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Books of the Month

Hot off the press! Check out the books we think are the best of the best this month!

The Crystal Crypt

The Crystal Crypt

Author: Fiona Veitch Smith Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/11/2021

Whoopee, isn’t this just the bee’s knees of a murder mystery! I’ll stop with the 1920’s slang now, but seriously, this really does rather beautifully conjure up the years after the Word War One. Sleuth and reporter Poppy investigates the death of a female scientist in Oxford. I have just adored every one of the Poppy Denby Investigates series which began with the Crime Writers’ Association Endeavour Historical Dagger Award shortlisted The Jazz Files, a wonderful historical mystery that I described as: “supplying oodles of 1920’s fizz and fun alongside a firm foundation from the suffragette movement and scars of the First World War”. These books could be classed as cosy as well as historical crime, but I’d say the cosy comes with a good twist of provocative nudges and digs. The Crystal Crypt is the sixth to feature Poppy, is it the last? Potentially, as a few of the loose ends from the series are rather nicely tied up. Poppy really does know her onions (sorry, sorry, definitely no more 1920’s sayings from me), she’s likeable, bright, and forward-thinking. The surrounding characters are fabulous too, though a favourite of mine has to be the wonderfully witty Rollo Rolandson. Fiona Veitch Smith encourages the plot to sing, while allowing the reader to investigate not only the crime, but also the social and political issues of the time. The Crystal Crypt is a wonderfully entertaining, vivid, yet thoughtful historical murder mystery that I can most definitely recommend.

Books of the Month
The Swift and the Harrier

The Swift and the Harrier

Author: Minette Walters Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/11/2021

Dorset, 1642. When bloody civil war breaks out between the King and Parliament, families and communities across England are riven by different allegiances. A rare few choose neutrality. One such is Jayne Swift, a Dorset physician from a Royalist family, who offers her services to both sides in the conflict. Through her dedication to treating the sick and wounded, regardless of belief, Jayne becomes a witness to the brutality of war and the devastation it wreaks. Yet her recurring companion at every event is a man she should despise because he embraces civil war as the means to an end. She knows him as William Harrier, but is ignorant about every other aspect of his life. His past is a mystery and his future uncertain. The Swift and the Harrier is a sweeping tale of adventure and loss, sacrifice and love, with a unique and unforgettable heroine at its heart.

Books of the Month
Memorial

Memorial

Author: Bryan Washington Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/10/2021

Wisely comic, soul-searchingly tender, and defiantly unsentimental, Bryan Washington’s Memorial is a brilliant bittersweet debut. Really it’s a story of many things that matter most in life, when it comes down to it - family, emotional closeness, physical closeness, the urge to break free, and the compulsion to return. It’s also about the unexpected experiences and discoveries that come in the wake of strangers being thrown together, in this case when Mike finds out his estranged father is dying as his mother is due to stay with him, and as his two-year relationship teeters into fizzling-out territory While Mike heads to Osaka, boyfriend Benson plays host to Mike’s mother in Houston. Benson’s never met straight-talking Mitsuko, but little by little they form an unlikely and profound bond. Meanwhile, after meandering memories and feeling the strange melancholia of being reunited with his dying, distant dad, Mike is transformed by his Osaka experience. Through all this richness, Memorial is an absorbing, funny, stirring achievement told in lucid, elegant style.

Star Books
56 Days

56 Days

Author: Catherine Ryan Howard Format: Hardback Release Date: 19/08/2021

56 Days is entertaining and fast paced - a tale of two strangers who make a hasty decision at a time of extreme stress, fear and anxiety. Multi-layered, brimming with suspense and with well-portrayed characters, this book certainly kept me on my toes. Set in present times, it felt very familiar, occasionally too familiar - a reflection of the early days of the pandemic, when no one could have predicted what was to come. The book has a dual timeline, focusing on a murder investigation in the present day and an exciting new relationship in the past. Occasionally, the two main characters give their persepctive on the same scenes, leading to some repetition, but I found myself trying to read between the lines - what they weren't telling each other, the secrets they were hiding ... 56 Days was a brave book to write (who could have known we would still be living in a Covid-19-filled world on publication day), but it doesn't come across as gimmicky at all. An engaging, unsettling and surprising domestic noir thriller - Brief Encounter with a rampant virus and decomposing body. 

Books of the Month
Spirited

Spirited

Author: Julie Cohen Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/08/2021

Viola has an impossible talent. Searching for meaning in her grief, she uses her photography to feel closer to her late father, taking solace from the skills he taught her - and to keep her distance from her husband. But her pictures seem to capture things invisible to the eye . . . Henriette is a celebrated spirit medium, carrying nothing but her secrets with her as she travels the country. When she meets Viola, a powerful connection is sparked between them - but Victorian society is no place for reckless women. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, invisible threads join Viola and Henriette to another woman who lives in secrecy, hiding her dangerous act of rebellion in plain sight. Faith. Courage. Love. What will they risk for freedom? Driven by passionate, courageous female characters, SPIRITED is your next unforgettable read! Perfect for fans of other bestselling historical novels The Binding by Bridget Collins, The Familiars by Stacey Halls, and Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield.

Books of the Month
Looking for the Durrells

Looking for the Durrells

Author: Melanie Hewitt Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/08/2021

The Durrell family and their writings have been a source of wonder and inspiration to book illustrator, Penny, since her Father read Gerald Durrell’s “Corfu trilogy” to, and with, her when she was young.  Now an enduring bond between them as his life nears its end, when the dread day comes, Penny, grieving and needing time and space, embarks on the promise that she and her dad couldn’t fulfil together, a Durrells’ pilgrimage. Suffused throughout with the scent of flowers, lemon and garlic and the dual salves of sunshine and sea, Hewitt’s tale weaves the lives of fishermen, restaurateurs, holiday company representatives and more into a loving nurturing community, offering a balm to Penny’s spirits. Each character so perfectly drawn and credible, that you feel you know them, might even have actually met them. At heart this is a story of belonging, proof of the Edna Buchanan phrase that “friends are the family we choose for ourselves.” Penny’s quest for the Durrells’ various homes and the restaurants they ate in, slowly revealing that while she can’t live their lives, she can and should live hers and live it well. There ought to be a better word for the way sunlight sparkles so brilliantly on the sea, thought “glisters”, as a conflation of “glistens” and “glitters”, gets close, and this book does exactly that, shining calmly and thoughtfully from beginning to end. This is such a enchanting, uplifting story of love for Corfu, for Corfiots and for life rediscovered, that one wonders why Hewitt has waited to debut.  That she has done so with such a perfect story, written with charm, insight and an utterly captivating sense of humane sensitivity, augurs well for future novels. And yes, tissues are advised while reading, there may be tears!

Books of the Month
Savage Road

Savage Road

Author: Chris Hauty Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/08/2021

AMERICA IS THREATENED BY CYBER ATTACKS ONLY ONE WOMAN CAN PUT A STOP TO THEM Running a double agent from inside the White House to spy on the Russians is not easy, but Hayley Chill has never backed down from a challenge. Then suddenly her whole operation is at risk as a series of cyber-attacks are launched on Washington, D.C. Tasked by the covert organisation she works for to solve the situation, her hunt for the hacker takes her straight to the heart of the intelligence community. SAVAGE ROAD - address The location of Fort Meade, headquarters for the NSA and Cyber Command. Hayley must stop the hacker quickly, before global politics is disrupted and World War III breaks out. But when she uncovers dark truths about her own past, her characteristic calm is threatened... Nothing is as it seems. Nobody can be trusted. Hayley Chill is on her own. Savage Road is a political thriller of our time, perfect for fans of Gregg Hurwitz and Terry Hayes and series like The Bodyguard and Designated Survivor. 

Books of the Month
Savage Road

Savage Road

Author: Chris Hauty Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/08/2021

AMERICA IS THREATENED BY CYBER ATTACKS ONLY ONE WOMAN CAN PUT A STOP TO THEM Running a double agent from inside the White House to spy on the Russians is not easy, but Hayley Chill has never backed down from a challenge. Then suddenly her whole operation is at risk as a series of cyber-attacks are launched on Washington, D.C. Tasked by the covert organisation she works for to solve the situation, her hunt for the hacker takes her straight to the heart of the intelligence community. SAVAGE ROAD - address The location of Fort Meade, headquarters for the NSA and Cyber Command. Hayley must stop the hacker quickly, before global politics is disrupted and World War III breaks out. But when she uncovers dark truths about her own past, her characteristic calm is threatened... Nothing is as it seems. Nobody can be trusted. Hayley Chill is on her own. Savage Road is a political thriller of our time, perfect for fans of Gregg Hurwitz and Terry Hayes and series like The Bodyguard and Designated Survivor. 

Books of the Month
The Beresford

The Beresford

Author: Will Carver Format: Paperback Release Date: 22/07/2021

Dark, provocative, and addictive, The Beresford saunters out into the limelight as it plays in the shadows. In an apartment building, in a city somewhere, a never-ending cycle of death is watched over by landlady Mrs May. This standalone supernatural thriller enters a fascinating world where hope cowers in the corner. Will Carver skirts and plays with the unseen curtain that sits on the edge of irreverence. There is a knowing, almost teasing atmosphere that is dark and grim and entirely seductive. The short punchy chapters ensured I couldn’t stop for breath or take a break. It felt as though the rhythm increased, as though I had to read that little bit faster in order to keep up as the ending hurtled towards me. I devoured The Beresford in one all-consuming sitting, if you find the edge of darkness a fascinating place to stand, then this is the book for you.

Star Books
Girls Who Lie

Girls Who Lie

Author: Eva Björg Ægisdottir Format: Paperback Release Date: 22/07/2021

A chilling tone and unsettling plot is wrapped up inside this cracking police procedural and psychological thriller. West Iceland CID investigate the death of a woman who went missing seven months previously. While suicide was the initial assumption, it's only when Marianna’s body is found that they can establish murder. This is the second in the Forbidden Iceland series, I recommend starting with The Creak on the Stairs which was a bestseller in Iceland, winning the Blackbird Award. While a police procedural, the other characters share the stage which ensures there are some fascinating trails of information to follow. In this book Eva Björg Ægisdottir cements the characters of the policing team. The vivid descriptions and haunting quality of the writing, which is so well translated by Victoria Cribb, ensured I could see and feel Iceland. Two stories sit side by side, each twisting around the other and allowing tension and intrigue access while themes of child neglect and social issues are thoughtfully handled. Girls Who Lie slithers and suggests and coils towards its thought-provoking conclusion, and I will be following this series with interest.  

Books of the Month
When We Fall

When We Fall

Author: Carolyn Kirby Format: Paperback Release Date: 15/07/2021

Carolyn Kirby’s When We Fall tells the gripping, read-in-one-sitting stories of two women who fall for the same man. Sparked by the long-suppressed WW2 Katyn massacre atrocity that saw 22,000 Polish military officers and intelligentsia killed by the Soviet Union, it presents the painful complexities of love and loyalty during terrible times in readably elegant style. England, 1943 and British pilot Vee is set on being given her Wings when she first encounters charismatic Polish RAF pilot Stefan. There’s an immediate frisson between them, and from this first meeting their lives are to be entangled for the rest of their days. Both of them are immensely likeable - Vee for her dogged and down-to-earth determination to succeed in a male dominated field, and Stefan for his amiability and respectfulness.  Meanwhile, in the Polish town of Posen (formerly Poznań), Eva (formerly Ewa before Nazi occupation) has all but given up on her lover returning as she waits tables in her father’s guesthouse while working for the resistance. Matters are complicated when she falls for a handsome German officer, and then her lover - Stefan - returns and asks Eva to take a huge risk for him. He’s asked similar of Vee in England and so, unbeknown to each other, both women become caught up in a costly mission to disclose the horrors Stefan witnessed while in Russian captivity.  Covering events from spring 1943 to late 1945 (with an unexpected addendum from 1963), this is a highly visual, highly sensory novel with relatable, powerful human dilemmas at its heart.    

Books of the Month
Trust

Trust

Author: Chris Hammer Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/07/2021

A smart, fast-moving, and riveting crime thriller, make sure you set aside plenty of reading time as I didn’t want to put Trust down. Martin races to help girlfriend Mandy after checking his voicemail and hearing her scream before the call cuts off. Trust is the third in the Martin Scarsden series, the first and Chris Hammer’s debut Scrublands won the Crime Writers’ Association John Creasy New Blood Dagger in 2019. So far, each book has seen a different setting, starting in the Australian interior followed by a small coastal town with Silver, and now we enter Sydney. While a couple of previous characters crop up, Martin and Mandy are the main draw. You could potentially head straight into this and read it successfully as a standalone but for the best experience I really do recommend that you start with Scrublands. I feel as though a lot of unanswered questions from Martin and Mandy’s past are thoroughly and successfully covered here. The author’s background as a journalist can be felt as the corruption of power and privilege is examined in the most punchy way. This is a series you can really get your teeth into, intelligent and challenging, yet as readable as can be, I really do hope there is more to come. Trust is a fabulously suspense filled, powerful and pacy read that we just had to include as a LoveReading Star Book.

Star Books