THE GIRLS WHO DISAPPEARED by Claire Douglas (Penguin £8.99, 400pp)


by Claire Douglas (Penguin £8.99, 400pp) 

Journalist Jenna Halliday turns up in Shafferbury, a tight-knit rural West Country town, to make a podcast about the mysterious disappearance of three young girls after a car crash 20 years ago. 

But it’s not long before the locals are trying to make her leave, with Olivia Rutherford — the sole survivor of that crash and maybe the key to the whole mystery — particularly uncooperative. 

The accident happened on the Devil’s Corridor road next to a haunted wood, and Douglas does a convincing job of mixing themes of the paranormal and gritty everyday characters. 

For a dose of glamour, there is a parallel story about a group of friends in Thailand, which is a clever and adventurous plot device. The pace of the story is jumpy but fans of Douglas’s bestseller, The Couple At No. 9, will enjoy her particularly lively female characters and twisty plot.


by Flora Collins (Quercus £14.99, 368pp) 

If you’re in the mood for being consoled by the problems of the rich and spoilt, then this book is for you. 

Set in the shiny interiors of upstate New York and Manhattan, we meet Sue Keller who, following the death of her father, is delighted to run into her former nanny, Annie, whom she hasn’t seen since she was a small child. 

At first, Sue is thrilled to feel mothered again, but gradually it becomes clear that the shared history of the two women is actually very sinister. 

The story skips along, told in two time frames, with Sue in charge of the present story and Annie of the past. The fact that both main characters are disturbed in different ways helps maintain the tension and challenges the reader. Collins’s smart prose style and good grasp of contemporary issues, as well as a cracking title, mean this debut writer has got off to a promising start. 

ALL THE WICKED GAMES by Lauren North (Penguin £9.99, 368pp)


by Lauren North (Penguin £9.99, 368pp) 

Cleo and Rachel, two friends working behind a make-up counter,understandably get a bit bored with their job — and with themselves — so they do a spot of thrillseeking online which involves lying about their real identities. 

At first it all seems to be a harmless game — until it isn’t, when something happens that detonates their friendship. 

Fast-forward five years and Cleo is about to start a job on a cruise liner when she receives a message saying Rachel has gone missing. Cleo drops everything and feels compelled to search out her old friend, only to find herself in even more danger. 

With much to say about the boundaries of female friendship, North writes in a clever, quirky style that rings true. 

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