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Book Bites: 13 March 2016

Published in the Sunday Times

Orphan #8Orphan #8
Kim van Alkemade (HarperCollins)
Book buff
****
A remarkable debut that tells the story of Rachel Rabinowitz, a young girl in a Jewish orphanage in New York where the children are used as guinea pigs in medical experiments. Years later, Rachel is a nurse at the Old Hebrews Home where she crosses paths with Dr Mildred Solomon, one of the doctors from the orphanage, now dying of cancer. Rachel has to decide between forgiveness and revenge; caring and causing harm. Orphan #8 provides a textured account of the Jewish orphanages in New York in the 1920s and is inspired, in parts, by the author’s own family history. — Annetjie Van Wynegaard @Annetjievw

Sweet ParadiseSweet Paradise: A Rae Valentine Thriller
Joanne Hichens (Jacana)
Book thrill
****
Things are not looking good for Rae Valentine, ex-junkie and PI. Not only has her boyfriend left her but her book deal has fallen through and she has become dangerously obsessed with a mysterious online admirer. Broke and broken-hearted Valentine accepts an assignment she would usually avoid and goes undercover in Paradise, an upmarket rehab centre, trying to find a “guest” whom the centre insists ran away. The missing girl’s parents have other ideas. Paradise is not the luxurious and peaceful haven it appears to be in the brochures. A compulsive read. — Aubrey Paton

The WidowThe Widow
Fiona Barton (Penguin Random House)
Book thrill
****
Toted as the Gone Girl of 2016, this debut novel feels more like a five-part British mini-series than a domestic thriller. It’s told from the viewpoints of five different characters: the downtrodden widow, Jean Taylor, whose husband, Glen, is accused of kidnapping a toddler; the detective, Bob Sparks, who “feels it in his waters” that Glen is responsible; the ruthless reporter Kate Waters; Dawn, the guilt-ridden mother turned savvy media player; and Glen himself. The action starts off four years after Bella’s kidnapping, Glen has died and Jean is finally opening up to Kate about what happened. It’s dark, harrowing and gloomy, but it makes for a gripping read. — Jennifer Platt @Jenniferdplatt

Sidney Sheldon's RecklessSidney Sheldon’s Reckless
Tilly Bagshawe (HarperCollins)
Book fling
***
Penning under the renowned Sidney Sheldon, Bagshawe has captured his easy writing style but lacks his ability to capture his characters. In this sequel, thief and con-artist Tracy Whitney returns. She retired from the con game long ago and devoted her life to her son, but after tragedy hits, she returns with one thing in mind — to find answers. Her targets are an organisation of global hackers called Group 99 and Althea, the mysterious and dangerous woman behind it all. — Kholofelo Maenetsha @KMaenetsha

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