Following on from last week’s announcement here’s this week’s curated list of new fiction titles. These are titles appearing in hardback/paperback for the first time. In some cases the ebook might already be available. All titles are based on the listings found in The Bookseller, so I’m not working from a list of all titles being published.
Well we’ve gone from famine to feast in terms of the number of titles being published this week, so we’ve got a much longer list.
Just a reminder I don’t see any advance copies, my choices are based on the blurb, gut instinct and what I might happen to fancy reading at the time. Having been questioned about how I can possibly read and review all the titles I list, I obviously haven’t made that clear enough. So to clarify, I haven’t seen the books, I don’t get sent the books and I’ve never claimed to read them, or expressed an intention to specifically read and review them. These are just books I’d add to my reading mountain if I had the time (of which there is never enough) and more practically, the money, although some of them I will inevitably buy.
(NB This post features Affiliate links from which I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases)
Historical (I tend to take this as pre 1960’s ie not in my lifetime!)
Crime, thriller & mystery
The Heights by Louise Candlish
He thinks he’s safe up there. But he’ll never be safe from you.
The Heights is a tall, slender apartment building among the warehouses of Tower Bridge, its roof terrace so discreet you wouldn’t know it existed if you weren’t standing at the window of the flat directly opposite. But you are. And that’s when you see a man up there – a man you’d recognize anywhere. He’s older now and his appearance has subtly changed, but it’s definitely him.
Which makes no sense at all since you know he has been dead for over two years. You know this for a fact.
Because you’re the one who killed him. It’s time to confess what we did up there.
‘Kieran Watts has been dead for over two years when I see him standing on the roof of a building in Shad Thames…’
Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena
In this family, everyone is keeping secrets – even the dead.
In the quiet, wealthy enclave of Brecken Hill, an older couple is brutally murdered hours after a tense Easter dinner with their three adult children. Who, of course, are devastated.
Or are they? They each stand to inherit millions. They were never a happy family, thanks to their vindictive father and neglectful mother, but perhaps one of them is more disturbed than anyone knew. Did someone snap after that dreadful evening? Or did another person appear later that night with the worst of intentions? That must be what happened. After all, if one of the family were capable of something as gruesome as this, you’d know.
The Stone Chamber by Kate Ellis
On a summer evening, Robert and Greta Gerdner are shot dead at their home in the Devon countryside.
DI Wesley Peterson suspects the execution-style murders might be linked to Robert’s past police career – until Robert’s name is found on a list of people who’ve been sent tickets anonymously for a tour of Darkhole Grange, a former asylum on Dartmoor.
Wesley discovers that other names on the list have also died in mysterious circumstances and, as he is drawn into the chilling history of the asylum, he becomes convinced that it holds the key to the case.
When his friend, archaeologist Neil Watson, finds the skeleton of a woman buried in a sealed chamber dating back to the fifteenth century at his nearby dig, Wesley wonders whether there might be a connection between the ancient cell and the tragic events at Darkhole Grange.
With the clock ticking, Wesley must solve the puzzle, before the next person on the list meets a terrible end . . .
The Anniversary by Laura Marshall
Some are dying to remember.
Some would kill to forget . . .
On 15th June 1994, Travis Green – husband, father, upstanding citizen – walked through the streets of Hartstead and killed eleven of his neighbours. The final victim was four-year-old Cassie Colman’s father.
As the twenty-five year anniversary approaches, Cassie would rather forget the past – even as her mother struggles to remember it at all. Then something hidden in her mother’s possessions suggests those eleven murders were not what everyone believes.
Once Cassie suspects she’s been lied to about the most important event of her life, she can’t stop digging up the past.
But someone will do anything to keep it buried .
The Vacancy by Elisabeth Carpenter
Running from her past, Rachel answers an advert to be a live-in assistant to glamorous and eccentric author Dorothy Winters. But behind the closed doors of Dorothy’s house, she quickly discovers that nothing is as it seems.
When Dorothy’s manuscript throws up striking similarities to events in Rachel’s own life, she becomes convinced that the past she’s tried to hide is catching up with her.
Then the phone calls start. The parcel arrives. The blood shows up in the bathroom.
And Dorothy’s friend disappears.
Terrified of being blamed for murder, Rachel has nobody left to turn to.
Because who can she believe when she doesn’t even trust herself…?
The Perfect Life by Nuala Ellwood
HAVE YOU EVER WANTED TO BE SOMEONE ELSE?
Vanessa has always found it easy to pretend to be somebody different, somebody better. When things get tough in her real life, all she has to do is throw on some nicer clothes, adopt a new accent and she can escape.
That’s how it started: looking round houses she couldn’t possibly afford. Harmless fun really. Until it wasn’t.
Because a man who lived in one of those houses is dead.
And everyone thinks Vanessa killed him…
The Plot by John Hanff Korelitz
When a young writer dies before completing his first novel, his teacher, Jake, (himself a failed novelist) helps himself to its plot. The resulting book is a phenomenal success. But what if somebody out there knows?
Somebody does. And if Jake can’t figure out who he’s dealing with, he risks something far worse than the loss of his career.
Half Past Tomorrow by Chris McGeorge
Shirley Steadman, a 70 year old living in a small town in the North East of England, loves her volunteer work at the local hospital radio. She likes giving back to the community, and even more so, she likes getting out of the house. Haunted by the presence of her son, a reluctant Royal Navy officer who was lost at sea, and still in the shadow of her long dead abusive husband, she doesn’t like being alone much.
One day, at the radio station, she is playing around with the equipment and finds a frequency that was never there before. It is a pirate radio station, and as she listens as the presenter starts reading the news. But there is one problem – the news being reported is tomorrows. Shirley first thinks it is a mere misunderstanding – a wrong date. But she watches as everything reported comes true. At first, Shirley is in awe of the station, and happily tunes in to hear the news.
But then the presenter starts reporting murders – murders that happen just the way they were reported.
A Ratte of Bones by Douglas Skelton
In 1752, Seamus a’Ghlynne, James of the Glen, was executed for the murder of government man Colin Campbell. He was almost certainly innocent.
When banners are placed at his gravesite claiming that his namesake, James Stewart, is innocent of murder, reporter Rebecca Connolly smells a story. The young Stewart has been in prison for ten years for the brutal murder of his lover, lawyer and politician Murdo Maxwell, in his Appin home. Rebecca soon discovers that Maxwell believed he was being followed prior to his murder and his phones were tapped.
Why is a Glasgow crime boss so interested in the case? As Rebecca keeps digging, she finds herself in the sights of Inverness crime matriarch Mo Burke, who wants payback for the damage caused to her family in a previous case.
Set against the stunning backdrop of the Scottish Highlands, A Rattle of Bones is a tale of injustice and mystery, and the echo of the past in the present.
Stolen by Tess Stimson
You thought she was safe. You were wrong…
Alex knows her daughter would never wander off in a strange place. So when her three-year-old vanishes from an idyllic beach wedding, Alex immediately believes the worst.
The hunt for Lottie quickly becomes a world-wide search, but it’s not long before suspicion falls on her mother. Why wasn’t she watching Lottie?
Alex knows she’s not perfect, but she loves her child. And with all eyes on her, Alex fears they’ll never uncover the truth unless she takes matters into her own hands.
Who took Lottie Martini? And will she ever come home?
Triflers Need Not Apply by Camilla Bruce
Bella loves men. She loves them to death . . .
Bella Sorensen knows the world is made for men. But she also knows what few others do: where women are concerned, men are weak.
A woman unscrupulous enough can take from them what she wants. And so Bella sets out to prove to the world that a woman can be just as ruthless, black-hearted and single-minded as any man.
Starting with her long-suffering husband, Mads, Bella embarks on a killing spree the like of which has never been seen before nor since.
And through it all her kind, older sister Nellie can only watch in horror as Bella’s schemes to enrich herself and cut down the male population come to a glorious, dreadful fruition . . .
Based on the true story of Belle Gunness whose killing spree began in Chicago in 1900, Triflers Need Not Apply is a novelistic tour de force exploring one woman’s determination to pay men back for all they have taken.
A Narrow Door by Joanne Harris
Now I’m in charge, the gates are my gates. The rules are my rules.
It’s an incendiary moment for St Oswald’s school. For the first time in its history, a headmistress is in power, the gates opening to girls.
Rebecca Buckfast has spilled blood to reach this position. Barely forty, she is just starting to reap the harvest of her ambition. As the new regime takes on the old guard, the ground shifts. And with it, the remains of a body are discovered.
But Rebecca is here to make her mark. She’ll bury the past so deep it will evade even her own memory, just like she has done before. After all…
You can’t keep a good woman down.
The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak
It is 1974 on the island of Cyprus. Two teenagers, from opposite sides of a divided land, meet at a tavern in the city they both call home. The tavern is the only place that Kostas, who is Greek and Christian, and Defne, who is Turkish and Muslim, can meet, in secret, hidden beneath the blackened beams from which hang garlands of garlic, chilli peppers and wild herbs. This is where one can find the best food in town, the best music, the best wine. But there is something else to the place: it makes one forget, even if for just a few hours, the world outside and its immoderate sorrows.
In the centre of the tavern, growing through a cavity in the roof, is a fig tree. This tree will witness their hushed, happy meetings, their silent, surreptitious departures; and the tree will be there when the war breaks out, when the capital is reduced to rubble, when the teenagers vanish and break apart.
Decades later in north London, sixteen-year-old Ada Kazantzakis has never visited the island where her parents were born. Desperate for answers, she seeks to untangle years of secrets, separation and silence. The only connection she has to the land of her ancestors is a Ficus Carica growing in the back garden of their home.
The Echo Chamber by John Boyne
What a thing of wonder a mobile phone is. Six ounces of metal, glass and plastic, fashioned into a sleek, shiny, precious object. At once, a gateway to other worlds – and a treacherous weapon in the hands of the unwary, the unwitting, the inept.
The Cleverley family live a gilded life, little realising how precarious their privilege is, just one tweet away from disaster. George, the patriarch, is a stalwart of television interviewing, a ‘national treasure’ (his words), his wife Beverley, a celebrated novelist (although not as celebrated as she would like), and their children, Nelson, Elizabeth, Achilles, various degrees of catastrophe waiting to happen.
Together they will go on a journey of discovery through the Hogarthian jungle of the modern living where past presumptions count for nothing and carefully curated reputations can be destroyed in an instant. Along the way they will learn how volatile, how outraged, how unforgiving the world can be when you step from the proscribed path.
Powered by John Boyne’s characteristic humour and razor-sharp observation, The Echo Chamber is a satiric helter skelter, a dizzying downward spiral of action and consequence, poised somewhere between farce, absurdity and oblivion. To err is maybe to be human but to really foul things up you only need a phone.
Mrs March by Virginia Feito
George March’s latest novel is a smash hit. None could be prouder than Mrs. March, his dutiful wife, who revels in his accolades and relishes the lifestyle and status his success brings.
A creature of routine and decorum, Mrs. March lives an exquisitely controlled existence on the Upper East Side. Every morning begins the same way, with a visit to her favourite patisserie to buy a loaf of
olive bread, but her latest trip proves to be her last when she suffers an indignity from which she may never recover: an assumption by the shopkeeper that the protagonist in George March’s new book –
a pathetic sex worker, more a figure of derision than desire – is based on Mrs. March.
One casual remark robs Mrs. March not only of her beloved olive bread but of the belief that she knew everything about her husband – and herself – sending her on an increasingly paranoid journey, one
that starts within the pages of a book but may very well uncover both a killer and the long-buried secrets of Mrs. March’s past.
Men in My Situation by Per Petterson
In 1992 Arvid Jansen is thirty-eight and divorced. Turid has left with their three girls, slipping into her young, exuberant crowd of friends – the colourful – and a new house with no trace of their previous life together. More than a year has passed since the tragic accident that took his parents and two of his brothers. Existence has become a question of holding on to a few firm things. Loud, smoky bars, whisky, records, company for the night and taxis home. Or driving his Mazda into the stunning, solitary landscape outside of Oslo, sleeping in the car when his bed is an impossible place to be, craving a connection that is always just beyond reach.
At some point, the girls decide against weekend visits with their dad. Arvid suspects that his eldest daughter, Vigdis, sees what kind of a man he really is. Adrift and inept, paralysed by grief. And maybe she’s right to keep her distance from his lonely life. Is there any redemption for a man in his situation? When Arvid has lost or been left by all those dear to him and feels his life unravelling, perhaps there is still a way forward.
Secrets of Happiness by Joan Silber
Ethan, a young lawyer in New York, learns that his father has long kept a second family – a wife and two kids living in Queens. In the aftermath of this revelation, Ethan’s mother spends a year travelling abroad, returning much changed, just as her now ex-husband falls ill. Across town, Ethan’s half brothers are caught in their own complicated journeys: one brother’s penchant for minor delinquency has escalated and the other must travel to Bangkok to bail him out, while the bargains their mother struck about love and money continue to shape all their lives.
As Ethan finds himself caught in a love triangle of his own, the interwoven fates of these two households elegantly unfurl to touch many other figures, revealing secret currents of empathy and loyalty, the bounty of improvised families and the paradoxical ties that weave through life’s rich contours. With a generous and humane spirit, Secrets of Happiness elucidates the ways people marshal the resources at hand in an effort to find joy.
Shooting Martha by David Thewlis
Celebrated director Jack Drake can’t get through his latest film (his most personal yet) without his wife Martha’s support.
The only problem is, she’s dead…
When Jack sees Betty Dean – actress, mother, trainwreck – playing the part of a crazed nun on stage in an indie production of The Devils, he is struck dumb by her resemblance to Martha. Desperate to find a way to complete his masterpiece, he hires her to go and stay in his house in France and resuscitate Martha in the role of ‘loving spouse’.
But as Betty spends her days roaming the large, sunlit rooms of Jack’s mansion – filled to the brim with odd treasures and the occasional crucifix – and her evenings playing the part of Martha over scripted video calls with Jack, she finds her method acting taking her to increasingly dark places.
And as Martha comes back to life, she carries with her the truth about her suicide – and the secret she guarded until the end.
Only About Love by Debbi Voisey
There’s no such thing as a perfect family. A perfect life. A perfect man. Frank is proof of this. He’s everyman and yet as unique as a fingerprint. With a wonderful wife and children who are the loves of his lives, he couldn’t ask for anything more. But time and time again he keeps risking it all. In snapshots through time, ‘Only About Love’ takes a sweeping loop around Frank’s life as he navigates courtship, marriage, fatherhood and illness. Told through the perspective of Frank and his family, this story is one of intense honesty about the things we do to those closest to us.
All my Mothers by Joanna Glen
MEET EVA MARTÍNEZ-GREEN, AN ONLY CHILD FULL OF QUESTIONS ABOUT HER BEGINNINGS.
Between her emotionally absent mother and her physically absent father, there is nobody to answer them. Eva is convinced that all is not as it seems. Why are there no baby pictures of her? Why do her parents avoid all questions about her early years?
When her parents’ relationship crumbles, Eva begins a journey to find these answers for herself. Her desire to discover where she belongs leads Eva on a journey spanning decades and continents – and, along the way, she meets women who challenge her idea of what a mother should be, and who will change her life forever…
On the Bright Side by Nell Carter
There’s always time for a second chance…
At least that is what people say. But what if it’s true? What if you could walk out the door and build a whole new you, a whole new life?
Clare and Jack are about to find out.
He’s a middle-aged barrister, living life as he ‘should’. She’s a recently divorced dance teacher and mum to a teenage daughter. Change isn’t easy for either of them.
But it’s not impossible.
If they do something BIG, could the next half of their lives be the best half?
The Handover by David M Barnett
An utterly charming and heart-warming love story and the perfect tonic for difficult times.
Daisy is the night security guard at the Manchester Museum of Social History. She takes her job very seriously, protecting the museum from teenage troublemakers.
Nate works the day shift, though he’d be more suited as a museum guide the way he chats with the visitors. Daisy doesn’t approve: how does he find it so easy to talk to strangers?
For five minutes each day their shifts overlap at handover. He passes the torch over to Daisy – always with a smile on his face, and she asks him for a full report of the day, which he gives reluctantly. It’s the only interaction they have… until mysterious things begin to happen at the museum.
They soon discover they have a lot more in common than they realised… and their investigations uncover more than just the truth. Could they have feelings for one another?
Definitely Fine by Amy Lavelle
Hannah is twenty-eight when the worst happens.
Her first instinct? To call her mum.
The problem is, her mum having an accident, being rushed to hospital and never waking up was the worst thing.
Realising that she is now the Woman of the Family, Hannah has to be the rock for her emotionally-repressed father and chaotic younger sister, all while trying to muddle her way through the crucial life lessons her mother never taught her, like:
– How to ride a tandem
– How to react when your dad starts making lasagne for an unknown woman
– How to broker peace between feuding aunts
– How to know if you really want a baby or if this is just the grief talking
But what Hannah really wishes her mother had taught her is: when you’ve just lost the person who made sense of everything, how are you meant to find yourself?
Missing Words by Loree Westron
Postal worker Jenny’s life is in the doldrums. Her daughter is all grown up and ready to face the world, her marriage is falling apart, and now her best friend and colleague tells her he plans to retire. So, when a postcard from Australia, begging the recipient for forgiveness but marked ‘insufficient address’, lands on her sorting table, she does the unthinkable – she slips it up her sleeve, with the intention of delivering it herself. Jenny sets off on a journey around the Isle of Wight, determined to find the recipient, and with the help of the locals she hopes to reunite the long-lost lovers. Will she be able to give them the happy ending she didn’t allow herself to have? Set against the backdrop of the strikes in the 1980s, ‘Missing Words’ is a heart-warming journey about self-discovery, the power of family ties, and the strength needed to face whatever life throws your way.
One Lucky Summer by Jenny Oliver
The best kept secrets are waiting to be found…
With an air of faded splendour, Willoughby Hall was an idyllic childhood home to Ruben de Lacy. Gazing at it now, decades later, the memories are flooding back, and not all of them are welcome…
In a tumbledown cottage in Willoughby’s grounds, Dolly and Olive King lived with their eccentric explorer father. One of the last things he did was to lay a treasure hunt before he died, but when events took an unexpected turn, Dolly and Olive left Willoughby for good, never to complete it.
But when Ruben uncovers a secret message, hidden for decades, he knows he needs Olive and Dolly’s help. Can the three of them solve the treasure hunt, and will piecing together the clues help them understand what happened to their families that summer, all those years ago?
All of You Every Single One by Beatrice Hitchman
‘I know,’ he says, ‘too much. You’ll learn to be too much, too.’ Then, gently, ‘I think it might help.’
When Julia flees her unhappy marriage for the handsome tailor Eve Perret, she expects her life from now on will be a challenge, not least because the year is 1911. They leave everything behind to settle in Vienna, but their happiness is increasingly diminished by Julia’s longing for a child.
Ada Bauer’s wealthy industrialist family have sent her to Dr Freud in the hope that he can fix her mutism and do so without a scandal. But help will soon come for Ada from an unexpected quarter and change many lives irrevocably.
The Country of Others by Leila Slimani
1944. After the Liberation, Mathilde leaves France to join her husband in Morocco.
But life here is unrecognisable to this brave and passionate young woman. Her life is now that of a farmer’s wife – with all the sacrifices and vexations that brings. Suffocated by the heat, by her loneliness on the farm and by the mistrust she inspires as a foreigner, Mathilde grows increasingly restless.
As Morocco’s struggle for independence intensifies, Mathilde and her husband find themselves caught in the crossfire.
The Fair Botanists by Sara Sheridan
Could one rare plant hold the key to a thousand riches?
It’s the summer of 1822 and Edinburgh is abuzz with rumours of King George IV’s impending visit. In botanical circles, however, a different kind of excitement has gripped the city. In the newly-installed Botanic Garden, the Agave Americana plant looks set to flower – an event that only occurs once every few decades.
When newly widowed Elizabeth arrives in Edinburgh to live with her late husband’s aunt Clementina, she’s determined to put her unhappy past in London behind her. As she settles into her new home, she becomes fascinated by the beautiful Botanic Garden which borders the grand house and offers her services as an artist to record the rare plant’s impending bloom. In this pursuit, she meets Belle Brodie, a vivacious young woman with a passion for botany and the lucrative, dark art of perfume creation.
Belle is determined to keep both her real identity and the reason for her interest the Garden secret from her new friend. But as Elizabeth and Belle are about to discover, secrets don’t last long in this Enlightenment city . . .
And when they are revealed, they can carry the greatest of consequences.
Rose Nicolson by Andrew Greig
‘A tale I have for you.’
Embra, winter of 1574. Queen Mary has fled Scotland, to raise an army from the French. Her son and heir, Jamie is held under protection in Stirling Castle. John Knox is dead. The people are unmoored and lurching under the uncertain governance of this riven land. It’s a deadly time for young student Will Fowler, short of stature, low of birth but mightily ambitious, to make his name.
Fowler has found himself where the scorch marks of the martyrs burned at the stake can be seen on every street, where differences in doctrine can prove fatal, where the feuds of great families pull innocents into their bloody realm. There he befriends the austere stick-wielding philosopher Tom Nicolson, son of a fishing family whose sister Rose, untutored, brilliant and exceedingly beautiful exhibits a free-thinking mind that can only bring danger upon her and her admirers.
The lowly students are adept at attracting the attentions of the rich and powerful, not least Walter Scott, brave and ruthless heir to Branxholm and Buccleuch, who is set on exploiting the civil wars to further his political and dynastic ambitions. His friendship and patronage will lead Will to the to the very centre of a conspiracy that will determine who will take Scotland’s crown.
The Pavilion in the Clouds by Alexander McCall Smith
It is 1938 and the final days of the British Empire. In a bungalow high up in the green hills above the plains of Ceylon, under a vast blue sky, live the Ferguson family: Bella, a precocious eight-year-old; her father Henry – owner of Pitlochry, a tea plantation – and her mother Virginia. The story centres around the Pavilion in the Clouds, set in the idyllic grounds carved out of the wilderness. But all is not as serene as it seems. Bella is suspicious of her governess, Miss White’s intentions. Her suspicion sparks off her mother’s imagination and after an unfortunate series of events, a confrontation is had with Miss White and a gunshot rings off around the hills.
Years later, Bella, now living back in Scotland at university in St Andrews, is faced, once again with her past. Will she at last find out what happened between her Father and Miss White? And will the guilt she has lived with all these years be reconciled by a long over-due apology?
Medici – Legacy (Masters of Florence 3) by Matteo Strukul
The third instalment in a prize-winning series charting the rise of the House of Medici as they become Masters of Florence and progenitors of the Renaissance.
Francis II, dauphin of France, is dead. Poisoned. And the royal court believe Catherine de’ Medici to be the murderer. With the heir apparent dead, her husband Henry will now be the next King of France – and Catherine’s family is known to stop at nothing in the pursuit of power.
But not yet queen and without an heir of her own, Catherine cannot be sure of securing her family’s legacy. To ensure the conception of an heir, she will need to seek help from an unexpected ally: Nostradamus, the reclusive astronomer and purported seer. Dismissed by most as a charlatan and a heretic, she knows he will be her only hope in becoming a mother.
Amid court intrigues, betrayals and humiliations, Catherine now waits. She awaits the death of her father-in-law, King Francis, and the birth of a son to carry her name. For once she is queen, Catherine de’ Medici’s power will only grow.
But that power comes at a heavy cost, one she might ever regret.
The Clockmaker’s Wife by Daisy Wood
The world is at war. And time is running out…
London, 1940. Britain is gripped by the terror of the Blitz, forcing Nell Spelman to flee the capital with her young daughter – leaving behind her husband, Arthur, the clockmaker who keeps Big Ben chiming.
When Arthur disappears, Nell is desperate to find him. But her search will lead her into far darker places than she ever imagined…
New York, Present Day. When Ellie discovers a beautiful watch that had once belonged to a grandmother she never knew, she becomes determined to find out what happened to her. But as she pieces together the fragments of her grandmother’s life, she begins to wonder if the past is better left forgotten…
So that’s all for this week.