Claire Kendal’s debut novel opens on Clarissa living a nightmare – she is being stalked by a creepy colleague after a one-night stand with him months beforehand.
Except she has doubts that the one-night stand was not at all a choice and that stalker Rafe may have been preying on her since before it even happened.
Feeling isolated from her friends and family by the ever-present Rafe, Clarissa thinks she sees a way out when she is asked to sit on a jury for a seven-week trial, a Rafe-free safe haven where she will be away from his prying eyes for hours every day.
But seeing the woman in the dock under such close scrutiny makes her begin to doubt that she could ever prove what her own stalker is doing to her life, while he becomes more persistent and threatening as the days pass.
Forming a close friendship with another juror makes her jealous tormentor even angrier and soon Clarissa’s world has contracted to just her flat, the courtroom and her train journey there and back each day.
The book has a horrible familiarity for any woman who’s ever felt threatened by unwanted attention, but it doesn’t stop this chilling tale from being addictive – perfect holiday reading.
‘The Book Of You’ by Claire Kendal is published in hardback by HarperCollins, priced £12.99 (eBook £4.49)
Gus, a painter, and her husband Owen, a writer, have left their cosmopolitan life in Philadelphia behind and moved to the country in search of solitude, inspiration - and a fresh start after Gus’s affair.
The couple seem devoted to each other and their work and appear to have buried their troubled past, but when divorcee Alison moves in next door, old wounds are reopened and it’s clear that Owen is still haunted by Gus’s infidelity. When Alison’s daughter, Nora, arrives for Thanksgiving, she quickly becomes infatuated with Owen and so begins a tragic series of misunderstandings, resentments and jealousies, with fatal consequences.
Black skilfully draws us into Owen and Gus’s claustrophobic and emotionally complex world in a suspenseful and beautifully written tale of relationships and betrayal, love and regrets. It’s a searingly honest portrait of a marriage and the secrets and obsessions that ultimately destroy it.
Life Drawing by Robin Black is published in hardback by Picador, priced £12.99 (£6.02).