LATER by Stephen King (Titan Books £8.99, 272 pp)


by Stephen King (Titan Books £8.99, 272 pp)

The master storyteller returns in majestic form with this tale of Jamie Conklin, a small boy who can speak to dead people — which means he could help solve crimes.

The snag is that his power doesn’t last long — he must get to the dead soon enough to engage them in conversation before they slip away.

Jamie’s mother realises this exceptional ability when he is young, but then her police detective lover realises it too, and uses it to help her solve the case of a serial bomber, nicknamed Thumper, who has been terrorising New York.

Jamie spots the bomber just after he has killed himself without revealing where he has placed his final bomb, and he finds out where the explosive is — but, this time, the bomber doesn’t fade away. He comes back to haunt him.

There are hints of the 1999 film The Sixth Sense in the plot, but this is far more terrifying: King at his absolute best.


by Catriona Ward (Viper £12.99, 352 pp)

This spectacular gothic fantasy is one of the most extraordinary thrillers of the year so far.

On the surface it’s a story of a young man called Ted, who lives in an ordinary street on the edge of the woods with his cat and daughter, Lauren. But Ted has boarded up all the windows so that no light penetrates — there are just peepholes to allow in tiny shards of sunlight.

There’s also a missing girl who disappeared in the woods and whose sister is still searching for her. Meanwhile, the cat has a life of its own, that involves a dark side, and Lauren also disappears for long periods of time. It emerges that terrible things have happened in the house and that there may be bodies buried in the woods.

Splendidly sinister and twisty, it comes to a magnificent Grand Guignol finale.

WIN by Harlan Coben (Century £20, 384 pp)


by Harlan Coben (Century £20, 384 pp)

Windsor Horne Lockwood III (‘Win’) is an enormously rich but deliberately aloof man with a horrifying past.

More than 20 years ago, his cousin Patricia was abducted during a robbery at the family’s estate and kept in an isolated wooden cabin for months, until she escaped.

A Vermeer and a Picasso were stolen during the robbery, and now the Vermeer turns up in the grand apartment of a murdered recluse on New York’s Upper West Side.

The painting and a suitcase with the initials WHL3 on it suggest that this may be a clue to the men who abducted his cousin.

Win uses his fortune to track down the kidnappers, using methods the law might baulk at.

The talented Coben, who likes nothing more than to create mysterious outsiders, does so with great skill and panache.

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