Amy Myers is known for her short stories and historical novels featuring Victorian chef Auguste Didier and chimney sweep Tom Wasp. Her contemporary series features classic car detective Jack Colby, and she is currently working on a new 1920s mystery series featuring Nell Drury, chef at Kent’s Wychbourne Court.
Sophie Hannah, crime writer, poet and academic, is well known for her psychological thrillers, several of which have been adapted for television; she has also hit the headlines with as the author of the first post-Christie Hercule Poirot novel, The Monogram Murders.
Her new suspense novel A Game for all the Family owes nothing to Christie, save for an ingenious plot. This standalove thriller with its labyrinthine twists and turns is vintage Hannah. The novel is related by Justin Merrison, ex TV producer, wife to opera-singer Alex and mother to fourteen-year-old Ellen. They are a loving family and at the beginning of the novel are setting out for a new life in Devon at Speedwell House. Justine looks forward to its peace and quiet after the turmoil of her London career, but she is not to get it. Ellen joins the local school and begins to write a novel in her spare time.
It’s the story of the Ingrey family; it consists of the husband and wife and three young daughters, one of whom is a murderer and the family lives at Speedwell House. Ellen’s secrecy over the novel begins to worry Justine, which increases when Ellen confides that she is distressed over the expulsion of her best friend at school, George Donbavand. When Justine visits the school’s head teacher, however, she is alarmed to be told that there was no such pupil at the school. Is George her daughter’s fantasy friend?
The truth of the story of the Ingrey family enmeshes Justine in a seemingly impenetrable web of mind games as she tries to protect her daughter. The twisting plot is literally mind-boggling to such an extent that it left me behind once or twice when it overtook the characterisation. Each time when I came back to it, however, I was once more hooked. The author has a great gift for taking everyday situations and characters and luring them into nightmare.