Here’s this week’s list of new fiction titles. It’s a long one this week, so be prepared!
Just a reminder 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. Also 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!)
Crime, Thriller & Mystery
The Maid by Nita Prose
I am your maid.
I know about your secrets. Your dirty laundry.
But what do you know about me?
Molly the maid is all alone in the world. A nobody. She’s used to being invisible in her job at the Regency Grand Hotel, plumping pillows and wiping away the grime, dust and secrets of the guests passing through. She’s just a maid – why should anyone take notice?
But Molly is thrown into the spotlight when she discovers an infamous guest, Mr Black, very dead in his bed. This isn’t a mess that can be easily cleaned up. And as Molly becomes embroiled in the hunt for the truth, following the clues whispering in the hallways of the Regency Grand, she discovers a power she never knew was there. She’s just a maid – but what can she see that others overlook?
Breaking Point by Edel Coffey
An innocent mistake. A lifetime of guilt.
Susannah has two beautiful daughters, a high-flying medical career, a successful husband and an enviable life. Her hair is glossy, her clothes are expensive; she truly has it all.
But when – on the hottest day of the year – her strict morning routine is disrupted, Susannah finds herself running on autopilot. It is hours before she realises she has made a devastating mistake. Her baby, Louise, is still in the backseat of the car and it is too late to save her.
As the press close in around her, Susannah is put on trial for negligence. It is plain to see that this is not a trial, it’s a witch hunt. But what will the court say?
One Step Too Far by Lisa Gardner
A young man disappears during a stag weekend in the woods.
Years later, he’s still missing.
But his friends who were with him that day are still searching for him. Still hunting.
They hike deep into the wilderness.
With them is missing person specialist Frankie Elkin.
What they don’t know is that they are putting their own lives in terrifying danger, and may not come back alive . . .
She and I by Hannah King
Best friends share everything. But murder is different. Isn’t it?
Keeley and Jude are closer than blood. Inseparable since childhood, they share everything: clothes, secrets, booze – and blame. So when they wake up after a new year’s party to find Keeley’s boyfriend stabbed to death beside them, they agree to share something else: the story they’ll tell the police.
But who is that story really meant to protect? Is Jude risking her bright future to protect her friend? Is there more to sharp-eyed Keeley than she lets on? Or are they conspiring to let Keeley’s brother get away with the drugs he’s been selling in their small town?
As the murder investigation sends ripples through their community, the history of the girls’ claustrophobic relationship comes under scrutiny – and they start to realise they might not, always, have shared as much as they thought.
Can their friendship survive sharing everything?
A Killing in November by Simon Mason
Ryan Wilkins grew up on a trailer park, a member of what many people would call the criminal classes. As a young Detective Inspector, he’s lost none of his disgust with privileged elites – or his objectionable manners. But he notices things; they stick to his eyes. His professional partner, DI Ray Wilkins, of affluent Nigerian-London heritage, is an impeccably groomed, smooth-talking graduate of Balliol College, Oxford. You wouldn’t think they would get on. They don’t.
But when a young woman is found strangled at Barnabas Hall, they’re forced to.
Rich Oxford is not Ryan’s natural habitat. St Barnabas’s irascible Provost does not appreciate his forceful line of questioning. But what was the dead woman doing in the Provost’s study? Is it just a coincidence that on the night of her murder the college was entertaining Sheik al-Medina, a Gulf state ruler linked to human-rights abuses in his own country and acts of atrocity in others?
As tensions rise, things aren’t going well. Ray is in despair. Ryan is in disciplinary measures. But their investigation gradually disentangles the links between a Syrian refugee lawyer now working in the college kitchens, a priceless copy of the Koran in the college collection and the identity of the dead woman.
A Killing in November introduces an unlikely duo from different sides of the tracks in Oxford in a deftly plotted murder story full of dangerous turns, troubled pasts and unconventional detective work.
The Heretic by Liam McIlvanney
A deadly fire
An arson attack on a Glasgow warehouse causes the deaths of a young mother and child.
Police suspect it’s the latest act in a brutal gang warfare that’s tearing the city apart – one that DI Duncan McCormack has been tasked with stopping.
A brutal murder
Five years ago he was walking on water as the cop who tracked down a notorious serial killer. But he made powerful enemies and when a mutilated body is found in a Tradeston slum,
McCormack is assigned a case that no one wants. The dead man is wearing a masonic ring, though, and Duncan realizes the victim is not the down-and-out his boss had first assumed.
A catastrophic explosion
As McCormack looks into both crimes, the investigations are disrupted by a shocking event.
A bomb rips through a pub packed with people – and a cop is killed in the blast. The cases are stacking up and with one of his own unit now dead, McCormack is in the firing line.
But he’s starting to see a thread – one that connects all three attacks…
The Undiscovered Deaths of Grace McGill by C S Robertson
DEATH IS NOT THE END. FOR GRACE McGILL IT IS ONLY THE BEGINNING.
When people die alone and undiscovered, it’s her job to clean up what’s left behind – whether it’s clutter, bodily remains or dark secrets.
When an old man lies undetected in his flat for months, it seems an unremarkable life and an unnoticed death. But Grace knows that everyone has a story and that all deaths mean something more.
The Threlkeld Theory by Rebecca Tope
On a glorious July morning in the pretty Lake District village of Threlkeld, Simmy Brown and Christopher Henderson celebrate their wedding day. While the event passes off without undue calamity, when most of the guests have departed a severely injured young man is found nearby.
Pressure on police resources compromises the investigation and speculation is rife. Was it an accident or something more sinister? What was just a chilling suspicion develops into an altogether more disturbing theory.
Dead End Street by Trevor Wood
A group of vigilantes are carrying out a campaign of harassment against the homeless, hounding them both verbally and physically to get them off the streets. Jimmy Mullen is approached by his friend Gadge, who wants to confront the people behind it but Jimmy has finally got his life back on track. He’s working at a hostel for 18 to 25-year-olds and he’s reluctant to get involved in anything dodgy.
Gadge decides to go it alone but is attacked by two of the vigilantes. The police find him unconscious in an alley, covered in blood. Problem is, there’s a dead body in the alley too and it’s his blood that Gadge is covered in. He’s also got the murder weapon in his hand.
Convinced that Gadge has been set up, and feeling guilty that he didn’t back him up in the first place, Jimmy returns to the streets to try and find out who’s behind his friend’s difficulties. Unfortunately, he’s about to discover that Gadge has a lot of enemies to choose from.
Just Another Liar by Mandy Byatt
He says he loves you. He says you’re the only one. He’s just another liar…
Denise, Petra, and Anna all have their reasons for being alone.
But they’re not ready to share them.
David is the answer to all their problems.
But they’ve only met him online.
Each woman wants her happy ending.
But only one of them can get it.
One of these women will end up dead.
But which one? And will you ever work out who killed them?
The Tally Stick by Carl Nixon
Lost in the wilderness: subjugation, survival, and the meaning of family
Up on the highway, the only evidence that the Chamberlains had ever been there was two smeared tire tracks in the mud leading into an almost undamaged screen of bushes and trees. No other cars passed that way until after dawn. By that time the tracks had been washed away by the heavy rain. After being in New Zealand for only five days, the English Chamberlain family had vanished into thin air. The date was 4 April 1978. In 2010 the remains of the eldest child are discovered in a remote part of the West Coast, showing he lived for four years after the family disappeared. Found alongside him are his father’s watch and what turns out to be a tally stick, a piece of scored wood marking items of debt. How had he survived and then died in such a way? Where is the rest of the family? And what is the meaning of the tally stick?
Guilt Edged by Leigh Russell
An inoffensive man is murdered in a seemingly motiveless attack. Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel and her team are baffled, until DNA from an apparent stranger is discovered on the victim’s body.
Geraldine is not convinced the suspect is guilty. When a witness comes forward to offer the suspect an alibi, Geraldine lets him go. That night, a second murder is committed. The evidence points to the suspect who has just been released.
As Geraldine attempts to make sense of the suspect’s complex history, he goes on the run. Even his wife appears to condemn him. Only Geraldine still doubts that he is to blame for the murders, but is she prompted by her own guilt for having released him to kill again?
As the story races towards a breathtaking twist, Geraldine is tormented by self-doubt, and struggles to focus all her attention on the case. Someone is lying and the police must uncover the truth before anyone else is killed…
Murder at the National Gallery by Jim Eldridge
1897, London. The capital is shocked to learn that the body of a woman has been found at the National Gallery, eviscerated in a manner that recalls all too strongly the exploits of the infamous Jack the Ripper.
Daniel Wilson and Abigail Fenton are contacted by a curator of the National Gallery for their assistance. The dead woman, an artist’s model and lady of the night, had links to artist Walter Sickert who was a suspect during the Ripper’s spree of killings. Scotland Yard have arrested Sickert on suspicion of this fresh murder but it is not the last .
Copycat murders of the Ripper’s crimes implicate the artist who loves to shock but Sickert insists that he is innocent. Who would want to frame him? Wilson and Fenton have their work cut out catching an elusive and determined killer.
Bitter Flowers by Gunnar Staalesen
PI Varg Veum has returned to duty following a stint in rehab, but his new composure and resolution are soon threatened when a challenging assignment arrives on his desk.
A man is found dead in an elite swimming pool and a young woman has gone missing. Most chillingly, Varg Veum is asked to investigate the ‘Camilla Case’: an eight-year-old cold case involving the disappearance of a little girl, who was never found.
As the threads of these apparently unrelated crimes come together, against the backdrop of a series of shocking environmental crimes, Varg Veum faces the most challenging, traumatic investigation of his career.
Find Her First by Emma Christie
Where is Stef Campbell? And who can be trusted to bring her home?
Paramedic Andy Campbell has a secret he can’t tell anyone, not least the police.
But when his missing wife’s image is found at the home of a suspected killer, detectives start asking questions, and they’re not the only ones . . .
The race for the truth leads them far from their Edinburgh home – but who will find her first, and will they save her life or take it?
Free Love by Tessa Hadley
1967. While London comes alive with the new youth revolution, the suburban Fischer family seems to belong to an older world of conventional stability: pretty, dutiful homemaker Phyllis is married to Roger, a devoted father with a career in the Foreign Office. Their children are Colette, a bookish teenager, and Hugh, the golden boy.
But when the twenty-something son of an old friend pays the Fischers a visit one hot summer evening, and kisses Phyllis in the dark garden after dinner, something in her catches fire. Newly awake to the world, Phyllis makes a choice that defies all expectations of her as a wife and a mother. Nothing in these ordinary lives is so ordinary after all, it turns out, as the family’s upheaval mirrors the dramatic transformation of the society around them.
The Sentence by Louise Erdrich
Louise Erdrich’s latest novel, The Sentence, asks what we owe to the living, the dead, to the reader and to the book. A small independent bookstore in Minneapolis is haunted from November 2019 to November 2020 by the store’s most annoying customer. Flora dies on All Souls’ Day, but she simply won’t leave the store. Tookie, who has landed a job selling books after years of incarceration that she survived by reading ‘with murderous attention,’ must solve the mystery of this haunting while at the same time trying to understand all that occurs in Minneapolis during a year of grief, astonishment, isolation and furious reckoning.
The Truth About Her by Jacqueline Maley
Journalist and single mother Suzy Hamilton gets a phone call one summer morning, and finds out that the subject of one of her investigative exposés, wellness blogger Tracey Doran, has killed herself overnight. Suzy is horrified by this news but copes in the only way she knows how – through work, mothering, and carrying on with several ill-advised affairs.
The consequences of her actions catch up with Suzy over the course of a sticky Sydney summer. She starts receiving anonymous vindictive letters and is pursued by Tracey’s mother wanting her, as a kind of rough justice, to tell Tracey’s story, but this time, the right way.
Tell me How to Be by Neel Patel
Lost in the jungle of Los Angeles, Akash Amin is filled with shame. Shame for liking men. Shame for wanting to be a songwriter. Shame for not being like his perfect brother. Shame for his alcoholism. And most of all, shame for what happened with the first boy he ever loved. When his mother tells him she is selling the family home, Akash must return to Illinois to confront his demons and the painful memory of a sexual awakening that became a nightmare.
Akash’s mum, Renu, is also plagued by guilt. She had it all: doting husband, beautiful house, healthy sons. But as the one-year anniversary of her husband’s death approaches Renu can’t stop wondering if she chose the wrong life thirty-five years ago and should have stayed in London with her first love.
Together, Renu and Akash pack up the house, retreating further into the secrets that stand between them. When their pasts catch up to them, Renu and Akash must decide between the lives they left behind and the ones they’ve since created.
The Sky Above the Roof by Nathacha Appanah
It all begins with a crash.
One night, seventeen-year-old Wolf steals his mother’s car and drives six hundred kilometres in search of his sister, who left home ten years ago. Unlicensed and on edge, he veers onto the wrong side of the road and causes an accident. He is arrested, imprisoned, and leaves his mother and sister to pick up the pieces.
What follows is an unflinching account of the events that lead to this moment, told through the alternating perspectives of Wolf’s mother, sister and various other voices. In this raw and poignant novel, Nathacha Appanah reveals how trauma shapes generations and the wounds it leaves behind. The Sky Above the Roof is both a portrait of a fractured family and a poetic exploration of the ways we break apart and rebuild
A Sister’s Story by Donatella Di Pietrantonio
It’s the darkest time of night. Adriana, a baby in her arms, hammers on her sister’s door. Who is she running from? What uncomfortable truth will she deliver? Like a whirlwind, Adriana breaks into her sister’s life bringing chaos and cataclysmic revelations.
Years later, the narrator gets an unexpected, urgent summons back to Pescara. She embarks on a long journey through the night, and through the folds and twists of her memory, from her and her sister’s youth, their loves and losses, their secrets and regrets. Back in Borgo Sud, the town’s fishermen’s quarter, in that impenetrable yet welcoming microcosm, she will discover what really happened, and perhaps make peace with the past.
Donatella Di Pietrantonio, expert chronicler of the bonds between mothers and daughters, revisits the places and characters of A Girl Returned with a novel focussed on the ambivalent, ambiguous, wavering but steadfast relationship between sisters.
A Terrible Kindness by Jo Browning Wroe
When we go through something impossible, someone, or something, will help us, if we let them . . .
It is October 1966 and William Lavery is having the night of his life at his first black-tie do. But, as the evening unfolds, news hits of a landslide at a coal mine. It has buried a school: Aberfan.
William decides he must act, so he stands and volunteers to attend. It will be his first job as an embalmer, and it will be one he never forgets.
His work that night will force him to think about the little boy he was, and the losses he has worked so hard to forget. But compassion can have surprising consequences, because – as William discovers – giving so much to others can sometimes help us heal ourselves.
Should I Tell You? by Jill Mansell
Amber, Lachlan and Raffaele met as teenagers in the Cornish seaside home of kind-hearted foster parents. Years on, the bond between them is unbreakable
But Amber has a secret. She’s in love with Lachlan. She can’t tell him, because that would never work – he’s definitely not the settling-down type. Surely it’s better to keep him as a friend than to risk losing him for good?
Raffaele has his own dilemma. He had the dream girlfriend in Vee, until it all went horribly wrong . . . and he still can’t understand why. Is Vee hiding something from him?
Now their widowed foster dad Teddy has found new love. Younger, charming and beautiful, Olga seems perfect. But is she? Or will she break Teddy’s fragile heart?
Against a backdrop of sparkling seas and sunny skies, the unexpected is always just around the corner. Welcome to Lanrock!
Little Wing by Freya North
1969. Florence Lawson, a 16-year-old schoolgirl who dreams of being an artist, finds herself pregnant and banished to one of the most remote parts of the UK.
1986. Dougie Munro, searching for adventure, leaves the Isle of Harris – the island of his birth – for art college and a career in London as a photographer.
2005. Nell Hartley, content with her life managing a care-in-the-community cafe in Colchester, discovers a shocking truth about her family.
Between the sprawl of London, suburban Essex, and the wild, unpredictable Outer Hebrides, three lives collide and interweave as questions are asked and secrets surface. What happened to Florence? Why is Dougie now so reluctant to return home? How can Nell make peace with the lies she’s been told?
Other Parents by Sarah Stovell
In a small town like West Burntridge, it should be impossible to keep a secret.
Rachel Saunders knows gossip is the price you pay for a rural lifestyle and outstanding schools. The latest town scandal is her divorce – and the fact that her new girlfriend has moved into the family home.
Laura Spence lives in a poky bedsit on the wrong side of town. She and her son Max don’t really belong, and his violent tantrums are threatening to expose the very thing she’s trying to hide.
When the local school introduces a new inclusive curriculum, Rachel and Laura find themselves on opposite sides of a fearsome debate.
But the problem with having your nose in everyone else’s business is that you often miss what is happening in your own home.
Tides by Sara Freeman
After a sudden, devastating loss, Mara flees her family and ends up adrift in a wealthy coastal town. Mired in her grief, Mara’s first few days are spent alone, surviving on what scraps of food she can find, and swimming at night in the ocean. When her money runs out and the tourist season comes to a close, Mara finds a job in a local wine store and meets its owner, Simon, a man whose loneliness she immediately recognises as a mirror to her own. As Mara dances around her growing attraction to Simon, she is forced to reckon with both her present desires and her past errors, and with the compulsion she feels to both make and unmake herself.
The Queen’s Lady by Joanna Hickson
Can she tread a dangerous line between love and duty?
Raven-haired and fiercely independent, Joan Guildford has always remained true to herself.
As lady-in-waiting and confidante to Queen Elizabeth, wife of Henry VII, Joan understands royal patronage is vital if she and her husband, Sir Richard, are to thrive in the volatile atmosphere of court life.
But Tudor England is in mourning following the death of the Prince of Wales, and within a year, the queen herself. With Prince Henry now heir to the throne, the court murmurs with the sound of conspiracy. Is the entire Tudor project now at stake or can young Henry secure the dynasty?
Drawn into the heart of the crisis, Joan’s own life is in turmoil, and her future far from secure. She faces a stark choice – be true to her heart and risk everything, or play the dutiful servant and watch her dreams wither and die. For Joan, and for Henry’s Kingdom, everything is at stake…
Letting in the Light by Charlotte Betts
1914 Spindrift House, Cornwall
Edith Fairchild’s good-for-nothing husband, Benedict, deserted her when their children were babies. Now the children are almost adult, Edith and Pascal, her faithful lover of two decades, are planning to leave their beloved Spindrift artists’ community and finally be together.
But an explosive encounter between Benedict and Pascal forces old secrets into the light, causing rifts in the happiness and security of the community. Then an assassin’s bullet fired in faraway Sarajevo sets in motion a chain of events that changes everything.
Under the shadow of war, the community struggles to eke out a living. The younger generation enlist or volunteer to support the war effort, facing dangers that seemed unimaginable in the golden summer of 1914.
When it’s all over, will the Spindrift community survive an unexpected threat? And will Edith and Pascal ever be able to fulfil their dream?
The God of that Summer by Ralf Rothmann
As the Second World War enters its final stages, millions in Germany are forced from their homes by bombing, compelled to seek shelter in the countryside where there are barely the resources to feed them.
Twelve-year-old Luisa, her mother, and her older sister Billie have escaped the devastation of the city for the relative safety of a dairy farm. But even here the power struggles of the war play out: the family depend on the goodwill of Luisa’s brother-in-law, an SS officer, who in expectation of payment turns his attention away from his wife and towards Billie. Luisa immerses herself in books, but even she notices the Allied bombers flying east above them, the gauntness of the prisoners at the camp nearby, the disappearance of fresh-faced boys from the milk shed – hastily shipped off to a war that’s already lost.
Living on the farm teaches Luisa about life and death, but it’s man’s capacity for violence that provides the ultimate lesson, that robs her of her innocent ignorance. When, at a birthday celebration, her worst fears are realized, Luisa collapses under the weight of the inexplicable.
The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont
In 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days. Only I know the truth of her disappearance.
I’m no Hercule Poirot.
I’m her husband’s mistress.
Agatha Christie’s world is one of glamorous society parties, country house weekends, and growing literary fame.
Nan O’Dea’s world is something very different. Her attempts to escape a tough London upbringing during the Great War led to a life in Ireland marred by a hidden tragedy.
After fighting her way back to England, she’s set her sights on Agatha. Because Agatha Christie has something Nan wants. And it’s not just her husband.
Despite their differences, the two women will become the most unlikely of allies. And during the mysterious eleven days that Agatha goes missing, they will unravel a dark secret that only Nan holds the key to . . .
So that’s all for this week.