Narrative theme: Politics

The Shadows of Men

The Shadows of Men

Author: Abir Mukherjee Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/06/2022

Calcutta, 1923. When a Hindu theologian is found murdered in his home, the city is on the brink of all-out religious war. Can officers of the Imperial Police Force, Captain Sam Wyndham and Sergeant Surendranath Banerjee track down those responsible in time to stop a bloodbath? Set at a time of heightened political tension, beginning in atmospheric Calcutta and taking the detectives all the way to bustling Bombay, the latest instalment in this 'unmissable' (The Times) series presents Wyndham and Banerjee with an unprecedented challenge. Will this be the case that finally drives them apart?

Star Books
Identity Crisis

Identity Crisis

Author: Ben Elton Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/08/2019

Why are we all so hostile? So quick to take offence? Truly we are living in the age of outrage. A series of apparently random murders draws amiable, old-school Detective Mick Matlock into a world of sex, politics, reality TV and a bewildering kaleidoscope of opposing identity groups. Lost in a blizzard of hashtags, his already complex investigation is further impeded by the fact that he simply doesn't 'get' a single thing about anything anymore. Meanwhile, each day another public figure confesses to having 'misspoken' and prostrates themselves before the judgement of Twitter. Begging for forgiveness, assuring the public "that is not who I am". But if nobody is who they are anymore - then who the f##k are we? Ben Elton returns with a blistering satire of the world as it fractures around us. Get ready for a roller-coaster thriller, where nothing - and no one - is off limits.

The Spectacular

The Spectacular

Author: Billy Flynn Format: Paperback Release Date: 26/03/2021

‘The Spectacular’ by Billy Flynn, is a complex political thriller where three stories intertwine. Focusing on two modern conflicts involving the UK, Flynn’s action packed story is incredibly detailed and shows either his thorough understanding of Ireland and Afghanistan or a great deal of research. I was engrossed in the tense moment and educated on the nuances of both conflicts as I read.  Although filled with action and twists, this book is more than a more superficial “all guns blazing” action story. The Author takes the time to introduce you to each storyline, letting you acclimate to each character and their perspective, all the while weaving threads of the storyline together. I was drawn even more into the story as key moments are re-lived from different perspectives, drip feeding extra detail. I felt each story is told objectively, there’s no “good guy vs bad guy” phrasing, as with most real-life conflicts, the perspective and knowledge you have when entering a situation is key.  This is an immersive story, with plenty of action and grim gritty reality of warzones. A gripping and tense read from start to finish and a hint of potentially more stories to come. I think ‘The Spectacular’ will appear to anyone with an interest in political/military stories and those looking for a complex and twisting action read.  Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
Saint Death's Daughter

Saint Death's Daughter

Author: C. S. E. Cooney Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/04/2022

Life gets complicated when Death gets involved. To be born into a family of royal assassins pretty much guarantees that your life is going to be... rather unusual. Especially if, like Miscellaneous Lanie Stones, you also have a vicious allergy to all forms of violence and bloodshed, and an uncanny affinity for bringing the dead back to life. To make matters worse, family debt looms - a debt that will have to be paid sooner rather than later if Lanie and her sister are to retain ownership of the ancestral seat, Stones Manor. Lanie finds herself courted and threatened by powerful parties who would love to use her worryingly intimate relationship with the goddess of death for their own nefarious ends. But the goddess has other plans...

Open Water

Open Water

Author: Caleb Azumah Nelson Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/02/2021

Two young people meet at a pub in South East London. Both are Black British, both won scholarships to private schools where they struggled to belong, both are now artists - he a photographer, she a dancer - trying to make their mark in a city that by turns celebrates and rejects them. Tentatively, tenderly, they fall in love. But two people who seem destined to be together can still be torn apart by fear and violence. At once an achingly beautiful love story and a potent insight into race and masculinity, Open Water asks what it means to be a person in a world that sees you only as a Black body, to be vulnerable when you are only respected for strength, to find safety in love, only to lose it. With gorgeous, soulful intensity, Caleb Azumah Nelson has written the most essential British debut of recent years.

Tomorrow

Tomorrow

Author: Chris Beckett Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/07/2021

Clever, compelling and kaleidoscopic, Chris Beckett’s multi-time-framed Tomorrow explores the elusiveness of finding meaning and fulfilment, though it defies reduction to a simple “this story is about...” description. Focussed on a novelist, the novel shifts in time and settings, from middle-class discussions of social justice in the city, to their retreat to a remote riverside Eden to write “the real book”. The hope this will happen is “the only handle I have on being me,” the writer confesses. After authoring several novels and a successful memoir about their experience of being held captive by revolutionaries, they dread the thought of returning to the city not having done so, though a friend worries they’re “chasing a mirage”. Another of the novel’s themes is how we construct barriers to implementing our long-held plans so we never try, and therefore never fail. The narrative skips to the writer’s period in captivity, and to a perilous journey of escape through a jungle dripping with dangerous, outlandish creatures and plants, with plenty of wry musings on literature along the way, such as the “distinction between stories that make you feel more alive and stories that just pass the time by tapping, like a fruit machine does, into your infantile need for resolution.” Thought-provoking, and slotting together like a brilliantly devised puzzle, Tomorrow falls firmly into the former camp.

The Last House on the Street

The Last House on the Street

Author: Diane Chamberlain Format: Hardback Release Date: 20/01/2022

A compelling, tense, and emotional family drama focusing on two young women whose stories shatter then fuse together with disturbing consequences. A fight for civil rights takes place in 1960’s North Carolina, while in 2010 a newly built house is cause for contention. The land within this corner of the South is seeped in a burning history, be prepared to be pummelled. Each time frame sucked me in whole, yet when in 1965 I completely forgot that 2010 existed. 1965 felt completely separate, in its own contained fiery universe and I re-entered the future with a bump. As 1965 plays a role in 2010 I had a totally different experience in that story, and was able to see how and why the past had a hand in the future. Diane Chamberlain builds the intricate detailed layers of the plot with such care and attention. The mood of the story as it blends felt as though I was walking on a crumbling cliff edge. Hate, love, despair and hope are constant companions during this novel. The Author’s Notes have huge impact, not only explaining the aspects of history that are built into the story, but also the politics that are still in play. The Last House on the Street is a powerfully dramatic tale that encourages more research into the history of this time.  

eBooks of the Month
Off-Target

Off-Target

Author: Eve Smith Format: Paperback Release Date: 17/02/2022

When a writer’s work is compared to Michael Crichton’s, there’s reason to sit up and pay attention whenever a new title from said author drops. Having proved her ability to spin a clever speculative tale with her debut The Waiting Rooms, which was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize First Novel and longlisted for the Not The Booker Prize, her second release will only consolidate her reputation further. In Off-Target she takes us to the near future and toys with ideas around fertility treatments and gene adaptation. The subject of Off-Target is Susan who, after a fling, gets pregnant after years of trying to conceive. Her attempts to conceal this from her partner lead her to take steps to tinker with the genetic makeup of her child. But there are dangers to playing God – also known as ‘off target’ effects – that could have devastating consequences. A cautionary tale that’s full of thrills, it will leave you considering our current science and the possibilities we may face.

Bitter Flowers

Bitter Flowers

Author: Gunnar Staalesen Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/01/2022

After a hellish six months, and straight from rehab we meet Norwegian PI Veum again. We first met him in 1977 when Gunnar Staalesen wrote the first in this brilliant series introducing his “Sherlock Holmes of Bergen”. Forty-five years on and he’s still killing it. Only six of the twenty-odd titles were published in English before Orenda stepped in and published Where Roses Never Die. Gunnar Staalesen is one of the fathers of Nordic Noir and the creator of the unforgettable private investigator Varg Veum.  From the very first chapter you’re dragged into this chilling thriller set in 1990s Norway, fast paced with short chapters, and you don’t want to put it down. Whether you’ve met Veum before or not, this is a great standalone again translated by the talented Don Bartlett. Veum inserts himself into the action when his physiotherapist turned running buddy finds a dead body and disappears. The hunt is on. Add to this a seemingly unconnected eight-year-old cold case to find a lost little girl and Veum is back in the game after his stretch at the Hellestad Clinic. In spite of being previously lost in a thousand bottles you understand Varg’s strong sense of moral compass and appreciate his dry wit and wry way with words. As the temperature hots up with the environmental crimes at Norlon, this eco thriller goes off the scale. A thrilling ride…and I can’t wait to read more from Staalesen and travel on more adventures with Varg.

eBooks of the Month
Silverview

Silverview

Author: John le Carré Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/04/2022

Julian Lawndsley has renounced his high-flying job in the City for a simpler life running a bookshop in a small English seaside town. But only a couple of months into his new career, Julian's evening is disrupted by a visitor. Edward, a Polish emigre living in Silverview, the big house on the edge of town, seems to know a lot about Julian's family and is rather too interested in the inner workings of his modest new enterprise. When a letter turns up at the door of a spy chief in London warning him of a dangerous leak, the investigations lead him to this quiet town by the sea . . . Silverview is the mesmerising story of an encounter between innocence and experience and between public duty and private morals. In this last complete masterwork from the greatest chronicler of our age, John le Carre asks what you owe to your country when you no longer recognise it.

Then a Wind Blew

Then a Wind Blew

Author: Kay Powell Format: Paperback Release Date: 11/01/2021

Kay Powell’s Then a Wind Blew is at once atmospheric, lyrical, poignant and enlightening, made all the more engaging by the distinct and captivating voices of the three woman whose lives and experiences it lays bare, during the final months of brutal war in Rhodesia, ahead of it becoming Zimbabwe. Throughout, personal details and circumstances are finely enmeshed with historic and political contexts, with the gripping, smoothly-paced story suffused in the author’s clear love for the country. The three women we meet in these pages could hardly be more different, yet the war entwines their lives, and through them we encounter a rich, rounded range of experiences. White Rhodesian settler Susan has lost a son in the war, while Beth is a missionary nun on an African Reserve. Then there’s Nyanye, a freedom fighter who’s fled to a guerrilla camp in Mozambique in the wake of her village being destroyed. Offering lesser-seen insights into women’s direct experiences of war, this book is both deeply personal and universal, showing - ultimately - how we are linked by common bonds in the most horrific, divisive of circumstances. If you read and enjoy this, you’d do well to check out other works published by Weaver Press, an independent Zimbabwean publisher that works closely with NGOs in the fields of arts, culture, development and human rights.

Never

Never

Author: Ken Follett Format: Hardback Release Date: 09/11/2021

In Follett’s first contemporary thriller for more than a decade, he imagines the unimaginable, a cat and mouse game of brinkmanship between nuclear powers.  Expertly researched and brilliantly crafted, this 800 page epic is unputdownable. It’s a cover-to-cover action-packed mammoth tale of weaving multiple interrelated story lines, with captivating characters and intriguing plots with tension, terror, heartache, love, betrayal.  US President Pauline Green fights at home and abroad to prevent nuclear disaster as the book moves from Defcon 5, the lowest state of readiness, to Defcon 1, the brink of war. We follow the incredible work of Abdul Haddad, a spy working undercover with jihadis in Chad. Nearby, a beautiful young widow Kiah and her son Naji want to leave the shrinking shores of Lake Chad, escape their fate and travel illegally to Europe, no matter how terrifying the journey is with human traffickers. We fall for Tamara Levit a CIA operative attached to the American embassy in N’Djamena and her French counterpart Tab Sadoul, an attaché at the European Union Mission who are following the trail of a powerful group of drug-smuggling terrorists. In China, we support the machinations of Chinese spymaster Kai Chang, an ambitious senior government official battling against the old guard. Covert operations, terrorist activities, arms dealers, drug smugglers, human traffickers, government coups, military skirmishes – it has it all. And Ken Follett delivers it with aplomb. Hold on to your seats, it’s a bumpy rollercoaster ride!  

Audiobooks of the Month