!” Betsy Barnard wailed. “N—”
Pop.
Andy saw the back of the woman’s throat vomit out in a spray of blood.
Pop.
The side of Betsy’s skull snapped open like a plastic bag.
She fell sideways onto the floor. On top of her daughter. Onto her dead daughter.
Dead.
“Mom,” Andy whispered, but Laura was already there. She was running toward Andy with her arms out, knees bent low. Her mouth was open. Her eyes were wide with fear. Red dots peppered her face like freckles.
The back of Andy’s head slammed into the window as she was tackled to the ground. She felt the rush of air from her mother’s mouth as the wind was knocked out of her. Andy’s vision blurred. She could hear a cracking sound. She looked up. The glass above her had started to spiderweb.
“Please!” Laura screamed. She had rolled over, was on her knees, then her feet. “Please, stop.”
Andy blinked. She rubbed her fists into her eyes. Grit cut into her eyelids. Dirt? Glass? Blood?
“Please!” Laura shouted.
Andy blinked again.
Then again.
A man was pointing a gun at her mother’s chest. Not a cop’s gun, but the kind with a cylinder like in the Old West. He was dressed the part—black jeans, black shirt with pearl buttons, black leather vest and black cowboy hat. Gunbelt hanging low on his hips. One holster for the gun, a long leather sheath for a hunting knife.
Handsome.
His face was young, unlined. He was Shelly’s age, maybe a little older.
But Shelly was dead now. She would not be going to UGA. She would never be mortified by her mother again because her mother was dead, too.
And now the man who had murdered them both was pointing a gun at her mother’s chest.
Andy sat up.
Laura only had one breast, the left one, over her heart. The surgeon had taken the right one and she hadn’t gotten reconstructive surgery yet because she couldn’t stand the thought of going to yet another doctor, having another procedure, and now this murderer standing in front of her was going to put a bullet in it.

“Mm—” The word got caught in Andy’s throat. She could only think it—
Mom.
“It’s all right.” Laura’s voice was calm, controlled. She had her hands out in front of her like they could catch the bullets. She told the man, “You can leave now.”
“Fuck you.” His eyes darted to Andy. “Where’s your gun, you fucking pig?”
Andy’s whole body cringed. She felt herself tightening into a ball.
“She doesn’t have a gun,” Laura said, her voice still composed. “She’s a secretary at the police station. She’s not a cop.”
“Get up!” he screamed at Andy. “I see your badge! Get up, pig! Do your job!”
Laura said, “It’s not a badge. It’s an emblem. Just stay calm.” She patted her hands down the same way she used to tuck Andy into bed at night. “Andy, listen to me.”
“Listen to me, you fucking bitches!” Saliva flew from the man’s mouth. He shook the gun in the air. “Stand up, pig. You’re next.”
“No.” Laura blocked his way. “I’m next.”
His eyes turreted back to Laura.
“Shoot me.” Laura spoke with unmistakable certainty. “I want you to shoot me.”
Confusion broke the mask of anger that was his face. He hadn’t planned for this. People were supposed to be terrified, not volunteer.
“Shoot me,” she repeated.

He peered over Laura’s shoulder at Andy, then looked back.
“Do it,” Laura said. “You only have one bullet left. You know that. There are only six bullets in the gun.” She held up her hands showing four fingers on her left hand, one on her right. “It’s why you haven’t pulled the trigger yet. There’s only one bullet left.”
“You don’t know—”
“Only one more.” She waved her thumb, indicating the sixth bullet. “When you shoot me, my daughter will run out of here. Right, Andy?”
What?
“Andy,” her mother said. “I need you to run, darling.”
What?

“He can’t reload fast enough to hurt you.”
“Fuck!” the man screamed, trying to get his rage back. “Be still! Both of you.”
“Andy.” Laura took a step toward the gunman. She was limping. A tear in her linen pants was weeping blood. Something white stuck out like bone. “Listen to me, sweetheart.”
“I said don’t move!”
“Go through the kitchen door.” Laura’s voice remained steady. “There’s an exit in the back.”
What?
“Stop there, bitch. Both of you.”
“You need to trust me,” Laura said. “He can’t reload in time.”
Mom.
“Get up.” Laura took another step forward. “I said, get up.”
Mom, no.
“Andrea Eloise.” She was using her Mother voice, not her Mom voice. “Get up. Now.”
Andy’s body worked of its own volition. Left foot flat, right heel up, fingers touching the ground, a runner at the block.
“Stop it!” The man jerked the gun toward Andy, but Laura moved with it. He jerked it back and she followed the path, blocking Andy with her body. Shielding her from the last bullet in the gun.
“Shoot me,” Laura told the man. “Go ahead.”
“Fuck this.”

Andy heard a snap.
The trigger pulling back? The hammer hitting the bullet?
Her eyes had squeezed closed, hands flew to cover her head.
But there was nothing.
No bullet fired. No cry of pain.
No sound of her mother falling dead to the ground.
Floor. Ground. Six feet under.
Andy cringed as she looked back up.
The man had unsnapped the sheath on the hunting knife.
He was slowly drawing it out.
Six inches of steel. Serrated on one side. Sharp on the other.

He holstered the gun, tossed the knife into his dominant hand. He didn’t have the blade pointing up the way you’d hold a steak knife but down, the way you’d stab somebody.
Laura asked, “What are you going to do with that?”
He didn’t answer. He showed her.
Two steps forward.
The knife arced up, then slashed down toward her mother’s heart.
Andy was paralyzed, too terrified to ball herself up, too shocked to do anything but watch her mother die.
Laura stuck out her hand as if she could block the knife. The blade sliced straight into the center of her palm. Instead of collapsing, or screaming, Laura’s fingers wrapped around the hilt of the knife.
There was no struggle. The murderer was too surprised.
Laura wrenched the knife away from his grip even as the long blade was still sticking out of her hand.
He stumbled back.
He looked at the knife jutting out of her hand.

One second.
Two seconds.
Three.
He seemed to remember the gun on his hip. His right hand reached down. His fingers wrapped around the handle. The silver flashed on the muzzle. His left hand swung around to cup the weapon as he prepared to fire the last bullet into her mother’s heart.
Silently, Laura swung her arm, backhanding the blade into the side of his neck.
Crunch, like a butcher cutting a side of beef.
The sound had an echo that bounced off the corners of the room.
The man gasped. His mouth fished open. His eyes widened.
The back of Laura’s hand was still pinned to his neck, caught between the handle and the blade.
Andy saw her fingers move.

There was a clicking sound. The gun shaking as he tried to raise it.
Laura spoke, more growl than words.
He kept lifting the gun. Tried to aim.
Laura raked the blade out through the front of his throat.
Blood, sinew, cartilage.
No spray or mist like before. Everything gushed out of his open neck like a dam breaking open.
His black shirt turned blacker. The pearl buttons showed different shades of pink.
The gun dropped first.
Then his knees hit the floor. Then his chest. Then his head.
Andy watched his eyes as he fell.
He was dead before he hit the ground.