This is a stylish novel with a beautiful hook: you arrive home one day to find somebody moving into your house. Only you didn’t sell it. What it’s really about, though, is the slow descent into criminality the feckless but loveable male lead undergoes, and whether the heroine ever triumphs.
The Witch Elm
A brutal attack leaves previously sunny and optimistic Toby damaged and vulnerable. When a skull is found in his family’s garden, Toby must reassess what he thinks he knows about himself. This book has one of the best endings I’ve ever read—perfectly bread-crumbed: what French gives with one hand, she takes with the other, until at the end, you realize it could only ever have concluded in one way.
I feel as though Lupton pioneered the domestic noir genre, which is why I have led with her debut, one of my all-time favorite novels, here. Sister is part mystery, part love story, part revenge story with a breathtaking twist.
The End of Her
A woman from your husband’s past appears and makes a shocking allegation about him—what do you do? Lapena is the queen of suburban noir, and this novel is no exception. More than the mystery of the husband, I was most interested in the emotional development the heroine underwent.
A Spark of Light
A tour de force of a novel, a lone gunman, an abortion clinic, and a story told chronologically backwards. Picoult’s prose is velvet perfection and she has a lot to say on punishing crimes both big and small, too.
The Wicked Sister
A woman has been cut off from society for a crime she committed as a child—but did the experts get it right? And, if they didn’t, whoever shot and killed her mother is still out there.
I seem to be rather obsessed with the theme of justice in my novels. But what is justice, exactly? For me, it is even-handed: the simple cause and effect that runs through most stories. If a character makes a decision, it has a consequence later on.
In my latest release, The Choice, my heroine Joanna accidentally very badly injures a man on her way home from a night out. The narrative then splits into two possible outcomes, Sliding Doors style: does she leave the scene and go on the run, or call the emergency services and confess? I try to demonstrate in this novel that no matter which path you might choose to take, there will be consequences stemming from the decisions you made.
I have chosen six novels below which deal with similar themes. Justice is dressed up differently in different books. From the choices made in deep past that come to light in the present, to the slippery slope from good to bad we all might find ourselves on, to the wrong person being accused of a crime.
Justice, for me, isn’t only about crimes, but also about secrets, lies and also endings. Justice is done if evil is punished, and good redeemed. Justice is done if a mystery is solved–and exists for both characters and for readers, of course.
What We're Reading This WeekGet recommendations for the greatest books around straight to your inbox every week.
Featured image: @Jr.Md via Twenty20