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Hot off the press! Check out the books we think are the best of the best this month!
A stolen sister. A daughter determined to uncover the truth. Belle Hatton has embarked upon an exciting new life far from home: a glamorous job as a nightclub singer in 1930s Burma, with a host of sophisticated new friends and admirers. But Belle is haunted by a mystery from the past - a 25 year old newspaper clipping found in her parents' belongings after their death, saying that the Hattons were leaving Rangoon after the disappearance of their baby daughter, Elvira. Belle is desperate to find out what happened to the sister she never knew she had - but when she starts asking questions, she is confronted with unsettling rumours, malicious gossip, and outright threats. Oliver, an attractive, easy-going American journalist, promises to help her, but an anonymous note tells her not to trust those closest to her. . . Belle survives riots, intruders, and bomb attacks - but nothing will stop her in her mission to uncover the truth. Can she trust her growing feelings for Oliver? Is her sister really dead? And could there be a chance Belle might find her?
One night changes everything for Toby. He's always led a charmed life - until a brutal attack leaves him damaged and traumatised, unsure even of the person he used to be. He seeks refuge at his family's ancestral home, the Ivy House, filled with memories of wild-strawberry summers and teenage parties with his cousins. But not long after Toby's arrival, a discovery is made: a skull, tucked neatly inside the old wych elm in the garden. As detectives begin to close in, Toby is forced to examine everything he thought he knew about his family, his past, and himself. A spellbinding standalone from a literary writer who turns the crime genre inside out, The Wych Elm asks what we become, and what we're capable of, if we no longer know who we are.
Sixty seconds after she wakes from a coma, Maggie's world is torn apart. The police tell her that her daughter Elspeth is dead. That she drowned when the car Maggie had been driving plunged into the river. Maggie remembers nothing. When Maggie begs to see her husband Sean, the police tell her that he has disappeared. He was last seen on the day of her daughter's funeral. What really happened that day at the river? Where is Maggie's husband? And why can't she shake the suspicion that somewhere, somehow, her daughter is still alive?
Oh what a beautiful all-consuming dream of a ride this is. Set in Moscow, a young woman finds herself at the centre of a battle for both humanity and a deep hidden magic. The Winter of the Witch is the third in the ‘Winternight’ trilogy, however, I confess that this was my first read of the three. I would most definitely recommend starting at the beginning with The Bear and the Nightingale as I’m now desperate to experience the wonder of the rest of the story, though it’s worth noting that the writing is so good, I immediately felt completely at home. I fell entranced into the pages and within the first few chapters I was so at one with the sense of place and characters, I actually cried at a heart-stopping moment. While the feel of a deep dark fairy tale washes over the pages, Katherine Arden creates a vivid realist bite and also encouraged me to connect as deeply with the more challenging characters as the more loveable ones. The Winter of the Witch is a fascinating, engaging, quite glorious read and I absolutely adored it. Highly recommended.
Everything changes for rural lad Emmett Farmer when a gloriously grouchy wise woman compels him to be her bookbinding apprentice. While this line of work is generally shrouded in superstitious fear, Emmett is shocked when his mentor explains that they “don’t make books to sell, boy. Selling books is wrong”. Rather, their gothically intriguing trade involves binding unwanted memories into books: ”Whatever people can’t bear to remember. Whatever they can’t live with. We take those memories and put them where they can’t do any more harm”. Most clients are wealthy; well-to-do gentlemen who have their servants and wives bound so they forget what wrongs their masters and husbands have done to them. No wonder then, that Emmett is horrified to discover a book bearing his own name, and so a tempestuous tangle of secrets unfurls. The novel is also fragrantly spiced with witty references to literary history and the novel as an art form: “It makes one wonder who would write them [novels]. People who enjoy imagining misery, I suppose. People who have no scruples about dishonesty”. Yet through the duplicity of her exquisitely crafted characters, and luminous storytelling, this novel’s author reveals truths of the human spirit in a most entertaining and absorbing fashion.
Are you ready for a heart-pumping shooting from the hip read? Do prepare yourself as once you start you just won’t want to stop! Bounty hunter Lori Anderson has plenty of good old fashioned gumption, yet is as modern a character as you could wish to find. Lori has just 48 hours in which to snatch a male in protective custody with the FBI, if she doesn’t, her family will be killed by the Miami Mob. This is the third in the ‘Lori Anderson’ series, I really do recommend starting at the beginning with the fabulous Deep Down Dead which was Steph Broadribb’s debut. Lori thinks with viper-like speed, speaks with strength and acts from her gut. Steph Broadribb has constructed a thoroughly believable world full of substantial yet flawed characters. I quite simply love this series, I leap in with total faith and just let myself go. Deep Dirty Truth is a thrilling, assertive and energetic read, go on I dare you, grab yourself a copy.
Oh, what a truly beautiful read this is, though do prepare for your heart to ache, weep, and possibly even break. For the last ten years, Oliver Loving has been lying in a hospital bed, paralysed and non-communicative, is he trapped in his own mind, can a new test release him? Everyone wants answers, they also want to know what happened ten years ago, on the night of the school dance in Bliss, Texas… and what caused the tragedy that took place there. The story focusses on Oliver, his mother Eve, and brother Charlie, and how one event has trapped them, has maimed them all. Stefan Merrill Block writes so thoughtfully, an almost gentle lyrical quality caresses the pages, yet he encourages searching questions, for you to travel deeper, to look further. This is an emotional read, the writing touched me, deep inside my heart, and a part of Oliver Loving will remain there. Almost otherworldly, yet raw and true and full of heart, Oliver Loving is profoundly moving, and captivating, I highly recommend stepping inside the pages, and becoming one with the story.
How to describe this beautifully engaging and fascinating book… it is certainly a memoir, it is also a series of small interviews and chats with people coping with the different shocks and traumatic events that life can throw at you, and it’s a riveting foray into the literary and artistic world. Christina Patterson is a journalist and broadcaster, working for The Sunday Times and the Guardian and regularly commenting on radio and TV. I started reading and just soaked up the words, I felt as though Christina Patterson was sitting beside me, speaking directly to me, connecting with my own thoughts and feelings. I slowly began to discover her life (she reveals her own life events with a composed yet gentle thoughtfulness), I also found her humour, friendships, frustrations, fears, and love for bubbles and crisps. She offers the very opposite of a self-help book, yet I feel there is much to be found within these pages by those in need of a little comfort. As I finished reading, I wanted to applaud and also hug her with thanks for writing this compelling and fabulous read. Incredibly moving, The Art of Not Falling Apart touched me deeply, a huge surge of hope and optimism also lies within, just waiting to be discovered.
Oh my word, this is an absolutely cracking psychological thriller. Anna is unable to leave her house, she views the world from her window and connects with it on her laptop, when she witnesses a horrific incident in a neighbouring house, turmoil awaits. The first few pages set me on edge, and I remained on high alert throughout the story, doubting and questioning my own reasoning. Even if you suspect, you can’t be confident, and there are plenty of shocks and surprises lying in wait. Set over a few weeks, the short chapters whipped into my consciousness, yet the story reveals itself gradually. A. J. Flynn allows the tension to build, slowly, torturously, and exquisitely. Anna tells her own story, wounded herself, can she be trusted? When the revelations came, they spilled from the page and slapped my thoughts. So clever and focused, yet utterly mind-bending, The Woman in the Window is a heart-hammering read and I highly recommend stepping into Anna’s world.
Lucy, Edgar and Florence are a fractured family dealing with the loss of Frank, a husband, a father and son whose body was never recovered. Lucy and Frank were both wild horses, with Edgar born into the throes of their frenetic relationship. Now he’s a drifting soul, an albino named after Edgar Allan Poe, stumbling through childhood under the protective eye of his grandmother, mystified by the behaviour of his hollowed mother, with her butcher boyfriend and perplexing remoteness. At once epic and intimate, and laced with affecting detail, this powerfully poetic work is suffused in acutely moving evocations of loss (“It was as if grief had impregnated her, the dark seed of it a living havoc in her belly”), and the satisfyingly complex story unwinds with un-put-down-able aplomb. I loved every perfectly-chosen, perfectly-placed word.
A touchingly intimate yet scorchingly dramatic and fully realised view of a couple who meet just before the Second World War. This is a relationship tale that took hold of me, brought me to its very centre and allowed me access to innermost thoughts and feelings. Martin and Nancy fall in love, as Martin departs for the battlefields of France, they continue to communicate by letter, until suddenly Martin’s letters stop. My advice to you is to pick this book up, start to read, and whatever you do, do not allow the final few pages to fall open before you reach them. For me the ending was a heart-stopping moment, and is still very much in my mind, the emotion of the realisation continues to affect me. The letters are exquisitely crafted, with real heart, tying into the story perfectly and bringing a sense of nostalgia for this type of communication. S. C. Worrall allows the war to edge ever closer, until it strikes with a sharp hammer blow. The Very White of Love takes you step by step into another time, heartfelt and beautiful I can wholeheartedly recommend this read.
From the author of Legacy, now a major BBC Film, comes a brilliant new historical crime novella for fans of Antonia Hodgson and CJ Sansom. `To Mr Thomas Combe my sword.' These six words in Shakespeare's will tell us that Shakespeare had a sword. Did he wear it? Did he use it? What sort was it? When and why did he get it? What happened to it? Might it - does it - still exist? These questions plague Simon Gold, an antiques dealer. He believes he has identified the sword as belonging to a customer, an unworthy owner indifferent to cultural icons and uninterested in history. Simon is desperate to acquire the sword, but how? How far is he prepared to go to get it? In alliance with Charlotte, his customer's attractive and disaffected wife, Simon finds himself going farther than he had intended - and finds, too, that Charlotte is rather more than she appears. Praise for Alan Judd:
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