The best of our recently received contemporary fiction

Some fabulous reading in this month’s selection of new fiction!

Syndetics book coverThe sense of an ending / Julian Barnes.
“Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life. Now Tony is in middle age. He’s had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He’s certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer’s letter is about to prove.” (adapted from

Syndetics book coverI hate Martin Amis et al. / Peter Barry.
“It is 1995. Milan Zorec, an aspiring yet rejected novelist, travels from England to Bosnia to join the Serbian forces as a sniper in Sarajevo, in the final months of the longest siege in history. He’s determined to find a story that no publisher will be able to damn with the words, ‘I feel I’ve seen this before.’ In doing so Milan journeys from innocence into the slow burning grip of darkness. Among his fellow snipers, the lost souls who make up Ratko Mladic’s army, Milan gains the ammunition to write his masterpiece, the novel that hasn’t been written before.” (adapted from

Syndetics book coverBlack Jesus / Simone Felice.
”A young marine returns from Iraq, blinded and scarred by a roadside bomb and harbouring a terrible secret. Called Black Jesus by his fellow soldiers on account of his name being Lionel White and his birthday being Christmas Day, he has returned to his decaying home town to sit in the back of his mother’s junkshop, pop Oxycontin and try to forget what he knows. Into his life one day rides Gloria, a young dancer with mysterious past and shocking injuries of her own, who is fleeing darkness and violence of a different kind.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe last gift / Abdulrazak Gurnah.
“Abbas has never told anyone about his past, before he was a sailor on the high seas, before he met his wife Maryam outside a Boots in Exeter, before they settled into a quiet life in Norwich with their children, Jamal and Hanna. Now, at the age of sixty-three, he suffers a collapse that renders him bedbound and unable to speak about things he thought he would one day have to. Abbas’ illness forces both children home, to the dark silences of their father and the fretful capability of their mother Maryam, who began life as a foundling and has never thought to find herself, until now.”(adapted from

Syndetics book coverThe book of lies / Mary Horlock.
” When you live on an island as small as Guernsey, it’s hard to imagine that secrets can stay secret. But they can and they do. And fifteen-year-old Catherine Rozier knows the best one yet. It’s about the night her friend Nicolette disappeared on the cliffs by Clarence Batterie. Catherine wants to take the blame for what happened, but the story she starts telling isn’t hers alone. There are other people on this island who have got away with murder, and Catherine thinks it’s time the truth came out. Are these just the wild imaginings of a lonely teenager? Decades earlier, someone else stood on these cliffs, at this very spot. Charlie Rozier was almost Catherine’s age when Guernsey was occupied by the Germans. He trusted the one friend he shouldn’t have. Did Catherine make the same mistake?” (adapted from

Syndetics book coverThe blue book / A.L. Kennedy.
”Elizabeth Barber is crossing the Atlantic by liner with her perfectly adequate boyfriend, Derek, who might be planning to propose. In fleeing the UK, temporarily, Elizabeth may also be in flight from her past and the charismatic Arthur, once her partner in what she came to see as a series of crimes. Together they acted as fake mediums, perfecting the arcane skills practiced by effective frauds. Elizabeth finally rejected what once seemed an intoxicating game. Arthur continued his search for the right way to do wrong. She hadn’t, though, expected to see Arthur on the boat.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFair game / Stephen Leather.
“Kidnapping is one of the cruellest crimes, lives are put at risk for cold, hard cash. But when Somali pirates seize the crew of a yacht off the coast of Africa, they bite off more than they can chew. One of the hostages has friends in high places and Spider Shepherd is put on the case. He goes deep undercover in an audacious plan to bring an end to the pirate gang’s reign of terror. But as Shepherd closes in on his quarry he realises that there’s much more at stake than the lives of the hostages and that the pirates are involved in a terrorist plot that will strike at the heart of London.” (adapted from

Syndetics book coverWaterline / Ross Raisin.
” Mick Little used to be a shipbuilder on the Glasgow yards. But as they closed one after another down the river, the search for work took him and his beloved wife Cathy to Australia, and back again, struggling for a living, longing for home. Thirty years later the yards are nearly all gone and Cathy is dead and now Mick will have to find a new way to live: to get away, start again, and try to deal with the guilt he feels over her death.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe still point / Amy Sackville.
“At the turn of the 20th century, Arctic explorer Edward Mackley sets out to reach the North Pole and vanishes into the icy landscape without a trace. He leaves behind a young wife, Emily, who awaits his return for decades. A hundred years later, Edward’s great-grand-niece Julia moves through the old family house, and makes a discovery that splinters her long-held image of Edward and Emily’s romance.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDerby day / D.J. Tayor.
“As the shadows lengthen over the June grass, all England is heading for Epsom Downs, high life and low life, society beauties and Whitechapel street girls, bookmakers and gypsies, hawkers and acrobats, punters and thieves. Whole families stream along the Surrey back-roads, towards the greatest race of the year. Hopes are high, nerves are taut, hats are tossed in the air, as this is Derby Day. For months people have been waiting and plotting for this day. Even in dark November, when the wind whistles through the foggy London courts, the alehouses and gentlemen’s clubs echo to the sound of disputed odds. Everywhere money jingles and plans are laid. Uniting them all is the champion horse Tiberius, on whose performance half a dozen destinies depend.” (adapted from