Disordered Minds by Minette Walters

About the book

In 1970, Harold Stamp, a retarded twenty-year-old was convicted on disputed evidence and a retracted confession of brutally murdering his grandmother – the one person who understood and protected him. Less than three years later he is dead, driven to suicide by isolation and despair. A fate befitting a murderer, perhaps, but what if he were innocent?

Thirty years on, Jonathan Hughes, an anthropologist specialising in social stereotyping, comes across the case by accident. He finds alarming disparities in the evidence and has little doubt that Stamp’s conviction was a terrible miscarriage of justice. But how far is Hughes prepared to go in the search for justice? Is the forgotten story of one friendless young man compelling enough to make him leave his books and face his own demons?

And with what result? If Stamp didn’t murder Grace Jeffries then somebody else did . . . and sleeping dogs are best left alone . . .

Reviewed by Totton 1

We didn’t enjoy this book. Hard to engage with and a bit messy”

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The Society of Others by William Nicholson

About the book

Cool, clear-eyed, and bluntly cynical, the young narrator of The Society of Others embarks on a journey without a destination. He hitchhikes through Europe only to find himself in a mystifying country where terrorists are inexplicably after him, and so is a sinister government. In a surreal landscape where people are shot to death without reason and social control runs deep, he must learn who to trust–and what to stand for. Fast paced and provocative, a gripping philosophical thriller, The Society of Others is an ingenious meditation on the nature of contemporary innocence and identity.

Reviewed by The Benches Reading Group:

The author’s first adult novel gave our group much thought for discussion with a range of views concerning the subject person in the story. Quite well written, good description of people, country and urban areas. The inclusion of several painting masterpieces added special interest in the tale. Ending speculative – who was shot!

Star rating: ***

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The Innocent by Ian McEwan

About the book

The setting is Berlin. Into this divided city, wrenched between East and West, between past and present; comes twenty-five-year-old Leonard Marnham, assigned to a British-American surveillance team. Though only a pawn in an international plot that is never fully revealed to him, Leonard uses his secret work to escape the bonds of his ordinary life – and to lose his unwanted innocence. The promise of his new life begins to be fulfilled as Leonard becomes a crucial part of the surveillance team, while simultaneously being initiated into a new world of love and sex by Maria, a beautiful young German woman. It is a promise that turns to horror in the course of one terrible evening – a night when Leonard Marnham learns just how much of his innocence he’s willing to shed.

Reviewed by BBC Boater’s Book Club:

Generally it was considered that the book reflected the times well with good characterisations. It was well written and everyone wanted to finish it.

Star rating: *** to ****

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