Six students at an elite university decide to play a game of dares with increasingly outrageous challenges and consequences. There’s £10,000 and personal pride on the line, and the relationships between the players begin to fray, eventually reaching breaking point with tragic consequences.
A young writer flees up north to a teaching position after a violent assault in the city leaves her desperate for escape. With her young son in tow and her husband struggling to make ends meet hundreds of miles away, she throws herself into her work; lesson plans, lectures, and her own writing. Her Creative Writing Masters students grapple with each others work with rising tempers, spurred on by the mysterious Nicholas; a brooding rich kid with talent, but talent that comes with a complicated past. When Nicholas begins to blur the lines between personal and professional, and fiction and reality, the narrator grasp on her own storyline begins to slip.
Annie’s mother is a serial killer. After years of abuse and being witness to her mother’s crimes, Annie has a new name: Milly. And she has a new life. Living with a rich foster family complete and attending an exclusive girls school, Milly tries to find a normal life amidst the stress of her mother’s impending trial. On of this, her foster sister, Phoebe, isn’t happy with her new family’s new adopted stray and makes sure Milly knows this at every opportunity. Soon Milly begins to wonder how much like her mother she really is.
At a prestigious upstate Liberal Arts college, a troupe of theatre students have formed a close clique in which they live, eat, and breathe Shakespeare. When a casting turns their roles upside down, the stage begins to blur into real life until one of them shows up dead.
The year is 1935 and Stephen, along with his brother, Kits, are part of a five-strong team of mountaineers that plan to tackle one of the world’s most dangerous peaks: Kangchenjunga. Kits quite literally wants to follow in the footsteps of his idols, those that attempted the mountain in 1907, known as the Lyell Expedition. Only two survived, with five men from the expedition dying on the mountain following terrible accidents and brutal weather. Though five died, only four of them were buried. As the plucky 1935 team begin their ascent, Stephen’s excitement ebbs away and is replaced with the haunting feeling that they’re not alone on the mountain.
When Imo starts university, she dreams of a fresh start, or rather a chance to return to the Imo she used to be, before her whole family was turned upside down. Moving into her halls, she quickly becomes friends with her flatmates; the well-off and haughty Tegan, the level-headed and Mumsy Phoenix, and the eccentric and somewhat manic Amber. But Imo can never fully relax, especially as she keeps noticing a strange man keeping watch around campus. When Amber takes off without a word, Imo is convinced something terrible has happened. She refuses to let a girl go missing without a trace. Not again.
Years after a tragic accident that claimed the life of their youngest son, the Hardcastles are throwing an extravagant party that reunites all of the guest that were present that fateful day at Blackheath, decades ago. This party will end in another tragedy; the death of their only daughter, Evelyn. But Evelyn won’t die just once. She’ll keep dying, until Aiden, a guest of the Hardcastles, can figure out who kills her. Every day Aiden wakes up in another body, frantically battling the mind of his hosts in order to solve the mystery and escape the hold that Blackheath has over him. If he lives a full day in his eighth and final host without delivering the murderer, he’ll start all over again with no memory of what he’s discovered so far. That’s if he can make it that long. There’s others hunting the killer in Blackheath, and some of them will kill to make sure they escape first.
As the Second World War brews across Europe, Jack Miller seizes an opportunity to escape London, where he lives in poverty and loneliness. He joins an Arctic expedition as a wireless operator, and whilst he’s conscious of the class differences between himself and his crewmates, they quickly warm to each other. So when Jack ends …
Kate Weinberg’s debut novel, The Truants, pulls dark academia out of the elite and picturesque colleges of America and plunges it into a Brutalist-style university found in the east of England. Jess Walker begins her undergraduate degree enthralled by her enigmatic professor, Lorna Clay, whose class on the master storyteller Agatha Christie sets the scene for the rest of the novel and its mysteries. The Truants is a story about stories, but in particular, it’s about the reliability of our storytellers. Just how much of what they’re telling us is the truth?
Will Dean’s debut novel elevates the Scandi noir genre with an interesting protagonist, plenty of suspense, and a shocking conclusion.