BOOK BITES | Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Ana Huang, Gabor Maté
This week we feature Iceland's unstoppable 'Queen of Crime' Yrsa Sigurðardóttir's latest thriller; a new, probably better version of a '50 Shades' erotica series; and a much-needed discussion on how mental and emotional trauma can negatively impact our health
The Fallout ★★★★
Hodder & Stoughton
Icelandic author Yrsa Sigurðardóttir’s thrillers have a peculiar plodding-but-pacy quality, as her stolid Nordic narrating style combines with high-speed plots that have enough twists and quirky characters to make your head spin. First a civil engineer, Sigurðardóttir switched to children’s fiction in 1998 and to thrillers in 2005. There's nothing plodding about her output: nearly a novel a year, translated into more than 30 languages and selling strongly. The Fallout is the seventh in a series featuring child psychologist Freyja and hunky detective Huldar, with their on-off romance infusing the novel with sexual tension. The two work on the mystery of a woman whose dismembered body is found in a car in Reykjavik. The case leads to other crimes and back 11 years to a missing baby and her murdered mother. The police investigation entwines people’s unpredictable personal lives into a captivating story by this underrated author. — William Saunderson-Meyer
Click here to buy a copy of The Fallout.
Twisted Love, Twisted Games, Twisted Hate, Twisted Lies ★★★★★
When 50 Shades of Grey was first released in 2011, it changed the erotic-genre game. Not only did it normalise taboo sexual topics, it was steamy and images of women (and men) reading the book on public transport across the world went viral. Nobody has come quite as close to the phenomenon until now. Billed as a BookTok sensation, Huang’s Twisted series is an investment if you’re looking for a newer version of 50 Shades. Each book focuses on different characters and their stories. The plot lines are simple, but good, the characters complex. And the sex scenes — whoa. It’s a good set to buy to get your year going, as light and steamy come together in the perfect mix of romance. — Jessica Levitt
The Myth of Normal ★★★
Maté dives into how mental and emotional trauma can negatively impact our health, even decades later. This includes positioning the spotlight on how black American women sustain some of the worst societal abuse, eroding their health. But Maté is not rallying people to lay blame. Nor is he insisting it's “all in your head”. Instead, he is encouraging a reconciliation of the past in an attempt to begin to heal. He calls on the medical community to understand how it is failing patients, especially women. He also speaks to the urgent need for men to face their feelings and emotions. Readers may find some sections hard to swallow, including a push to learn lessons from ill health, including cancer. There are times it strays dangerously close to framing these misfortunes as gifts. Nonetheless, there are some essential conversations and ideas within Maté's thoughts on revolutionising our understanding of health and the systems in charge of our care. — Tiah Beautement
Click here to buy a copy of The Myth of Normal.
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