Coming this week – my fiction picks to 17th April

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.

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)

Index

Crime, Thriller and Mystery

General Fiction

Historical (I tend to take this as pre 1960’s ie not in my lifetime!)

Crime, Thriller & Mystery

The Fall by Rachael Blok

The bigger the sin, the further the fall…

With Easter approaching, the verger of St Albans Cathedral was supposed to be readying the church. Instead he discovers a man lying dead, fallen from the famous 150-foot-high tower. Did he jump, or was he pushed?

For DCI Maarten Jansen, it’s a simple case of suspected suicide. Until a witness, Willow, prompts a deeper investigation into a long-buried past, involving a psychiatric hospital, a pregnant woman, and fifty years of silence. As Willow’s own family history entwines with the case, Jansen starts to wonder how everything is connected.

The Fall is a haunting literary thriller about loss, trauma, silence, and how our past shapes who we are.


Into the Dark by Fiona Cummins

THE PLACE: Seawings, a beautiful Art Deco home overlooking the sweep of the bay in Midtown-on-Sea.

THE CRIME: The gilded Holden family – Piper and Gray and their two teenage children, Riva and Artie – has vanished from the house without a trace.

THE DETECTIVE: DS Saul Anguish, brilliant but with a dark past, treads the narrow line between light and shade.

One late autumn morning, Piper’s best friend arrives at Seawings to discover an eerie scene – the kettle is still warm, all the family’s phones are charging on the worktop, the cars are in the garage. But the house is deserted.

In fifteen-year-old Riva Holden’s bedroom, scrawled across the mirror in blood, are three words:

Make
Them
Stop.


What happens next?


Breakneck Point by T Orr Munro

CSI Ally Dymond’s commitment to justice has cost her a place on the major investigations team. After exposing corruption in the ranks, she’s stuck working petty crimes on the sleepy North Devon coast.

Then the body of nineteen-year-old Janie Warren turns up in the seaside town of Bidecombe, and Ally’s expert skills are suddenly back in demand.

But when the evidence she discovers contradicts the lead detective’s theory, nobody wants to listen to the CSI who landed their colleagues in prison.

Time is running out to catch a killer no one is looking for – no one except Ally. What she doesn’t know is that he’s watching, from her side of the crime scene tape, waiting for the moment to strike.


It Ends at Midnight by Harriet Tyce

It’s New Year’s Eve and the stage is set for a lavish party in one of Edinburgh’s best postcodes. It’s a moment for old friends to set the past to rights – and move on.

The night sky is alive with fireworks and the champagne is flowing. But the celebration fails to materialise.

Because someone at this party is going to die tonight.

Midnight approaches and the countdown begins – but it seems one of the guests doesn’t want a resolution.

They want revenge.


Life Sentence by A K Turner

Mortuary technician Cassie Raven believes the last thoughts of the dead linger like static in the air…

Cassie has always had a strange affinity with death, ever since her parents were killed in a car crash when she was four. At least that’s what she grew up believing…

But that was a lie. Cassie’s father is alive. He was convicted of murdering her mother and spent years behind bars. Now he’s out – and he’s looking for her.

He swears he didn’t do it. And Cassie wants to believe him.

To find the truth, she must turn detective. As she seeks answers, help is to be found in inexplicable places – for the dead are ready to talk.


First Born by Will Dean

Molly lives a quiet, contained life in London. Naturally risk averse, she gains comfort from security and structure. Every day the same.

Her identical twin Katie is her exact opposite: gregarious and spontaneous. They used to be inseparable, until Katie moved to New York a year ago. Molly still speaks to her daily without fail.

But when Molly learns that Katie has died suddenly in New York, she is thrown into unfamiliar territory. Katie is part of her DNA. As terrifying as it is, she must go there and find out what happened. As she tracks her twin’s last movements, cracks begin to emerge. Nothing is what it seems. And a web of deceit is closing around her.


Back to Index

General/Contemporary Fiction

The No-Show by Beth O’Leary

Three women. Three dates. One missing man…

8.52 a.m. Siobhan is looking forward to her breakfast date with Joseph. She was surprised when he suggested it – she normally sees him late at night in her hotel room. Breakfast on Valentine’s Day surely means something … so where is he?

2.43 p.m. Miranda’s hoping that a Valentine’s Day lunch with Carter will be the perfect way to celebrate her new job. It’s a fresh start and a sign that her life is falling into place: she’s been dating Carter for five months now and things are getting serious. But why hasn’t he shown up?

6.30 p.m. Joseph Carter agreed to be Jane’s fake boyfriend at an engagement party. They’ve not known each other long but their friendship is fast becoming the brightest part of her new life in Winchester. Joseph promised to save Jane tonight. But he’s not here…

Meet Joseph Carter. That is, if you can find him.


The Caretakers by Amanda Bestor-Siegal

In a smart Parisian suburb, in the wake of the Paris 2015 terrorist attacks, an au pair is arrested after the sudden and suspicious death of her nine-year-old charge…

The truth behind what happened is unravelled through six women: Geraldine, a heartbroken French teacher who struggles to connect with her vulnerable students; Lou, an incompetent au pair fired by the family next door; Charlotte, a chilly socialite and reluctant mother; Holly, an anxious au pair who yearns to feel at home in Paris; Nathalie, an isolated French teenager desperate for her mother’s attention; and finally, Alena, the au pair accused of killing a child.

All of them play a part in nine-year-old Julien’s death…


Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart

The extraordinary, powerful second novel from the Booker prizewinning author of Shuggie BainYoung Mungo is both a vivid portrayal of working-class life and the deeply moving story of the dangerous first love of two young men: Mungo and James.

Born under different stars, Protestant Mungo and Catholic James live in a hyper-masculine world. They are caught between two of Glasgow’s housing estates where young working-class men divide themselves along sectarian lines, and fight territorial battles for the sake of reputation. They should be sworn enemies if they’re to be seen as men at all, and yet they become best friends as they find a sanctuary in the doocot that James has built for his prize racing pigeons. As they begin to fall in love, they dream of escaping the grey city, and Mungo must work hard to hide his true self from all those around him, especially from his elder brother Hamish, a local gang leader with a brutal reputation to uphold.

But the threat of discovery is constant and the punishment unspeakable. When Mungo’s mother sends him on a fishing trip to a loch in Western Scotland, with two strange men behind whose drunken banter lie murky pasts, he needs to summon all his inner strength and courage to get back to a place of safety, a place where he and James might still have a future.


Trespasses by Louise Kennedy

One by one, she undid each event, each decision, each choice.
If Davy had remembered to put on a coat.
If Seamie McGeown had not found himself alone on a dark street.
If Michael Agnew had not walked through the door of the pub on a quiet night in February in his white shirt.

There is nothing special about the day Cushla meets Michael, a married man from Belfast, in the pub owned by her family. But here, love is never far from violence, and this encounter will change both of their lives forever.

As people get up each morning and go to work, school, church or the pub, the daily news rolls in of another car bomb exploded, another man beaten, killed or left for dead. In the class Cushla teaches, the vocabulary of seven-year-old children now includes phrases like ‘petrol bomb’ and ‘rubber bullets’. And as she is forced to tread lines she never thought she would cross, tensions in the town are escalating, threatening to destroy all she is working to hold together.


Wet Paint by Chloe Ashby

Since the death of her best friend Grace, twenty-six-year-old Eve has learned to keep everything and everyone at arm’s length. Safe in her detachment, she scrapes along waiting tables and cleaning her shared flat in exchange for cheap rent, finding solace in her small routines.

But when a chance encounter at work brings her past thundering into her present, Eve becomes consumed by painful memories of Grace. And soon her precariously maintained life begins to unravel: she loses her job, gets thrown out of her flat, and risks pushing away the one decent man who cares about her.

Taking up life-modelling to pay the bills, Eve lays bare her body but keeps hidden the mounting chaos inside her head. When her self-destructive urges spiral out of control, she’s forced to confront the traumatic event that changed the course of her life, and to finally face her grief and guilt.


Other People Manage by Ellen Hawley

It’s Minneapolis in the 1970s, and two women meet in the Women’s Coffeehouse. Marge is a bus driver, and Peg is training to be a psychotherapist.

Over the next twenty years, they stay together, through the challenges any couple faces and some that no one expects. Then one day things change, and Marge has to work out what she’s left with – and if she still belongs to the family she’s adopted as her own.

Other People Manage is a novel about hard-earned but everyday love. It’s about family and it’s about loss. It’s the kind of novel that only someone who has lived enough of life could write – frequently funny, at times almost unbearably moving, but above all extraordinarily wise.


Afterwards by Charlotte Leonard

This is the story of loss – and what happens afterwards…
 
When Emma gets home after work one evening, she calls hello to her husband Jay, as she always does. Stepping into the kitchen, she sees he has done the shopping, as she had reminded him to; remembered to buy peppercorns; has bought her flowers. Everything is neatly put away.
 
But Jay is not there. He is upstairs. And he has ended his own life, seemingly out of nowhere and leaving no note to explain.
 
A photographer, all Jay has left behind is his camera containing five photographs, which are unlike his other work.  Desperately trying to comprehend the incomprehensible and struggling to cope in a house that no longer feels like home, Emma follows the images to Cornwall, beginning a journey in which old relationships are re-written and new ones are formed. As the visual mystery of each photograph unfolds, Emma finds herself unravelling and perilously close to breaking point. But could her unlikely salvation lie in the sea, a small community of swimmers and the promise of something Emma thought she didn’t want?


Grand Hotel Europa by Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer

‘The love of my life lives in my past. That is, despite the alliteration, a terrible sentence to write. I do not want to come to the conclusion that, as it is the case for the hotel where I am staying and the continent after which it is named, the best time is behind me and that I have little more to expect from the future than to live on my past.’

A writer takes residence in the illustrious but decaying Grand Hotel Europa, to think about where things went wrong with Clio, with whom he fell in love in Genoa and moved to Venice. He reconstructs a compelling story of love in times of mass tourism, about their trips to Malta, Palmaria, Portovenere and the Cinque Terre and their thrilling search for the last painting of Caravaggio. Meanwhile, he becomes fascinated by the mysteries of Grand Hotel Europe and gets more and more involved with the memorable characters who inhabit it, and who seem to come from a more elegant time. All the while, globalisation seems to be grabbing hold even on this place frozen in time.


Six Days by Dani Atkins

He loves me… He loves me not… He loves me…

Gemma knows that she and Finn are destined to be together. They are soulmates. But then, on their wedding day, he never arrives at the church.

Gemma is convinced Finn wouldn’t abandon her like this, even though he has disappeared once before. But back then he had a reason. She feels sure something terrible has happened, but no one else is convinced. Even the police aren’t concerned, telling Gemma most people who disappear usually turn up in a week… assuming they want to be found, that is.

For the next six days Gemma frantically searches for Finn, even though every shocking revelation is telling her to give up on him. Before long, even she begins to doubt her own memories of their love.

How long can she hold on to her faith in Finn if everyone is telling her to let him go?


Single Bald Female by Laura Price

Jessica Jackson has hit all the milestones for turning 30 – the career, the loving boyfriend and a cosy London flat they share with their cat. But a shock diagnosis of breast cancer turns Jess’s world upside down, and her contented life implodes with it.

Around her, her friends’ lives continue to follow the script, with the big white weddings and the baby scans. With her own future so uncertain, the only thing Jess is sure of is that she’s being left behind.

In the midst of it all, she meets Annabel, an enigmatic twenty-seven year old with incurable cancer. But while Annabel may not have long left, she understands much more about living than anyone Jess has ever met. And she’s determined to show Jess how to make every day count . . .


A Village Secret by Julie Houston

When Jennifer goes up to Cambridge University with her head full of the Romantic Poets, she never dreams that she will find her very own Byron. But then she meets gorgeous actor Laurie Lewis, and finds herself living a real-life love poem.

Fifteen years and two children later, Jennifer and Laurie’s relationship is starting to feel more like an epic tragedy. After a series of revelations turn her world upside down, Jennifer will do anything to keep her family together – even if it means moving hundreds of miles away to Laurie’s childhood home in Westenbury, Yorkshire.

As she reluctantly enters into village life – complete with interfering in-laws, new friends and a surprise delivery of alpacas – Jennifer is amazed to find herself feeling happy for the first time in years. But the village holds one last, devastating secret and Jennifer must decide once and for all what she wants her future to hold.


Rainbows End in Ferry Lane Market by Nicola May

39-year-old Glanna Pascoe – also known as ‘the Rainbow Painter’ – runs the Hartmouth Gallery in Ferry Lane Market in Cornwall. She is just getting her head and broken heart around being single, childless, and sober when Cupid flies in, shooting arrows all over the place.

Meeting the mysterious and fascinating Isaac Benson, famous local artist, and recluse, allows Glanna’s disillusioned heart and attitude to soften, and she begins to learn more about herself than she ever thought possible. Confused by her growing feelings for Isaac, Glanna throws herself into organising a life-drawing class at her gallery, using both male and female nudes – and setting local tongues wagging.

A theft from her gallery and the return of ex-love Oliver Trueman cause Glanna to wonder if a pot of gold will be appearing at the end of her rainbow. And will it bring her the happiness, she has sought for so long?


Mad About You by Mhairi McFarlane

Two strangers.
One big coincidence.
Driving each other crazy is just the beginning…

Harriet Hatley is running away from everything.

Getting married.
Her boyfriend’s family.
Her past.

A dream house-share seems like the perfect place to hide, but her unlikely housemate Cal is no stranger to running away himself. And he’s also hiding secrets of his own . . .

Can these two take a crazy risk, face the past and finally find a reason to stay?


The Girls by Bella Osborne

Four old friends. Thrown back together after forty years apart. What could possibly go wrong?

In the 1970s, The Girls were best friends sharing a house and good times: Zara the famous diva actor, Val the uptight solicitor, Jackie the wild child and Pauline the quirky introvert. Now they’re in their twilight years, and Zara suggests that they live with her to support each other through old age.

Initially, being housemates again is just as much fun as in their heyday. But then Zara reveals the real reason she asked them to move in with her, and suddenly things take a sinister turn.

As the women confront their demons they come under the spotlight of the press, the police and an angry parrot. With their lives spiralling out of control can they save their friendships and each other?


The Shadow Child by Rachel Hancox

Eighteen-year-old Emma has loving parents and a promising future ahead of her.

So why, one morning, does she leave home without a trace?

Her parents, Cath and Jim, are devastated. They have no idea why Emma left, where she is – or even whether she is still alive.

A year later, Cath and Jim are still tormented by the unanswered questions Emma left behind, and clinging desperately to the hope of finding her.

Meanwhile, tantalisingly close to home, Emma is also struggling with her new existence – and with the trauma that shattered her life.

For all of them, reconciliation seems an impossible dream. Does the way forward lie in facing up to the secrets of the past – secrets that have been hidden for years?

Secrets that have the power to heal them, or to destroy their family forever …


Back to Index

Historical

The Chosen by Elizabeth Lowry

One Wednesday morning in November 1912 the ageing Thomas Hardy, entombed by paper and books and increasingly estranged from his wife Emma, finds her dying in her bedroom. Between his speaking to her and taking her in his arms, she has gone.

The day before, he and Emma had exchanged bitter words – leading Hardy to wonder whether all husbands and wives end up as enemies to each other. His family and Florence Dugdale, the much younger woman with whom he has been in a relationship, assume that he will be happy and relieved to be set free. But he is left shattered by the loss.

Hardy’s bewilderment only increases when, sorting through Emma’s effects, he comes across a set of diaries that she had secretly kept about their life together, ominously titled ‘What I Think of My Husband’. He discovers what Emma had truly felt – that he had been cold, remote and incapable of ordinary human affection, and had kept her childless, a virtual prisoner for forty years. Why did they ever marry?

He is consumed by something worse than grief: a chaos in which all his certainties have been obliterated. He has to re-evaluate himself, and reimagine his unhappy wife as she was when they first met.

Hardy’s pained reflections on the choices he has made, and must now make, form a unique combination of love story and ghost story, by turns tender, surprising, comic and true. The Chosen – the extraordinary new novel by Elizabeth Lowry – hauntingly searches the unknowable spaces between man and wife; memory and regret; life and art.


Her Last Betrayal by Pam Lecky

Spying on the enemy is a dangerous game…

London, 1941

After losing her family to a Nazi bomb attack back home in Ireland, Sarah Gillespie joins the British Secret Services to bring them justice.

Partnered with American undercover agent Lieutenant Tony Anderson, Sarah embarks on a dangerous mission that takes her from war-torn London into the black mountains of Wales. But when one of her team is revealed to be a German mole, and enemies begin to close in, what price will Sarah have to pay to save her country – and herself?


Back to Index

So that’s all for this week.

Happy Reading!

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