Novels by Rachel Hore, Bernice L McFadden and C J Tudor are among the six-strong line-up for the Richard & Judy Book Club this autumn.
Hore kicks off the list with her latest novel A Beautiful Spy (Simon & Schuster), inspired by the true story of British spy Olga Gray during the 1930s. It is described as "the wonderfully improbable tale of Minnie, a young girl who craves excitement and a sense of purpose. When she is placed at the heart of the of the communist party, Minnie’s double life starts to take its toll on her relationships." The presenters described it as “a story of true courage, grit, and sacrifice”, adding, “we loved it”.
Sugar by McFadden (Vintage Classics) was written several decades ago and is now being republished. It tells a poignant tale set in America’s Deep South in the 1950s. Madeley described the book as a "joy to read”, but added: “Sadly its tale of Black oppression still seems relevant today."
Tudor brings a sense of horror and superstition to the book club with her novel The Burning Girls (Penguin). For Rev Jack Brooks, the welcome to Chapel Croft isn’t what she expected, and right away Jack has some frightening concerns as she uncovers the evil secrets of the remote Sussex village’s church. Madeley said: “This splendidly gothic horror story leads us to a spectacularly haunting conclusion.”
Next up and new to the book club is Simon Scarrow with latest novel Blackout (Headline), described by the pair as a “compulsive page-turner”. Finnigan said it was “an old-fashioned murder mystery with a fantastic twist”. The book is set in December 1939 and criminal inspector Horst Schenke is under pressure to solve the murder of a young woman—but is distrusted by his superiors for his failure to join the Nazi Party.
The penultimate title in this season’s club is returning author Jane Harper’s The Survivors (Little, Brown). The synopsis says: "Kieran Elliott's life changed forever on a single day when a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences. When a body is discovered on the beach of a small coastal town, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away." “Yes, it’s a murder mystery,” explains Madeley, “but also a chronicle of youth, grief and growing up”.
Concluding the collection is The Last House on Needless Street (Profile) by Catriona Ward. It tells the story of a murderer, a stolen child and revenge. Ted, his young daughter Lauren and his cat Olivia live in an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street. All these things are true. And yet some of them are lies. “This is one of the most sinister and thrilling novels I’ve read in a very long time,” said Finnigan, adding, “it’s deeply unsettling and unmistakeably gothic”.
The autumn Richard & Judy Book Club launches with another series of podcasts on 30th September. W H Smith customers can purchase exclusive special editions of the book club titles with bonus content.
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