The death chamber, by Sarah Rayne [audiobook]. Read by Diana Bishop. Bath: Oakhill, 2008.
Georgina Grey has inherited her great-grandfather's cottage, and with it, his papers. He was the doctor to Calvary Gaol, and when Georgina bumps into a pair of documentary-makers in the local pub she is astonished to find that they are doing research into psychic phenomena in the now-abandoned prison buildings. As it turns out, though, the threat to Georgina and researcher Jude (a former foreign correspondent blinded in a war zone) is not so much psychic as very real; someone is extremely unhappy about the past being dug up and is prepared to act on it.
Wolf, by Mo Hayder. London: Bantam, 2014.
This is a very scary book; there's real violence (and Hayder goes for gory), but there's also implied and threatened violence which is even more frightening. Oliver, Matilda and Lucia Anchor-Ferrers arrive at their holiday cottage to find a scene which is horribly reminiscent of a crime which happened to the family a decade before. The perpetrator of that crime is still behind bars, though... isn't he? Then the police arrive to warn the family; and it all gets worse from there... Meanwhile, Jack Caffery is trying to find the secret of his long-lost brother's death, and the owner of a lost dog. This twists and turns all over the place towards the end; Hayder has created a hall of distorting mirrors. Excellent, but gruesome.
Her brilliant career: ten extraordinary women of the Fifties, by Rachel Cooke. London: Virago, 2013.
This was a book-group book, not one I'd normally have picked up, but I'm glad I did. Some of the figures in this book are very well-known even today - Patience Gray the cook, for instance, and Rose Heilbron QC who was active well into the 90s; but some like Sheila van Damm, rally-driver and manager of the Windmill Theatre, have vanished from collective memory. Some of the women were remarkable for their lifestyles (van Damm was in a relationship with both Nancy Spain and magazine editor Joan Werner Laurie), some for their choice of profession; all are remarkable for their unconventionality in the times. Definitely worth a read.
Without fail, by Lee Child. London: Bantam, 2002.
A Jack Reacher novel. Reacher is contacted by his brother Joe's former girlfriend Emily Froelich; she's now head of Vice-President-Elect Armstrong's security detail, and wants Reacher to try fnding the holes in her plan to protect Armstrong. Reacher and former colleague Frances Neagley take the part of would-be assassins and advise Froelich; at which point it becomes clear that the threat to Armstrong is more than theoretical. Even by Lee Child's high standards, this is a good one; and after a couple of the books above (notably The death chamber) I realised again that one of the reasons I like Reacher is that he works totally straightforwardly with women as well as with men; I hadn't even realised that was what had irked me about some of the books I'd read recently!
Do not pass go: from the Old Kent Road to Mayfair, by Tim Moore. London: Yellow Jersey Press, 2002.
Tim Moore has always been obsessed with Monopoly, and has always lived in London. One of the things he's always been puzzled by is the arbitrariness of the choice of stopping-points on the board - why Vine Street? Why the Angel Islington? What do the groups of places have in common? Moore goes to investigate, in the random order of throwing dice to start, and having others throw dice when he gets to his destination. This is a lovely, funny ramble around parts of London you wouldn't necessarily visit as a tourist, and the chapter on "the greens" (Bond, Regent and Oxford Streets) is made more hilarious by the confession that "the prospect of an extended retail quest for goods you can't plug in or uncork fills my limbs with gravel". There are a lot of interesting, well-researched facts in here as well, which slip into your head while you're laughing....