Books: Give Me Your Hand shows why Megan Abbott's crime fiction is so popular

Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott, former winner of a Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Allan Poe award

Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott is published in hardback by Picador, priced £14.99 (ebook £10.49)

KIT and Diane form an unlikely friendship in high school through a shared love of running and science. But their bond is broken when Diane confesses to a dark secret Kit finds hard to keep. Years later, their paths cross again when Diane joins Kit in a research team working for their idol Dr Lena Severin. Abbott's ninth novel takes a while to get going with the initial tension based largely on the reader waiting for Diane's big secret to be revealed, yet suspecting it won't be a massive surprise. But once the secret is out, the tedium ceases as the plot hots up with twist after alarming twist as more is revealed about the secretive characters working in the research lab. Abbott, a former winner of a Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Allan Poe award, really hits her stride in the second two-thirds of the novel and shows why her female-led crime fiction has proved so popular with readers.


Beverley Rouse

Invitation To A Bonfire by Adrienne Celt is published in hardback by Raven Books, priced £14.99 (ebook £12.99)

WHEN Zoya Andropova finds herself uprooted for a new life at an elite New Jersey boarding school, after losing her family - and practically everything else - back in war-torn Russia, she faces a hefty challenge: Trying to find her place and fit in among the swarms of innately confident and entitled wealthy American schoolgirls. But this is just the beginning; with growing paranoia around Soviet spies, and no safety net to fall back on once she graduates, Zoya's challenges are far from over. Things take a turn when she meets fellow Russian Leo Orlov, an author she's been obsessed with, but twists of another nature soon emerge. Adrienne Celt, whose debut novel The Daughters won the PEN Southwest Book Award for Fiction, weaves her characters and plot twists into a rich, vibrant tapestry. This has the intrigue and intensity of a good thriller, but also a deeper sense of magic and glowing prose, alive with detail and deliciously delivered.


Abi Jackson

Pretend I'm Dead by Jen Beagin is published in hardback by Oneworld, priced £12.99 (ebook £4.67)

I WAS drawn to Jen Beagin's debut novel because of a description on the front cover, calling it 'Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine on acid'. I absolutely loved that novel by literary newcomer Gail Honeyman, but sadly, the comparison led to me being disappointed by Pretend I'm Dead. Admittedly, troubled cleaner Mona, who we follow on a quest for self-acceptance after her heart is broken by a heroin junkie, is a somewhat compelling protagonist. And, the writing does feel fresh thanks to Beagin's quirky style and the bold themes she tackles - it's incredibly important to start conversations about mental health, and it's notable how powerfully unflinching the author is in how she details Mona's issues. But I found the book difficult to enjoy, thanks to it being, in my opinion, unnecessarily crude, and uncomfortably dark at times. Meanwhile, the meandering plot, which sees Mona start a new life in New Mexico, simply didn't have enough direction to win me over.


Georgia Humphries


Turning the Tide on Plastic: How Humanity (And You) Can Make Our Globe Clean Again by Lucy Siegle is published in hardback by Trapeze, priced £12.99 (ebook £6.99)

LUCY Siegle is a journalist, author and environmental activist. From the foreword by the CEO of Surfers Against Sewage to the accounts of beach cleans attended and campaigns won and lost, it is clear Siegle is well-qualified to advise on ways to turn the tide on plastic pollution. While she acknowledges that not all plastics are bad, she paints a gloomy picture of the pollution on our beaches and the deadly cost to wildlife. Siegle takes the 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle formula and expands it into the 8Rs to form clear guidelines on how we can reduce our plastic footprint. The book is pragmatic and informative, and brutally honest about the grim realities of our doomed love affair with everything plastic. It provides a balanced, scientific account of the plastics problem worldwide as well as giving a very personal account of one person's attempts to stop trashing the planet.


Sue Barraclough

The Art Of Logic by Eugenia Cheng is published in hardback by Profile Books, priced £14.99 (ebook £12.99)

AT A time of click-bait, fake news, and fierce debate, it can seem as if strong feelings have overtaken logic. Eugenia Cheng's third non-fiction book tackles how logic can be applied in real life to fight confusing rhetoric, using theory to break down divisive subjects such as white privilege, sexism, and politics. Using diagrams and witty real-life examples, Cheng cuts through maths-phobia to explain concepts such as abstraction and false dichotomies, what she calls a "collaborative art" of emotion and logic. You will not learn how to win arguments, instead how to use logic alongside emotion to debate effectively, make balanced judgments and spot misleading statements. In its aim for clarity, however, the book can be repetitive in some places, and though easy-to-follow for those with some grasp of mathematics, complete beginners may struggle with some chapters. The Art Of Logic, using cogent and balanced rationality, is a true handbook for the Twitter generation.


Emily Chudy


The Girls by Lauren Ace and Jenny Lovlie is published in hardback by Little Tiger, priced £11.99

THIS book about long-term friendships that start in girlhood and remain in adulthood under an apple tree, deals with the highs and lows of relationships and the strengths that good friends offer. The ethnically diverse bunch of girls share their hopes and dreams. It celebrates their differences and similarities and acknowledges the ups and downs and fallings out. Its heart is in the right place, but this book may be more for mums who want to model ideal outcomes and good role models for their daughters, than for little girls who want a gripping adventurous story.


Bridie Pritchard

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