THIS WEEK, we bring you a couple of blockbuster paperback novels, at 11 euros each, with which to relax over a hot toddy!
A Lesser Evil by Lesley Pearse
Set in the 1960s, A Lesser Evil tells the story of Fifi Reynolds, the daughter of middle-class breeding, who lives in a pleasant suburb of Bristol with her family. She is used to life’s luxuries – month-long holidays and afternoons of tennis and dancing.
When Fifi brings her latest boyfriend Dan to meet her parents, they are most disappointed to discover he is a mere bricklayer and was brought up in numerous care homes. This is hardly what her over-protective mother had destined for her eldest child. As their relationship blossoms, Fifi becomes distanced from her family. She and Dan marry in secret and move to London, but a lack of money means all they can afford is a tiny flat in a deprived street in Kennington.
Fifi, a naturally inquisitive character, quickly becomes fascinated with her colourful neighbours: Yvette, the French dressmaker, Frank, the retired widower, and Miss Diamond, the snobbish spinster downstairs. The reason for most of her curtain twitching, however, is the Muckles family, with their disgusting habits, intriguing card parties and the brutal fights witnessed by the whole street.
Then, Fifi’s nosiness gets the better of her and she unwittingly stumbles across a hidden world of murder, gangland crimes, exploitation, child abuse and sexual harassment. She is soon out of her depth and puts herself and her whole family in danger.
Lesley Pearse’s 14th novel is a real page-turner, but only once you take away the irritation of an initial array of rather two-dimensional characters and some clichéd sub-plots. There’s much to enjoy with the interaction between the beautiful, rebellious Fifi and her bossy mother, the roguish Dan and, of course, the quirky street full of jaunty neighbours. As the characters become more involved and finely drawn, the issues grow darker and more complex and the reader is drawn into the drama. It’s a great fireside read and a must for the many thousands of Lesley Pearse fans.
Bet Your Life by Richard Pitman with Joe McNally
For everyone who misses their annual new racing thriller from the great Dick Francis, Richard Pitman and his writing partner are working hard to plug the gap. Bet Your Life is a pacy thriller in the tradition of Dick Francis, set in the cut-throat world of horse-racing, where races are won and lost at the same rate as hearts, reputations and lives.
After a terrible accident on Everest, in which he lost an arm and nearly his life, former champion jockey Eddie Malloy is trying to rebuild his shattered existence, intent on putting to rest the notoriety which has plagued him since his sudden retreat from the racing world. His new corporate role is every bit as controversial as his past, however.
Employed by powerful conglomerate Makalu to mastermind their takeover of British racing, Eddie starts to attract enemies in important racing circles, resulting in him receiving death threats.
Frankie Houlihan is also a man trying to forget the ghosts of his past. Having lost his wife, for whom he gave up the priesthood, Frankie is thankful that his job as racing security advisor, keeps his mind from the demons that haunt him, as well as thoughts of his estranged family back in Ireland.
When he is charged with ensuring Eddie Malloy’s safety, his life takes a dangerous turn for the worse. As the bond between the two lonely men strengthens, they join forces to uncover the identity of the mysterious individual who seems intent on stopping Malloy.