Books that kept us on the edge of our seat in 2018

Our staff share the books that kept them on the edge of their seat this year.

‘As a crime reader, it’s almost impossible to answer this question without missing 20 books that also kept me on the edge of my seat… Jane Harper’s The Lost Man, though, was suspenseful, mysterious and gripping, while Christian White’s The Nowhere Child kept my nails thoroughly chewed with its American snake cults and familial confusion.’

Fiona Hardy

‘I thoroughly enjoyed AJ Finn’s The Woman in the Window. It has twists and turns and secrets galore, is really well-written and generally lives up to the hype of being one of the most enjoyable thrillers of the year.’

Nina Kenwood

Ghost Wall. Sarah Moss’s masterful short novel of a teenage girl stuck in an iron-age re-enactment experiment had me literally rocking back and forth hoping the end wouldn’t be the end, but knowing that it must! I can only read a novel of such tension when I feel safe in the hands of the author, and Moss has always proven to have safe hands.

In a change of pace that is still never less tense, The Cutting Room by Louise Welsh is an absolutely eerie and yet quotidian evocation of early 2000s Glasgow. Auction house valuer Rilke turns detective as he wrestles with the moral and it turns out physical hazards of determining the provenance of some very disturbing photographs. An amazing thriller.’

Marie Matteson

‘Trent Dalton’s debut novel, Boy Swallows Universe, was a vivid read. I was spellbound from cover to cover by both the story itself and the writing. I love an Australian saga and this one hit all the right boxes for me.’

Chris Gordon

‘I’m a huge fan of Tana French, so I was eagerly awaiting the release of her new book. A standalone novel, The Wych Elm is told through the perspective of Toby Hennessy: a charming, well-off young man who becomes caught up in a murder investigation when a skull is discovered stuffed down the trunk of a tree in the back yard of his family home. This clever, multi-layered thriller examines issues of class, privilege, prejudice, and sexism, but does so such a deft touch that it never detracts from the absolutely engrossing mystery at the heart of the book.’

Lian Hingee

‘I don’t know about edge of my seat, but the palpable sexual tension and emotional investment you will feel in Rafi Mitlefehldt’s queer coming-of-age story It Looks like This will keep you turning pages – even when you start to get the creeping feeling you are headed off the edge of a cliff. Be warned: this book IS sad, but it’s also worth it and ultimately very affirming. The haunting prose and incisive characterisation stayed with me long after I finished reading.

I also recommend Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk. This is the enchanting tale of ten-year-old Crow. Washed up on a tiny island in the Elizabethans as a baby in a skip, Crow is taken in by Osh, with whom she lives a humble if hotchpotch existence. What starts out as a beguiling character story quickly becomes a mystery – riddled with shipwrecks, leprosy, pirate gold, orphans, forgotten messages, missing brothers and kidnappings. Wolk’s writing is as captivating as always and Beyond the Bright Sea is ideal for the emotionally intuitive child (9+), through to any grown-up who loves a good story.’

Britt Munro

‘I raced through Dervla McTiernan’s The Rúin this year. I love a character-driven police procedural and this Australian debut is a knock-out. I also just read Oyinkan Braithwaite’s debut novel, My Sister, the Serial Killer, in a single sitting which is always a great sign. This novel about sibling rivalry, the legacy of family violence and murder is pacy and a bit pulpy with a dark sense of humour.

Two young adult novels also had me utterly hooked this year. Children of Blood and Bone is the first book in a bloody new fantasy epic and you can read a bunch of staff raves for this work here. And I finally got around to reading Meg Medina’s oft-recommended Burn Baby Burn which is set during New York’s infamous summer of 1977 when the city was besieged by a heatwave and a serial killer. Both books are addictive, immersive and will appeal to older teens through to adults.’

Bronte Coates

The Wych Elm

The Wych Elm

Tana French

$32.99Buy now

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