Coming this week – my fiction picks to 4th September

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 Ink Black Heart by Robert Galbraith

When frantic, dishevelled Edie Ledwell appears in the office begging to speak to her, private detective Robin Ellacott doesn’t know quite what to make of the situation. The co-creator of a popular cartoon, The Ink Black Heart, Edie is being persecuted by a mysterious online figure who goes by the pseudonym of Anomie. Edie is desperate to uncover Anomie’s true identity.

Robin decides that the agency can’t help with this – and thinks nothing more of it until a few days later, when she reads the shocking news that Edie has been tasered and then murdered in Highgate Cemetery, the location of The Ink Black Heart.

Robin and her business partner Cormoran Strike become drawn into the quest to uncover Anomie’s true identity. But with a complex web of online aliases, business interests and family conflicts to navigate, Strike and Robin find themselves embroiled in a case that stretches their powers of deduction to the limits – and which threatens them in new and horrifying ways . . .

Fake Alibi by Leigh Russell

A wheelchair-using woman is strangled and her son, Eddy, is arrested. When his alibi falls apart, the police are satisfied that he is guilty. Only Geraldine doubts whether Eddy is cunning enough to kill his mother and cover his tracks so successfully.

The situation becomes more complicated when the girlfriend Eddy claims he was with at the time of the murder denies having met him. Shortly after the girl thinks she is being stalked, her dead body is discovered outside Eddy’s house.

As the body count grows, the investigation team become confused, putting Geraldine under almost unbearable pressure.

The Rising Tide by Ann Cleeves

Fifty years ago, a group of teenagers spent a weekend on Holy Island, forging a bond that has lasted a lifetime. Now, they still return every five years to celebrate their friendship, and remember the friend they lost to the rising waters of the causeway at the first reunion.

Now, when one of them is found hanged, Vera is called in. Learning that the dead man had recently been fired after misconduct allegations, Vera knows she must discover what the friends are hiding, and whether the events of many years before could have led to murder then, and now . . .

But with the tide rising, secrets long-hidden are finding their way to the surface, and Vera and the team may find themselves in more danger than they could have believed possible . . .

Murder in a Mill Town by Helen Cox

When a violent murder shatters the otherwise peaceful idyll of Andaby near Hebden Bridge, DS Charlotte Banks can’t help but suspect that her brother Ewan – recently released from prison and now living in Calderdale – is behind it. Ewan claims he’s innocent, and even has an alibi to prove it, but DS Banks isn’t convinced. So much so that she turns to the only people who can help her in an investigation this personal: Kitt Hartley and Grace Edwards, of Hartley and Edwards Investigations.

On the hunt for the killer, Kitt and Grace discover the victim was choked to death on her old school sash. From this lead, Kitt, Grace and DS Banks are drawn down a dark trail littered with decade-old grudges, schoolyard secrets, broken hearts and bullies, and struggle to get closer to the truth. When a second victim goes missing however, the clock starts ticking.

Can Kitt recover the missing woman before it’s too late? And how do you catch a killer hiding in plain sight?

One of Our Ministers is Missing by Alan Johnson

A government minister in the Foreign Office has vanished into thin air.

On holiday in Crete, Lord Bellingham had been solo trekking in the White Mountains when he mysteriously disappeared. After a vast search and rescue operation, the local police have no leads, save for a mobile phone discarded on a cliff edge.

Assistant Commissioner Louise Mangan of the Met Police is sent to assist in the investigation but soon discovers that there are more layers to this case than the local police realise.

Lady Bellingham is less than forthcoming, the family nanny is hiding something, and a scandal is brewing back in London that could destroy the minister’s reputation for good.

Under pressure from the powers that be, can Louise find the missing minister, or will she discover something much more sinister at play?

The Blame Game by Sandie Jones

There are two sides to every story.

He came to me for help with his marriage.

I was alone and afraid. She was there when I needed to talk.

I needed to make him understand that he had to get away.

I knew what I needed to do. I just couldn’t do it on my own. I trusted her.

Now it has gone too far. And I can’t tell anyone what I have done.

Now I have nowhere to turn and I just pray they find me before she does.

And then there’s the truth.

The Axe Woman by Hakan Nesser

Sweden 2012. When Inspector Gunnar Barbarotti returns to work after a terrible personal tragedy his boss asks him to investigate a cold case, hoping to ease him back gently into his police duties.

Five years previously a shy electrician, Arnold Morinder, disappeared from the face of the earth, the only clue his blue moped abandoned in a nearby swamp. At the time his partner, Ellen Bjarnebo, claimed that Arnold had probably travelled to Norway never to return. But Ellen is one of Sweden’s most notorious killers, having served eleven years in prison after killing her abusive first husband and dismembering his body with an axe. And when Barbarotti seeks to interview Ellen in relation to Arnold’s disappearance she is nowhere to be found . . .

But without a body and no chance of interviewing his prime suspect Barbarotti must use all the ingenuity at his disposal to make headway in the case. Still struggling with his personal demons, Barbarotti seeks solace from God, and the support of his colleague, Eva Backman. And as he finally begins to track down his suspect and the cold case begins to thaw, Barbarotti realizes that nothing about Ellen Bjarnebo can be taken for granted . . .

The Last Girl to Die by Helen Fields

In search of a new life, seventeen-year-old Adriana Clark’s family moves to the ancient, ocean-battered Isle of Mull, far off the coast of Scotland. Then she goes missing. Faced with hostile locals and indifferent police, her desperate parents turn to private investigator Sadie Levesque.

Sadie is the best at what she does. But when she finds Adriana’s body in a cliffside cave, a seaweed crown carefully arranged on her head, she knows she’s dealing with something she’s never encountered before.

The deeper she digs into the island’s secrets, the closer danger creeps – and the more urgent her quest to find the killer grows. Because what if Adriana is not the last girl to die?

Just a Boy by Elena Varvello

The boy is almost eighteen and has a loving family. He’s polite and well-educated, quiet but always smiling.

When word spreads that he has broken into and stolen from a neighbour’s house, his parents and sisters can’t believe it. Then the unthinkable happens: an attack that will rip through the town and his family for years to come.

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General/Contemporary Fiction

Sugar and Salt by Susan Wiggs

Jerome Barnes has been baking in his grandmother’s bakery, Sugar, since he was a boy.

When mysterious newcomer Margot Salton takes over the tenancy in the restaurant that shares his kitchen, he’s intrigued…

Margot isn’t exactly on the run … but she needs a fresh start, and her dream to open a restaurant far, far away from her life back home is finally coming true.

The shared kitchen with Jerome’s bakery is the perfect set-up. And the heat that cooks up in the kitchen between herself and Jerome is the perfect distraction.

But just as she starts to relax into a happy new future, Margot’s past comes back to haunt her…

Sorry I Missed You by Lorraine Brown

Sometimes love is just around the corner…

Rebecca isn’t looking for love. She’s perfectly happy with her high-flying city job, gorgeous flat overlooking Hampstead Heath and fortnightly fling with the hot CEO. She’s certainly not interested in the hot actor neighbour who’s just moved in opposite…

Jack is still looking for his big break. It turns out being the star talent at drama school doesn’t give you a golden ticket to Hollywood, after all. The last thing he needs is any distractions right now – especially not the uptight, power-suit wearing girl next door.

They might live only a few metres away from each other but their worlds couldn’t be further apart, plus opposites don’t really attract…do they?

Psalms for the End of the World by Cole Haddon

It’s 1962 and physics student Grace Pulansky believes she has met the man of her dreams, Robert Jones, while serving up slices of pecan pie at the local diner. But then the FBI shows up, with their fedoras and off-the-rack business suits, and accuses him of being a bomb-planting mass-murderer.

Finding herself on the run with Jones across America’s Southwest, the discoveries awaiting Gracie will undermine everything she knows about the universe. Her story will reveal how scores of lives – an identity-swapping rock star, a mourning lover in ancient China, Nazi hunters in pursuit of a terrible secret, a crazed artist in pre-revolutionary France, an astronaut struggling with a turbulent interplanetary future, and many more – are interconnected across space and time by love, grief, and quantum entanglement.

Before Your Memory Fades by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

The third novel in the international bestselling Before the Coffee Gets Cold series, following four new customers in a cafe where customers can travel back in time.

On the hillside of Mount Hakodate in northern Japan, Cafe Donna Donna is fabled for its dazzling views of Hakodate port. But that’s not all. Like the charming Tokyo cafe Funiculi Funicula, Cafe Donna Donna offers its customers the extraordinary experience of travelling through time.

From the author of Before the Coffee Gets Cold and Tales from the Cafe comes another story of four new customers, each of whom is hoping to take advantage of the cafe’s time-travelling offer. Among some familiar faces from Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s previous novels, readers will also be introduced to:

A daughter who begrudges her deceased parents for leaving her orphaned
A comedian who aches for his beloved and their shared dreams
A younger sister whose grief has become all-consuming
A young man who realizes his love for his childhood friend too late

A Song of Comfortable Chairs by Alexander McCall Smith

Grace Makutsi’s husband, Phuti, is in a bind. An international firm is attempting to undercut his prices in the office furniture market. Phuti has always been concerned with quality and comfort, but this new firm seems interested only in profits. To make matters worse, they have a slick new advertising campaign that seems hard to beat. Nonetheless with Mma Ramotswe’s help, Phuti comes up with a campaign that may just do the trick.

Meanwhile, Mma Makutsi is approached by an old friend who has a troubled son. Grace and Phuti agree to lend a hand, but the boy proves difficult to reach, and the situation is more than they can handle on their own. It will require not only all of their patience and dedication, but also the help of Mma Ramotswe and the formidable Mma Potokwani in order to help the child.

Faced with more than her fair share of domestic problems, Mma Makutsi deals with it all with her usual grace. That, along with the kindness, generosity, and good sense that the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency is known for, assure us that in the end, all these matters will be set right.

Where the Light Gets In by Zoe Coyle

‘It’s time.’

Her mother Vivian’s terminal illness has reached its tipping point and she summons Delphi to Australia to help her to euthanise. Unable to deny her mother’s suffering, or her promise to her of a good death, Delphi reluctantly returns to her mother for the last time. This is a story of the ties of family that enmesh in love and death, and the journey back to self in its aftermath. As Delphi is blown onto the wasteland of grief and shame, she has to discover where her mother’s life ends and she begins amid the atomic fallout her actions have unleashed.

The House on Rockaway Beach by Emma Burstall

Sisters Sophie and Celia haven’t been on speaking terms for years. So it’s a huge shock when they discover their grandmother has left them her quirky old house on Rockaway Beach, New York.

Just a stone’s throw from the bright lights of Manhattan, they spent many idyllic summers there as children, swimming in the Atlantic ocean, playing in the sand and watching day trippers come and go. Then suddenly, the visits stopped. Sophie knows her mother and grandmother fell out, but has never found out why.

Together, the sisters return to Rockaway, and can’t agree on anything. Sophie wants to keep the house, Celia’s determined to sell. It seems they’ll never see eye to eye, until Sophie makes a shattering discovery that forces her to question everything…

Why do she and Celia have such different memories of their grandmother? What caused the rift with their mother? Can Sophie trust the handsome stranger who seems to take such an interest in her? And who is the mysterious old woman watching them from afar?

Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop by Kiley Dunbar

‘Tis the season for finding love… and the perfect book

With just two weeks until Christmas, everything in Clove Lore should be perfect. But the latest holidaymaker to the Borrow a Bookshop is feeling far from festive…

Icelandic ex-bookseller Magnús Sturluson might be surrounded by love stories in the Bookshop, but he’s nursing a sadness that not even fiction can fix.

When Alexandra Robinson finds herself stranded in Clove Lore, she finds a safe place to hide from heartbreak. After all, all that’s waiting for her at home is a cheater boyfriend and the memories of her parents. As Alex finds herself embraced by the quirky village community, she finds her tough exterior thawing – and as she grows closer to Magnús, she finds an equally soft heart under his gruff shell.

It seems that Clove Lore is working its magic once again – until a great flood on Christmas Eve brings devastation in its wake. It’s up to Magnús and Alex to batten down the hatches and help bring the village back together again, while also introducing the locals to the Icelandic tradition of the jólabókaflóð – Yule book flood – where families and friends gather on Christmas Eve to exchange books and read together.

But can Magnús and Alex truly rescue the ruins of the village, and salvage their Christmas spirit? Or is there another complication lurking even closer than they thought?

The 24 Hour Dating Agency by Mary Jayne Baker

Tinder, Hinge, Bumble – thirtysomething journalist Saffie has tried them all. Now she’s wondering whether it’s time to throw in the towel and give up on love for good – and she’s not alone…

Saffie’s boss Tamara has been single since her divorce four years ago, but at forty-five, running her own magazine and with three kids at home, she doesn’t feel she has the time, energy or confidence to go through the dating mill again. Meanwhile, Saffie’s best friend Milo has just been dumped – again. A hopeless romantic with terrible taste in men, this is his fourth break-up in six months. There must be a secret to finding Mr Right, surely – but what?

Step forward The 24-hour Dating Agency, a matchmaking service with a difference. Instead of wasting months on casual dates, they promise to send you on an intense twenty-four-hour date with your perfect match – like speed-dating but in reverse. And even better, the agency offers a soulmate guarantee: meet The One or your money back.

Figuring they have nothing to lose, the three friends sign up. But when their matches turn out to be not what they were expecting, it seems like even the soulmate guarantee can’t find them what they’re looking for. Or can it?

It Was Always You by Emma Cooper

On the last night in October 1999 the clocks went back, and Ella and Will’s love began.

A teenage Ella sat around a bonfire drinking with her future husband and her oldest friend Cole.

As Ella wandered away from the group, she found herself leaning against a derelict
archway before passing out.

The next day, Ella remembered fractured images of a conversation with a woman
in a green coat and red scarf but dismissed it as a drunken dream.

Twenty-three years later, with her marriage to Will in trouble, and Cole spiralling out of
control, Ella opens a gift which turns her life upside down: a green coat and red scarf.

When she looks in the mirror, the woman from the archway is reflected back at her.

As the last Sunday in October arrives, Ella is faced with a choice.
Would she choose a different life, if she could do it again?

The Reunion by Elizabeth Drummond

Two high school rivals. Ten years later. A vow not to fall in love . . .

School reunions: the perfect opportunity to catch up with old friends, dazzle old foes, and basically show everyone that your life could not be going better.

But for Lucas O’Rourke and Posy Edwins this isn’t quite the case. Lucas is about to lose his business, and Posy’s father has cut her off financially. And a reunion is the worst moment to come face-to-face with your rival. Ten years ago they hated each other, what could have changed since then?

As tensions rise, Posy comes up with a plan to solve both their problems, all she needs to do is persuade Lucas to go along with it. Trouble is, how do you ask your high school enemy to pretend you’re madly in love when everyone knows you don’t get along?

The Cosy Travelling Christmas Shop by Lilac Mills

While bringing joy to others, can these two Christmas helpers also find some for themselves?

Seren’s great aunt Nelly hates being in a care home, especially around Christmas when Seren learns that Nelly and the other residents can’t enjoy the simple pleasure of browsing for gifts in the shops. So what if Seren brings the shops to them?

Converting an ice cream van into a gift shop, Seren travels around Tinstone to help out the less mobile. On her journeys, she keeps bumping into a reluctant – and handsome – Father Christmas, who has been roped into helping out this festive season.

But running her own business comes with risks and surprises that Seren’s not sure she’s able to tackle. Has she bitten off more than she can chew, or will her travelling Christmas shop provide some much-needed festive cheer for the residents of Tinstone?

A Bumpy Year by Olivia Spooner

Pregnant. Single. Dating. It’s going to be… a bumpy year!

Trish Kirkpatrick never expected to find herself unmarried, pregnant… and not entirely sure who the baby’s father is.

With her ex, Pete, and her colleague, Elliot, in line for daddy duty while waiting on the DNA results, Trish finds her complicated world getting even more chaotic when a meet-cute on a plane to Tokyo with gorgeous architect Scott sparks a new flame.

Now, as her bump grows so do Trish’s troubles. Between family issues reappearing on her doorstep and the delivery date fast approaching, Trish will need to make up her mind not only on who she wants to be but who she wants to become.

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Historical

The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell

The Marriage Portrait is a dazzling evocation of the Italian Renaissance in all its beauty and brutality.

Winter, 1561. Lucrezia, Duchess of Ferrara, is taken on an unexpected visit to a country villa by her husband, Alfonso. As they sit down to dinner it occurs to Lucrezia that Alfonso has a sinister purpose in bringing her here. He intends to kill her.

Lucrezia is sixteen years old, and has led a sheltered life locked away inside Florence’s grandest palazzo. Here, in this remote villa, she is entirely at the mercy of her increasingly erratic husband.

What is Lucrezia to do with this sudden knowledge? What chance does she have against Alfonso, ruler of a province, and a trained soldier? How can she ensure her survival.

The Marriage Portrait is an unforgettable reimagining of the life of a young woman whose proximity to power places her in mortal danger.

The Lighthouse Sisters by Gill Thompson

‘They were there for each other during the war just like the lighthouse, a source of hope and protection over the years.’

1940: For sisters Alice and Jenny life is just beginning when the Nazis seize control of the island of Jersey, driving the girls down separate paths. While Alice is forced by the enemy to work in the German hospital, Jenny is attracted to the circle of islanders rising up to resist the occupiers. And as the war tightens its grip, it will cause each of the sisters to make an extraordinary choice, experience unimaginable heartbreak and emerge forever changed…

1996: The war may have ended decades earlier, but for the elegant woman sitting alone now, the images live on in her memory: her sister’s carefree laughter, the inky black of a German soldier’s boots, the little boats that never came back. And the one constant through it all: the lighthouse that always guided them back to the island…

Small Acts of Defiance by Michelle Wright

A stunning debut WWII novel from award-winning short story writer Michelle Wright, about the small but courageous acts a young woman performs against the growing anti-Jewish measures in Nazi-occupied Paris.

“Doing nothing is still a choice. A choice to stand aside and let it happen.”

January 1940: After a devastating tragedy, young Australian woman Lucie and her mother Yvonne are forced to leave home and flee to France. There they seek help from the only family they have left, Lucie’s uncle, Gérard.

As the Second World War engulfs Europe, the two women find themselves trapped in German-occupied Paris, sharing a cramped apartment with the authoritarian Gérard and his extremist views. Drawing upon her artistic talents, Lucie risks her own safety to engage in small acts of defiance against the occupying Nazi forces and the collaborationist French regime – illustrating pro-resistance tracts and forging identity cards.

 Faced with the escalating brutality of anti-Jewish measures, and the indifference of so many of her fellow Parisians, Lucie must decide how far she will go to protect her friends and defend the rights of others before it’s too late.

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So that’s all for this week.

Happy Reading!

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