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Book Bites: 30 September

Published in the Sunday Times

One Way *****
SJ Morden, Gollancz, R295

Frank Kittridge is serving a life sentence for murder, yet that doesn’t stop him being approached to go to Mars. He will be part of a team of skilled inmates who will build and maintain Mars Base One while serving out their sentences. Frank is all in – he could do with a change of scenery. However, when the chain gang arrives on the Red Planet and the crew members start to die, Frank needs to play detective or risk ending up in a body bag. Morden delivers action from the first sentence, a refreshing plot, and a shocker of a twist. Thrilling, hard to put down, and deeply satisfying – this book is the perfect trip for an off-world escape that will leave you reeling. Samantha Gibb @samantha_gibb

A Noise Downstairs **
Linwood Barclay, Orion, R305

Paul Davis is a literature professor who was hit on the head by Kenneth Hoffman, a colleague who happened to have the bodies of two women in the boot of his car when Paul stopped to offer roadside assistance. Now Kenneth is in jail and Paul is at home recovering from his injury but suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He decides it might help to write about the event on the typewriter his wife has bought him. Then Paul starts hearing typing in the dead of night. Barclay dispenses a basketful of red herrings along the way, but mostly of the good kind – the ones that swim close to the solution while still throwing the amateur sleuth off track. Sue de Groot @deGrootS1

Something in the Water **
Catherine Steadman, Simon & Schuster, R305

Flip. This started off so well. The protagonist googling on how to dig a grave on a dead man’s phone: “a poor burial comes down to three things: 1) lack of time 2) lack of initiative 3) lack of care”. She makes sure she doesn’t make these mistakes. Then we go back a few months. It’s entertaining but Steadman’s characters make it irritating. It’s told from the view of Erin who goes on honeymoon with new husband Mark. While diving in Bora Bora they find a bag filled with diamonds and a million pounds and decide to keep it. They get back to London and things go awry. Sympathy of character is needed to make this a compelling read but Erin and Mark are a bit too unlikeable. Jennifer Platt @Jenniferdplatt

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