The Book of You: Claire Kendal Sunday, Aug 9 2015 

Book of You

If you read and enjoyed Elizabeth Haynes Into the Darkest Corner then you will definitely want to read Claire Kendal’s The Book of You.

University administrator Clarissa, getting used to a painful split from her partner, can’t wait for her jury duty to begin. She’s thrilled when she’s assigned to a case where she will have to be off work for at least seven weeks. Every day in the protected courtroom means a day out of sight of the man whose stalking is ruining her life and haunting her dreams on the rare nights she’s able to sleep.

Rafe is the academic who turned one night’s encounter with her into his obsession. An expert on fairy tales, especially those of a dark nature, Rafe uses these to add chilling texture to the terror that has become Clarissa’s life. She’s unable to walk home from the train station or leave her home without seeing his shadow. Even a walk in a nearby park becomes the stuff of nightmares until a stranger walking his dog interrupts what she increasingly fears could have been her murder, after researching Rafe’s personal history and learning that a young woman he’d stalked previously has disappeared.

He is ever present in her life, showing up at her house with gifts she must save as evidence of his stalking and harassment to go to the police with enough incidents that they will take her seriously. A talented sewer, Clarissa uses her this sideline to keep hold of her sanity, as her physical health deteriorates and she must detail the conversations and presence of this sick man in her life in a small black book she calls the Book of You.

Now as she takes solace in the jury room, making a few friends, attracted to a fireman in particular, Clarissa can’t help but notice the case they are trying of a young woman raped and brutalized mirrors her worst fears if Rafe should ever get in close contact with her again. The defendant’s grueling days on the witness stand point out that Rafe will try to twist her story around to his benefit, and Clarissa must have enough proof before going to the police of the seriousness of his intent.

The power of the book comes from illustrating how much psychological damage an obsessive like Rafe can incur simply by his continued and annoying presence. And when his threats escalate, so does the horror that Clarissa feels and what she ultimately faces.

This well-written thriller will have readers hearts beating as hard and fast as Clarissa’s does on a regular basis. A harrowing story of the ability to enact cruelty on another human being with Kendal’s knack bringing the reader right into Clarissa’s churning anxiety.

Val McDermid: The Vanishing Point Sunday, Nov 11 2012 

Prolific Scots writer Val McDermid is back with a stand alone that will grab you from page one and keep you flipping until its surprising and eventful resolution. If you aren’t a McDermid fan by now, despite Auntie M expounding this gifts through reviews of her several series and excellent stand alones, now is the time to meet her acquaintance.

The Vanishing Point opens with UK ghost writer Stephanie Harker and her adoptive son trying to enter the US for a much-needed vacation.

The metal in Stephanie’s leg always sets off the security alarm, and she’s prepped young Jimmy to mind their luggage whilst she’s escorted to the clear cubicle to await her pat-down.

Then a kidnapper, disguised as a TSA agent, leads Jimmy away, and Stephanie’s attempts to rescue him are seen by the real TSA agents as an attempt to breach security. She’s detained over her protests and ultimately tasered, helpless to prevent Jimmy being kidnapped as they disappear into the crowded airport.

Once the situation is finally explained, valuable time has been lost, but FBI agent Vivian McKuras soon realizes this is a highly unusual situation, one heightened by the confusing first moments which have allowed a kidnapper to spirit Jimmy away. The boy’s birth mother was the reality star Scarlett, who gave Stephanie custody of her only child when she was dying of cancer, believing the writer would be the best person to provide Jimmy a stable life after her death.

Scotland Yard detective Nick Nikolaides, who knows Stephanie and her complicated background, investigates in England. Both Stephanie and Scarlett have had negative relationships with men in their pasts, and Nick and Stephanie are all too aware of the various ways Jimmy’s abduction could turn out very badly.

This compelling thriller touches every parent on a visceral level, while the possible causes for the kidnapping multiply as McDermid has Stephanie explain the back story to the FBI agent.

The reader follows the timeline of Stephanie’s relationship with Scarlett and their blossoming friendship that led to Stephanie being named as Jimmy’s legal guardian. There are enough players and possibilities for suspects to chose from as their story unfolds: the boy’s pampered, drug-addicted father’s family; a stranger after ransom from the wealthy Scarlett’s estate; or even a demented fan who might have wanted a piece of Scarlett.

When the truth of the situation is made evident, this well-plotted thriller will have you in awe of McDermid’s talents to keep readers on the edge of their seats. Her powerful and unexpected climax is nothing short of a writer’s dream, which is why McDermid recently received the Crime Writers’ Association Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for outstanding achievement in the field of crime writing.