Historical fiction features in this month’s fiction picks from other genres

The ‘other genres’ category this month features historical fiction. This latest selection includes a new novel by the popular, prolific Bernard Cornwell. Highly recommend is the much praised debut novel by Imogen Hermes Gowar, titled The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock.

Syndetics book coverCarnegie’s Maid : a novel / Marie Benedict.
“Clara Kelley is not who they think she is. She’s not the experienced Irish maid who was hired to work in one of Pittsburgh’s grandest households. She’s a poor farmer’s daughter with nowhere to go and nothing in her pockets, but the other woman with the same name has vanished, and pretending to be her just might get Clara some money to send back home. If she can keep up the ruse, that is. Serving as a lady’s maid in the household of Andrew Carnegie requires skills he doesn’t have, answering to an icy mistress who rules her sons and her domain with an iron fist. What Clara does has is an uncanny understanding of business, and Andrew begins to rely on her. But Clara can’t let her guard down, not even when Andrew becomes something more than an employer. Revealing her past might ruin her future and her family’s.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe girls in the picture / Melanie Benjamin.
“It is 1914, and twenty-five-year-old Frances Marion has left her (second) husband and her Northern California home for the lure of Los Angeles, where she is determined to live independently as an artist. But the new industry of the silent moving pictures is enthralling theatergoers everywhere. In this fledgling industry, Frances finds her true calling: writing stories for this wondrous new medium. She also makes the acquaintance of actress Mary Pickford. The two ambitious young women hit it off instantly, their kinship fomented by their mutual fever to create, to move audiences to a frenzy, to start a revolution. But their ambitions are challenged by both the men around them and the limitations imposed on their gender and their astronomical success could come at a price.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWarriors of the storm / Bernard Cornwell.
“King Alfred’s son Edward and formidable daughter, Ãthelflaed, rule Wessex, Mercia and East Anglia. But all around the restless Northmen, eyeing the rich lands and wealthy churches, are mounting raids. Uhtred of Bebbanburg, the kingdom’s greatest warrior, controls northern Mercia from the strongly fortified city of Chester. But forces are rising up against him. Northmen allied to the Irish, led by the fierce warrior Ragnall Ivarson, are soon joined by the Northumbrians, and their strength could prove overwhelming. Despite the gathering threat, both Edward and Ãthelflaed are reluctant to move out of the safety of their fortifications. But with Uhtred’s own daughter married to Ivarson’s brother, who can be trusted?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGreyfriars House / Emma Fraser.
“Once a home full of love, all that remains in Greyfriars House are secrets and lies. On a remote Scottish island sits Greyfriars House, a house haunted by unspoken words and family mysteries. But once it was a happy and comforting place and in the summer of 1939, family and friends gather to forget their fears about the impending war.”

Syndetics book coverThe mermaid and Mrs Hancock : a history in three volumes / written by Imogen Hermes Gowar.
“This voyage is special. It will change everything. One September evening in 1785, the merchant Jonah Hancock hears urgent knocking on his front door. One of his captains is waiting eagerly on the step. He has sold Jonah’s ship for what appears to be a mermaid. As gossip spreads through the docks, coffee shops, parlours and brothels, everyone wants to see Mr. Hancock’s marvel. Its arrival spins him out of his ordinary existence and through the doors of high society. At an opulent party, he makes the acquaintance of Angelica Neal, the most desirable woman he has ever laid eyes on and a courtesan of great accomplishment. This meeting will steer both their lives onto a dangerous new course, on which they will learn that priceless things come at the greatest cost.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe great alone / Kristin Hannah.
“Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier. At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources. But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture, soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe sealwoman’s gift / Sally Magnusson.
“Barbary pirates raided the coast of Iceland and abducted some 400 of its people, including 250 from a tiny island off the mainland. Among the captives sold into slavery in Algiers were the island pastor, his wife and their three children. This story is told through the voice of the pastor’s wife Asta” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAn unlikely agent / Jane Menczer.
“London, 1905. Margaret Trant lives with her ailing, irascible mother in a dreary boarding house in St John’s Wood. The pair have fallen on hard times, with only Margaret’s meagre salary from a ramshackle import-export company keeping them afloat. When a stranger on the tram hands her a newspaper open at the recruitment page, Margaret spots an advertisement that promises to ‘open new horizons beyond your wildest dreams!’ After a gruelling interview, she finds herself in a new position as a secretary in a dingy backstreet shop. But all is not as it seems; she is in fact working for a highly secret branch of the intelligence service, Bureau 8, whose mission is to track down and neutralise a ruthless band of anarchists known as The Scorpions.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPale horse riding / Chris Petit.
“By 1943 Auschwitz is the biggest black market in Europe. The garrison has grown epically corrupt on the back of the transportations and goods confiscated, and this is considered even more of a secret than the one surrounding the mass extermination. Everything is done to resist penetration until August Schlegel and SS officer Morgen, after solving the case of the butchers of Berlin, are sent in disguised as post office officials to investigate an instance of stolen gold being sent through the mail. Their chances of getting out of Auschwitz alive are almost nil, unless Schlegel and Morgen accept that the nature of the beast they are fighting means they too must become as corrupt as the corruption they are desperate to expose. Even if they survive, will it be at the cost of losing their souls?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe shape of water / Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus.
“It is 1962, and Elisa Esposito, mute her whole life, orphaned as a child, is struggling with her humdrum existence as a janitor working the graveyard shift at Baltimore’s Occam Aerospace Research Center. Were it not for Zelda, a protective coworker, and Giles, her loving neighbor, she doesn’t know how she’d make it through the day. Then, one fateful night, she sees something she was never meant to see, the Center’s most sensitive asset ever: an amphibious man, captured in the Amazon, to be studied for Cold War advancements. The creature is terrifying but also magnificent, capable of language and of understanding emotions and Elisa can’t keep away. Using sign language, the two learn to communicate. Soon, affection turns into love, and the creature becomes Elisa’s sole reason to live. But outside forces are pressing in. Richard Strickland, the obsessed soldier who tracked the asset through the Amazon, wants nothing more than to dissect it before the Russians get a chance to steal it. Elisa has no choice but to risk everything to save her beloved.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Contemporary fiction picks featuring award-winning authors

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New contemporary fiction selected from the recently received new titles includes award winners Julian Barnes and Jim Crace. Highly recommended is the much acclaimed chilling novel from French author Leila Slimani titled Lullaby.

Syndetics book coverThe only story / Julian Barnes.
“First love has lifelong consequences, but Paul doesn’t know anything about that at nineteen. At nineteen, he’s proud of the fact his relationship flies in the face of social convention. As he grows older, the demands placed on Paul by love become far greater than he could possibly have foreseen.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThree things about Elsie / Joanna Cannon.
“84-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. As she waits to be rescued, Florence wonders if a terrible secret from her past is about to come to light; and, if the charming new resident is who he claims to be, why does he look exactly like a man who died sixty years ago?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe melody / Jim Crace
“Alfred Busi is mourning the recent death of his wife and quietly living out his days in the large villa he has always called home. Then one night Busi is attacked by a creature he disturbs as it raids the contents of his larder. Busi is convinced that what assaulted him was no animal, but a child, and his words fan the flames of old rumour, of an ancient race of people living in the bosk surrounding the town, and new controversy: the town’s paupers, the feral wastrels at its edges, must be dealt with, once and for all.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSweet bean paste / Durian Sukegawa ; translated by Alison Watts.
“Sentaro has failed: he has a criminal record, drinks too much, and hasn’t managed to fulfill his dream of becoming a writer. Instead, he works in a confectionery shop selling dorayaki, a type of pancake filled with a sweet paste made of red beans. With only the blossoming of the cherry trees to mark the passing of time, he spends his days listlessly filling the pastries. Until one day an elderly, handicapped woman enters the shop. Tokue makes the best bean paste imaginable, and begins to teach Sentaro her art. But as their friendship flourishes, societal prejudices become impossible to escape, in this quietly devastating novel about the burden of the past and the redemptive power of friendship.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe pope of Palm Beach / Tim Dorsey.
“Growing up, Serge was enthralled by the Legend of Riviera Beach, aka Darby, a welder at the port who surfed the local waves long before the hot spots were hot. A god on the water, the big-hearted surfer was a friend to everyone, the younger surfers, cops, politicians, wealthy businessmen and ordinary Joes, a generosity of spirit that earned him the admiration of all. Meanwhile, there was a much murkier legend that made the rounds of the schoolyards from Serge’s youth,that of the crazy hermit living in a makeshift jungle compound farther up the mysterious Loxahatchee River than anyone dared to venture. Then Serge moved away. But never forgot. Now he’s back, with those legends looming larger than ever in the rearview mirror of his memory. As his literary odyssey moves north from Key West, closer and closer to his old stomping grounds, Serge digs into the past as only Serge can.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe hush / John Hart.
“It’s been ten years since the events that changed Johnny Merrimon’s life and rocked his hometown to the core. Since then, Johnny has fought to maintain his privacy, but books have been written of his exploits; the fascination remains. Living alone on six thousand acres of once-sacred land, Johnny’s only connection to normal life is his old friend, Jack. They’re not boys anymore, but the bonds remain. What they shared. What they lost. But Jack sees danger in the wild places Johnny calls home; he senses darkness and hunger, an intractable intent. Johnny will discuss none of it, but there are the things he knows, the things he can do. A lesser friend might accept such abilities as a gift, but Jack has felt what moves in the swamp: the cold of it, the unspeakable fear.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSunburn : a novel / Laura Lippman.
“They meet at a local tavern in the small town of Belleville, Delaware. Polly is set on heading west. Adam says he’s also passing through. Yet she stays and he stays, drawn to this mysterious redhead whose quiet stillness both unnerves and excites him. Over the course of a punishing summer, Polly and Adam abandon themselves to a steamy, inexorable affair. Still, each holds something back from the other, dangerous, even lethal, secrets. Then someone dies. Was it an accident, or part of a plan? By now, Adam and Polly are so ensnared in each other’s lives and lies that neither one knows how to get away or even if they want to. Is their love strong enough to withstand the truth, or will it ultimately destroy them?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverI’ll keep you safe / Peter May.
“Husband and wife Ruairidh and Niamh Macfarlane co-own Ranish Tweed: a Hebridean company that weaves its own special variety of Harris cloth, which has become a sought-after brand in the world of high fashion. But when Niamh learns of Ruairidh’s affair with Russian designer Irina Vetrov, then witnesses the pair killed by a car bomb in Paris, her life is left in ruins. Along with her husband’s remains, she returns home to the Isle of Lewis, bereft. The Paris police have ruled out terrorism, and ruled in murder, making Niamh the prime suspect, along with Irina’s missing husband, Georgy. And so French Detective Sylvie Braque is sent to the island to look into Niamh’s past, unaware of the dangers that await her. As Braque digs deeper into the couple’s history, Niamh herself replays her life with Ruiairidh, searching her memory for those whose grievances might have led to murder.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTurning for home / Barney Norris.
“Every year, Robert’s family come together at a rambling old house to celebrate his birthday. Aunts, uncles, distant cousins, it has been a milestone in their lives for decades. But this year Robert doesn’t want to be reminded of what has happened since they last met and neither, for quite different reasons, does his granddaughter Kate. Neither of them is sure they can face the party. But for both Robert and Kate, it may become the most important gathering of all.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLullaby / Leïla Slimani ; translated from the French by Sam Taylor.
“When Myriam, a French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect caretaker for their two young children. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite and devoted woman who sings to their children, cleans the family’s chic apartment in Paris’s upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late without complaint and is able to host enviable birthday parties. The couple and nanny become more dependent on each other. But as jealousy, resentment and suspicions increase, Myriam and Paul’s idyllic tableau is shattered.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New March Mysteries

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New mysteries from several popular crime writers are included in this month’s selection of new mystery novels. These include Andrea Camilleri, with Pyramids of Mud, Camilla Lackberg, with The Girl in the Woods, and Stuart MacBride with Now we are dead.

Syndetics book coverThe pyramid of Mud / Andrea Camilleri ; translated by Stephen Sartarelli.
“It’s been raining for days in Vigta, and the persistent downpours have led to violent floods overtaking the Inspector Montalbano’s beloved hometown, sweeping across the land and leaving only a sea of mud behind. It is on one of these endless grey days that a man, a Mr Giugl Nicotra, is found dead. His body discovered in a large sewage tunnel, half naked and with a bullet in his back. The investigation is slow and slippery to start with, but when Montalbano realizes that every clue he uncovers and every person he interviews is leading to the same place: the world of public spending and with it, the Mafia, the case begins to pick up pace.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDark pines / Will Dean.
“An isolated Swedish town. A deaf reporter terrified of nature, a dense spruce forest overdue for harvest. A pair of eyeless hunters found murdered in the woods. It’s week one of the Swedish elk hunt and the sound of gunfire is everywhere. When Tuva Moodyson investigates the story that could make her career she stumbles on a web of secrets that knit Gavrik town together. Are the latest murders connected to the Medusa killings twenty years ago? Is someone following her? Why take the eyes? Tuva must face her demons and venture deep into the woods to stop the killer and write the story.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverX marks the Scot / Kaitlyn Dunnett.
“After she hires an archivist to help her research a treasure map that she found at the Chadwick estate in Moosetookalook, Maine, Scottish Emporium owner Lisa MacCrimmon is horrified when the archivist is murdered, and takes it upon herself to find the killer.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLook for me : a novel / Lisa Gardner.
“The home of a family of five is now a crime scene: four of them savagely murdered, and one, a sixteen-year-old girl is missing. Was she lucky to have escaped? Or is her absence evidence of something sinister? Detective D. D. Warren is on the case but so is survivor-turned-avenger Flora Dane. Seeking different types of justice, they must make sense of the clues left behind by a young woman who, whether as victim or suspect, is silently pleading, Look for me.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBlock 46 / Johana Gustawsson ; translated by Maxim Jakubowski.
“Falkenberg, Sweden. The mutilated body of talented young jewelry designer, Linnea Blix, is found in a snow-swept marina. Hampstead Heath, London. The body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s. Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944 and in the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again. Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald? Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French true-crime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEarth storm / Mons Kellentoft ; translated from the Swedish by Neil Smith.
“In the early hours of the morning, the naked body of a young man is discovered in a ditch next to Gota Kanal. The cause of death is mysterious; the body bears no visible traces of violence.The man is soon identified as Peder Akerlund, a former Swedish politician, excluded from his party for racism but since reformed. Then sixteen-year-old Nadja Lundin is reported missing, possibly abducted, the same evening, and there are signs that suggest the two cases might be connected, but what do the victims have in common? And why were they chosen? Gradually, Malin Fors realises that they are dealing with someone who is playing a game with them, who speaks through murders and who will not be silenced. What is he or she trying to say? Desperate to fine Nadja alive, the team race against the clock to find an answer before it’s too late.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Girl in the Woods / Camilla Läckberg ; translated from Swedish by Tiina Nunnally.
“When a four-year-old girl disappears in the woods just outside Fjillbacka, the community is horror-struck. Thirty years ago, a young girl went missing from the exact same spot, and was later discovered, murdered. Ttwo teenage girls were found guilty of the killing. Could it really be a coincidence that one of the girls, now a world-famous actress, has just returned to Fjillbacka? Detective Patrik Hedstrm starts investigating, with his wife, bestselling crime writer Erica Falck, by his side.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe shout / Stephen Leather.
“Vicky Lewis is a force to be reckoned with: not yet thirty and already crew manager in the London Fire Brigade, she’s destined for great things. But when she enters a burning building to save a man’s life and leaves it with catastrophic injuries, all that changes. She’s shunted over to the Fire Investigation Unit, where she’s forced to team up with cantankerous veteran Des Farmer, aka the Grouch. When Vicky stumbles across the Grouch’s off-the-books investigation into the fiery deaths of a series of young, blonde women, she decides to join him in his search for the truth. The answer is close perhaps too close. Vicky’s already been burnt once, and now she’s playing with fire” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNow we are dead / Stuart MacBride.
“Detective Chief Inspector Roberta Steel got caught fitting up Jack Wallace, that’s why they demoted her and quashed his sentence. Now he’s back on the streets and women are being attacked again. Wallace has to be responsible, but if Detective Sergeant Steel goes anywhere near him, his lawyers will get her thrown off the force for good. The Powers That Be won’t listen to her, not after what happened last time. According to them, she’s got more than enough ongoing cases to keep her busy. Perhaps she could try solving a few instead of harassing an innocent man? Steel knows Wallace is guilty. And the longer he gets away with it, the more women will suffer. The question is: how much is she willing to sacrifice to stop him?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe seven deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle / Stuart Turton.
“It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed. But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden, one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party,can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot. The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Popular fiction writer Philip Kerr has died

Syndetics book coverThe very popular historical thriller writer Philip Kerr has died of cancer aged 62. Born in Scotland he became a full time writer in 1989, beginning his career with the character Bernie Gunther and the ‘Berlin Noir’ trilogy. He continued with ten more novels featuring Bernie Gunther and the third titled, If the Dead Rise Not, published in 2009, won several Crime Writing awards. Fifteen other novels were published, two non-fiction and ten books of fiction for children, these under the pseudonym of P. B. Kerr.
Syndetics book cover
His last novel published this year is titled Greeks Bearing Gifts, again featuring the character Bernie Gunther.

This month, try a techno thriller! New sci-fi and fantasy

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The selection of recently received new titles in our science fiction and fantasy collection always illustrates the wonderful diversification of themes and plots of this genre. This month there are novels about immortality, espionage, political intrigue, time travel, utopias and several techno thrillers.

Syndetics book coverImmortal life : a soon to be true story / Stanley Bing.
“Immortal Life, a fantasy, an impossible dream, for now, maybe. The moguls of Big Tech are pouring their mountain of wealth into finding a cure for death. None of these titans is richer than Arthur Vogel. This inventor, tech tycoon, and all-round monster has amassed trillions and rules over a corporate empire stretching all the way to Mars. The newest, and most expensive, life extension technology has allowed him to live to 127 years, but time is running out. His last hope to escape the inevitable lies with Gene, a human being specifically created for the purpose of housing Arthur’s consciousness. The plan is to discard his used-up old carcass and come to a second life in a young, strong body with all appropriate working parts. But there’s a problem: Gene. He may be artificial, but he is a person. And he has other ideas.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Erstwhile / Brian Catlin.
“The Vorrh is a vast unmapped and very mysterious jungle in Africa. No-one comes out of it in one piece. Survivors report strange, mind-bending phenomena and horrific monsters. It is rumored that the Garden of Eden still exists somewhere in the middle of it. In The Erstwhile it transpires that some angels have escaped Eden and the Vorrh and are living in hiding in London, some in disguise as lunatics in Bedlam. Good and evil angels and humansare heading towards a final, Miltonic apocalyptic battle for the soul of humanity. The Erstwhile is the second book in the Vorrh trilogy.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCrosstown : a novel / by Loren W. Cooper.
“Zethus is a sorcerer, a self-described spiritual thug for hire. He makes his living in CrossTown, a place where the many world hypotheses of modern physics manifests itself, where possibilities and probabilities overlap. Caught up in a web of intrigue as he investigates the death of his master, Corvinus, and pursued by agents that want to erase all knowledge of Corvinus’s work, Zethus discovers that the key to his master’s murder lies in the last project he had pursued before his death. The roots of this project lie deep in the past, at the origin of CrossTown’s fractured reality. Once he understands the stakes, Zethus must make the dangerous journey to the cradle of history. The price he must pay to find the answers he seeks will threaten everything he holds dear, including his own humanity.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover1637 : the Volga rules / Eric Flint, Paula Goodlett, Gorg Huff.
“It’s been five years since a cosmic incident known as The Ring of Fire transported the modern day town of Grantville, West Virginia, through time and space to 17th century Europe. The course of world history has been forever altered, and Russia is no exception. Inspired by the American up-timers’ radical notion that all people are created equal, Russian serfs are rebelling. The entire village of Poltz, led by blacksmith Stefan Andreevich, pulls up stakes to make a run for freedom. The Czar Mikhail has escaped house arrest and makes his way to the village of Ufa. There he intends to set up a government-in-exile. It is to Ufa that the serfs of Poltz are heading, as well. The path is dangerous, for the serfs as well as the czar as they face great distances and highwaymen. But the worst threat comes from the aristocracy who seek to crush the serfs and execute the czar in a bid to drive any hope for Russian freedom.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTime shards / Dana Fredsti, David Fitzgerald.
“Our world is gone, instantly replaced by a new one made of scattered remnants of the past, present, and future, dropped alongside one another in a patchwork of “shards”. Monsters from Jurassic prehistory, ancient armies, and high-tech robots all coexist in this deadly post-apocalyptic landscape. A desperate group of survivors sets out to locate the source of the disaster. They include 21st century Californian Amber Richardson, Cam, a young Celtic warrior from Roman Britannia, Alex Brice, a policewoman from 1985, and Blake, a British soldier from World War II. With other refugees from across time, they must learn the truth behind the Event, if they are to survive.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe forgotten beasts of Eld / Patricia A. McKillip.
“Young Sybel, the heiress of powerful wizards, needs the company of no-one outside her gates. In her exquisite stone mansion, she is attended by exotic, magical beasts: Riddle-master Cyrin the boar; the treasure-starved dragon Gyld; Gules the Lyon, tawny master of the Southern Deserts; Ter, the fiercely vengeful falcon; Moriah, feline Lady of the Night. Sybel only lacks the exquisite and mysterious Liralen, which continues to elude her most powerful enchantments. But when a soldier bearing an infant arrives, Sybel discovers that the world of man and magic is full of both love and deceit, and the possibility of more power than she can possibly imagine.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe will to battle / by Ada Palmer.
“This is the third book of 2017 John W. Campbell Award winner Ada Palmer’s Terra Ignota. The long years of near-utopia have come to an abrupt end. Peace and order are now figments of the past. Corruption, deception, and insurgency hum within the once steadfast leadership of the Hives, nations without fixed location. The heartbreaking truth is that for decades, even centuries, the leaders of the great Hives bought the world’s stability with a trickle of secret murders, mathematically planned, so that no faction could ever dominate and that the balance held. The Hives’ façade of solidity is the only hope they have for maintaining a semblance of order, for preventing the public from succumbing to the savagery and bloodlust of wars past. But as the great secret becomes more and more widely known, that facade is slipping away. Just days earlier, the world was a pinnacle of human civilization. Now everyone, Hives and hiveless, Utopians and sensayers, Emperors and the downtrodden, warriors and saints, scrambles to prepare for the seemingly inevitable war.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverElysium fire : a Prefect Dreyfus Emergency / Alastair Reynolds.
“One citizen died a fortnight ago, two a week ago, four died yesterday and unless the cause can be found and stopped within the next four months, everyone will be dead. For the Prefects, the hunt for a silent, hidden killer is on.The technological implants which connect every citizen to each other have become murder weapons, and no one knows who or what the killer is, or who the next targets will be. But their reach is spreading, and time is not on the Prefects’ side.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDark state / Charles Stross.
“In the near-future, the collision of two nuclear superpowers across timelines, one in the midst of a technological revolution and the other a hyper-police state, is imminent. In Commissioner Miriam Burgeson’s timeline, her top level agents run a high risk extraction of a major political player. Meanwhile, a sleeper cell activated in Rita’s, the Commissioner’s adopted daughter and newly-minted spy, timeline threatens to unravel everything.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSweet dreams / Tricia Sullivan.
“Charlie is a dreamhacker, able to enter your dreams and mold their direction. As far as she knows, she’s the only person who can do this. Unfortunately, her power comes with one drawback; Charlie also has narcolepsy, and may fall asleep at the most inopportune moment. But in London 2022, her skill is in demand. When she is hired by a minor celebrity who dreams of a masked Creeper then sleepwalks off a tall building, Charlie begins to realise that someone else might be able to invade dreams.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Graphic Novels featuring revolutionary writer & artist Andrea Pazienza

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This month’s selection of new graphic novels includes a collection of stories by the late Italian writer and artist Andrea Pazienza. Although he died in 1988, his art work was innovative and he was considered revolutionary, his stories tell of the problems faced by the lost generation of 1970/1980’s teenagers. Also included are the first volumes of two new series, Starslayer by Mike Grell and Romulus by Brian Hill.

Syndetics book coverThe last contract / written & lettered by Ed Brisson ; illustrated by Lisandro Estherren.
“After a lifetime spent as a gun-for-hire, a retired hitman known only as “The Man” has finally found a sense of peace. But when a list of his kills is leaked by a mysterious blackmailer, making targets of anyone associated with one of The Man’s previous jobs, he’s forced back into the game he left behind. As he fights to protect those exposed by the list, The Man sets off to uncover the identity of the blackmailer, unaware of the consequences the truth he’s chasing may hold.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe cross-eyed mutt / a story written and drawn by Étienne Davodeau ; translation by Joe Johnson.
“Fabian is supervisor at the Louvre. He loves his job. He also loves Mathilde. After some time, she presents him to her family in their vast country house and not without some apprehension, as the Benion clan is a bit special. When they find a peculiar painting of a cross-eyed mutt by an ancestor from the nineteenth century, they decide that it’s a masterpiece. Fabian hopes the delusion will go away, until the two brothers show up at the Louvre. Getting the Cross-Eyed Mutt into the Louvre would demonstrate his commitment to becoming a member of the Benion family!” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStarslayer [1] : the log of the Jolly Roger / script and art, Mike Grell ; created by Mike Grell.
“A Celtic warrior from the days of the Roman Empire is transported into the distant future by his wife’s descendant and compelled to join the crew of the spaceship Jolly Roger in their resistance to totalitarian rule on Earth.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRomulus. Volume 1 / Bryan Hill, writer ; Nelson Blake II, artist ; created by Bryan Hill & Nelson Blake.
“Our world isn’t free. All of us, for generations, have lived under the secret control of The Ancient Order of Romulus. One young woman, raised by them, trained and betrayed by them, must push through her fear to take a stand against the silent evil that masters our world. Her name is Ashlar, and her war begins with the brutal first chapter of this new series.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSombra / created by Justin Jordan & Raúl Treviño ; written by Justin Jordan ; illustrated by Raúl Treviño.
“Conrad Marlowe was a respected DEA agent when he disappeared in Mexico while investigating the ruthless drug cartels. Years later he has resurfaced as a cult leader who has made it his mission to out-brutalize the cartels terrorizing the country. The only DEA agent willing to follow his trail of violence is his own daughter, and with the help of a journalist on the ground, she’ll have to face the horrors of what her father has become if she wants to survive and bring him to justice.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHerman by trade / Chris W. Kim.
“Herman is a reclusive, straight-laced street cleaner,or so it seems to those he works with on the city’s waterfront. But he has an extraordinary hidden talent: the ability to transform his appearance at will. On the fourth day, Herman joins a queue of people at an open audition for a new movie. As he waits, swept up in the frenzy of creative ambition that has overcome the city, his past life becomes increasingly remote. By the time he enters the audition room, he might have lost his job, but his talent remains. Dazzled by Herman’s ability to adapt to any role, the director deems the rest of the cast redundant, sparking a furious outcry. When the cult director’s new film premieres, with Herman performing every role, it doesn’t get the reaction she expects.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHenry & Glenn forever & ever / by Tom Neely & friends.
“The greatest love story ever told has finally been released in graphic novel form, featuring 20 short stories about the domestic life of “Henry” and “Glenn” and sometimes their neighbors “Daryl” and “John.” Glenn deals with issues with his mother while Henry, “a loud guy with a good work ethic,” shows his darker side and indifference to a fan as he drinks black coffee and bonds with Glenn over their distaste for their own bands. These are two men who truly suffer best together.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHaddon Hall : when David invented Bowie / written and illustrated by Néjib; translated from the French by Edward Gauvin.
“Charting Bowie’s personal life, the development of his music, and the transformation of his image, Haddon Hall is an evocative portrait of a young artist presiding over a musical revolution.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverZanardi / Andrea Pazienza.
“A true visionary, with a fluid line and an uncanny sense of color and composition, Pazienza’s innovative graphic style served up stories that were iconoclastic, outrageous, humorous, and deeply personal, often based on himself and his microcosm of friends and collaborators. Pazienza was a revolutionary cartoonist who ushered an underground sensibility to Italian and European comics.”
(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDriving short distances / by Joff Winterhart.
“Sam is 27 and needs to get a job. Keith, who claims to be a second cousin of his (absent) father, offers him one. On Keith’s card it says he does ‘distribution and delivery’, which seems to consist of ‘a lot of driving around, getting out of the car for a few minutes and then getting back in’, Sam tells his mother, and so the days go by, Keith driving while telling Sam stories about his first boss, Geoff Crozier, his mentor in distribution and delivery. As the weeks pass, Sam gets to know Keith’s friends, flirty Hazel-Claire from whom they buy two pasties every day at lunchtime, a variety of receptionists, and a few tantalizing secrets from Keith’s past.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Veteran feminist writer Beryl Fletcher has died

Syndetics book coverThe accomplished feminist New Zealand writer Beryl Fletcher has died aged 80.
She graduated from Waikato University in 1979 with a master’s degree in Sociology. She went on to study and lecture, until her first short story was published in 1964, and she decided to become a fiction writer. Her first novel The Word Burners, published in 1991 won the 1992 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, Best First Book, Asia/Pacific region. Four other novels followed, her last published in 1999 titled The Bloodwood Clan. She spent many years as writer in residence in universities located in Waikato, New York, and Wellington. She also taught memoir at Humboldt University in Germany. She believed the role of a feminist writer was to open and expand ideas by exploring older texts, situations or opinions.

Thrillers feature in this month’s novels from other genres

Featuring this month in our ‘other genre’ category we have selected fiction from the thriller genre. These are guaranteed reading for ardent fans of tension and suspense, and at times not for the faint hearted. Highly recommend is The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn.

Syndetics book coverEighteen below / Stefan Ahnhem ; translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles.
“On a hot summer’s day the police chase a speeding car through the streets of Helsingborg. When they reach the quay, the driver keeps going, straight into the cold, dark water. The body recovered from the wreck is Peter Brise, a wealthy tech entrepreneur. Fabian Risk and his team are confident this is a suicide. Young, rich, successful, Brise just didn’t know how to ask for help. But then the autopsy reveals something unexpected. Brise was already dead when his car crashed. He’d been brutally murdered two months ago. His body was frozen in perfect condition, at eighteen degrees below zero.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRobicheaux : a novel / James Lee Burke.
“Dave Robicheaux is a haunted man. From the acts he committed in Vietnam, to his battles with alcoholism, to the sudden loss of his beloved wife, Molly, his thoughts drift from one irreconcilable memory to the next. Images of ghosts pepper his reality. Robicheaux’s only beacon remains serving as a detective in New Iberia, Louisiana With the sudden death of T.J. Dartez, the New Iberian local responsible for Molly’s death, Robicheaux’s colleague, Spade Labiche, thinks Robicheaux had something to do with it. Robicheaux’s determined to clear his name. He’s not alone; his daughter, Alafair, along with his old friend, Clete Purcel is right by Robicheaux’s side as he searches for the killer, where a shocking discovery awaits.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverI know my name / C.J. Cooke.
“A woman is washed up on a remote Greek island with no recollection of who she is or how she got there. Potter’s Lane, Twickenham, London: Eloise Shelley is officially missing. Lochlan’s wife has vanished into thin air, leaving their toddler and twelve-week-old baby alone. Her money, car and passport are all in the house, with no signs of foul play. Every clue the police turn up means someone has told a lie, does a husband ever truly know his wife or a wife her husband?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe woman in the window / A.J. Finn.
“Anna Fox lives alone, a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times and spying on her neighbors. Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son, the perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble and its shocking secrets are laid bare. What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverArarat / Christopher Golden.
“When an earthquake reveals a secret cave hidden inside Mount Ararat in Turkey, a daring, newly-engaged couple are determined to be the first ones inside and what they discover will change everything. The cave is actually an ancient, buried ship that many quickly come to believe is really Noah’s Ark. When a team of scholars, archaeologists, and filmmakers make it inside the ark, they discover an elaborate coffin in its recesses. Inside the coffin they find an ugly, misshapen cadaver, not the holy man they expected, but a hideous creature with horns. Shock and fear turn to horror when a massive blizzard arrives; they are all trapped thousands of meters up the side of a remote mountain. All they can do is pray for safety. But something wicked is listening to their prayers and it wants to answer.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIf I die before I wake / Emily Koch.
“Everyone believes Alex is in a coma, unlikely to ever wake up. As his family debate withdrawing life support, and his friends talk about how his girlfriend Bea needs to move on, he can only listen. But Alex soon begins to suspect that the accident that put him here wasn’t really an accident. Even worse, the perpetrator is still out there and Alex is not the only one in danger. As he goes over a series of clues from his past, Alex must use his remaining senses to solve the mystery of who tried to kill him, and try to protect those he loves, before they decide to let him go.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDistrict VIII / Adam LeBor.
“Life’s tough for a Gypsy cop in Budapest. The cops don’t trust you because you’re a Gypsy. Your fellow Gypsies, even your own family, shun you because you’re a cop. The dead, however, don’t care. So when Balthazar Kovacs, a detective in the city’s murder squad, gets a mysterious message on his phone from a blocked number he grabs his police ID and goes to work. Danube Blues reveals an underworld that Budapest visitors never get to see: the gritty back-alleys of District VIII; the endemic corruption that reaches deep into the government as officials and their business allies plunder state coffers at will; a rule of law bent to serve the interests of the rich, well-connected and powerful; the rising power of international organized crime gangs who use the Hungarian capital as a springboard for their European operations; and the ghosts of Communism and Nazism that still haunt Hungary.” (Adapted from Syndetic summary)

Syndetics book coverThe house / Simon Lelic.
“Lndoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it. So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake, because someone has just been murdered, right outside their back door. And now the police are watching them.” (Adapted from Syndetic summary)

Syndetics book coverThe boy made of snow / Chloë Mayer.
“In a sleepy English village in 1944, Annabel and her son Daniel live in the shadow of war. With her husband away, an increasingly isolated Annabel begins to lose her grip on reality. When mother and son befriend Hans, a German PoW consigned to a nearby farm, their lives are suddenly filled with thrilling secrets. To Annabel, Hans is an awakening from the darkness that has engulfed her since Daniel’s birth. To her son, a solitary boy caught up in the magical world of fairy tales, he is perhaps a prince in disguise. But Hans has plans of his own and will soon set them into motion with devastating consequences.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPoison / Galt Niederhoffer.
“Cass and Ryan Connor have achieved family nirvana. With three kids between them, a cat and a yard, a home they built and feathered, they seem to have the Modern Family dream. Their family, including Cass’s two children from previous relationships, has recently moved to Portland, a new start for their new lives. Cass and Ryan have stable, successful careers, and they are happy. But trouble begins almost imperceptibly, first with small omissions and white lies that happen daily in any marital bedroom. They seem insignificant, but they are quickly followed by a series of denials and feints that mushroom and then cyclone in menace. With life-or-death stakes and irreversible consequences, Poison is a chilling and irresistible reminder that the closest bond designed to protect and provide for each other and for children can change in a minute.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Be transported by these new mystery novels!

Mystery novel fans will again be transported to far parts of the world with his month’s selection of new mysteries. From Thailand to Norway, India to Ireland, Norway to Germany, all will provide hours of gripping reading.

Syndetics book coverThe emerald lie / Ken Bruen.
“Jack Taylor, an ex-cop who is as addicted to trouble as he is to Jameson, pills, and pop culture. Jack is approached by a grieving father with a pocketful of cash on offer if Jack will help exact revenge on those responsible for his daughter’s brutal rape and murder. Though hesitant to get involved, Jack agrees to get a read on the likely perpetrators. But Jack is soon derailed by the reappearance of Emily (previous alias: Emerald), the chameleon-like young woman who joined forces with Jack to take down her pedophile father in Green Hell and who remains passionate, clever, and utterly homicidal. She will use any sort of coercion to get Jack to conspire with her against the serial killer the Garda have nicknamed “the Grammarian,” but her most destructive obsession just might be Jack himself.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe missing guests of the Magic Grove hotel : an Ethical Chiang Mai Detective Agency novel / David Casarett.
“As a nurse ethicist, Ladarat Patalung works to save the lives of her patients, and to make sure the ones she can’t save have at least the dignity of a “good death’. Detective Wiriya Mookjai fears that a killer is at large when wealthy foreign travelers start to go missing all across Thailand, and turns to Ladarat for help. The travelers have nothing in common, except for brief stays at a mysterious resort, known as the Magic Grove Hotel.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHead Count / Judith Cutler.
“A head teacher’s work is never done, especially if, like Jane Cowan, you’re a victim of your own success. Having done well with Wrayford Primary, she’s now expected to bring other neighbouring schools up to scratch as well. And all these responsibilities are compounded by an influx of children, most of whom do not speak English, following their families supplying cheap labour to surrounding farms. Jane can’t turn a blind eye to the conditions in which many of these families are living, even more so when some children simply disappear. When everything points to the shadowy dealings of people smugglers in the area, she has her work cut out for her seeing justice done and that’s before a threat far closer to home rears his head.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFaithless / Kjell Ola Dahl ; translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett.
“When the body of a woman turns up in a dumpster, scalded and wrapped in plastic, Inspector Frank Frolich is shocked to discover that he knows her and their recent meetings may hold the clue to her murder. As he begins to look deeper into the tragic events surrounding her death, Frolich’s colleague Gunnarstranda finds another body, and things take a more sinister turn. With a cold case involving the murder of a young girl in northern Norway casting a shadow, and an unsettling number of coincidences clouding the plot, Frolich is forced to look into his own past to find the answers and the killer, before he strikes again.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAn English murder / Cyril Hare.
“The snow is thick, the phone line is down, and no one is getting in or out of Warbeck Hall. With friends and family gathered round the fire, all should be set for a perfect Christmas, but as the bells chime midnight, a mysterious murder takes place. Who can be responsible, the scorned young lover, or the lord’s passed-over cousin, the social climbing politician’s wife, or the Czech history professor, maybe the obsequious butler? But perhaps the real question is: can any of them survive long enough to tell the tale?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIn dust and ashes / Anne Holt ; translated from the Norwegian by Anne Bruce.
“In 2001, three year old Dina is killed in a tragic car accident. Not long thereafter Dina’s mother dies under mysterious circumstances, and Dina’s father Jonas is convicted of her murder. In 2016, the cold case ends up on the desk of Detective Henrik Holme, who tries to convince his mentor Hanne Wilhelmsen that the father might have been wrongly convicted. Holme and Wilhelmsen discover that the case could be connected to the suicide of an eccentric blogger as well as the kidnapping of the grandson of a Euro-Jackpot millionaire.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUnder attack / Edward Marston.
“June, 1917. While another daylight air raid batters London, the body of respected businessman and devoted family man Gilbert Donohoe is fished from the Thames, the victim of strangulation. Inspector Marmion struggles with the case alongside his anxieties for his now-missing son, Paul, but the pressure increases when the Metropolitan Police are the target of a series of vicious press attacks. As Marmion is pilloried in the press, he uncovers a seedy path through London which will lead him towards the killer.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBabylon Berlin / Volker Kutscher ; translated by Niall Sellar.
“Berlin, 1929. Detective Inspector Rath, was a successful career officer in the Cologne Homicide Division before a shooting incident in which he inadvertently killed a man. He has been transferred to the Vice Squad in Berlin, a job he detests, even though he finds a new friend in his boss, Chief Inspector Wolter. There is seething unrest in the city and the Commissioner of Police has ordered the Vice Squad to ruthlessly enforce the ban on May Day demonstrations. The result is catastrophic with many dead and injured, and a state of emergency is declared in the Communist strongholds of the city. When a car is hauled out of Berlin’s Landwehr Canal with a mutilated corpse inside the Commissioner decides to use this mystery to divert the attention of press and public from the casualties of the demonstrations. The biggest problem is that the corpse cannot be identified.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe widows of Malabar Hill / Sujata Massey.
“1920s India: Perveen Mistry, Bombay’s first female lawyer, with a legal education from Oxford, has a tragic personal history that makes women’s legal rights especially important to her. She has just joined her father’s law firm, which has been appointed to execute the will of Mr. Omar Farid, a wealthy Muslim mill owner who has left three widows behind. But as Perveen examines the paperwork, she notices something strange: all three of the wives have signed over their full inheritance to a charity. What will they live on? The Farid widows live in full purdah, in strict seclusion, never leaving the women’s quarters or speaking to any men. Perveen tries to investigate, and realizes her instincts were correct when tensions escalate to murder. Now it is her responsibility to figure out what really happened on Malabar Hill, and to ensure that no innocent women or children are in further danger.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDry bones / Sally Spencer.
“When human bones are discovered in the cellars beneath St Luke’s College, two bodies, buried thirty years apart, the bursar, Charlie Swift, hires Jennie Redhead to investigate. As she uncovers a series of scandals stretching back sixty years, Jennie wonders how well she really knows her old friend Charlie and whether she can trust him.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Contemporary Fiction

In this selection of new contemporary fiction there are debut novels by three very talented writers. One is set in Korea during the Japanese occupation in WWII, another set on an English country estate in the winter of 1969, and the third is set in Paris and Puerto Rico. These, with the other novels in this selection will provide many hours of entertaining and thought provoking reading.

Syndetics book coverWhite chrysanthemum / Mary Lynn Bracht.
“Hana and her little sister Emi are part of an island community of haenyeo, women who make their living from diving deep into the sea off the southernmost tip of Korea. One day Hana sees a Japanese soldier heading for where Emi is guarding the day’s catch on the beach. Her mother has told her again and again never to be caught alone with one. Terrified for her sister, Hana swims as hard as she can for the shore. So begins the story of two sisters suddenly and violently separated by war. Switch-backing between Hana in 1943 and Emi as an old woman today, White Chrysanthemum takes us into a dark and devastating corner of history. But pulling us back into the light are two women whose love for one another is strong enough to triumph over the evils of war.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverYear of the drought / Roland Buti ; translated by Charlotte Mandell.
“Europe is in the grip of the worst drought in living memory. The Sutter household teeters on the brink of ruin. The farmer and father of the family has invested his entire fortune in 10,000 chickens and a modern barn. But the barn’s cooling systems are failing, and the chicks are dying off in the heat. Meanwhile his wife invites the mysterious Cecile to stay at the farm. Their son, 13-year-old Gus, observes helplessly as both his family and his carefree childhood dissolve in the heat.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAfter the snow / Susannah Constantine.
“Christmas morning, 1969. All eleven-year-old Esme Munroe wants for Christmas is for her mother to be on one of her ‘good’ days and, secretly, for a velvet riding hat. So when she finds an assortment of wet towels and dirty plates in her stocking, she’s just relieved Father Christmas remembered to stop at The Lodge this year. But later that day Esme’s mother disappears in the heavy snow. Even more mysteriously, only the Earl of Culcairn seems to know where she might have gone. Torn between protecting her mother and uncovering the secrets tumbling out of Culcairn Castle’s ornate closets, Esme realises that life will never be the same again after the snow.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe girl who lied / Sue Fortin.
“Erin and Roisin were once friends until a fatal accident ruined both their lives. Now, Roisin has discovered a secret, one Erin has kept for over a decade, and she’s determined to make Erin pay for her lies. When Roisin suddenly disappears, suspicion soon lands on Erin. She would do anything to protect her family, but just how far is she willing to go when time is running out?.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMary Rose / Geoffrey Girard.
“Mary Rose Moreland and Simon Blake are the perfect couple: successful young professionals in Philadelphia, attractive, madly in love, and ready to start a life together. When they travel to England for Simon to ask her parents’ permission to marry Mary Rose, he learns an unsettling secret: Mary Rose disappeared when she was a little girl while the family was vacationing on a remote Scottish island. She reappeared mysteriously thirty-three days later in the exact same spot without a scratch on her and no memory of what had happened. After Simon hears about this disturbing episode in Mary Rose’s childhood, he becomes obsessed with finding out what happened. He proceeds to launch his own investigation and arranges during their honeymoon for them to visit the island where she disappeared. But as Mary Rose’s behavior gets stranger after their engagement, the need for Simon to unlock the truth about her past grows even more urgent. What he uncovers is beyond his most terrifying fears.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHistories / Sam Guglani.
“Histories” is a hypnotic portrait of life in one hospital, over one week. In the corridors and consulting rooms, by the bedside, through the open curtain, we witness charged encounters within the emotional and physical world of medicine. Old insecurities surface as junior doctors try to save a man from dying; an enraged chaplain picks a fight with a consultant; a porter waxes lyrical on his invisibility. These are only some of the stories that so seamlessly connect, collide and create an unforgettable panorama of being.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA field guide to the North American family : concerning chiefly the Hungates and Harrisons, with accounts of their habits, nesting, dispersion, etc., and full description of the plumage of both adult and young, within a taxonomic survey of several aspects of domestic life / by Garth Risk Hallberg ; with sixty-three illustrations done by various artists.
“For years, the Hungates and the Harrisons have coexisted peacefully in the same Long Island neighborhood, enjoying the pleasures and weathering the pitfalls of their suburban habitat. But when the patriarch of one family dies unexpectedly, the survivors face a stark imperative: adapt or face extinction. In sixty-three interlinked vignettes and striking accompanying photographs, the novella cuts multiple paths–which can be reconstructed in any order, through the lives of its richly imagined characters.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUselessness : a novel / Eduardo Lalo ; translated by Suzanne Jill Levine.
“The streets of Paris at night are pathways coursing with light and shadow, channels along which identity may be formed and lost, where the grand inflow of history, art, language, and thought, and of love, can both inspire and enfeeble. For the narrator of Eduardo Lalo’s Uselessness, it is a world long desired. But as this young aspiring writer discovers upon leaving his home in San Juan to study, to live and be reborn in the city of his dreams, Paris’s twinned influences can rip you apart.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Reservoir Tapes / Jon McGregor.
“Midwinter in the early years of this century. A teenage girl on holiday has gone missing in the hills at the heart of England. The villagers are called up to join the search, fanning out across the moors as the police set up roadblocks and a crowd of news reporters descends on their usually quiet home. But the aftershocks of Becky Shaw’s disappearance have origins long before then, and those in the village have losses, and secrets, and stories of their own. Fresh hurts open old wounds; salvation comes from unexpected quarters and chance encounters release long-buried memories.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe miranda : a novel / Geoff Nicholson.
“Joe’s got a lot to think about, and time on his hands to do it, since divorcing his wife and quitting his job training volunteers for a shadowy government agency. The otherwise nondescript house he’s just moved into boasts one key feature: a circular path in an overgrown backyard, on which Joe plans to walk twenty-five miles a day for a thousand days. Joe figures that walking the circumference of the Earth, safely on his own patch of territory, might just be the thing he needs to move on with his life. But curious neighbours keep sharing their troubles and preoccupations, looping Joe into mundane intrigues, and unwittingly triggering Joe to use the unique problem-solving skills he learned on his old job.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)