PSYCHOS  | Daily Mail Online


PSYCHOS

A Flaw In The Design by Nathan Oates

A Flaw In The Design by Nathan Oates

A Flaw In The Design

by Nathan Oates

(Serpent’s Tail £16.99, 304 pp)

Gil is a bitter, disappointed creative writing professor living in Vermont. He is forced to take in his 17-year-old nephew, Matthew, when the boy’s parents — Gil’s millionaire sister and her banker husband — die in a car crash. Gil’s world is turned upside down and maybe (we can’t be sure) his mind is turned inside out.

He has never forgotten an incident years ago when his then five-year-old daughter convinced him that Matthew was a budding psychopath, rather than the charmer the rest of his family thought he was.

Gil’s obsession with proving that Matthew is a psychopath makes for an absorbing and original plot. The writing is pitch-perfect and the observations of family dynamics are quietly excruciating. Oates has produced a very smart tale packed with jeopardy.

The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz

The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz

The Writing Retreat

by Julia Bartz

(Magpie £16.99, 320 pp)

From the very first sentence, the author is pushing the boundaries of bad language, bad taste, weird sex and over-the-top psychological intrigue. But Julia Bartz still manages to pull off a surprisingly gripping read.

We meet Alex, an aspiring writer, just before she wins a place at a prestigious writing retreat run by her idol Roza Vallo, a famous feminist horror writer, on her estate in the Adirondacks. Alex decides to go even though a former close friend, Wren, will be there. The other women on the course also come with several varieties of emotional baggage.

The writing is terrific on the ambitions and neuroses that drive most writers, but nothing prepares you for the terrifying rollercoaster of a plot, and Bartz isn’t frightened of being shocking right until the final page.

The Forgetting by Hannah Beckerman

The Forgetting by Hannah Beckerman

The Forgetting

by Hannah Beckerman

(Lake Union £8.99, 331 pp)

Livvy is a happily married young mother living in Bristol, whose peaceful life is shattered by the arrival of her husband’s estranged mother.

Meanwhile, unknowingly, she has a connection with Anna, another traumatised woman lying in a hospital bed 100 miles away, who is suffering from memory loss.

Anna and Livvy’s stories are told in alternate chapters, which helps keep up the pace, although Anna is probably the more sympathetic of the two characters.

Beckerman, who withholds the mystery of what actually connects the two women until late on in the story, writes best around the memory loss theme.

Although the characters are well drawn, the story won’t have enough surprises for some thriller readers. I’m afraid I guessed the twist far too early on to make the book an all-round satisfying read.



Read More

Leave a comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More