If you are struggling for last minute presents, here are five (in no particular order) novels from the last year that anyone would love to find in their stockings.
If you loved Gone Girl, and I did, this is perfect. Cor, I thought when I read the blurb. Imagine you are reading a book and it turns out to be all about you. And not just about you, but about your greatest secret. Something not even your husband and son know. And now the writer knows your secret he's going to ruthlessly and deliberately expose it. Even if it results in your death.
Once the nights draw in, you can't beat the thrillingly dark and sinister - even if you don't have an open fire and a stormy night. This collection of short stories by "master of the macabre" John Connolly will have you pulling the bedcovers over your head. My favourite was The Caxton Private Lending Library & Book Depository while The Hollow King kept me awake, haunted by weeping queens and evil monsters.
I loved Kate's last book Life After Life so was thrilled to learn
about this one which has been shortlisted for this year's Costa Prize. A follow-up that also stands alone. Ursula, the heroine of Life After Life had a much loved younger brother Teddy an RAF bomber pilot in the Second World War. Instead of the multiple possibilites Ursula experiences, Teddy's story is one life, one he never expected to have, lived out against the progress of the C20th.
Bitter alcoholic Rachel's daily commute takes her past the house her ex now shares with his new partner, Anna, and their baby daughter. As if that weren't enough, a few houses down live a couple with the seemingly perfect life. Then one day Rachel spots a flaw and starts to look deeper. Rachel is the best kind of unreliable narrator: embarrassing, jealous, spiteful and angry, but what she sees in third woman's life prompts her to stop drinking and dig deeper.
Psychological thriller writer Erin Kelly steps away from her usual heroines with this tale of Luke a gay journalist investigating a gangland killing from the sixties. But it is no less gripping for that. The deeper Luke delves into the death of sadistic underworld thug Jacky Nye, the more he places himself in danger. And what of Jacky's one-time boss Joss Grand? He's now in his eighties and a philanthropist, but has this leopard really changed his spots?