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Black ChalkWords to describe this wonderful thriller could be: gripping, sinister, realistic and very scary, as well as irresistible, compulsive and unputdownable. It takes a couple of chapters to get in to the rhythm of who’s talking as the story switches between the past and but then it’s hard to stop reading.

In the intimidating surroundings of Oxford University a group of six friends begin to play a game – an elaborate variation on truth or dare played in escalating rounds, in which losers have to perform mildly embarrassing tasks as consequences. But the game quickly assumed a life of its own; the stakes grew higher, and the consequences more humiliating, finally evolving into a vicious struggle with unpredictable and tragic results.

The scenes in Jolyon’s room are brilliantly portrayed, with sharp interactions and the characters innocence shines through Yates’s writing, the innocence before the meetings turn very nasty and sinister. As the story develops so do the relationships between the friends and in some cases turn to love, that causes further friction and jealousy, all perfect elements for a nasty ending!

How far would you go to win a dare, a game, what actions would you take to win? In today’s world of sport or business these are questions we get asked regularly and do we really know how we’d really behave.

A perfect read on a dark evening, with the bonus of being a book with a drinks list (cocktails) and a brilliant soundtrack including songs such as Wicked Witch is Dead, Every Day is like a Sunday and New York, New York. It will be on my recommended read when published in September.

Sheila O’Reilly

9781846557279/Harvill Secker/£14.99