As he tries to find out what happened to Rosie, Frank also has to discover whether he’s a detective undercover in his old neighbourhood, or a boy from Faithful Place undercover in the police force – what counts as his real home, and his real family. So here are five of my favourite mysteries about family ties, what they mean, and the devastation they can wreak when they go wrong.
1. Sleeping Murder, Agatha Christie. As far as she knows, Gwenda’s never been to this little house on the English coast – so why does she know what pattern she’ll find on the paper inside the cupboard, and where that blocked-up door used to be? And why does a terrifying wave of memory rush over her at a line from The Duchess of Malfi? This has always been my favourite Agatha Christie. It’s a wonderfully eerie story about what can happen when love goes wrong.
2. Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn. Chicago reporter Camille Preaker – sharp-tongued, beautiful, and breathtakingly damaged – has been assigned to cover the story of a possible child serial killer in her hometown. The assignment forces her to confront her manipulative mother, her dangerous thirteen-year-old half-sister, and the buried secrets that are rotting her town, her family and her own mind from within. This is one of the darkest, most disturbing and most powerful books about family relationships that I’ve read in a long time.
3. The Wrong Kind of Blood, by Declan Hughes. Private investigator Ed Loy has come back to Ireland, after twenty years away, to bury his mother and find out what happened to his missing father. But then his past starts to resurface – literally, at one point… This is a gritty, pacy noir that explores the many meanings of family, home, and blood.
4. P.D. James’s Innocent Blood. Philippa has always known she’s adopted, but when she turns eighteen and goes looking for her parents, the truth comes as a brutal shock. Her mother is a murderess, in jail for killing a child whom Philippa’s father had raped. And she’s about to be released… This isn’t a whodunit; the mysteries pulling Philippa into dark, dangerous places are much more subtle and crucial: the nature of identity, of intimacy, of redemption.
5. A Field of Darkness, by Cornelia Read. Madeline Dare is a smart, caustic ex-debutante turned small-town reporter. Then a set of dog tags found in a field seem to implicate her favourite cousin in a long-ago double murder… The shifting relationship between Maddie and her cousin Lapthorne – and, by extension, between Maddie and her whole crazy blue-blooded family – is twisted, treacherous and fascinating.
purchase from Amazon. Of it, Sophie Hannah says, "Even more gripping than her last two. A truly amazing novel - so brilliant on dysfunctional family dynamics, with characters so real that you can hardly believe someone's made them up."
Hodder Paperbacks £6.99 (7 July 2011)
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