PSYCHO THRILLERS

PLAYDATE by Alex Dahl (Head of Zeus £18.99, 320pp)

PLAYDATE by Alex Dahl (Head of Zeus £18.99, 320pp)

PLAYDATE

by Alex Dahl (Head of Zeus £18.99, 320pp)

Norwegian thrillers are still having their moment. This is the story of a seven-year-old girl who is abducted while on a sleepover with a new friend. Alex Dahl explores, among other things, the effect of such crimes on the national psyche, so there are echoes of the shock provoked by Madeleine McCann’s disappearance.

There’s a terrifying simplicity about the ordinariness of the plot but particularly interesting are the very different responses of the two parents to their daughter’s disappearance. However, the most powerful character is journalist Selma, who becomes obsessed with the case and develops suspicions about the parents.

The storytelling is crisp and the setting in Norway gives British readers the added bonus of intriguing insights into the Scandinavian mindset.

THE NESTING by C.J. Cooke (HarperCollins £12.99, 416 pp)

THE NESTING by C.J. Cooke (HarperCollins £12.99, 416 pp)

THE NESTING

by C.J. Cooke (HarperCollins £12.99, 416 pp)

This is an ambitious mash-up of psychological thriller and gothic novel set in a dramatically and beautifully evoked landscape of Norwegian fjords and woodlands that would be the perfect backdrop for a classic Scandi-noir TV series.

The story is about Lexi, an unhappy young Englishwoman who blags her way into a job as a nanny to two young girls whose mother, Aurelia, has recently committed suicide. It all gets sinister very quickly as Lexi starts to have strange, creepy experiences.

Gradually she learns more about the secrets of Aurelia’s life with her wealthy architect husband, Tom, and she becomes aware that she has much in common with the tragic Aurelia. The story is peppered with well-researched folklore and startling tenderness which turns what could have been a dodgy fusion of genres into a winner.

THE STOLEN SISTERS by Louise Jensen (HQ £7.99, 384 pp)

THE STOLEN SISTERS by Louise Jensen (HQ £7.99, 384 pp)

THE STOLEN SISTERS

by Louise Jensen (HQ £7.99, 384 pp)

Three grown-up sisters are dreading the impending 20th anniversary of their abduction as young children, not least because of the separate secrets they are struggling with.

Carly, the childless older sister, still blames herself for not looking after her younger twin siblings. Meanwhile one of the twins, Leah, suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder and the other, failing actress Marie, relies on alcohol to numb her feelings and block out her memories.

The tension revolves around the separate psychological demons the women battle with and which versions of the truth they choose to deal with or run away from.

With great skill, Jensen slowly unveils the well-hidden aspects of all three characters and propels the book to a moving and convincing conclusion.

To buy any book reviewed here, visit mailshop.co.uk/ books or call 020 3308 9193 

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