Special Author Interview: International bestselling Scottish crime writer, Alex Gray!

Still Dark book cover
Author Alex Gray in Central Library, taken from her twitter account @alexincrimeland

Central Library recently had the unexpected pleasure of a visit from the hugely popular Scottish crime writer, Alex Gray. Alex has published fifteen novels featuring DCI Lorimer, and his psychological profiler Solomon Brightman, and are mainly set on the gritty streets of Glasgow. Alex is also one of the co-founders (with Lin Anderson) of the renown Bloody Scotland festival — Scotland’s biggest crime festival. Alex had been visiting New Zealand for Rotorua Noir: New Zealand’s first crime festival, so we took the golden opportunity to ask Alex about her life and work. This is what she had to say for herself…

Q: Were there any major differences between Rotorua Noir (the New Zealand crime writing festival you’ve just been at) and Bloody Scotland the Scottish crime festival you organize and run?

A: Yes, there were major differences between Rotorua Noir and Bloody Scotland, mainly due to scale. In Stirling, where Bloody Scotland is held, we have the Albert Halls, a theatre holding an audience of around 800 plus the ballroom in The Golden Lion Hotel and a church hall that seats about 100. At most times of the programme three events run concurrently whereas Rotorua Noir had one at a time over two days. One thing the two festivals do have in common, though, is a desire to promote budding writers and on the Friday of each respective weekend masterclasses are held. We normally attract about 55 students for that full day.

Q: Are there any new upcoming crime writers whose works that you were particularly excited about? And why? You mentioned Call Me Evie by J.P. Pomare.

A: I chair an event each year that is billed as ‘Alex Gray’s new blood’ and at this time of year I am reading lots of debut novels. I did attend J.P. Pomare’s debut launch and had that lovely shivery feeling of being in at the start of something that was going to be really special. I intend to read his novel once I return to Scotland so watch this space!

Q: We feel Glasgow exists as a character in your novels. How do you go about creating a place as a character? And are we likely to see any places in New Zealand turning up in this context ?

A: Glasgow as a character really owes much to its people, folk who are blessed with natural good humour, friendliness and energy. Sometimes that energy is channeled into not such good places: our crime stats are nothing to be proud of. Yet it is a city with a warm heart, both cultured and couthy. In some ways it sums up the Scottish psyche; a split personality that has light and dark growing together. I would love to return to NZ but as yet there are no thoughts of using it in a future novel. Never say never, though.

Q: Have you read a lot of New Zealand crime fiction?  If so do you feel it is different Scottish crime fiction? Is it that different from Scottish crime fiction? Does it have a distinctive national flavour for example?

A: I haven’t read a lot of contemporary NZ crime fiction. Reading mostly Liam McIlvanney recently. However Ngaio Marsh was one of my favourite crime writers when I was younger. Sorry, no real basis to compare Scottish and NZ crime but have to say our writers are pretty similar in outlook. We are the pussycats of the literary world!

Q: Could you perhaps go way back and tell us about the creative origins of your main protagonists Chief Inspector Lorimer and Solomon Brightman? Where did the roots of their characters originate.

A: How did Lorimer and Solly come to be? Well, Lorimer began as a very tall, rather remote person, very seriously involved in a major case. He was always dedicated and driven but I deliberately wanted to portray him as a normal man, so no hang ups, no chip on the shoulder, alcoholism etc and happily married (as I am). I think he owes a lot to a real life senior detective who helped me a lot in the early days called Ronnie Beattie. A nice, normal guy with exceptional talent and who commanded the respect of his fellow officers. Lorimer grew as a character over the books, unlike Solomon Brightman. I used to hear some writers claim their characters just appeared in a flash and I was derisory about this… till it happened to me! Solly did come fully formed in appearance, character and back story, much to my amazement. Years later I analysed where his name came from and I figured out Solomon the wise, bright man! I love them both dearly but am not above throwing some terrible things at them both. Kind of like real life, eh?

Q: How do you use social media to promote yourself, your work and Bloody Scotland.

A: Social media just Twitter @alexincrimeland and Facebook under my married name, Sandra McGruther. My middle name really is Gray and my late mother wanted me called Alexandra so it is shortened to Sandra for everyday use and Alex when I am being a book person. I do love Alex in crimeland as it reminds me of Alice in Wonderland, another character that plunged down into a rabbit hole full of interesting characters! I don’t have a blog but I do some blogspots to promote books, particularly my US titles. I love it when readers get in touch to tell me how much they’ve enjoyed a particular book: it makes all the hard work of writing so worthwhile.

P.S. promoting Bloody Scotland is mainly by Twitter but I talk about it a lot and have ‘trained’ audiences to say “hurrah!” henever I mention Bloody Scotland out loud. I love them for that!

Q: Who are your favourite authors and why? Crime or otherwise.

A: Favourite authors include Louise Penny, Ann Cleeves, Chris Brookmyre, Alexander McCall Smith. I do enjoy the latter’s sense of humour plus his refreshing take on life. Reading any of Sandy’s books is a tonic. Please spread the word about Louise Penny: begin with Still Life and read the books in chronological order since there is an overarching plot to them. Beautiful writer! Ann’s two series are great but I have to confess to a very soft spot for her Shetland series especially after driving through the island with her! Chris Brookmyre is a genius, simple as that! First of his books that I read, One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night, had me laughing so hard at his black humour that I literally fell off my sunbed onto the grass. That incident made him two other fans: my late Mum and my husband who wanted to know for themselves what made me crease myself with laughter! Incidentally my Mum was nursed in her final days by Chris’s aunt. Small world indeed. Nowadays I am really happy to call these four writers my pals! A privilege indeed.

Q: What did you enjoy most about your visit to New Zealand.

A: Most enjoyable aspect of visiting NZ is the people. What a nice, friendly bunch you are! Highlights include the Powhiri at Rotorua Noir, seeing lots of dolphins in the Bay of Islands, spending time in the nicest B&B’s in Coromandel and Lake Taupo. And, of course, all the wildlife and scenery. I so want to come back!

Q: What did you like best about Wellington Central Library and how do you think public libraries and authors can work best together to build a mutual reading community?

A: Wellington City library is perfectly located right at the Civic Square. I loved the user friendly displays of books, so easy to find titles. And of course it was a joy to find my books. Yippee! Meeting Neil Johnstone was great of course!

All of Alex’s fifteen works are available to borrow from the library. Below is a review of just one of her terrific books.

Thank you Alex.

Syndetics book coverStill dark / Alex Gray.
“‘Alex Gray brings Glasgow to life in the same way Ian Rankin evokes Edinburgh’ Daily Mail New Year’s Eve should be a time for celebrating. But for Detective Superintendent William Lorimer, this is one night he will never forget… Called to a house after gunshots are reported, the carnage Lorimer finds there leaves him traumatised and questioning his future with Police Scotland. Meanwhile, the body count is rising on Glasgow’s streets. A number of known addicts are dying from accidental overdoses, but something’s not adding up. Where would the city’s poorest residents get hold of high-quality morphine?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

 

The strange flowers of romance: our alternative Valentine’s day reads

You want to play? Come find me angel boy.”

― Nalini Singh, Angels’ Blood.

In our very alternative Valentine’s Day fiction showcase we are looking at the rich, diverse and wonderful world of urban fantasy. From hot passionate vampire love affairs to smouldering liaisons with Werewolves or other beings of the night. These tales are out to quicken the blood and set your pulses racing. And to tempt you here are just a few of the authors in fantastic showcase. Enjoy

Syndetics book coverOn the edge/ Illona Andrews.On the Edge
“The Edge lies between worlds, on the border between the Broken, where people shop at Wal-Mart and magic is a fairy tale–and the Weird, where blueblood aristocrats rule, changelings roam, and the strength of your magic can change your destiny…Rose Drayton thought if she practiced her magic, she could build a better life for herself. But things didn’t turn out the way she’d planned, and now she works an off-the-books job in the Broken just to survive. .” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPersonal demon / Kelley Armstrong.Personal Demon
“Kelly Armstrong follows No Humans Involved with a sexy, action-packed Women of the Otherworld novel featuring a wickedly beautiful, supernaturally gifted heroine who may love danger a bit too much.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFlirt / Laurell K. Hamilton.
“When Anita Blake meets with prospective client Tony Bennington, who is desperate to have her reanimate his recently deceased wife, she is full of sympathy for his loss. Anita knows something about love, and she knows everything there is to know about loss. But what she also knows, though Tony Bennington seems unwilling to be convinced, is that the thing she can do as a necromancer isn’t the miracle he thinks he needs.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBad moon rising / Sherrilyn Kenyon.
“Fang Kattalakis isn’t just a wolf. He is the brother of two of the most powerful members of the Omegrion: the ruling council that enforces the laws of the Were-Hunters. And when war erupts among the lycanthropes, sides must be chosen. Enemies are forced into shaky alliances. When Aimee, the woman Fang loves, is accused of betraying her people, her only hope is that Fang believes in her. Yet in order to save her, Fang must break the law of his people and the faith of his brothers. That breech could very well spell the end of both their races and change their world forever.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDaylight / Elizabeth Knox.Daylight
“Brian “Bad” Phelan, New Zealander and bomb disposal expert. While on vacation on the French/Italian border in 2001, he helps to bring a body out of a rocky cove. The dead woman bears striking similarities to a young woman he met years ago, under mysterious circumstances, shortly before she disappeared in a flooded French cave. Bad is compelled to investigate. Jesuit Father Daniel Octave is making his own investigation, into the truth behind the story of the life of the Blessed Martine Raimondi, but it turns out that they are looking for the same thing and a secret vampire family is the common thread.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLove bites / Lynsay Sands.Love Bites
“In the world of the sexy and seductive Argeneau family of vampires, true love is good from the first bite to the last. Love Bites is a classic from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lynsay Sands, the second volume in her much beloved Argeneau series–the story of an achingly hot three hundred year-old bachelor immortal and the beautiful coroner he chooses as his lifemate. Paranormal romance just doesn’t get any tastier than this! “(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPlaying with fire / Gena Showalter.Playing with Fire
“Twenty-four-year-old barista Belle Jamison dreams of a better job and a decent love life. Until a crazy scientist spikes her mocha latte! Suddenly Belle can wield the four elements–earth, wind, fire and water–with only a thought. Coffee too hot? No problem. Hair in need of a blow-dry? Done. Gorgeous government agent Rome Masters has been sent to neutralize Belle. But he’s not the only one after her. Together they must outrun the rogue agents on their trail and find a way to control her powers.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverArchangel’s blade / Nalini Singh.
“Trying to discover the identity of a murder victim brings together the vampire Dmitri and a hunter for the Guild, Honor. And as the gruesome murders continue, a lethal sensuality explodes between them.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCrave / J.R. Ward.Crave
“The battle between good and evil has left the future of humanity in the hands of a reluctant saviour and his band of fallen angels. Seven deadly sins that must be righted. Seven souls that must be saved. Fallen Angel Jim Heron has completed his first task: helping Vin Di Pietro to redeem his soul. Now he must identify and battle a demon that can take any form. Worse still, his old boss Matthias wants him to assassinate Isaac, a member of The Firm who’s gone AWOL – and Jim’s pretty sure he’s supposed to save him. ” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

 

 

 

Fiction showcase: general novels for 2019

Stories are like children. They grow in their own way.”

― Madeleine L’Engle, A Swiftly Tilting Planet.

With the new year firmly established and its feet firmly under the tables, new titles are already beginning to arrive in droves. January’s newly acquired titles include a new work from thriller maestro James Lee Burke called The New Iberia blues, a superb new book from Chigozie Obioma, which is already hotly tipped to be on the Booker prize selectors minds, and a light hearted nod towards Chinese New Year with Lillian Li’s Number one Chinese Restaurant. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverEvening in paradise : more stories / Lucia Berlin.
“Evening in Paradise is a careful selection from the remaining Berlin stories – a jewel box follow-up to A Manual for Cleaning Women for Lucia Berlin’s hungry fans. ‘Lucia Berlin’s collection of short stories, , deserves all of the posthumous praise its author has received Her work is being compared to Raymond Carver, for her similar oblique, colloquial style; her mordant humour; the recurrence of alcoholics; and her interest in the lives of working-class or marginalised people.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAn Orchestra Of Minorities [paperback]
“Umuahia, Nigeria. Chinonso, a young poultry farmer, sees a woman attempting to jump to her death from a highway bridge. Horrified by her recklessness, Chinonso joins her on the roadside and hurls two of his most prized chickens into the water below to demonstrate the severity of the fall. The woman, Ndali, is moved by his sacrifice.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe New Iberia blues / James Lee Burke.The New Iberia Blues
“Detective Dave Robicheaux’s world isn’t filled with too many happy stories, but Desmond Cormier’s rags-to-riches tale is certainly one of them. Robicheaux first met Cormier on the streets of New Orleans, when the young, undersized boy had foolish dreams of becoming a Hollywood director. Twenty-five years later, when Robicheaux knocks on Cormier’s door, it isn’t to congratulate him on his Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations. Robicheaux has discovered the body of a young woman who’s been crucified, wearing only a small chain on her ankle. She disappeared near Cormier’s Cyrpemort Point estate, and Robicheaux, along with young deputy, Sean McClain, are looking for answers.”  (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe boy / Tami Hoag.
” In the sleepy Lousiana town of Bayou Breaux, the police arrive to find Genevieve Gauthier cradling her seven-year-old son in her arms as he bleeds to death. The scene is chaotic, but as Detective Nick Fourcade moves through the house, he sees no evidence of a robbery. Detective Annie Broussard sits with Genevieve, trying to make sense of her story. A mother herself, Annie understands the emotional devastation this woman is going through, but as a detective she’s troubled by parts of Gauthier’s story that make no sense. The next day, thirteen-year-old Nora Florette is reported missing.  ”   (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNumber one Chinese restaurant : a novel / Lillian Li.
“The Beijing Duck House in Rockville, Maryland, is not only a beloved go-to setting for hunger pangs and celebrations; it is its own world, inhabited by waiters and kitchen staff who have been fighting, loving, and aging within its walls for decades. When disaster strikes, this working family’s controlled chaos is set loose, forcing each character to confront the conflicts that fast-paced restaurant life has kept at bay.”  (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverYou know you want this : Cat person and other stories / Kristen Roupenian.
You Know You Want This brilliantly explores the ways in which women are horrifying as much as it captures the horrors that are done to them. Among its pages are a couple who becomes obsessed with their friend hearing them have sex, then seeing them have sex…until they can’t have sex without him; a ten-year-old whose birthday party takes a sinister turn when she wishes for “something mean”; a woman who finds a book of spells half hidden at the library and summons her heart’s desire: a nameless, naked man; and a self-proclaimed “biter” who dreams of sneaking up behind and sinking her teeth into a green-eyed, long-haired, pink-cheeked coworker. (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTrick / Domenico Starnone ; translated from the Italian by Jhumpa Lahiri.
“The same blood runs through their veins. One, Daniele Mallarico, is a successful illustrator at the peak of his career. The other, Mario, is his four-year-old grandson who has barely learned to talk but has a few tricks up his loose-fitting sleeves all the same. The older combatant has lived for years in almost complete solitude. The younger one has been dumped with a grandfather he barely knows for 72 hours.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSo many islands : stories from the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian and Pacific Oceans / edited by Nicholas Laughlin with Nailah Folami Imoja.
“So Many Islands brings together stories from the distant shores of the island communities in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Pacific. Giving voice to their challenges and triumphs, these writers paint a vibrant portrait of what it is like to live, love and lose the things most precious to them on the small islands they call home.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

 

Rosamunde Pilcher, international bestselling author has died

Rosamunde Pilcher had already written thirteen books before she became an international bestselling sensation with the Shell Seekers. Eventually the popular book was to be translated into forty languages, sit on best seller lists for an astonishing forty-nine weeks, sell over ten million copies and turn Rosamunde into an unlikely cult figure in Germany. She was credited for taking romantic fiction to a higher level injecting more realism and grittiness into the genre, and setting the benchmark for romantic fiction novelists. She retired from writing in 2000 after completing her final work Winter Solstice stating that she “wanted to stop while she was writing well”. She will be sorely missed by her legions of fans.

Syndetics book coverThe shell seekers / Rosamunde Pilcher.
“Artist’s daughter Penelope Keeling can look back on a full and varied life: a Bohemian childhood in London and Cornwall, an unhappy wartime marriage, and the one man she truly loved. She has brought up three children – and learned to accept them as they are. Yet she is far too energetic and independent to settle sweetly into pensioned-off old-age. And when she discovers that her most treasured possession, her father’s painting, The Shell Seekers, is now worth a small fortune, it is Penelope who must make the decisions that will determine whether her family can continue to survive as a family, or be split apart.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWinter solstice / Rosamunde Pilcher.
“Elfrida Phipps loves her new life in the pretty Hampshire village. She has a tiny cottage, her faithful dog Horace and the friendship of the neighbouring Blundells – particularly Oscar – to ensure that her days include companionship as well as independence. But an unforeseen tragedy upsets Elfrida’s tranquillity: Oscar’s wife and daughter are killed in a terrible car crash. Oscar and Elfrida take refuge in a rambling house in Scotland which becomes a magnet for various waifs and strays who converge upon it, including an unhappy teenage girl.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

The 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards longlist

The 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards longlist has just been announced and what a fabulous, rich and diverse list it is. Ranging from The Man Who Would Not See by Rajorshi Chakraborti to Caroline’s Bikini by Kirsty Gunn, from The New Ships by Kate Duignan to All This by Chance by Vincent O’Sullivan, the judges are going to have a hard time selecting an overall winner. It’s great to see how healthy and flourishing the New Zealand fiction world is. May the best book win!

The 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards for fiction (Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize) longlisted titles are:

Syndetics book coverThe man who would not see / Rajorshi Chakraborti.
“As children in Calcutta, Ashim and Abhay made a small mistake that split their family forever. Thirty years later, Ashim has re-entered his brother’s life, with blame and retribution on his mind. It seems nothing short of smashing Abhay’s happy home will make good the damage from the past. At least, this is what Abhay and his wife Lena are certain is happening. A brother has travelled all the way from small-town India to New Zealand bearing ancient – and false – grudges, and with the implacable objective of blowing up every part of his younger brother’s life. Reconciliation was just a Trojan horse. But is Ashim really the villain he appears to be, or is there a method to his havoc?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe new ships / Kate Duignan.
“Peter Collie is adrift in the wake of his wife’s death. His attempts to understand the turn his life has taken lead him back to the past, to dismaying events on an Amsterdam houseboat in the seventies, returning to New Zealand and meeting Moira, an amateur painter who carried secrets of her own, and to a trip to Europe years later with his family. An unexpected revelation forces Peter to navigate anew his roles as a husband, father and son. Set in Wellington after the fall of the Twin Towers, and traversing London, Europe, the Indian subcontinent.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMazarine / Charlotte Grimshaw.
“When her daughter vanishes during a heatwave in Europe, writer Frances Sinclair embarks on a hunt that takes her across continents and into her own past. What clues can Frances find in her own history, and who is the mysterious Mazarine? Following the narrative thread left by her daughter, she travels through cities touched by terrorism and surveillance, where ways of relating are subtly changed, and a startling new fiction seems to be constructing itself.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCaroline’s bikini : an arrangement of a novel with an introduction and some further materials / Kirsty Gunn.
“Art needs a sense of lack to bring about its own effects; where there is no feeling of need to make up a shortfall, there will be no work. Alright’ I said, ‘I’ll try…’ This is how Emily Stuart opens the intricately involved account of a classic love affair that becomes Caroline’s Bikini: a tale of hope, passion, and the power of the imagination. For they say, the story of love – or, rather, falling in love – is timeless, and that unrequited love is the most passionate of all. It’s certainly a narrative that is, in its own curious and enticing way, as old as Western literature itself.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe cage / Lloyd Jones.
“Two mysterious strangers appear at a hotel in a small country town.
Where have they come from? Who are they? What catastrophe are they fleeing?
The townspeople want answers, but the strangers are unable to speak of their trauma. And before long, wary hospitality shifts to suspicion and fear, and the care of the men slides into appalling cruelty.
Lloyd Jones’s fable-like novel The Cage is a profound and unsettling novel about humanity and dignity and the ease with which we’re able to justify brutality.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Ice Shelf / Anne Kennedy.
“On the eve of flying to Antarctica to take up an arts fellowship, thirty-something Janice, recently separated, has a long night of remembrance, regret and realisation as she goes about the city looking for a friend to take care of her fridge while she’s away. En route she discards section after section of her novel in the spirit of editing until there is nothing left to edit. The Ice Shelf, a novel written as Acknowledgements, is an allegory for the dangers of wasting love and other non-renewable resources.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThis mortal boy / Fiona Kidman.This Mortal Boy
“Albert Black, known as the ‘jukebox killer’, was only twenty when he was convicted of murdering another young man in a fight at a milk bar in Auckland on 26 July 1955. His crime fuelled growing moral panic about teenagers, and he was to hang less than five months later, the second-to-last person to be executed in New Zealand. But what really happened? Was this a love crime, was it a sign of juvenile delinquency? Or was this dark episode in our recent history more about our society’s reaction to outsiders?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe imaginary lives of James Pōneke / Tina Makereti.
“The tale of James Poneke- orphaned son of a chief; ardent student of English; wide-eyed survivor. All the world’s a stage, especially when you’re a living exhibit. But anything can happen to a young New Zealander on the savage streets of Victorian London. When James meets the man with laughing dark eyes and the woman who dresses as a man, he begins to discover who people really are beneath their many guises. Although London is everything James most desires, this new world is more dark and dazzling than he could have imagined.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAll this by chance / Vincent O’Sullivan.
“If we don’t have the past in mind, it is merely history. If we do, it is still part of the present. Esther’s grandparents first meet at a church dance in London in 1947. Stephen, a shy young Kiwi, has left to practice pharmacy on the other side of the world. Eva has grown up English, with no memory of the Jewish family who sent their little girl to safety. When the couple emigrate, the peace they seek in New Zealand cannot overcome the past they have left behind. Following the lives of Eva, her daughter Lisa and her granddaughter Esther, All This by Chance is a moving multi generational family saga about the legacy of the Holocaust and the burden of secrets never shared, by one of New Zealand’s finest writers.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Due in the library shortly and already highly regarded is Majella Cullinane’s The Life of De’Ath set in Otago and the battlefields of France during World War I. It’s a searing read about deserters during the War I, and a young man struggles to find himself and break free of the social and family pressures to conform. 

 

 

“Just the facts, ma’am” — Dragnet. Our crime showcase selection for our January’s newly acquired books

There are over five thousand men in this city who know that being a policeman is an endless, glamorless, thankless job that’s gotta be done. I know it, too. And I’m damned glad to be one of them.” Dragnet 1967

Whether your taste in crime novels is for procedural crime, classic whodunit, lone amateur detective or Hard-boiled crime, this months Crime fiction showcase has something for everyone . From Philippe Georget’s Crimes of winter to Jonathan Lethem’s The feral detective from new works from hugely popular established writers like James Patterson’s Liar Liar to perhaps lesser well known authors like Anja de Jager and her critically acclaimed A death in Rembrandt Square her latest novel featuring her Amsterdam detective Lotte Meerman. Enjoy.

Syndetics book coverThe secrets of Gaslight Lane / M.R.C. Kasasian.
“London, 1883. All is quiet at 125 Gower Street. Private detective Sidney Grice is studying up on the anatomical structure of human hair whilst his ward, March Middleton, sneaks upstairs for her eighth secret cigarette of the day. The household is, perhaps, too quiet.So, when a beautiful young woman turns up at the door, imploring London’s foremost private detective to solve the mystery of her father’s murder, Grice can barely disguise his glee.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe feral detective / Jonathan Lethem.
“Phoebe Siegler, travels to the Mojave Desert in search of Arabella, a friend’s missing daughter and an 18-year-old dropout of Reed College. She hires hirsute Charles Heist, the “feral detective,” who lives with three dogs and an opossum. Quickly falling for his woodsy charms, Phoebe travels with Heist to the far reaches of the desert, where the mostly female Rabbit group is engaged in a long standoff with the male Bear group. To save Arabella, Heist will have to do battle with the charismatic Bear leader, called Solitary Love, as Phoebe learns to question her assumptions here on “the far side of the Neoliberal Dream.” ( Catalogue.)

Syndetics book coverBye bye baby / Fiona McIntosh.
“A spate of seemingly unconnected murders in southern England prompt a high-profile taskforce to be formed and led by DCI Jack Hawksworth, one of the Force?s new rising stars who combines modern methods with old-school instincts. The victims appear as disparate as their style of death; the only link that Hawk and his team can pull together is that the murdered are all men of an identical age. The taskforce has nothing but cold cases of decades past to comb through in the hope that they might find a clue to who is behind the savagery.A heart-stopping tale of brutal revenge with a chilling twist by a powerhouse Australian author.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLiar liar / James Patterson and Candice Fox.
“Detective Harriet Blue is clear about two things. Regan Banks deserves to die. And she’ll be the one to pull the trigger. But Regan – the vicious serial killer responsible for destroying her brother?s life – has gone to ground. Suddenly, her phone rings. It’s him. Harriet needs to find this killing machine fast, even if the cost is her own life. So she follows him down the Australian south coast with only one thing on her mind. Revenge is coming, and her name is Harriet Blue.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVerses for the Dead
“After an overhaul of leadership at the FBI’s New York field office, A. X. L. Pendergast is abruptly forced to accept an unthinkable condition of continued employment: the famously rogue agent must now work with a partner.
Pendergast and his new colleague, junior agent Coldmoon, are assigned to investigate a rash of killings in Miami Beach, where a bloodthirsty psychopath is cutting out the hearts of his victims and leaving them with cryptic handwritten letters at local gravestones. As he digs deeper, he realizes the brutal new crimes may be just the tip of the iceberg: a conspiracy of death that reaches back decades.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPoints of danger / Edward Marston.
“1861, East Anglia. Alone in a first-class carriage, the Swarbricks are robbed at gunpoint, but when the universally-admired Swarbrick fights back, the train robber takes more than money and jewellery, killing the man working to unify East Anglia’s tangle of railway networks. Inspector Colbeck is brought in from London, as the only detective in Britain with enough expertise for the job. Is the Railway Detective following the right track or will he need to switch points to bring the murderer to justice?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCrimes of winter : variations on adultery and venial sins / Philippe Georget ; translated from the French by Steven Rendall.
“This winter is going to be a rough one for Inspector Gilles Sebag, for he has discovered Claire has been cheating on him. Bouncing between depression, whisky, and insomnia, he buries himself in work. But his investigations lead him inexorably to bigger tragedies – a woman murdered in a hotel, a depressed man who throws himself from a roof, another who threatens to blow up the neighbourhood – all of them involving betrayals of some sort.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA death in Rembrandt Square / Anja de Jager.
As the podcast reveals hidden facts about the arrest of Ruud Klaver, the one thing Lotte is still convinced of is that it was Ruud who was guilty of the murder of a student near Rembrandt Square ten years earlier. However, when Ruud Klaver then dies in suspicious circumstances, only hours after the final podcast proving his innocence is broadcast, Lotte has to accept that maybe she was wrong. As Lotte digs deeper and involves colleagues from her past, it starts to look like the murder in Rembrandt Square was part of an even bigger deception .” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLucifer Falls / Colin Falconer.
“When a priest is found crucified in a derelict North London chapel, it makes a dramatic change for DI Charlie George and his squad at Essex Road. The brutal murder could not be further from their routine of domestic violence and stabbings on the estates. And that’s only the beginning … On Christmas Eve, a police officer goes missing and his colleagues can’t help but anticipate the worst. It turns out they’re right to when eventually the body is found and they discover he’s been stoned to death. As tensions rise, it’s up to Charlie and his team to venture into the city’s cold underbelly to try and find an answer to the madness … before anyone else dies a martyr’s death.” (Catalogue)

Lovecraftian Horror: our own special H.P. Lovecraft Graphic Novel Showcase


“Ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and the dreams of Time.” –  H. P. Lovecraft

Howard Phillips Lovecraft struggled to get his work published and died in poverty,  a virtually unknown author. Since his death in 1937 his influence and reputation as one of the greatest writers of horror and strange tales of unspeakable terror has only grown and grown.  In this  graphic novel showcase we are looking at the rich, strange, frightening and wonderful worlds that H.P. Lovecraft created and how they have  inspired authors and artists from the graphic novel community. Enjoy

Syndetics book coverProvidence. Act 1 / story, Alan Moore ; art, Jacen Burrows.
“Alan Moore’s quintessential horror series has set the standard for a terrifying examination of the works of H.P. Lovecraft. It is being universally hailed as one of Moore’s most realized works in which the master scribe has controlled every iota of the story, art, and presentation. The result has been a masterpiece like no other, unparalleled in tone and content, and a true must have addition to his essential works in the field.”  ( Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNeonomicon / Alan Moore, story & script ; Jacen Burrows, art. The courtyard / Alan Moore, story ; Jacen Burrows, art.
“Brears and Lamper, two young and cocky FBI agents, investigate a fresh series of ritual murders somehow tied to the final undercover assignment of Aldo Sax -the once golden boy of the Bureau, now a convicted killer and inmate of a maximum security prison. From their interrogation of Sax (where he spoke exclusively in inhuman tongues) to a related drug raid on a seedy rock club rife with arcane symbols and otherworldly lyrics, they suspect that they are on the trail of something awful… ” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWeird detective / script by Fred Van Lente ; art by Guiu Villanova.
“The streets of New York have been plagued by a pattern of crimes too weird and bizarre for the average detective. Lurking in the evidence are shadows of loathsome horrors from beyond space and time, seeking to usher in the unimaginable evil of the Old Ones. And the only man capable of fighting against the unspeakable terrors isn’t a man at all. Detective Sebastian Green is one of them it takes a monster to catch a monster.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe wake / Scott Snyder, writer ; Sean Murphy, artist ; Matt Hollingsworth, colorist.
“When Marine Biologist Lee Archer is approached by the Department of Homeland Security for help with a new threat, she declines, but quickly realizes they won’t take no for an answer. Soon she is plunging to the depths of the Arctic Circle to a secret, underwater oilrig filled with roughnecks and scientists on the brink of an incredible discovery. But when things go horribly wrong, this scientific safe haven will turn into a house of horrors at the bottom of the ocean!” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHellboy : strange places / Mike Mignola.
“This 416-page volume covers Hellboy’s adventures from 1998 to 2005, reprinting Conqueror Worm , Strange Places , Into the Silent Sea , and “The Right Hand of Doom, “Box Full of Evil,” and “Being Human” from The Right Hand of Doom and B.P.R.D. Being Human .Hellboy loses faith in the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense when they strap a bomb to one of his fellow not-quite-human agents. He gets answers about his destiny, like it or not, in over 300 pages of comics mostly drawn by Mignola, featuring award-winning guests Gary Gianni and Richard Corben.”  (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverB.P.R.D. : Hell on Earth [2] : gods and monsters / story by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi ; art, Tyler Crook, Guy Davis.
“Between tracking down the followers of a prescient teen pursued by crab-like, subterranean beasts, and dealing with a redneck priest who preaches by way of human mutilation to fanatical hillbillies, the B.P.R.D. certainly have their hands full. Can a fractured B.P.R.D. wage a winnable war or are they fighting a battle of attrition?” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAbe Sapien [1] : the drowning / story by Mike Mignola ; art by Jason Shawn Alexander.
“A century ago, paranormal investigator Edward Gray fought and destroyed a powerful warlock off the coast of the island of Saint-Sbastien. In the early 1980s, the B.P.R.D.’s newest agent was sent to retrieve the warlock’s remains. But Abe Sapien is ill prepared for the dark forces that block his way. ” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSaga of the Swamp Thing. Book one / written by Alan Moore ; art by Stephen Bissette…[et al.]
” Writer Alan Moore’s seminal horror series is now published in hardcover for the very first time . Created by a freak accident, Swamp Thing believed he was once scientist Alec Holland – but when he discoveres his true nature, it shatters his universe and sends him on a path of discovery and adventure. Featuring the art of Stephen Bissette and John Totleben, this groundbreaking work features mind-blowing, genre-defying stories starring the rich, complex character that Neil Gaiman called “The No. 1 New Classic Monster.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)


Our hard boiled detective authors crime showcase

The subject was as easy to spot as a kangaroo in a dinner jacket”
― Raymond Chandler, Playback

Hard-boiled fiction is defined by Encyclopaedia Britannica as

“A tough, unsentimental style of American crime writing that brought a new tone of earthy realism or naturalism to the field of detective fiction. Hard-boiled fiction used graphic sex and violence, vivid but often sordid urban backgrounds, and fast-paced, slangy dialogue.”

Of course the style has now been used from authors around the world and it remains one of the most popular crime genre styles to this day. For this months mysteries showcase we have created a collection of of some of the authors we love who use its style or conventions. To open your appetite, below is just a very small selection of the sub genres most famous proponents.  Enjoy.

Syndetics book coverThe postman always rings twice / James M. Cain.The Postman Always Rings Twice
“First published in 1934, The Postman Always Rings Twice caused a scandal with its explosive mix of violence and sex, and immediately became a bestseller. The torrid story of Frank Chambers, the amoral drifter, Cora, the sullen and brooding wife, and Nick Papadakis, the amiable but inconvenient husband, has become a classic of its kind, and established Cain as a major novelist with a spare and vital prose style and a bleak vision of America.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe knife slipped / by Erle Stanley Gardner writing under the name A.A. Fair.
“Lost for more than 75 years, The Knife Slipped was shelved when Gardner’s publisher objected to (among other things) Bertha Cool’s tendency to “talk tough, swear, smoke cigarettes, and try to gyp people.” But this tale of adultery and corruption, of double-crosses and triple identities–however shocking for 1939–shines today as a glorious present from the past. Donald Lam has never been cooler- Bertha Cool has never been tougher. And Erle Stanley Gardner has never been better.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe blonde on the street corner / David Goodis.
“‘She took a final drag at the cigarette, flipped it away, and said, I don’t get this line of talk. It’s way over my head… Maybe you’re waiting for some dream girl to come along in a coach drawn by six white horses, and she’ll pick you up and haul you away to the clouds, where it’s all milk and honey and springtime all year around. Maybe that’s what you’re waiting for. That dream girl.’ Written in 1954, The Blonde on the Street Corner is full of the passions and desires that are the hallmarks of a David Goodis novel.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Maltese falcon ; The thin man ; Red harvest / Dashiell Hammett ; with an introduction by Robert Polito.The Maltese Falcon
“As an operative for Pinkertons Detective Agency Dashiell Hammett knew about sleuthing from the inside, but his career was cut short by the ruin of his health in World War I. These three celebrated novels are therefore the products of a hard real life, not a literary education. Despite or because of that, Hammett had an enormous effect on mainstream writers between the wars. Like his readers, they were attracted by the combination of laconic style, sharp convincing dialogue, vivid settings and, above all, the low-life, hard-boiled characters who populate the streets of his stories.”   (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCotton comes to Harlem / Chester Himes.
“A classic entry in Chester Himes’s trailblazing Harlem Detectives series, Cotton Comes to Harlem is one of his hardest-hitting and most entertaining thrillers.
Flim-flam man Deke O’Hara is no sooner out of Atlanta’s state penitentiary than he’s back on the streets working the scam of a lifetime. As sponsor of the Back-to-Africa movement, he’s counting on a big Harlem rally to produce a massive collection–for his own private charity. But the take is hijacked by white gunmen and hidden in a bale of cotton that suddenly everyone wants to get his hands on.”  (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAlways outnumbered, always outgunned / by Walter Mosley.Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned
“Socrates Fortlow, a tough, brooding ex-convict determined to challenge and understand the violence and anarchy in his world — and in himself. Three decades ago, the young Socrates had, in a burst of drunken rage, murdered a man and a woman with his huge rock-breaking hands. In each of the stories that comprise this richly brooding novel, Socrates Fortlow, like his namesake, explores philosophical questions of morality in a world beset with crime, poverty, and racism. He is an unforgettable presence and his perceptions cast a glow of somber lyricism upon an often harsh world. ” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Mike Hammer omnibus. Vol. 2 / Mickey Spillane.
“Collected here for the first time are three of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer novels that really deliver the goods, one shade blacker than noir – stories that begin in the gutter and go down from there. Here is a world where the only crime is getting caught, where justice can be bought for the price of a beer, and where corruption lies around every corner. This is Mike Hammer’s world. Welcome to it…and watch out.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe lady in the lake ; The little sister ; The long goodbye ; Playback / Raymond Chandler ; with an introduction by Tom Hiney.
“An omnibus comprising Raymond Chandler’s three Philip Marlowe novels, The Lady in the Lake, The High Widow and The Little Sister.” (Syndetics summary)

 

Some of the novels we are looking forward to reading in 2019

The Rosie Result book cover

“…her own experience was beginning to tell her that an alert old age can be more keen than the cards.”
Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude.

As we gaze into the crystal ball to see what literary delights are in store for us in 2019, there are already a few novels that we are very excited about, emerging from the tea leaves. These include the following:

Margaret AtwoodThe Testaments (a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale).
We don’t know much about this book but what we do know makes it one of the most anticipated books of 2019. What we know is that it is a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale and it’s set fifteen years after the final scene of that book.

Joanne HarrisThe Strawberry Thief.
She shot to fame and wide spread popularity with her 1999 novel  “Chocolat”  this book is the fourth book in that sequence and it has been a long seven years since the third installment Peaches for Monsieur Le Cure came out.

Ian McEwanMachines Like Me .
Ian McEwan’s new book is a subversive re-imagining of 80’s Britain  in which the UK has lost the Falklands war and Alan Turing has developed sophisticated AI.

Mark HaddonThe Porpoise.
Coincidentally, it’s also been seven years since Mark Haddon last released a novel. In his new outing The Porpoise he finds inspiration from the world of Ancient Greece during its golden age and bases his new novel around the statesman, orator and general of Athens, Pericles.

Graeme SimsionThe Rosie Result.
The third instalment of the international bestselling comic series in which geneticist Don Tillman searches for love looks sure to please his legions of fans.

Jeanette WintersonFrankisstein.
Jeanette Winterson reworks Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein for the 21st Century. Examining as she goes along gender, sexuality, technology and identity. Written, we are told, in Winterson’s unique unflinching style.

Tracy ChevalierThe Single Thread.
There’s not much released about this title yet but going from Chevalier’s track record it should be a major highlight of 2019.

Ali SmithSpring.
Spring is the  third installment of Ali Smith’s  much loved and acclaimed Seasonal Quartet cycle.

Soren SveistrupThe Chestnut Man.
Sveistrup, is the creator and writer of the award winning  Scandi Noir crime series  The Killing TV series. So expect super clever and unexpected plot twists and much Scandinavian bleakness.

Chigozie ObiomaAn Orchestra of Minorities.
From the Man Booker finalist and author of “The Fishermen” this novel  follows a Nigerian farmer on a quest to find love with the woman he loves.

Samanta SchweblinMouthful of Birds.
Schweblin’s Fever Dream was variously described as “rivetingly compelling”,”brilliant” and “terrifying”. This collection of twenty short stories is her first to be  translated into English and promises to be another eerie, surreal, dark thrill ride.

But if you can’t wait for these books to come out here is a selection of these authors’ previous works which are already published, and in the library just waiting to be discovered. Enjoy.

Syndetics book coverThe handmaid’s tale / Margaret Atwood
“The story is told through the eyes of Offred, one of the unfortunate Handmaids under the new social order. In condensed but eloquent prose, by turns cool-eyed, tender, despairing, passionate, and wry, she reveals to us the dark corners behind the establishment’s calm facade, as certain tendencies now in existence are carried to their logical conclusions. The Handmaid’s Tale is funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing. It is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and a tour-de-force. It is Margaret Atwood at her best.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAtonement / Ian McEwan ; with an introduction by Claire Messud
“On the hottest day of the summer of 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her older sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching Cecilia is their housekeeper’s son Robbie Turner, a childhood friend who, along with Briony’s sister, has recently graduated from Cambridge. By the end of that day the lives of all three will have been changed forever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had never before dared to approach and will have become victims of the younger girl’s scheming imagination. And Briony will have committed a dreadful crime, the guilt for which will color her entire life.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe curious incident of the dog in the night-time / Mark Haddon.
“Fifteen-year-old Christopher has a photographic memory. He understands maths. He understands science. What he can’t understand are other human beings. When he finds his neighbor’s dog lying dead on the lawn, he decides to track down the killer and write a murder mystery about it. But what other mysteries will he end up uncovering?” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFive quarters of the orange / Joanne Harris.
“Beyond the main street of Les Laveuses runs the Loire, smooth and brown as a sunning snake – but hiding a deadly undertow beneath its moving surface. This is where Framboise, a secretive widow named after a raspberry liqueur, plies her culinary trade at the creperie – and lets memory play strange games.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Rosie project / Graeme Simsion.
Funny and heartwarming, a gem of a book.” (Marian Keyes)
A first-date dud, socially awkward, and overly fond of quick-dry clothes, Don Tillman has given up on love. Until a chance encounter gives him an idea. He will design a questionnaire – a sixteen-page, scientifically researched questionnaire – to uncover the perfect partner. She will most definitely not be a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker or a late-arriver. Rosie is all these things. She is also fiery and intelligent, strangely beguiling. And looking for her biological father – a search that a DNA expert might just be able to help her with. The Rosie Project is a romantic comedy like no other. It is arrestingly endearing and entirely unconventional, and it will make you want to drink cocktails.”(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOranges are not the only fruit / Jeanette Winterson.
“This is the story of Jeanette, adopted and brought up by her mother as one of God’s elect. Zealous and passionate, she seems destined for life as a missionary, but then she falls for one of her converts. At sixteen, Jeanette decides to leave the church, her home and her family, for the young woman she loves. Innovative, intoxicating and tender, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a journey to the bizarre outposts of religious excess and an exploration of love.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe lady and the unicorn / Tracy Chevalier.
“Set over the period 1490 to 1492, Tracy Chevalier’s novel moves between a chateau in Lyons and the cities of Paris and Brussels. The story concerns a series of six Flemish tapestries known as the lady and the unicorn tapestries.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWinter / Ali Smith.
“In Ali Smith’s Winter, life force matches up to the toughest of the seasons. In this second novel in her acclaimed Seasonal cycle, the follow-up to her sensational Autumn, Smith’s shape-shifting quartet of novels casts a merry eye over a bleak post-truth era with a story rooted in history, memory and warmth, its taproot deep in the evergreens- art, love, laughter.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe fishermen : a novel / Chigozie Obioma.
“In a small town in western Nigeria, four young brothers – the youngest is nine, the oldest fifteen – use their strict father’s absence from home to go fishing at a forbidden local river. They encounter a dangerous local madman who predicts that the oldest brother will be killed by another. This prophesy breaks their strong bond, and unleashes a tragic chain of events of almost mythic proportions.
Passionate and bold, The Fishermen is a breathtakingly beautiful novel, firmly rooted in the best of African storytelling.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFever dream : a novel / Samanta Schweblin ; translated by Megan McDowell.
“A young woman named Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital clinic. A boy named David sits beside her. She’s not his mother. He’s not her child. Together, they tell a haunting story of broken souls, toxins, and the power and desperation of family.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Ring out the old, ring in the new: the best novels of 2018!

“Fiction is art and art is the triumph over chaos… to celebrate a world that lies spread out around us like a bewildering and stupendous dream.” ― John Cheever

As the old year draws to a close and the new year begins it’s a good time to take stock of the best fiction releases of 2018. To do this, we’ve created a list of 100 books that we regard as amongst the finest releases of the year. We’ve selected titles from across the fiction spectrum, from science fiction to mysteries, best sellers to award-winners and all points in between. Amongst them is a growing trend of popular and commercially-successful books whose world views, ideas and perspectives originate from non-western backgrounds. China and the Middle Eastern countries were particularly strong, especially with books like Red Birds by Mohammed Hanif, Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk and Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri.

There have also been a few names who have either burst onto the fiction scene or have cemented their reputation, like Anna Burns with her Booker Prize-winning novel Milkman or Sally Rooney with Normal People. And finally we’ve seen some well-established writers creating masterful works like All This by Chance by Vincent O’Sullivan or Warlight by Michael Ondaatje.

All in all it’s been a fascinating and exciting year–roll on 2019!

Syndetics book coverRed birds / Mohammed Hanif.
“An American pilot crash lands in the desert and takes refuge in the very camp he was supposed to bomb. Hallucinating palm trees and worrying about dehydrating to death isn’t what Major Ellie expected from this mission. Still, it’s an improvement on the constant squabbles with his wife back home.
In the camp, teenager Momo ‘s money-making schemes are failing. His brother left for his first day at work and never returned, his parents are at each other’s throats, his dog is having a very bad day, and an aid worker has shown up wanting to research him for her book on the Teenage Muslim Mind.” (Adapted from  Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFrankenstein in Baghdad : a novel / Ahmed Saadawi ; translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright.
” From the rubble-strewn streets of U.S.-occupied Baghdad, Hadi–a scavenger and an oddball fixture at a local café–collects human body parts and stitches them together to create a corpse. His goal, he claims, is for the government to recognize the parts as people and to give them proper burial. But when the corpse goes missing, a wave of eerie murders sweeps the city, and reports stream in of a horrendous-looking criminal who, though shot, cannot be killed.” (Adapted from  Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDrive your plow over the bones of the dead / Olga Tokarczuk ; translated from the Polish by Antonia Llyod-Jones.Server ErrorYour request could not be completed.
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead takes place in a remote Polish village, where Duszejko, an eccentric woman in her sixties, recounts the events surrounding the disappearance of her two dogs. When members of a local hunting club are found murdered, she becomes involved in the investigation. Duszejko is reclusive, preferring the company of animals to people; she’s unconventional, believing in the stars, and she is fond of the poetry of William Blake, from whose work the title of the book is taken.” (Adapted from  Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEmpire of sand / Tasha Suri.
” Empire of Sand is Tasha Suri’s  Mughal India-inspired debut fantasy. The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Empire for the power in their blood. Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother she can barely remember, but whose face and magic she has inherited.
When Mehr’s power comes to the attention of the Emperor’s most feared mystics, she must use every ounce of will, subtlety, and power she possesses to resist their cruel agenda.”  (Adapted from  Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMilkman / Anna Burns.Milkman
In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes ‘interesting’. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous.Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences.” (Adapted from  Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNormal people / Sally Rooney.
Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. When they both earn places at Trinity College in Dublin, a connection that has grown between them lasts long into the following years.This is an exquisite love story about how a person can change another person’s life – a simple yet profound realisation that unfolds beautifully over the course of the novel. It tells us how difficult it is to talk about how we feel and it tells us – blazingly – about cycles of domination, legitimacy and privilege. Alternating menace with overwhelming tenderness.” (Adapted from  Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAll this by chance / Vincent O’Sullivan.
“If we don’t have the past in mind, it is merely history. If we do, it is still part of the present. Esther’s grandparents first meet at a church dance in London in 1947. Stephen, a shy young Kiwi, has left to practise pharmacy on the other side of the world. Eva has grown up English, with no memory of the Jewish family who sent their little girl to safety. When the couple emigrate, the peace they seek in New Zealand cannot overcome the past they have left behind. Following the lives of Eva, her daughter Lisa and her granddaughter Esther, All This by Chance is a moving multigenerational family saga about the legacy of the Holocaust and the burden of secrets never shared, by one of New Zealand’s finest writers.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWarlight / Michael Ondaatje.Warlight: A Novel
“London, 1945. The capital is still reeling from the war. 14-year-old Nathaniel and his older sister Rachel are abandoned by their parents who leave the country on business, and are left in the dubious care of a mysterious figure named The Moth. Nathaniel is introduced to The Moth’s band of criminal misfits and is caught up in a series of teenage misadventures, from smuggling greyhounds for illegal dog racing to lovers’ trysts in abandoned buildings at night. Years later Nathaniel, now an adult, begins to slowly piece together using the files of intelligence agencies – and through reality, recollection and imagination – the startling truths of puzzles formed decades earlier.” (Adapted from  Syndetics summary)