6 New Books To Read This December

6 New Books To Read This December

Whether you’re looking for something to keep you going through the long winter evenings or for a last-minute Christmas present for the bookworm in your life, December is serving up a huge selection of thrillers and coming-of-age novels. Here are our picks of the month.

Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam

From the bestselling author of Rich and Pretty comes a suspenseful and provocative novel keenly attuned to the complexities of parenthood, race and class. Leave the World Behind explores how our closest bonds are reshaped – and unexpected new ones are forged – in moments of crisis. Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage children and a taste of the good life in the luxury home they’ve rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are the owners of the house, and they’ve arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area – with the TV and internet down, and no phone service – it’s hard to know what to believe. Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple – and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilisation, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one other? 

“Alam's deployment of creepy, inexplicable detail is masterful… This is a thrilling book – one that will speak to readers who have felt the terror of isolation in these recent, torturous months and one that will simultaneously, as great books do, lift them out of it.” – Vogue

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Open House by Katie Sise

Open House is a psychological suspense novel by the bestselling author of We Were Mothers. A decade ago in upstate New York, art student Emma McCullough walked into the woods and was never seen again. It’s a mystery that still haunts her university town and her broken family, especially her sister, Haley, whose need for closure has become an obsession. But now, finally, the first piece of evidence has been found: Emma’s bracelet, lodged in a frozen piece of earth at the bottom of a gorge. For Emma’s three college friends, a beloved former teacher and Haley, the trinket is more than a clue in a resurrected cold case. It’s a trigger. Then a woman is attacked during an open house, and the connections between the two crimes, a decade of winters apart, begin to surface. And so do the secrets that run as deep and dark as the currents in this quiet river town.

“Sise captures the insular nature of small towns in this domestic drama, and a series of unpredictable twists makes everyone the culprit for at least a little while. Readers who enjoy suspense fiction with a strong focus on relationships, like that of Liane Moriarty or Jessica Knoll, will be drawn into the McCulloughs’ story.” – Booklist

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The Last Resort by Susi Holliday

When Amelia is invited to an all-expenses-paid retreat on a private island, the mysterious offer is too good to refuse. Along with six other strangers, she’s told they’re here to test a new product for Timeo Technologies. But the guests’ excitement soon turns to terror when the real reason for their summons becomes clear. Each guest has a guilty secret. And when they’re all forced to wear a memory-tracking device that reveals their dark and shameful deeds to their fellow guests, there’s no hiding from the past. This is no luxury retreat: it’s a trap they can’t get out of. As the clock counts down to the lavish end-of-day party they’ve been promised, injuries and in-fighting split the group. But with no escape from the island – or the other guests’ most shocking secrets – Amelia begins to suspect that her only hope for survival is to be the last one standing. Can she confront her own dark past to uncover the truth before it’s too late to get out?

“Superb. A chilling island-set thriller for fans of Black Mirror and Agatha Christie.” – Mark Edwards, author of Here to Stay and The House Guest

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Every Last Secret by A. R. Torre

Cat Winthorpe has worked hard to get what she has: a gorgeous home, social standing, and William, her successful, handsome husband. Then a friendly new couple moves into the estate next door. Neena Ryder isn’t a lady of leisure. A life coach with off-the-rack dresses, personal issues and a husband who hasn’t delivered, she’s anxious to move up in the world. This beautiful new town is a step in the right direction. It’s also making Neena aware of what she doesn’t have. Namely, William. When Neena’s infatuation escalates into obsession, it’s just a matter of eliminating a few obstacles to get the life she wants: the life next door. As Neena’s secret fixation grows, so does her friendship with Cat. But beneath their cordial interactions is a wealth of temptations, secrets and toxic jealousy. For both women, the desire for a perfect life is about to turn dangerous.

“A glamorous and seductive novel that will suck you in and knock you sideways. I love this story, these characters, and the raw emotion they generated in me. I devoured every word. Exceptional.”  – Tarryn Fisher, author of Mud Vein

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Mr Wilder & Me by Jonathan Coe

In the summer of 1977, a naïve young woman called Calista sets out from Athens to venture into the wider world. On a Greek island that has been turned into a film set, she finds herself working for the famed Hollywood director Billy Wilder, about whom she knows almost nothing. But the time she spends in this glamorous, unfamiliar new life will change her for good. While Calista is thrilled with her new adventure, Wilder himself is living with the realisation that his star may be on the wane. Rebuffed by Hollywood, he has financed his new film with German money, and when Calista follows him to Munich for the shooting of further scenes, she finds herself joining him on a journey of memory into the dark heart of his family history. In a novel that is at once a tender coming-of-age story and an intimate portrait of one of cinema's most intriguing figures, Jonathan Coe turns his gaze on the nature of time and fame, of family and the treacherous lure of nostalgia.

“As good as anything he's written – a novel to cherish.” – Observer

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The Decameron Project by Various Authors

In 1353, Giovanni Boccaccio wrote The Decameron: 100 tales told by a group of young men and women passing the time at a villa outside Florence while waiting out the Black Death, a plague that killed more than 25m people. Some of the stories are silly, some are bawdy, some are like fables. In March this year, the editors of The New York Times Magazine created The Decameron Project, an anthology with a simple, time-spanning goal: to gather a collection of stories written as our current pandemic first swept the globe. How might new fiction from some of the finest writers working today help us understand the unimaginable? And what could be learned about how this crisis will affect the art of fiction? These 29 new stories, from authors including Margaret Atwood and David Mitchell, vary widely, but each acts as a historical tribute to a time and place unlike any other in our lifetimes.

“A stunning collection of new short stories.” – Daunt Books

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