Hello and welcome to the LJ Ross Book Club!

I created this space for book lovers, to spark positive conversations about our shared love of reading! Here, you can discover my monthly picks of the best classic and new titles (when you’re not reading the latest DCI Ryan, of course!) and look out for monthly competitions, giveaways and live Q & A’s with guest authors. Join in the conversation online, or sign up to the newsletter to find out more. #LJBookClub

November Picks

Sweet Sorrow

David Nicholls

About

In 'Sweet Sorrow' we meet Charlie Lewis, who is failing at school, not enjoying his home life caring for his dad and is filled with dread about the future. Then, Fran Fisher bursts into his life and Charlie begins to hope.

LJ’s thoughts

This is such a lovely, nostalgic book which is incredibly poignant, too. It's been described as a 'tragicomedy' and I can see why - at times, I laughed out loud whilst, at others, I was very moved by the story of Charlie's coming of age, which was so enjoyable to read.

Where to find it

The Moonstone

Wilkie Collins

About

This month’s classic crime pick comes in the form of Wilkie Collins’ ‘The Moonstone’, an early modern example of detective fiction that went a long way towards establishing the present rules of the genre. It tells the tale of Rachel Verinder, a young woman who inherits a large and very valuable Indian diamond on her eighteenth birthday, not unlike the Hope Diamond. When Rachel wears it openly at her birthday party, it is stolen later that very night and the mystery of its disappearance is played out in a series of different narratives from the cast of main characters.

LJ’s thoughts

The Moonstone is a unique example of an epistolary novel, which means the story is played out as a series of different documents charting the perspectives of the main characters, rather than as one straightforward narrative. This approach is like being handed a police file, allowing the reader to become an amateur detective. It means you are invested in the plotline from the very beginning and eager to know the answers to ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘why’ and ‘how’, and makes for an enjoyable reading experience for the same reason so many people enjoy watching true crime documentaries— we are fascinated to understand the reasons why crimes are perpetrated, and Collins’ novel doesn’t disappoint on that score. Elegantly crafted and eminently satisfying, it’s a masterclass of crime fiction writing that has stood the test of time!

Where to find it

October Picks

Postcards From a Stranger

Imogen Clark

About

When Cara stumbles across a stash of old postcards in the attic, their contents make her question everything she thought she knew. Cara digs into the early years of her parents’ troubled marriage, hunting down long-lost relatives who might help unravel the mystery - but the picture that begins to emerge is not at all the one she’d expected...

LJ’s thoughts

I love the author's style, which is beautifully descriptive as she weaves an emotional, evocative and page-turning story!

Where to find it

A Study in Scarlet

Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle

About

The first of Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle’s stories to feature the iconic characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson, the title is taken from Holmes’ monologue to his friend Watson wherein he describes the story’s murder investigation as his ‘study in scarlet’: “There's the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.” It’s a classic quote from a widely acclaimed work of detective fiction, but what did one bestselling local crime writer make of it..?

LJ’s thoughts

I first discovered A Study in Scarlet when I was a child, hidden inside an anthology of Conan-Doyle sitting on my parents’ bookshelf. At the time, I had no idea it was considered a masterwork of detective fiction but, from the very first line, I was hooked. Conan-Doyle doesn’t waste words, which makes for a better reading experience. The characters are finely drawn, but that shouldn’t overshadow the stories themselves, which are well-conceived and satisfying. Put another way, A Study in Scarlet is like sinking your teeth into a fresh stottie cake— so, why not do yourselves a favour and take some time to savour it, this month?

Where to find it

September Picks

The Ipcress File

Len Deighton

About

Published in 1962 during the Cold War, the novel reflects the paranoia of the time. His unnamed working class spy (later named Harry Palmer and immortalised by Michael Caine) must find a missing biochemist which embroils him in a dark and deadly conspiracy...

LJ’s thoughts

One of my all-time favourite spy thrillers, I love all of Deighton's novels and this one in particular!

Where to find it

The Beauty of Broken Things

Victoria Connelly

About

After the tragic loss of his wife, Helen, Luke Hansard is desperate to keep her memory alive. In an effort to stay close to her, he reaches out to an online friend Helen often mentioned: a reclusive photographer Orla Kendrick. However, Orla lives alone in a remote Suffolk castle doesn’t want to be found...

LJ’s thoughts

This is a lovely, uplifting novel that's beautifully written!

Where to find it

July Picks

The Beekeeper’s Promise

Fiona Valpy

About

Join Abi Howes as she travels to Château Bellevue for the peace of the French countryside, where she soon finds herself drawn into the remarkable story of Eliane Martin, who lived in the Château in 1938 – their stories become entwined, the past mingling with the present, but how does each woman overcome their own challenges?

LJ’s thoughts

This is a warm, beautifully written novel with a wonderful sense of place – I loved it!

Where to find it

The Lighthouse

P.D. James

About

Head to Combe Island off the Cornish coast in this classic PD James novel. One of the well-to-do guests has been murdered, so Commander Dalgliesh must solve the mystery quickly and discreetly, whilst nobody can leave the island. The team have hardly begun to unravel the complicated motives of the suspects when there is a second brutal killing…

LJ’s thoughts

This is one of my favourite classic crime novels – PD James never disappoints!

Where to find it

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