Five books

Ali Land on five psychological stories that ignite the mind

The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

Clarice Starling is one of my heroes. The relationship between her and Lecter, and the conversations they have, is pure genius. In Lecter, Harris constructs a character hair-raisingly dangerous, yet one that’s almost impossible not to admire for his twisted intellectual finesse. And then there’s Buffalo Bill, who says, ‘It rubs the lotion on its skin. It does this whenever it is told.’ The tension never lets up, and even though I fear for Clarice’s safety and sanity, and perhaps even my own while reading it, I can’t help but read on. It’s sheer brilliance.


We Have Always Lived in the Castle  by Shirley Jackson 

Jackson writes with perfect restraint, meandering the reader through the frailties of the human mind. The concept of ‘what goes on behind closed doors’ is flipped on its head when you realize Merricat, her sister Constance and her uncle survive in a mundane yet comforting routine, which although peppered with magical thinking and superstitions gives the overriding sense they’re content. Because of this, the insanity drips off the pages: it shouts loudly on behalf of its quiet yet unreliable narrator WE HAVE LOST OUR MINDS. A suitably terrifying notion and Jackson’s writing inspires me to leave as much ‘unsaid’ as possible. To slowly turn the screws. 


The Knowledge of Angels by Jill Paton Walsh

At fifteen years old, this book blew my mind. Philosophical in nature, and set in medieval times on a Mediterranean island, it tackles the notion of whether the knowledge of god is innate. Reading it made me question why we believe the things we do, and highlighted the cruelties that happen in the name of religion. I felt outrage and sadness and love, especially for Amara, a feral child raised by wolves that the church uses in an experiment. This book piqued my interest in how children survive extraordinary circumstances, and I love the richness and poetic feel to Walsh’s writing.


As If  by Blake Morrison

The Bulger case was one of the reasons I trained as a children’s mental health nurse. I wanted to know why the boys had done it, and how they were going to be reformed. Morrison so eloquently describes the conflicted feelings he encountered when exploring the same questions. On one hand, his devastation at the brutal death of a toddler, and on the other, the demonization of Thompson and Venables in the press. The inappropriateness of an adult court trialling them, and the fact the grown-ups who neglected and abused them were never held accountable. Morrison’s need to write about the things that trouble him inspire me to do the same.


Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

It’s the wordplay and literary allusions that keep me coming back to Lolita. The phonetics, the double consonants, the references to Edgar Allan Poe and so on. There’s no forgetting, and neither there should be, that the subject matter is dark and criminal, but there’s also no escaping the flamboyance and brazen personality of this book. Nabokov’s glee at alchemizing language shines throughout, and I particularly enjoy the fact it has a confessional feel, written from Humbert Humbert’s prison cell. A book within a book, a trick within a trick and so it goes on, the layers and layers of Nabokov and his genius.

Find out more about the author

Good Me Bad Me

Ali Land

SET TO BE ONE OF THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY, CONTROVERSIAL AND EXPLOSIVE DEBUTS OF 2017 - for fans of quality psychological suspense and reading group fiction: once you read this book you'll want to talk about it.


Annie's mother is a serial killer.

The only way she can make it stop is to hand her in to the police.

But out of sight is not out of mind.

As her mother's trial looms, the secrets of her past won't let Annie sleep, even with a new foster family and name - Milly.

A fresh start. Now, surely, she can be whoever she wants to be.

But Milly's mother is a serial killer. And blood is thicker than water.

Good me, bad me.

She is, after all, her mother's daughter...

Translated into over 20 languages, Good Me Bad Me is a tour de force. In its narrator, Milly Barnes, we have a voice to be reckoned with, and in its author, Ali Land, an extraordinary new talent.

Praise for Good Me Bad Me

'Original and compelling - what a sensational debut!' Clare Mackintosh, number one bestselling author of I See You and I Let You Go

'An astoundingly compelling thriller. Beyond tense. You hardly breathe. Best read in ages' Matt Haig

'I absolutely loved it and read it in less than a day. A proper page turner and brilliantly written' Edith Bowman

'This book is a work of twisted genius. It is going to be HUGE. Watch out for Ali Land' Bryony Gordon

'Ten pages into Good Me Bad Me, I became an Ali Land fan. Her beautiful, intimate voice immediately tugged me into the heart and mind of a serial killer's daughter and then wouldn't let go. Is there hope for this teenager's new life outside of her mother's horror? Original, intense, and utterly compelling, Good Me Bad Me is not just a terrific thriller but a psychological dive into a young girl's soul. It takes subtlety and perfect balance to maintain a dark tale like this, and Land never once stutters or makes you look away' Julia Heaberlin, author of Sunday Times bestseller Black-Eyed Susans

'A triumph of tension. I doubt I'll ever sleep again' Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of R&J bestseller The Last Act of Love

'Intelligent and disturbing, Good Me Bad Me had me hooked from the first page' Debbie Howells, author of Richard & Judy book club bestseller The Bones of You

Milly's voice is gripping and shocking. This is a book you will want to discuss with everyone you know' Claire Douglas, author of The Sisters and Local Girl Missing

'Good Me Bad Me is a novel that explodes off the page, with beautifully drawn characters and carefully executed pace. Heart rending, engrossing and ultimately terrifying, you'll be thinking about it a long time after you've turned the final page' Rowan Coleman, author of R&J bestseller The Memory Book

'Unbelievably good, utterly gripping' Jill Mansell

'Listen to the early praise for Ali Land's Good Me Bad Me because it's all true. It's dark, utterly gripping, brilliant'David Headley, Goldsboro Books

'I read this book in one compulsive gulp over two days and absolutely loved it. It's raw, superbly controlled and it chills to the bone' Richard Skinner

'You know from the first page you're in confident hands. A genuinely disturbing debut that will stay with you long after you turn the last page. Good Me Bad Me is going to be huge - and it deserves to be' Catherine Ryan Howard

'The best crime debut I've read in ages. Creepy, edgy and addictively twisted. I loved it' Sarah Hilary

'Ali Land's Good Me Bad Me is an intensely compelling exploration of nature versus nurture wrapped up in a page-turning psychological thriller. Darkly disturbing and beautifully written. What more could any reader want?' Sarah Pinborough

'Good Me Bad Me is an astonishing debut - technically sophisticated and emotionally heart wrenching. So many things are done well - the status jungle of girls school, the psychological dissonance of a dysfunctional family, the internal machinery of damaged children. I thought it was wonderful' Helen Callaghan, bestselling author of Dear Amy

'One word: Wow. What a brilliant book - believable, shocking, thought-provoking and utterly compelling. The writing, as well as being so pacey, is beautiful. This feels such a current and original book' T R Richmond,author of What She Left

'Good Me Bad Me is a compelling page-turner. Chilling and dark, it grips you and won't let go' Rebecca Done, author of The Secret We're Keeping

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