New Year, New Books

With settings ranging from rural Ireland to Cape Cod, South Africa to Hollywood and with stories that include a reimagining of Sophocles’ play Antigone, the terrors of the Pendle Witch Trials, Bohemian life on a Greek Island in the 60s and London in the Blitz, these books all come highly recommended. Happy reading!

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

The Familiars by Stacey Halls

A Theatre for Dreamers by Polly Samson

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith

Brixton Hill by Lottie Moggach

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean

The Searcher by Tana French

Twelve Books For Christmas … And After

Something for everyone here – and every one a belting story with memorable characters. Happy reading and wishing you a happy and peaceful 2022.

The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey

Tall Bones by Anna Bailey

Summer by Ali Smith

The Snow Song by Sally Gardner

Truth Be Told by Kia Abdullah

Back When We Were Grown Ups by Anne Tyler

Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby

The Survivors by Jane Harper

The City We Became by NK Jemisin

Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans

The Appeal by Janice Hallett

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton

More Good Books

Another clutch of wonderful stories, all of which have stayed in my mind after I’ve finished them. Happy reading!

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout

Blood and Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson

Mayflies by Andrew O’Hagan

The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex

No Honour by Awais Khan

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Girl A by Abigail Dean

Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud

The Foundling by Stacey Halls


Books for Black History Month

It’s Black History Month and my union The Writers Guild is asking members to share their favourite Black writer or piece of writing to celebrate and amplify under-represented voices. I don’t want to pick just one so here are books I’ve enjoyed and recommended via #FridayReads on Twitter, and in lists on this blog. All highly recommended.

A River Called Time by Courttia Newland

The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal

Lullaby by Leila Slimani

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Three-Fifths by John Vercher

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Ordinary People by Diana Evans

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Running out of Road

Running Out of Road, coming in July, is a race against time, played out in the brooding wilderness, the limestone gorges and gritstone edges of the Peak District. It’s the story of eleven-year-old Scarlett, who has survived a great loss, is full of dreams for the future and a passion to protect the planet, when she is abducted and driven up into the hills, with the police in hot pursuit.

Scarlett’s path collides with that of others. Ron has made a living as a house and pet sitter since quitting his career on the front line in the fire service. He’s currently looking after a place deep in the Derbyshire Peaks. The solitude suits him. And managing animals is so much simpler than coping with other people. Dylan’s a ‘cuckoo’, dealing drugs on the county line, moving from nest to nest, picking out people who daren’t say no. Keeping his head down, one step ahead of the law. So far. But now everything’s falling apart.

The action unfolds over a few hours on a wretched February evening, as Storm Dennis barrels in from the north bringing floods and ensuing chaos.

Writing Running out of Road during lockdown, when I could no longer go walking in the hills, allowed me to escape there in my imagination, and become engrossed in Scarlett’s adventure. And I do hope you’ll get the same pleasure from reading it as I did writing it.

Available on offer to pre-order now.

Have You Read…

A new batch of recommendations from me. Superb storytellers whose books made me marvel, made me laugh and cry, hold my breath and – at the end of one of them – shout out loud. Happy reading!

November Road by Lou Berney

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Tangerine by Christine Mangan

The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler

The Binding by Bridget Collins

Three-Fifths by John Vercher

Writers & Lovers by Lily King

How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang

Body Language by A. K. Turner

Quiet Acts of Violence

‘Jade was buzzing, little shocks and fizzes of adrenalin sparking through her blood. Always the way when they were called to a death. The end of everything for somebody. The start of something for Jade.’

Quiet Acts of Violence is out in paperback now. Also available as an ebook and audiobook.

Quiet Acts of Violence sees the return of DI Donna Bell and DC Jade Bradshaw, the detectives from The Girl in the Green Dress. But you don’t have to have read that book to enjoy this one. In Quiet Acts of Violence they are investigating the death of a newborn baby and hunting for her missing mother. The background to the novel is the landscape of austerity and inequality, the terrible poverty it has resulted in, the immiserating effects on people’s everyday lives. It’s something I’ve been even more acutely aware of seeing the toll of coronavirus on our poorest, most disadvantaged communities and disproportionately affecting BAME and disabled people. We have learned how dependent we are on each other, and how much we rely on those in low paid and insecure work for many of our most essential services.

Donna and Jade are two very different characters. Donna is white, middle-aged and married with a large family. She is a skilled professional, a steady hand on the tiller and one who will give her all for the victims of the crimes she investigates. Jade is in her twenties, of Pakistani and Irish parentage, and has overcome a very difficult childhood to find a role as a police officer. Jade is often impulsive, impatient to get results. She’s also vulnerable, sometimes besieged by the demons from her past and the trauma she carries. I’ve loved spending more time with Donna and Jade in the writing of this novel and hope to come back to them again before too long. Meanwhile – happy reading. (Though if you weep that’s even better).

‘Timely and smart’ Crime Monthly

‘Strong, damaged, lippy northern female police officers — edgy Jade and stressed Donna do not disappoint … Ordinary people are made to matter, as the case reveals some difficult truths’ Sunday Times Crime Club

‘Staincliffe is one of the few authors who can combine political anger with great entertainment and somehow never lose sight of either’ Morning Star

‘Moving and sad … and has all the pace and suspense of a good police procedural’ Ann Cleeves

‘A topical, emotionally charged and compelling story’ Compulsive Readers

‘Combines excellent writing with a clear-eyed view of contemporary issues’ CRIMEPIECES

‘A powerful story, excellently written with compassion and painful honesty. Outstanding’ Random Things Through My Letterbox

Head in a Book

I honestly don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t read. It’s such a pleasure to be able to escape everything and journey to new places. Here are some books I’ve really enjoyed over the past few months. A bit of all sorts. Happy reading!

Amity and Sorrow by Peggy Riley

The Man on the Street by Trevor Wood

The Long Call by Ann Cleeves

Only You by S. Williams

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

Now We Shall Be Entirely Free by Andrew Miller

Sister by Rosamund Lupton

Fifty-Fifty by Steve Cavanagh

The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett

New Year New Reads

One of the enduring comforts over the last year has been finding and enjoying wonderful stories. Several of these titles featured in my #FridayReads recommendations on Twitter. I hope you’ll find something here to transport you, entertain, amuse or move you. Happy reading!

Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham

Spring by Ali Smith

The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey

The Flight by Julie Clark

The Guest Book by Sarah Blake

Blackwood by Michael Farris Smith

The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett

Expectation by Anna Hope

If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor


Escape Into A Good Book

Good news for book lovers – indie bookshops throughout the UK have joined together to launch so you can order books online and support local shops during lockdown – and beyond. You can also borrow eBooks and eAudiobooks from libraries through the BorrowBox scheme.

What to choose? Here are some of my recent favourites – and among them is the book I’ve enjoyed best of all in 2020 (jointly along with Hamnet by Maggie O’ Farrell). Can you guess which it is?

The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

A Thousand Moons by Sebastian Barry

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker

The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel

Cruel Acts by Jane Casey

Confession with Blue Horses by Sophie Hardach

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite