Testimony by Scott Turow, Mantle, £18.99, 483 pages Decades after the bloody Bosnian conflict, issues of blame and responsibility remain troubling. Any novelist tackling the period is obliged to do so with seriousness of purpose – which is what makes Scott Turow’s latest book a gamble. The author is one of the leading practitioners of the legal thriller, but while frequently provocative, his previous novels have not had the audacious reach of this latest book. At the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands, Dutch-born US attorney Bill ten Boom is undergoing a crisis of conscience. He gives his life new direction by prosecuting an unsolved case involving hundreds of Roma who disappeared without trace. Testimony’s mass of information and prodigious length is sometimes daunting (and the seductive barrister Esma Czarni seems to be present merely to add sex), but Turow has largely pulled off the intimidating task he has set himself: marrying a page-turning legal thriller with a weighty examination of recent world history.
Give Me the Child by Mel McGrath, HQ, £12.99, 325 pages During child psychologist Cat Lupo’s longed-for first pregnancy she suffers psychotic episodes. But she is still desperate for a second child. And when a little girl, Ruby Winter, arrives unexpectedly at her house one night, it seems her wish is to be granted – Cat’s daughter is to have a new sister. But then a series of minatory events suggests that the diminutive new arrival may bring danger in her wake, and Cat has to examine whether or not her paranoid fears have any justification. Mel McGrath already has under her belt a distinctive series featuring Inuit heroine Edie Kiglatuk, notable for their strong evocation of frigid locales, but any reservations that her entry into the overcrowded territory of the contemporary psychological thriller is ill-advised are swiftly banished, so mesmerisingly written is this examination of desperation and evil. McGrath’s abrupt change of writing trajectory has proved to be a welcome one.