Profile, £8.99, pp400 (paperback)
A schoolteacher, Miss Iles, vanishes while on a field trip in 1983. Years later, one of her former pupils, Steven, an ex-convict, tries to make sense of her disappearance. This is no straightforward crime caper dredging up an unsolved mystery, however. Instead, Janice Hallett (The Appeal) cleverly deploys clues in transcriptions of 200 audio files recorded by Steven on his phone. This innovative approach adds heartbreak to the thrill of the chase as he digresses into his life in and out of prison. The Twyford Code is a lot of fun, but Hallett also writes with care and empathy.
Profile, £14.99, pp224
If an unsettling, furious and challenging novel about the breakdown of a marriage doesn’t exactly sound like a summer read, it’s to Catherine Riley’s credit that she makes her debut so compelling and authentic. This bifurcated narrative, told from the perspective of both people in a once passionate, now toxic relationship, means that the reader’s understanding of fault, control – even abuse – is constantly, adeptly manipulated. Riley never reveals the gender of one of the parties either, another layer deepening her complex, provocative ideas about love and betrayal. Raw – but brilliantly so.
Little, Brown, £18.99, pp320
In the first pages of this remarkable memoir and family history, trans writer and campaigner Juno Roche grapples with defining the truth about their past, which has included brawling on the doorstep, childhood drug addiction, sex work and living with HIV: “We come from hard work, addiction, violence and poverty.” Roche calls out those who say such layers of traumatic history can be shrugged off through aspiration alone, but admits shame at being trapped by their dysfunctional past. An incredibly honest and ultimately optimistic tale of survival, escape and resilience.
July 24, 2022 at 07:51PM Ben East