2016 Crime Recommended books Richard and Judy Book Club Thriller

Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant

 Source: Free review copy received from publisher

Five words from the blurb: truth, friendship, island, murder, memory

Lie With Me is the best thriller I’ve read in years! It was so compelling and clever that I’ll be pushing it into the hands of every friend who asks me for a book recommendation this year. Follow birrongsurialpacas for more reviews or recommendations.

The story begins with Paul, a struggling author, meeting an old friend in a bookshop. They arrange to meet at a party and Paul decides to re-integrate himself with this successful friendship group in order to gain enough favours to solve his spiralling financial problems. Paul lies about his success to impress everyone at the party, embellishing details about his life. His plan appears to work when he finds himself being invited on a holiday to a small Greek island, but unfortunately everything goes wrong when the group gets caught up in the investigation of a murder that took place on the island many years ago.

Paul was a fantastic character. He was cruel and manipulative, but it was easy to see why he acted in this way. By the end of the book I even had some sympathy for him – I love books that can make me feel that way about such an evil character.

‘It’s hard, isn’t it, living with privilege? She gestured to the flat, the art work, the items of mid-century furniture, the shelves of books. ‘Do you ever feel guilty at how easy it all is, how much people like us have been given on a plate by our parents?’
I felt another tight spasm in my chest, a need to tell her how it wasn’t, what a struggle it had been not to lead the life of my parents, how I had always hated the smallness of their ambition, their willingness to settle with meekness and mediocrity.

The plot was very well structured. It was a bit slow in the beginning, but I was impressed by the layers of detail and way everything escalated. By the last third I was so engrossed I couldn’t put it down, finishing it in one late night sitting.

This book isn’t perfect, but the clever plotting and beautifully flawed characters make up for any deficiencies. I’ll be thinking about the issues raised in this book for a long time.

If you’re after a gripping thriller to read on holiday this year, I highly recommend Lie With Me.




Other Richard and Judy Book Club TV Book Club

Richard and Judy v The TV Book Club: Which has picked the best books this Summer?

Richard and Judy  and The TV Book Club and have both revealed their latest book club choices recently, but are either of them worth following and who is winning the battle of the book club?

Richard and Judy’s 2011 Summer Reads

The Confession of Katherine HowardThe Return of Captain John EmmettThe Novel in the ViolaEvery Last One

When God Was a RabbitThe Poison TreeThe Summer of the BearThe Death Instinct

After attempting to read Richard and Judy’s last selection of books I stated that I would no longer be following their suggestions with the dedication that I used to. So the big question is: Have they improved?

I was disappointed to see that Richard and Judy are continuing to come up with unoriginal choices; both Jed Rubenfeld and Bella Pollen have had previous books on the original TV show (Bella Pollen’s Hunting Unicorns in 2004 and Jed Rubenfeld’s The Interpretation of Murder in 2007). I didn’t find either of these books particularly entertaining and so I’m not very excited about reading The Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeldor The Summer of the Bear by Bella Pollen. -2

The only book from the list that I’ve read is When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman which I found original and entertaining. I think this is a fantastic choice and I am really pleased that this debut novel will reach a wider audience. +1

 The Novel in the Viola by Natasha Solomons sounds like an interesting read, but I think it will be too charming for me and so I won’t be reading it. 0

I have wanted to read The Poison Tree by Erin Kellyever since I first heard about it on Steph and Tony Investigate. I have a copy here and so will read it next time I’m in the mood for a thriller. +1

The Confession of Katherine Howard by Suzannah Dunn sounded interesting and so I attempted to read a few weeks ago. Unfortunately the writing style grated on me so I gave up very quickly. -1

The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller is another book that I’m interested in reading. I have a copy here, but it hasn’t quite made it to the top of the pile yet. +1

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen is the only book that I hadn’t heard of when the list was announced. I still know very little about it, but for now I’ll take that as a positive. +1

Total score: +1

The TV Book Club 2011 Summer Reads

The LanternThe Hidden ChildMoonlight MileA Visit From the Goon Squad

Night RoadThe RadleysThe Book of Human SkinGrace Williams Says it Loud

I don’t normally enjoy books containing vampires but numerous positive reviews have added The Radleys by Matt Haig to my wishlist. This is a book I plan to try before the TV series begins. +1

I wasn’t a big fan of Grace Williams Says it Loud by Emma Henderson, but it is an original debut so I’m happy to see it on this list. +1

The Lantern by Deborah Lawrensonis a book I hadn’t heard of before this list was revealed. That is what shows like this are supposed to do. +1

Night Road by Kristin Hannahdoesn’t look like a very original book, but I haven’t read it so will give it the benefit of the doubt. 0

The Hidden Childby Camilla Lackberg is a book in translation – I can’t possibly complain about that! +1

Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane seems like a fairly typical thriller, but I have always wanted to read some Lehane. I probably wont read this one, but I don’t feel I can deduct a point for its selection. 0

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan won the Pulitzer prize, but it hasn’t received that much attention here in the UK. It will divide opinion, but I think that will make a very interesting discussion on the show. +1

The Book of Human Skin by Michelle Lovric captured my attention from the moment I read the title. I don’t know anything else about it, but I do know I want to read it. +1

Total Score: +6


Richard and Judy: +1

TV Book Club: +6

Richard and Judy do seem to have improved their selection, but they are still failing to pick titles that excite me. Time and again The TV Book Club are outshining them with lists that I am really interested in reading/discussing. I think both could benefit from picking some titles from smaller publishers and a wider range of books in translation, but I shouldn’t complain too much – anything that persuades reluctant readers to pick up a few extra books is a good thing.

Long may they continue to pick books that we can all read and discuss together!

What do you think of the book club selections?

Which is your favourite list?

Other Richard and Judy Book Club TV Book Club

The Spring 2011 Richard and Judy Book Club Titles Revealed

I wasn’t a big fan of Richard and Judy’s Winter reads, but they have just revealed their Spring collection and the selection looks much more promising.

The books are:

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Hothouse Flower by Lucinda Riley

This Perfect World by Suzanne Bugler

Room by Emma Donoghue

You’re Next by Gregg Hurwitz

Trespass by Rose Tremain

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

The Blasphemer by by Nigel Farndale

I have read three of the selection:

Room by Emma Donoghue 

My favourite read in 2010. I’m delighted to see it selected, but think it is a shame that The TV Book Club and Richard and Judy have chosen to highlight the same book.

The Blasphemer by Nigel Farndale 

I loved this book and am very happy to see it reach a wider audience. It is a fantastic book club choice as there is a lot to discuss. It also contains some of the best war scenes I have ever read. I highly recommend it.

Trespass by Rose Tremain 

I have loved Rose Tremain in the past, but this isn’t her best book. It is quite slow and thoughtful so don’t get it if you like your reads to be fast paced.

I have heard wonderful things about Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand and The Postmistress, but I’m not sure they are for me. I worry that the word “charming” is used to describe  Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand and I wonder if I’ve read too many war stories for The Postmistress to stand out. I haven”t heard of the other books on the list, but look forward to seeing what others make of them.

What do you think of the selection?

Do you think that I’d enjoy any of the other books on the list?

Other Richard and Judy Book Club

Why I No Longer Trust Richard and Judy

I have always loved Richard and Judy. When I was a child I watched them on This Morning and I loved the fact that they moved to their afternoon show at exactly the same time as I started my first job – meaning I could come home from work just in time to catch them!

When they started their book club I was very excited. I remember rushing out to buy two or three of their selections the moment the list was announced. It was a great way to start the New Year as I knew that at least one book would become my favourite of that year and several others would get close. Richard and Judy introduced me to The Time Traveller’s Wife, Cloud Atlas, Notes on a Scandal, Random Acts of Heroic Love and Mr. Pip – as well as many other wonderful books.

Unfortunately Richard and Judy left our TV screens a few years ago. I missed them, but was excited to learn that they planned to start an online book club. I hoped that I’d be able to recapture that book club feeling!

The eight books were announced in September :

I have now read them all and I was very disappointed.

Titles are linked to my review for each book.

The Wilding – Maria McCann 

The Snowman – Jo Nesbo 

Operation Mincemeat – Ben Macintyre 

No and Me – Delphine de Vigan 

The Crying Tree – Naseem Rakha 

Sister – Rosamund Lupton 

A Place of Secrets – Rachel Hore   (DNF)

Waiting for Columbus – Thomas Trofimuk   (DNF)

A few were enjoyable reads, but none will get close to being my favourite of the year. I won’t be recommending these books in 5 years time as I do with many of the original books from their TV show. These aren’t thought-provoking, special books. Just average, light reads.

I’m not sure I can blame Richard and Judy. They entered into an agreement with WH Smiths. A WH Smiths buying team then sent them 30 books to choose from. These probably are the best books from those 30, but they are a very different from the original, more literary, book club. I’m afraid that this selection has broken my trust with the Richard and Judy book club. I’ll be sticking with the TV Book Club whose books are chosen by Amanda Ross, the woman who used to choose Richard and Judy’s books.

If you’re missing the type of books that Richard and Judy used to choose then I highly recommend that you try:

Rupture by Simon Lelic

Room by Emma Donoghue

Bad Karma by David Safier

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill

What do you think of the Richard and Judy Book Club this year?

Will you be reading their selections next year?


2010 Richard and Judy Book Club

A Place of Secrets – Rachel Hore

 Richard and Judy 2010 Winter Read

A Place of Secrets begins with Jude, an auctioneer, being asked to value a collection of scientific instruments near her childhood home in Norfolk. She jumps at the chance to leave London, look over the valuable pieces, and catch up with her Gran, who still lives nearby.

Unfortunately I can’t tell you what happens after that as I gave up. This book is 450 pages long and if I am to dedicate that amount of time to a book then I need to be fully engaged. The writing failed to connect with me from the start. There was a large amount of dialogue and it didn’t feel natural.

‘Listen, quickly, how do you think Gran is? I’m going to stay with her on Thursday night.’
‘Oh she’ll love that.’ Claire’s voice softened. ‘She’s all right, Jude, a bit frail. Summer and I took her to buy shoes in Sheringham on Saturday. It was a bit of an ordeal because they didn’t have her usual style but we found something in the end. What are you doing down here in the middle of the week, then?’
‘I know it’s a great coincidence, but I’m visiting Starbrough Hall to value some stuff.’
‘Starbrough Hall? Really? Well Gran will fill you in about that. Look, I’ve got to go.’

The writing didn’t flow very well and felt jumpy. At the 70 page mark I considered giving up and went to check reviews on Amazon. There was a good spread of people who ranged from loving it to hating it, but I noticed that many people shared my opinion on the writing. Some also felt that there were too many coincidences and as I had already spotted a few I can only imagine how this could worsen with another 400 pages. I decided that it probably wasn’t a good idea to continue and so moved on to a book I would find more enjoyable.

Recommended to anyone who enjoys the above passage.


I have now tried all of Richard and Judy’s 2010 Winter Reads.

Keep an eye out for my summary later this week!

2010 Books in Translation Crime Richard and Judy Book Club Thriller

The Snowman – Jo Nesbo

 Richard and Judy 2010 Winter Read

Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett

The Snowman is the 7th book in the Harry Hole series, but as the first two books haven’t been translated into English yet, it is the 5th available in the UK. I have been told that it is the best book in the series and that it is not necessary to read them in order. I can’t comment on the first statement, but I pretty sure the second one isn’t true.

The book follows Harry Hole, a detective skilled in tracking down serial killers. Harry has an international reputation, but hasn’t had to find a murderer on his own turf before. All this changes when women in Oslo start disappearing. At first the only link between the victims is that a snowman is found at each crime scene, but as the investigation continues everything becomes much more complicated.

The Snowman is a well paced thriller with plenty of twists and turns. It has been compared to Steig Larsson’s trilogy, but apart from the fact both authors are Scandinavian, there are few similarities. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is slow, with an extraordinary amount of detail and a dark, depth. The Snowman is much easier to read and has a faster pace, but it didn’t have the disturbing scenes that were present in the Larsson trilogy. The Snowman isn’t without its scary moments – it did contain a few chilling scenes and I don’t think I’ll ever look at snowmen in the same light again!

Then he caught sight of the snowman. It stood there as before, immovable, facing the house, bathed in the cold moonlight. Yet there was something different about it, something almost human….

My only regret is that I didn’t read the rest of the series first. I can’t be sure as I haven’t read any of Nesbo’s other books, but I think I now know some major spoilers for the earlier books. I also found that these references to previous books meant that some sections made little sense to me, a person starting the series at book seven. It didn’t affect my understanding of The Snowman, but many references to earlier cases went over the top of my head.  

The Snowman is an enjoyable crime thriller with an impressive plot, but I wasn’t bowled over by it. I didn’t guess the killer, but I didn’t feel a sense of amazement when all was revealed. An entertaining read, but not one which is going to become a classic.

Have you read any of Jo Nesbo’s books?

Which one do you think is the best?

Would I find the plot in any of the earlier books more impressive?