Luke Atkinson picks out eight brilliant books that will have you hooked
Time to add to your reading list as we bring you eight gripping reads by North East authors…
Holy Island by LJ Ross
Northumberland born LJ Ross pursued her writing dream after several years as a lawyer in London. Upon her return to the North, she visited Holy Island of Lindisfarne. The iconic landscape was her inspiration, becoming the title and setting of her first book in a murder mystery series.
‘Holy Island’ was the first instalment of a, now, 20 book series. Each novel in the series uses a popular North East landmark as its setting. Ross’ gripping tales offer a vivid peek into the region’s beauty, captivating readers with compelling narratives.
The story follows the life of DCI Ryan. His interrupted sabbatical leave thrusts him back into detective work after an unusual murder on the tiny island of Lindisfarne.
Ross eloquently pays homage to the Northern setting, infusing intense mystery with romance and humour in this captivating narrative.
Playing For Her by Ellie White
Ellie White became prominent in the rom-com world after her debut book, ‘Love & London’ in 2021. However, the proud Mackem wanted to bring her stories back to a North East setting and in doing so released ‘Playing For Her: A Wearside Story’ in October 2023.
The story follows retired footballing legend Molly Davison as she heads into coaching after her playing career comes to an end. Relationships are not that easy when you’re a female manager in the ‘men’s game’, especially when you have an eye for the team’s captain, Jordan Robinson. The palpable chemistry between Davison and Robinson drives the story as White incorporates humour, romance, and societal challenges to create an unusual but exciting rom-com.
The book is the first of a three-part series, with a prequel coming in February and a sequel in April 2024.
No Worries If Not by Lucy Nichol
These days, people talk about mental health more than ever, and this North East author’s passion for challenging mental health stigma has led them to write a book that will make you laugh out loud while encouraging you to prioritise yourself.
Do you ever find yourself apologising all the time? Whether it be at work, to friends, to family, to random people? Well, this is the premise of Lucy Nichol’s newest book, ‘No Worries If Not’, where the lead character Charlotte Thomas decides she will apologise no more.
This clever, well-thought, and humorous story brings a feel-good factor into your reading. With plenty of references to the setting of Newcastle, you won’t feel far away from home wherever you read this. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
The Crow Trap by Ann Cleeves OBE
Amid its 25th anniversary, now’s the perfect moment to delve into Ann Cleeves’ acclaimed ‘The Crow Trap’ novel.
Ann Cleeves, originally from Herefordshire but now lives in Whitley Bay, has used our Northern landscapes as inspiration for years. The plot to her story is one you might might recognise.
Ann Cleeves’ ‘The Crow Trap’ kicks off her Vera Stanhope series, inspiring the ITV detective drama ‘Vera,’ set in the North East.
After a death and an apparent suicide in a secluded cottage in the North Pennines, they call in the unconventional Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope. The first individuals under investigation are three women who were supposed to complete an environmental survey, with a fourth person entering the picture.
The first instalment in the Vera Stanhope series that has reached 10 books and spanned 25 years. Another novel, ‘The Dark Wives’ is coming out in August 2024… keep your eyes peeled!
A Boro Boy: Connections With Nature by Joshua McGowan
Teesside born Joshua McGowan reminds readers of the importance of connecting with the beauty of the natural world.
‘A Boro Boy: Connections With Nature’ is written in a memoir style to provide vivid descriptions of delicate landscapes and is littered with historical facts. McGowan’s passion for nature culminates in his writing to engage any reader and remind them of vast habitats, thriving ecosystems and picturesque locations that are right here on our doorstep.
From his Teesside roots to his wider exploration, McGowan’s knowledge shines through as he creates an enjoyable journey for the reader to join him on.
Saltwater by Jessica Andrews
Jessica Andrews’ debut novel ‘Saltwater’ has to make the list following its Portico Prize in 2020. The award, which recognises a book that best evokes the spirit of the North of England, was well deserved.
As far as debut novels are concerned, Jessica Andrews couldn’t have done any better. An identity-focused coming-of-age tale delves into the intricate mother-daughter bond, resonating deeply and relatably with readers.
The main character Lucy comes from a working-class background in Sunderland and wins a place at university in London. However, will the switch in location unlock the future she has always hoped for, or will it leave even more questions in the character’s head?
Badge of Loyalty by Jude Tresswell
This LGBTQ+ crime fiction novel set in County Durham is a must-read!
The story follows the life of Mike Angells, an openly gay CID Inspector in County Durham who is in a polyamorous relationship with three other men, Ross, Raith and Phil. Following the suspicious death of a footballer, Ross’ criminal past is brought up and Mike’s personal life intertwines with his work life. With the stakes raised high, love, loyalty and honesty are all at risk as Mike must decide what is more important.
The debut, ‘Badge of Loyalty,’ kicks off a seven-book series, spotlighting a polyamorous quad against the backdrop of County Durham.
In Too Deep by Bea Davenport
Former journalist Barbara Henderson adopted the pen name Bea Davenport to publish her debut crime-thriller novel in 2012.
‘In Too Deep’ will have you hooked from start to finish. A quiet Northern town seems an idealistic and peaceful setting to some. However, it’s also perfect for an eerie, suspenseful and page-turning thriller.
Maura, ‘In Too Deep’s’ protagonist, appears as an ordinary woman in a small market town with her small family. However, undertones of her past and identity begin to unravel as she befriends an unlikely character. With each turn of the page, the story gets darker and darker. Enthralling and chilling; not everything is as it seems.