Move over, Mantel

Move over, Mantel

Lin Rogers explains why, sometimes, you just can’t beat a really gripping thriller.

I had The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel on order for its paperback release in September. I’d devoured the first two books in the trilogy (Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies); went to the theatre to see the stage productions and then sat through the TV series. Very different, enjoyable but obviously not as good as the books. And then there was the long wait for the final part of the trilogy.

As lockdown progressed, I decided I couldn’t wait any longer: I wasn’t going out and I wasn’t spending very much money so why not treat myself to the hardback. It arrived with a thud on the doormat! That’s for dramatic effect – actually the postman kindly left it in the hallway. But, the truth of the matter is, this is a real tome: three inches thick and heavy. Thinking about it, the first two were probably the same. However, I almost definitely read them on my Kindle, while commuting into London every day, so I wouldn’t have noticed it.

Not only was I in lockdown but I was also still fairly immobile after breaking my ankle badly. In bed, on my back, the weight of the book began to crush my rib cage; sitting up, before long my legs went numb. This was not conducive to getting back into the Tudor mode. So I abandoned it for other reading matter for a couple of weeks. When I was up and about, and had gained some strength, I returned to the lure of its pages. I was soon engrossed in the machinations of Henry VIII’s court.

Then, a third of the way in, a very different, pre-ordered paperback arrived on my doorstep: The Catch by T M Logan. I put it to one side, telling myself that I needed to finish The Mirror & the Light first. I’m not generally the sort to have a number of books on the go. I like to immerse myself in the world of one author, often allowing myself a little time to grieve over the loss of various characters in my life, before moving on to the next imaginary landscape.

Do you know about T M Logan and his psychological thrillers? If you were at the PZ LitFest in 2018, you might have heard him interviewed by our very own John Pestle. His first book Lies was already one of Amazon’s top selling e-books in 2017; the follow-up 29 Seconds had recently been published. I had read the first and was already completely hooked by the second. He read an extract to us from his work in progress, The Holiday, which became a Sunday Times bestseller in 2019. I read it from cover to cover in one sitting when it came out. You could say I’m something of a fan!

I ploughed on with the Mantel. Don’t get me wrong, I love her writing and am enthralled by the conspiracy theories surrounding Thomas Cromwell. But The Catch kept catching my eye on the bookshelf. And, yes, you’ve guessed: The Mirror & The Light is unfinished in its place and I have finished The Catch. It’s about a father who is convinced that his daughter is about to marry a man who is hiding somethingabout his past. He needs to discover the truth – before it’s too late. It was every bit as good as the others and held me captive throughout. And as Lee Child put it: “Assured, compelling, and hypnotically readable – with a twist at the end I guarantee you won’t see coming.”