Coming this week – my fiction picks to 1st May 2022

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

Outside by Ragnar Jonasson

In a deadly Icelandic snowstorm, four friends seek shelter in an abandoned hunting lodge.

But nothing can prepare them for what’s inside.

Forced to spend a long and terrifying night in the cabin, they watch intently and silently.

Just as they themselves are being watched.

As the night darkens, and old secrets spill into the light, it’s soon clear that what they’ve discovered in the cabin is far from the only mystery lurking there.

Nor the only thing to be afraid of . . .


Little Sister by Gytha Lodge

A teenage girl wanders out of the woods.

She’s striking, with flame-red hair and a pale complexion. She’s also covered in blood.

Detective Jonah Sheens quickly discovers that Keely and her sister, Nina, disappeared from a children’s home a week ago. Now, Keely is here – but Nina’s still missing.

Keely knows where her sister is – but before she tells, she wants Jonah’s full attention . . .

Is she killer, witness, or victim?

And will Jonah find out what Keely’s hiding, in time to save Nina?


No Less the Devil by Stuart MacBride

‘We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.’

It’s been seventeen months since the Bloodsmith butchered his first victim and Operation Maypole is still no nearer to catching him. The media is whipping up a storm, the top brass are demanding results, but the investigation is sinking fast.

Now isn’t the time to get distracted with other cases, but Detective Sergeant Lucy McVeigh doesn’t have much choice. When Benedict Strachan was just eleven, he hunted down and killed a homeless man. No one’s ever figured out why Benedict did it, but now, after sixteen years, he’s back on the streets again – battered, frightened, convinced a shadowy ‘They’ are out to get him, and begging Lucy for help.

It sounds like paranoia, but what if he’s right? What if he really is caught up in something bigger and darker than Lucy’s ever dealt with before? What if the Bloodsmith isn’t the only monster out there? And what’s going to happen when Lucy goes after them?


May God Forgive by Alan Parks

Glasgow is a city in mourning. An arson attack on a hairdresser’s has left five dead. Tempers are frayed and sentiments running high.

When three youths are charged the city goes wild. A crowd gathers outside the courthouse but as the police drive the young men to prison, the van is rammed by a truck, and the men are grabbed and bundled into a car. The next day, the body of one of them is dumped in the city centre. A note has been sent to the newspaper: one down, two to go.

Detective Harry McCoy has twenty-four hours to find the kidnapped boys before they all turn up dead, and it is going to mean taking down some of Glasgow’s most powerful people to do it . . .


Out of Her Depth by Lizzy Barber

There are summers that could change your life.
There are summers that could end it.


Meet Rachel.
An unassuming young woman from a quiet London suburb.

Picture the scene:
A summer job at the beautiful Villa Medici in the Tuscan hills.
A group of glamorous teenagers, used to a life of privilege.
Lavish parties, heady sun-soaked days, backstabbing and bedhopping.

Until someone goes too far.
And nothing will ever be the same.


The Bangalore Detectives Club by Harini Nagendra

Solving crimes isn’t easy.

Add a jealous mother-in-law and having to wear a flowing sari into the mix, and you’ve got a problem.


When clever, headstrong Kaveri moves to Bangalore to marry doctor Ramu, she’s resigned herself to a quiet life.

But that all changes the night of the party at the Century Club, where she escapes to the garden for some peace – and instead spots an uninvited guest in the shadows. Half an hour later, the party turns into a murder scene.

When a vulnerable woman is connected to the crime, Kaveri becomes determined to save her and launches a private investigation to find the killer, tracing his steps from an illustrious brothel to an Englishman’s mansion. She soon finds that sleuthing in a sari isn’t as hard as it seems when you have a talent for maths, a head for logic and a doctor for a husband.

And she’s going to need them all as the case leads her deeper into a hotbed of danger, sedition and intrigue in Bangalore’s darkest alleyways . . .


Miss Aldridge Regrets by Louise Hare

London, 1936

Lena Aldridge is wondering if life has passed her by. The dazzling theatre career she hoped for hasn’t worked out. Instead, she’s stuck singing in a sticky-floored basement club in Soho and her married lover has just left her. She has nothing to look forward to until a stranger offers her the chance of a lifetime: a starring role on Broadway and a first-class ticket on the Queen Mary bound for New York.

After a murder at the club, the timing couldn’t be better and Lena jumps at the chance to escape England. Until death follows her onto the ship and she realises that her greatest performance has already begun.

Because someone is making manoeuvres behind the scenes, and there’s only one thing on their mind…

MURDER


Back to Index

General/Contemporary Fiction

People Person by Candice Carty-Williams

IF YOU COULD CHOOSE YOUR FAMILY…

YOU WOULDN’T CHOOSE THE PENNINGTONS.

Dimple Pennington knew of her half siblings, but she didn’t really know them. Five people who don’t have anything in common except for faint memories of being driven through Brixton in their dad’s gold jeep, and some pretty complex abandonment issues. Dimple has bigger things to think about. She’s thirty, and her life isn’t really going anywhere. An aspiring lifestyle influencer with a terrible and wayward boyfriend, Dimple’s life has shrunk to the size of a phone screen. And despite a small but loyal following, she’s never felt more alone in her life. That is, until a dramatic event brings her half siblings Nikisha, Danny, Lizzie and Prynce crashing back into her life. And when they’re all forced to reconnect with Cyril Pennington, the absent father they never really knew, things get even more complicated.


A Tidy Ending by Joanna Cannon

A NICE, NORMAL HOUSE

Linda has lived around here ever since she fled the dark events of her childhood in Wales. Now she sits in her kitchen, wondering if this is all there is – pushing the Hoover round and cooking fish fingers for tea is a far cry from the glamorous lifestyle she sees in the glossy catalogues coming through the door for the house’s previous occupant.

A NICE, NORMAL HUSBAND

Terry isn’t perfect – he picks his teeth, tracks dirt through the house and spends most of his time in front of the TV. But that seems fairly standard – until he starts keeping odd hours at work, at around the same time young women start to go missing in the neighbourhood.

A NICE, NORMAL LIFE…

If Linda could just track down Rebecca, who lived in the house before them, maybe some of that perfection would rub off on her. But the grass isn’t always greener: you can’t change who you really are, and there’s something nasty lurking behind the net curtains on Cavendish Avenue…


Villager by Tom Cox

There’s so much to know. It will never end, I suspect, even when it does. So much in all these lives, so many stories, even in this small place.

Villages are full of tales: some are forgotten while others become a part of local folklore. But the fortunes of one West Country village are watched over and irreversibly etched into its history as an omniscient, somewhat crabby, presence keeps track of village life.

In the late sixties a Californian musician blows through Underhill where he writes a set of haunting folk songs that will earn him a group of obsessive fans and a cult following. Two decades later, a couple of teenagers disturb a body on the local golf course. In 2019, a pair of lodgers discover a one-eyed rag doll hidden in the walls of their crumbling and neglected home. Connections are forged and broken across generations, but only the landscape itself can link them together. A landscape threatened by property development and superfast train corridors and speckled by the pylons whose feet have been buried across the moor.

Tom Cox’s masterful debut novel synthesises his passion for music, nature and folklore into a psychedelic and enthralling exploration of village life and the countryside that sustains it.


The Birdcage by Eve Chase

Some secrets need to be set free . . .

Twenty years after their last visit, half-sisters Lauren, Kat and Flore are summoned to Rock Point: the beautiful and windswept cliff house where they sat for their father’s most famous painting, Girls and Birdcage.

But what should be a joyous return is darkened by memories of the catastrophic events of a summer twenty years before.

Because when the sisters arrive, it is clear that someone is determined not to let the past lie.

Someone who is watching their every move.

Who remembers the girls in the painting, and what they did . . .


What Eden Did Next by Sheila O’Flanagan

Five years after the death of her firefighter husband, Eden knows better than anyone that life can change in an instant. Now, instead of the future she had planned with Andy, she has Lila – the daughter he never got the chance to meet. And instead of Andy, she has his family.

Then Eden meets someone. Someone she knew before Andy, before Lila, before the tragedy. Someone who reminds her of how she used to be. But Andy’s mother has other plans. And Eden is facing an impossible choice. One that could tear a family apart . . .

Honest and emotionally gripping, What Eden Did Next is an irresistible, sometimes heart-breaking, ultimately joyful, novel of love, loss – and finding your own way to happiness.


One Good Thing by Alexandra Potter

In life, nothing is certain. Just when you think you have it all figured out, something can happen to change the course of everything . . .

Liv Brooks is still in shock. Newly-divorced and facing an uncertain future, she impulsively swaps her London Life for the sweeping hills of the Yorkshire Dales, determined to make a fresh start. But fresh starts are harder than they look and feeling lost and lonely she decides to adopt Harry, an old dog from the local shelter, to keep her company.

But Liv soon discovers she isn’t the only one in need of a new beginning. On their daily walks around the village, they meet Valentine, an old man who suffers from loneliness who sits by the window and Stanley, a little boy who is scared of everyone, hides behind the garden gate and Maya, a teenager who is angry at everyone and everything. But slowly things start to change…

Utterly relatable, hilarious and heart-breakingly honest, this is a novel about friendship, finding happiness and living the life unexpected. And how when everything falls apart, all you need is one good thing to turn your life around and make it worth living again.


Theatre of Marvels by Lianne Dillsworth

Behind the spectacle there are always secrets.

Unruly crowds descend on Crillick’s Variety Theatre. A black, British actress, Zillah, is headlining tonight. An orphan from the slums of St Giles, her rise to stardom is her ticket out – to be gawped and gazed at is a price she’s willing to pay.

Rising up the echelons of society is everything Zillah has ever dreamed of. But when a new stage act disappears, Zillah is haunted by a feeling that something is amiss. Is the woman in danger?

Her pursuit of the truth takes her into the underbelly of the city – from gas-lit streets to the sumptuous parlours of Mayfair – as she seeks the help of notorious criminals from her past and finds herself torn between two powerful admirers.

Caught in a labyrinth of dangerous truths, will Zillah face ruin – or will she be the maker of her fate?


Back to Index

Historical

The French House by Jacquie Bloese

In Nazi-occupied Guernsey, the wrong decision can destroy a life…

Left profoundly deaf after an accident, Émile is no stranger to isolation – or heartbreak. Now, as Nazi planes loom over Guernsey, he senses life is about to change forever.

Trapped in a tense, fearful marriage, Isabelle doesn’t know what has become of Émile and the future she hoped for. But when she glimpses him from the window of the French House, their lives collide once more.

Leutnant Schreiber is more comfortable wielding a paintbrush than a pistol. But he has little choice in the role he is forced to play in the occupying forces – or in his own forbidden desires.

As their paths entwine, loyalties are blurred and dangerous secrets forged. But on an island under occupation, courage can have deadly consequences…


The Vanished Days by Susanna Kearsley

There are many who believe they know what happened, but they do not know the whole of it. The rumours spread, and grow, and take their hold, and so to end them I have been persuaded now to take my pen in hand and tell the story as it should be told…
 
Autumn, 1707. Old enemies from the Highlands to the Borders are finding common ground as they join to protest the new Union with England, the French are preparing to launch an invasion to carry the young exiled Jacobite king back to Scotland to reclaim his throne, and in Edinburgh the streets are filled with discontent and danger.
 
Queen Anne’s commissioners, seeking to calm the situation, have begun settling the losses and wages owed to those Scots who took part in the disastrous Darien expedition eight years earlier.
 
When Lily, the young widow of a Darien sailor, comes forward to collect her husband’s wages, her claim is challenged, and one of the men who’s assigned to examine her has only days to decide if she’s honest, or if his own feelings are making him blind to the truth, and if he’s being used as a pawn in an even more treacherous game.
 
A story of intrigue, adventure, endurance, romance…and the courage to hope.


The Young Pretender by Michael Arditti

Mobbed by the masses, lionised by the aristocracy, courted by royalty and lusted after by patrons of both sexes, the child actor William Henry West Betty was one of the most famous people in Georgian Britain.

At the age of thirteen, he played leading roles, including RomeoMacbeth and Richard III, in theatres across the country. Prime Minister William Pitt adjourned the House of Commons so that its members could attend his debut as Hamlet at Covent Garden. Then, as rivals turned on him and scandal engulfed him, he suffered a fall as merciless as his rise had been meteoric.

The Young Pretender takes place during Betty’s attempted comeback at the age of twenty-one. As he seeks to relaunch his career, he is forced to confront the painful truths behind his boyhood triumphs. Michael Arditti’s revelatory new novel puts this long forgotten figure back in the limelight. In addition to its rich and poignant portrait of Betty himself, it offers an engrossing insight into both the theatre and society of the age. The nature of celebrity, the power of publicity and the cult of youth are laid bare in a story that is more pertinent now than ever.


Back to Index

So that’s all for this week.

Happy Reading!

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