Here’s this week’s 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.
A busy week this week – I really need someone to explain to me why we seem to alternate between slim pickings one week and a veritable book mountain the next. Anyway, whatever the reason, here’s this week’s bumper crop.
Just a reminder I don’t see any advance copies, my choices are based on the blurb, gut instinct and what takes my fancy at the time.
(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!)
Non-Fiction added extras
Crime, thriller & mystery
Emily Noble’s Disgrace by Mary Paulson-Ellis
The case is unexceptional, that is what I know. A house full of stuff left behind by a dead woman, abandoned at the last . . .
When trauma cleaner Essie Pound makes a gruesome discovery in the derelict Edinburgh boarding house she is sent to clean, it brings her into contact with a young policewoman, Emily Noble, who has her own reasons to solve the case.
As the two women embark on a journey into the heart of a forgotten family, the investigation prompts fragmented memories of their own traumatic histories – something Emily has spent a lifetime attempting to bury, and Essie a lifetime trying to lay bare.
A Corruption of Blood by Ambrose Parry
Edinburgh, 1850. This city will bleed you dry.
Dr Will Raven is a man seldom shocked by human remains, but even he is disturbed by the contents of a package washed up at the Port of Leith. Stranger still, a man Raven has long detested is pleading for his help to escape the hangman.
Back in the townhouse of Dr James Simpson, Sarah Fisher has set her sights on learning to practise medicine. Almost everyone seems intent on dissuading her from this ambition, but when word reaches her that a woman has recently obtained a medical degree despite her gender, Sarah decides to seek her out.
Raven’s efforts to prove his former adversary’s innocence are failing and he desperately needs Sarah’s help. Putting their feelings for one another aside, their investigations take them to both extremes of Edinburgh’s social divide, where they discover that wealth and status cannot alter a fate written in the blood.
Sisterhood by VB Grey
Identical twin sisters Freya and Shona take very different paths, leading to long-buried family secrets that reverberate through the generations in this thrilling novel of psychological suspense by the author of Tell Me How It Ends. There are some choices you can’t come back from.
It is 1944 in war-battered London. Freya and Shona are identical twins, close despite their different characters. Freya is a newly qualified doctor treating the injured in an East End hospital, while Shona has been recruited by the SOE. The sisters are so physically alike that they can fool people into thinking that one is the other. It’s a game they’ve played since childhood. But when Shona persuades her twin to swap roles to meet her Polish lover, he is angered at being tricked.
Then Shona proposes a far more dangerous swapping of roles. At first Freya refuses but finally she agrees, with consequences that threaten not only the happiness but the lives of both sisters.
Forty-five years later in November 1989 Freya, now aged 69, is watching television with her daughter Kirsty. Freya is gripped as she witnesses crowds of Berliners attempting to knock down their hated Wall. This sight stirs memories of her own and her sister’s war, especially the tragedy of the Warsaw Uprising – memories that she has never shared with anyone. Even if she wanted to reveal them now, she can’t. She’s suffering from a brain tumour and is unable to speak although her reason is unimpaired. And this is what she’s thinking: if they succeed in knocking down the Wall, whatsecrets will come tumbling through? If her own were revealed, it would be devastating for all those close to her, especially her daughter, Kirsty.
Missing by Erin Kinsley
A MOTHER WALKS INTO THE SEA . . . AND NEVER COMES BACK. WHY?
One perfect summer day, mother of two Alice walks into the sea . . . and never comes back.
Her daughters – loyal but fragile Lily, and headstrong, long-absent Marietta – are forcibly reunited by her disappearance.
Meanwhile, with retirement looming, DI Fox investigates cold cases long since forgotten. And there’s one obsession he won’t let go: a tragic death twenty years before.
Can Lily and Marietta uncover what happened to their mother? Will Fox solve a mystery that has haunted him for decades? As their stories unexpectedly collide, long-buried secrets will change their lives in unimaginable ways.
The Great Silence by Doug Johnstone (Skelfs 3)
Keeping on top of the family funeral directors’ and private-investigation businesses is no easy task for the Skelf women, and when matriarch Dorothy discovers a human foot while walking the dog, a perplexing case presents itself … with potentially deadly results.
Daughter Jenny and grand-daughter Hannah have their hands full too: The mysterious circumstances of a dying woman lead them into an unexpected family drama, Hannah’s new astrophysicist colleague claims he’s receiving messages from outer space, and the Skelfs’ teenaged lodger has yet another devastating experience.
Nothing is clear as the women are immersed ever deeper in their most challenging cases yet. But when the daughter of Jenny’s violent and fugitive ex-husband goes missing without trace and a wild animal is spotted roaming Edinburgh’s parks, real danger presents itself, and all three Skelfs are in peril.
Taut, dark, warmly funny and unafraid to ask big questions – of us all – The Great Silence is the much-anticipated third instalment in the addictive, unforgettable Skelfs series, and the stakes are higher than ever.
Bread by Maurizio de Giovanni
The Bastards face their hardest challenge yet
Sometimes it takes facing a formidable adversary to truly know one’s worth. The Bastards of Pizzofalcone may have found just that: when the brutal murder of a baker rattles the city, they are ready to investigate. There’s nothing they wouldn’t do to prove themselves to their community. But this time the police are divided: for the special anti-mob branch, the local mafia is doubtlessly responsible for the crime, but the Bastards are not so sure and think there may be another reason for the murder of the renowned artisan, whose traditionally baked bread attracted customers from far and wide. A rivalry between the policeman and the magistrate is formed, one that, in the end, will extend to more than just their work lives.
Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney
Ten years of marriage.
Ten years of secrets.
An anniversary they’ll never forget.
Adam and Amelia are spending the weekend in the Scottish Highlands. The remote location is perfect for what they have planned.
But when their romantic trip takes a dark turn, they both start to wonder – can they trust the one they’re with?
Because every couple tells little white lies. Only for Adam and Amelia, the truth is far more dangerous.
The Wedding Party by Tammy Cohen
Till death do us part . . .
Lucy has dreamt of her wedding day for as long as she can remember.
And now the day is almost here. Her nearest and dearest are gathered on an idyllic Greek island and she just knows it’s going to be perfect. It has to be.
But even the best-laid plans can go horribly wrong. Why are her parents behaving so strangely? Why won’t the rather odd lady from the airport stop hanging around? Who is the silent stranger her sister brought as a plus-1?
And then they find the body.
It’s going to be a day to remember.
Unholy Murder by Lynda la Plante
A coffin is dug up by builders in the grounds of an historic convent – inside is the body of a young nun.
In a city as old as London, the discovery is hardly surprising. But when scratch marks are found on the inside of the coffin lid, Detective Jane Tennison believes she has unearthed a mystery far darker than any she’s investigated before.
However, not everyone agrees. Tennison’s superiors dismiss it as an historic cold case, and the Church seems desperate to conceal the facts from the investigation.
It’s clear that someone is hiding the truth, and perhaps even the killer. Tennison must pray she can find both – before they are buried forever . . .
In Unholy Murder, Tennison must lift the lid on the most chilling murder case of her career.
56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard
No one even knew they were together. Now one of them is dead.
56 DAYS AGO
Ciara and Oliver meet in a supermarket queue in Dublin and start dating the same week COVID-19 reaches Irish shores.
35 DAYS AGO
When lockdown threatens to keep them apart, Oliver suggests they move in together. Ciara sees a unique opportunity for a relationship to flourish without the scrutiny of family and friends. Oliver sees a chance to hide who – and what – he really is.
Detectives arrive at Oliver’s apartment to discover a decomposing body inside.
Can they determine what really happened, or has lockdown created an opportunity for someone to commit the perfect crime?
A Line to Kill by Anthony Horowitz
‘I couldn’t see the sea from my bedroom but I could hear the waves breaking in the distance. They reminded me that I was on a tiny island. And I was trapped.‘
There has never been a murder on Alderney.
It’s a tiny island, just three miles long and a mile and a half wide. The perfect location for a brand-new literary festival. Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne has been invited to talk about his new book. The writer, Anthony Horowitz, travels with him.
Very soon they discover that all is not as it should be. Alderney is in turmoil over a planned power line that will cut through it, desecrating a war cemetery and turning neighbour against neighbour.
The visiting authors – including a blind medium, a French performance poet and a celebrity chef – seem to be harbouring any number of unpleasant secrets.
When the festival’s wealthy sponsor is found brutally killed, Alderney goes into lockdown and Hawthorne knows that he doesn’t have to look too far for suspects.
There’s no escape. The killer is still on the island. And there’s about to be a second death…
The Ex-Husband by Karen Hamilton
Charlotte and Sam were partners. In life, and in crime. They never stole from anyone who couldn’t afford it. Wealthy clients, luxury cruise ships. It was easy money, and harmless. At least, that’s what Charlotte told herself, until the world caved in on her.
But now, years after she tried to put that past life behind her, it comes rushing back when her estranged ex-husband Sam suddenly goes missing – and someone threatens to expose what they did.
Desperate to escape whoever is tormenting her, Charlotte takes a job as events planner for an engagement party onboard a superyacht in the Caribbean. For a while, her plan seems to have worked, nothing but open ocean and clear skies ahead. Until it becomes clear that she’s no longer a thousand miles away from harm.
Because whoever is behind it all is onboard too. And now there’s nowhere left to run.
1979 by Val McDermid
The shadows hide a deadly story . . .
1979. It is the winter of discontent, and reporter Allie Burns is chasing her first big scoop. There are few women in the newsroom and she needs something explosive for the boys’ club to take her seriously.
Soon Allie and fellow journalist Danny Sullivan are exposing the criminal underbelly of respectable Scotland. They risk making powerful enemies – and Allie won’t stop there.
When she discovers a home-grown terrorist threat, Allie comes up with a plan to infiltrate the group and make her name. But she’s a woman in a man’s world . . . and putting a foot wrong could be fatal.
Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
1970s Mexico City: while student protests and political unrest consume the city, Maite seeks escape from her humdrum life in the stories of passion and danger filling the latest issue of Secret Romance.
She is deeply envious of her neighbour, a beautiful art student apparently living the life of excitement and intrigue Maite craves – so when Leonora disappears under suspicious circumstances, Maite finds herself searching for the missing woman, journeying deep into Leonora’s secret life of student radicals and dissidents.
But someone else is also looking for Leonora, at the behest of his boss, a shadowy figure who commands goon squads dedicated to squashing political activists. Elvis is an eccentric criminal who longs to escape his own life: he loathes violence and loves old movies and rock ‘n’ roll. Watching Maite from a distance, he comes to see her as a kindred spirit who shares his love of music and the unspoken loneliness of his heart.
As Maite and Elvis come closer to discovering the truth behind Leonora’s disappearance, they can no longer escape the dangers threatening to consume their lives, with hitmen, government agents and Russian spies all aiming to find or protect Leonora’s secrets – at gunpoint.
End of Summer by Anders de la Motte
You can always go home. But you can never go back . . .
Summer 1983: Four-year-old Billy chases a rabbit in the fields behind his house. But when his mother goes to call him in, Billy has disappeared. Never to be seen again.
Today: Veronica is a bereavement counsellor. She’s never fully come to terms with her mother’s suicide after her brother Billy’s disappearance. When a young man walks into her group, he looks familiar and talks about the trauma of his friend’s disappearance in 1983. Could Billy still be alive after all this time?
Needing to know the truth, Veronica goes home – to the place where her life started to fall apart.
But is she really prepared for the answers that wait for her there?
Nobody’s Perfect by Stephanie Butland
When her daughter was born with cystic fibrosis, Kate Micklethwaite vowed that Daisy would never be defined by her health issues. Kate is determined that her perfect little girl will be known for her love of butterflies, croissants and bouncing on trampolines, not for her condition.
Kate does all she can to be the perfect mother – whatever that means – and yet, somehow, has started seeing herself the way others see her: single parent, source of small-town scandal, drop-out, former mistress. Half a family.
When Daisy starts school, Kate meets her new teacher, the kind and charming Mr Spencer Swanson. Now, with more time on her hands Kate can finally start thinking about her own future. With her Open University dissertation deadline looming, Kate needs to decide what she wants next. But as she and Spencer get to know each other, Kate notices that people are whispering behind her back once more . . .
The Beloved Girls by Harriet Evans
‘It’s a funny old house. They have this ceremony every summer . . . There’s an old chapel, in the grounds of the house. Half-derelict. The Hunters keep bees in there. Every year, on the same day, the family processes to the chapel. They open the combs, taste the honey. Take it back to the house. Half for them -‘ my father winced, as though he had bitten down on a sore tooth. ‘And half for us.’
Catherine, a successful barrister, vanishes from a train station on the eve of her anniversary. Is it because she saw a figure – someone she believed long dead? Or was it a shadow cast by her troubled, fractured mind?
The answer lies buried in the past. It lies in the events of the hot, seismic summer of 1989, at Vanes – a mysterious West Country manor house – where a young girl, Jane Lestrange, arrives to stay with the gilded, grand Hunter family, and where a devastating tragedy will unfold. Over the summer, as an ancient family ritual looms closer, Janey falls for each member of the family in turn. She and Kitty, the eldest daughter of the house, will forge a bond that decades later, is still shaping the present . . .
‘We need the bees to survive, and they need us to survive. Once you understand that, you understand the history of Vanes, you understand our family.’
Checkout 19 by Claire-Louise Bennett
‘We read in order to come to life.’
With fierce imagination, a woman revisits the moments that shape her life; from crushes on teachers to navigating relationships in a fast-paced world; from overhearing her grandmothers’ peculiar stories to nurturing her own personal freedom and a boundless love of literature.
Fusing fantasy with lived experience, Checkout 19 is a vivid and mesmerising journey through the small traumas and triumphs that define us – as readers, as writers, as human beings.
Last Summer in the City by Gianfranco Calligarich
In the late 1960s, Leo Gazzara left his family in Milan and moved to Rome for work. Soon unemployed, he has spent his time in an alcoholic haze, bouncing between hotels, bars, romantic entanglements, and the homes of his rich and well-educated friends. Rome is indifferent. Leo drifts, aimless and alone.
On the evening of his thirtieth birthday, he meets Arianna, a young woman who is both fragile and seductive. All night they drive the city in Leo’s run-down Alfa Romeo, talking and talking. They eat brioche for breakfast, drink through the dawn, drive to the sea and back. A whirlwind beginning. This is the story of the year Leo fell in love and lost everything.
Moon and Mars by Kia Corthron
In Moon and the Mars, set in the impoverished Five Points district of New York City in the years 1857-1863, we experience neighborhood life through the eyes of Theo from childhood to adolescence, an orphan living between the homes of her Black and Irish grandmothers. Throughout her formative years, Theo witnesses everything from the creation of tap dance to P.T. Barnum’s sensationalist museum to the draft riots that tear NYC asunder, amidst the daily maelstrom of Five Points work, hardship, and camaraderie. Meanwhile, white America’s attitudes towards people of color and slavery are shifting—painfully, transformationally—as the nation divides and marches to war.
History by Miles Jupp
Clive Hapgood is feeling stuck.
The private school he teaches at is consuming his life, no thanks to wretched headteacher Julian Crouch. The gentle country life Clive envisaged has stifled him and left his marriage on the brink. What he needs is a holiday – something to remind him and Helen what life used to be like. But when things don’t go to plan, and an incident at school begins to weigh heavy on his head, Clive’s life starts to unravel in front of him. Has he got it in him to turn things around, whatever the cost? After all, it’s his own time he’s wasting…
The Origins of Iris by Beth Lewis
‘I opened my eyes and the woman wearing my face opened hers at the same time.’
Iris flees New York City, and her abusive wife Claude, for the Catskill Mountains. When she was a child, Iris and her father found solace in the beauty and wilderness of the forest; now, years later, Iris has returned for time and space to clear her head, and to come to terms with the mistakes that have led her here. But what Iris doesn’t expect in her journey of survival and self-discovery is to find herself – literally.
Trapped in a neglected cabin deep in the mountains, Iris is grudgingly forced to come face to face with a seemingly prettier, happier and better version of herself. Other Iris made different choices in life and love. But is she all she seems? Can she be trusted? What is she hiding?
As a storm encroaches, threatening both their lives, time is running out for them to discover why they have been brought together, and what it means for their futures.
An important, searing novel about one woman’s journey in fleeing an abusive relationship and confronting the secrets of her past.
No Honour by Awais Khan
In sixteen-year-old Abida’s small Pakistani village, there are age-old rules to live by, and her family’s honour to protect. And, yet, her spirit is defiant and she yearns to make a home with the man she loves.
When the unthinkable happens, Abida faces the same fate as other young girls who have chosen unacceptable alliances – certain, public death. Fired by a fierce determination to resist everything she knows to be wrong about the society into which she was born, and aided by her devoted father, Jamil, who puts his own life on the line to help her, she escapes to Lahore and then disappears.
Jamil goes to Lahore in search of Abida – a city where the prejudices that dominate their village take on a new and horrifying form – and father and daughter are caught in a world from which they may never escape.
Moving from the depths of rural Pakistan, riddled with poverty and religious fervour, to the dangerous streets of over-populated Lahore, No Honour is a story of family, of the indomitable spirit of love in its many forms … a story of courage and resilience, when all seems lost, and the inextinguishable fire that lights one young woman’s battle for change.
The Angels of L19 by Jonathan Walker
There’s more than one way to be born again. Liverpool, 1984. The teenagers at Garston Chapel are the same as the rest of us: The Smiths, U2, crushes, football, mates. The grimy, low-down politics of the Thatcher era casting deep shadows in this proud and broken city, but the kids have got other things on their minds … Jesus Christ Our Lord for one. Almost normal kids, then. But Robert isn’t at all normal. Because Robert is visited by angels – if that’s what they are. He can’t tell a soul about his secret. All anyone can see is his strange behaviour as he desperately seeks to understand what they mean, what they want from him. As Robert’s two worlds merge, the real and the visionary intersect with increasing intensity and what is being asked of him becomes terrifyingly clear. The Angels of L19 is a moving and entirely original story of young lives at the confluence of faith and doubt, angels and demons, life and death. And where redemption is possible, even for those we think might be lost forever.
The Wedding Pact by Isla Gordon
August Anderson needs somewhere to live. Dumped by her boyfriend who would rather be alone than move in with her, she has almost given up on happiness. Until she notices that the beautiful Georgian townhouse she’s long admired (ahem, *obsessed over*) is looking for a new tenant, and suddenly it seems like things might be looking up . . .
There’s just one catch – the traditional, buttoned-up landlord is only willing to rent to a stable, married couple and August, quite frankly, is neither. Competition for the house is fierce and August knows she’ll have to come up with a plan or risk losing her last shot at her happy ending.
Enter Flynn, the handsome, charming and somewhat unsuspecting gentleman who August accidentally spills her coffee over. Flynn is new to the area and is looking for somewhere to live, and August thinks she knows just the place, but only if he’s willing to tell a little white lie . . .
The House Beneath the Cliffs by Sharon Gosling
A remote yet beautiful village. A tiny kitchen lunch club. The perfect place to start again.
Anna moves to Crovie, a tiny fishing village on the Moray Firth, for a fresh start. But when she arrives, she realises her new home is really no more than a shed, and the village itself sits beneath a cliff right on the edge of the sea, in constant danger of storms and landslides. Has she made a terrible mistake?
Yet as she begins to learn about the Scottish coast and its people, something she thought she’d lost reawakens in her. She rediscovers her love of cooking, and turns her kitchen into a pop-up lunch club. But not all the locals are delighted about her arrival, and some are keen to see her plans fail.
Will Anna really be able to put down roots in this remote and wild village? Or will her fragile new beginning start to crumble with the cliffs . . . ?
Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis
What if you fell in love…
… and then he disappeared?
When Noelle and Sam’s lives collide one snowy evening, they spend eight perfect hours stuck side by side believing that they’ll never see each other again.
But soon their lives become entangled in ways they never expected – and it’s going to change everything…
Orphans of the Storm by Celia Imrie
Nice, France, 1911: After three years of marriage, young seamstress Marcela Caretto has finally had enough. Her husband, Michael, an ambitious tailor, has become cruel and controlling and she determines to get a divorce.
But while awaiting the judges’ decision on the custody of their two small boys, Michael receives news that changes everything.
Meanwhile fun-loving New York socialite Margaret Hays is touring Europe with some friends. Restless, she resolves to head home aboard the most celebrated steamer in the world – RMS Titanic.
As the ship sets sail for America, carrying two infants bearing false names, the paths of Marcela, Michael and Margaret cross – and nothing will ever be the same again.
The Duchess by Wendy Holden
The Duchess, the second novel in Wendy Holden’s trilogy about royal outsiders, fictionalises the unknown London life of Wallis Simpson.
Arriving in 1928, Wallis was a divorced, penniless, middle-aged foreigner with average looks and no connections. Yet, just eight years later, a king renounced his throne for her. How did a woman from nowhere capture the heart of the world’s most glamorous bachelor? Wendy Holden tells the amazing story.
The Fire Portrait by Barbara Mutch
When Englishwoman Frances McDonald sets up home in a remote hamlet in South Africa in the 1930s, she is regarded with suspicion by the community. Confined by a marriage of convenience, she seeks an outlet by learning the local language, teaching art, and exhibiting her paintings of the stunning veld landscape. Soon the spectre of war threatens to divide not only the country but the town itself and scupper Frances’ hard-won acceptance.
When she reunites unexpectedly with a former love and her husband leaves to fight for the Allies, she gains a child but loses her home in a moment that will change her life and send her on a journey from the arid veld to the bright lights of London and beyond.
Non-Fiction – bonus extra!
A Field Guide to Larking by Lara Maiklem
A Field Guide to Larking is a practical, interactive and inspiring guide to ‘larking’ from the bestselling author of Mudlarking.
To lark is to get out and about, to explore the world around us and to discover the little treasures hiding in plain sight. We think, of course, of mudlarking but there is also beachlarking, fieldlarking or even simply exploring your own home with fresh eyes.
In this beautiful field guide, Lara teaches us how to lark for ourselves. There are maps and charts, tips and lists, and colour illustrations throughout to help identify finds. From tide tables for mudlarkers to a flint guide for fieldlarkers, this book is richly informative and yet small enough to pop in a pocket. Like a journal it invites you to interact – to make notes and record finds along the way.
If Lara Maiklem’s first book was a glimpse into a hidden world, with this field guide she shows us how we can discover it for ourselves.
So that’s all for this week.