My Sister, the Serial Killer (2018) by Oyinkan Braithwaite. This is truly a stand-out debut. A short and witty novel written as part of an undergraduate creative writing degree, it tells the story of Korede, who constantly finds herself cleaning up (literally and figuratively) after her beautiful, pampered serial killer sister, Ayoola.
Secret Obsession (2019), directed by Peter Sullivan. I hope SJ Watson is suing Netflix over this production. It’s like someone has seen Before I Go to Sleep, missed the point entirely, and decided to rewrite it.
The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective (2019) by Susannah Stapleton. An entertaining and illuminating look at the life and career of Maud West, who is probably well-known to geeks like me (and, let’s face it, you) but now unknown to most of the world. We get a glimpse here, not just of how the detection business worked, and how a woman succeeded in a man’s world, but also at the fuzzy lines between criminality and respectability, between ethics and expediency. It’s an eye-opener and an etertaining read, interspersed with West’s florid accounts of her own cases. It’s also a beautiful book to behold.
Escape Room (2019), directed by Adam Robitel. There are a lot of films (and books) called Escape Room, and this is the only one I’ve experienced. It’s dumb as hell but oddly compelling and enjoyable. You can guess the premise. Apparent strangers are invited to experience the toughest escape room of them all, and they soon find out that the challenge has deadly implications… Will the real And Then There Were None please stand up?
The Turn of the Key (2019) by Ruth Ware. Ruth Ware is the writer I find myself recommending to other people more than anyone else. She really is the closest thing we have in print to a love child of Agatha Christie and Daphne du Maurier. And I don’t think she’s ever written a bad book. Her latest, as you can guess from the title, is a bit of a ghost story, but at its heart it’s a mystery thriller. And, in grand tradition, it’s epistolary. A nanny with a secret gets a suspiciously cushy job in Scotland, where she immediately gets charged with looking after three problem children for a week. And, possibly, a ghost. And, in the meantime, she tries to solve the mystery of why all the previous nannies have scarpered so soon after taking up their posts. It all takes her back to old myths and tragedies surrounding the property, a gothic building converted into a smart house, and the tension is palpable with every flying page.