Readers Choice fiction selections

Reviews from library patrons are a great way to find out what people have loved reading from the new additions to the fiction collection. These selections are highlighted with Reader’s Choice stickers so that others can find great reading material.  You can find slips for Reader’s Choice reviews in new books, or ask staff for one if you have a review or recommendation to embellish the library collection.

Here are some recent reviews featuring an interesting mix of subjects and genres: mysteries, historical novels, science fiction, humour, psychological fiction, thrillers and New Zealand environmental activism.

The changeling : a novel / LaValle, Victor D.Book Jacket for: The changeling : a novel
“This captivating retelling of a classic fairy tale imaginatively explores parental obsession, spousal love, and the secrets that make strangers out of the people we love the most. It’s a thrilling and emotionally devastating journey through the gruesome legacies that threaten to devour us and the homely, messy magic that saves us, if we’re lucky.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Excellent. An unusual voice, but marvellous blend of modernity and fairy-tale, with powerful themes and insight.  Very Satisfying.” (5/5 stars)

Book Jacket for: Stranded

Stranded / MacLeod, Bracken
“Badly battered by an apocalyptic storm, the crew of the Arctic Promise find themselves in increasingly dire circumstances as they sail blindly into unfamiliar waters and an ominously thickening fog.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was suspenseful, gripping and well researched. Doesn’t lean on the numerous clichés of the horror genre which makes it so engaging.  A great read!” (4/5 stars)

Book Jacket for: Hanna who fell from the skyHanna who fell from the sky / Meades, Christopher
“With lush, evocative prose, award-winning author Christopher Meades takes readers on an emotional journey into a fascinating, unknown world–and, along the way, brilliantly illuminates complexities of faith, identity and how our origins shape who we are.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “What a well written novel, thoroughly enjoyed it, well worth reading. Never read any of Meades novels before would love to read more of his material.” (5/5 stars)

Book Jacket for: The last hoursThe last hours / Walters, Minette
“When the Black Death enters England through the port of Melcombe in Dorseteshire in June 1348, no one knows what manner of sickness it is or how it spreads and kills so quickly.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Well written, engaging, couldn’t put down – read all night. Can’t wait for the sequel this year.” (5/5 stars)

Book Jacket for: EurekaEureka / Quinn, Anthony
“Summer, 1967. As London shimmers in a heat haze and swoons to the sound of Sergeant Pepper, a mystery film – Eureka – is being shot by German wunderkind Reiner Kloss. The screenwriter, Nat Fane, would do anything for a hit but can’t see straight for all the acid he’s dropping.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Was an enjoyable read, especially in it’s evocation of London in the ‘swinging sixties’.” (4/5 stars)

Book Jacket for: KrusoKruso / Seiler, Lutz
“It is 1989, and a young literature student named Ed, fleeing unspeakable tragedy, travels to the Baltic island of Hiddensee. Long shrouded in myth, the island is a notorious destination for hippies, idealists, and those at odds with the East German state.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was compelling.  Via fantasy and fact Seiler deftly weaves a story about East German idealists, refugees and escapists told through the perspective of a challenged young man” (5/5 stars)

Eye of the songbird / Munro, Michael
“What happens when a New Zealand team of scientists find one of the world’s largest flawless diamonds on the last piece of sovereign-less land, Antarctica?” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “A highly relevant New Zealand thriller with it’s plot centred on one of the big issues of the day; climate change.  Highly recommended” (4/5 stars)

The miranda : a novel / Nicholson, G. J.
“The Miranda is at turns a biting satire about the secrets we keep from our neighbors, and about the invisible and unceasing state of war in which most Westerners unconsciously live.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was like a Coen Brothers movie: darkly satirical. The detachment of the protagonist is key to this novel – he was a psychologist turned government agent training operatives to withstand torture. He is not disaffected, quite the reverse, but he is clinical , perceptive and interesting. A good dark read.” (4/5 stars)

Books to satisfy your Game of Thrones cravings

Are you missing your Game of Thrones fix while waiting for Season 8 to return in 2019? Then look no further, for we have you covered with these books!

Syndetics book coverThe assassin’s apprentice / Robin Hobb.
“The kingdom of the Six Duchies is on the brink of civil war when news breaks that the crown prince has fathered a bastard son and is shamed into abdication. The child’s name is Fitz, and his is despised.Raised in the castle stables, only the company of the king’s fool, the ragged children of the lower city and his unusual affinity with animals provide Fitz with any comfort.To be useful to the crown, Fitz is trained as an assassin; and to use the traditional magic of the Farseer family. But his tutor, allied to another political faction, is determined to discredit, even kill him. Fitz must survive: for he may be destined to save the kingdom.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTemeraire / Naomi Novik.
“Naomi Novik’s stunning series of novels follow the global adventures of Captain William Laurence and his fighting dragon Temeraire as they are thrown together to fight for Britain during the turbulent time of the Napoleonic Wars. Captain Will Laurence has been at sea since he was just twelve years old; finding a warmer berth in Nelson’s navy than any he enjoyed as the youngest, least important son of Lord Allendale. Rising on merit to captain his own vessel, Laurence has earned himself a beautiful fiancee, society’s esteem and a golden future. But the war is not going well. It seems Britain can only wait as Napoleon plans to overrun her shores.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe emperor’s blades / Brian Staveley.
“In The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley, the emperor of Annur is dead, slain by enemies unknown. His daughter and two sons, scattered across the world, do what they must to stay alive and unmask the assassins. But each of them also has a life-path on which their father set them, destinies entangled with both ancient enemies and inscrutable gods.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)


Syndetics book coverWho fears death / Nnedi Okorafor.
“In a post-apocalyptic Africa, the world has changed in many ways; yet in one region genocide between tribes still bloodies the land. A woman who has survived the annihilation of her village and a terrible rape by an enemy general wanders into the desert, hoping to die. Instead, she gives birth to an angry baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand. Gripped by the certainty that her daughter is different– special –she names her Onyesonwu, which means “Who fears death?” in an ancient language.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGardens of the moon : a tale of the Malazan book of the fallen / Steven Erikson.
“Bled dry by interminable warfare, infighting and bloody confrontations with Lord Anomander Rake and his Tiste Andii, the vast, sprawling Malazan empire simmers with discontent.
Even its imperial legions yearn for some respite. For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his Bridgeburners and for Tattersail, sole surviving sorceress of the Second Legion, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the dead. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities of Genabackis, still holds out – and Empress Lasseen’s ambition knows no bounds.
However, it seems the empire is not alone in this great game. Sinister forces gather as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe traitor Baru Cormorant / Seth Dickinson.
“In Seth Dickinson’s highly-anticipated debut The Traitor Baru Cormorant , a young woman from a conquered people tries to transform an empire in this richly imagined geopolitical fantasy.Baru Cormorant believes any price is worth paying to liberate her people-even her soul. When the Empire of Masks conquers her island home, overwrites her culture, criminalizes her customs, and murders one of her fathers, Baru vows to swallow her hate, join the Empire’s civil service, and claw her way high enough to set her people free.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe thief / by Megan Whalen Turner.
“Eugenides, the queen’s thief, can steal anything–or so he says. When his boasting lands him in prison and the king’s magus invites him on a quest to steal a legendary object, he’s in no position to refuse. The magus thinks he has the right tool for the job, but Gen has plans of his own.Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief novels are rich with political machinations and intrigue, battles lost and won, dangerous journeys, divine intervention, power, passion, revenge, and deception. Perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, Patrick Rothfuss, and George R. R. Martin.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKushiel’s dart / Jacqueline Carey.
“A nation born of angels, vast and intricate and surrounded by danger… a woman born to servitude, unknowingly given access to the secrets of the realm…
Born with a scarlet mote in her left eye, Phedre no Delaunay is sold into indentured servitude as a child. When her bond is purchased by an enigmatic nobleman, she is trained in history, theology, politics, foreign languages, the arts of pleasure. And above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Exquisite courtesan, talented spy… and unlikely heroine. But when Phedre stumbles upon a plot that threatens her homeland, Terre d’Ange, she has no choice.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

The best of the best: must reads from recent fiction selections

The following titles have been chosen from our monthly new fiction selections. They are all highly recommended for great reading.

Syndetics book coverZero K : a novel / Don DeLillo.
“A wonderfully funny, moving novel from a great American writer.”

Syndetics book coverBeef with tomato / Dean Haspiel.
“A clever balance of the humorous, the tragic, and the mundane aspects of street life, from a great story teller.”

Syndetics book coverIn the cold dark ground / Stuart MacBride.
“Another gripping murder mystery from this bestselling, award winning author.”

Syndetics book coverThe blackbird sings at dusk / Linda Olsson.
“A gentle novel about friendship and identity from much enjoyed New Zealand writer.”

Syndetics book coverBarren Cove : a novel / Ariel S. Winter.
“This is not just a great book cover, but a suspenseful, imaginative, great science fiction read.”

The best of the best: must reads from this month’s fiction selections

The following titles have been chosen from our monthly new fiction selections. They are all highly recommended for great reading.

Syndetics book coverClockwork lives / Kevin J. Anderson and Neil Peart ; illustrations by Nick Robles.
Another exhilarating steampunk novel that returns to the world the authors introduced in Clockwork Angels. Included are great illustrations by Nick Robles.

Syndetics book coverLegends of the tour / Jan Cleijne.
One of this year’s best graphic novels, not only for the art work, but also the fascinating story line, a history of the Tour de France, with all its corruption, agony and glory. A must read.

Syndetics book coverLast bus to wisdom / Ivan Doig. Last Bus to Wisdom
This novel was such a pleasure to read, wise and funny, but sadly it is the author’s final work.

Syndetics book coverThe evening chorus : a novel / Helen Humphreys.
A truly delightful novel, brilliantly constructed, fabulous writing, definitely leaving the reader wanting more.

Syndetics book coverDark corners / Ruth Rendell.
Psychological suspense at its best, that never disappoints when written by one of the best authors in this genre that sadly may be irreplaceable.

The Best of the Best: must reads from this month’s fiction selections

The following titles have been chosen from our monthly new fiction selections. They are all highly recommended for great reading.

Syndetics book coverSyndetics book coverSyndetics book coverSyndetics book coverSyndetics book cover

I’d walk with my friends if I could find them / Jesse Goolsby.
This is a very powerful debut novel about three American soldiers haunted by their actions in Afghanistan, and their problems of readjustment to normal life.

Open grave : a mystery / Kjell Eriksson ; translated from the Swedish by Paul Norlen.
A great read, this typically chilling Swedish crime novel ,is about revenge and renunciation.

The reader on the 6.27 / Jean-Paul Didierlaurent ; translated by Ros Schwartz.
If you only read one translated novel this year, make it this one. Absolutely delightful.

Aurora / Kim Stanley Robinson.
One of the best from one of the best Science Fiction writers, just brilliant.

The fade out : act one / Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips.
Masterful story line, and fabulous illustrations, a not to be missed graphic novel.

New Mysteries for May

New mysteries for May include the return of popular series characters with John Lescroart’s Dismas Hardy & Abe Glitsky, Mo Hayder’s Jack Caffery, Donna Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti, and Katherine V. Forrest’s Kate Delafield. Also hitting the stacks is Ariel S. Winter’s acclaimed Noir triptych and a new translation from France’s Fred Vargas.

Syndetics book coverThe keeper : a novel / by John Lescroart.
“In the latest Dismas Hardy legal thriller, a missing-persons case gets very complicated, very fast. Hal Chase is a guard at the San Francisco County Jail; one night, while he’s out at the airport picking up a relative, his wife, Katie, disappears from their home. Hal is soon picked up by police as the prime suspect. Because Katie was a client of Hardy’s marriage-counselor wife, Hal wants Dismas to take his case. Hardy asks his old pal, former homicide cop Abe Glitsky, to pitch in with the investigative legwork. Glitsky soon uncovers some serious holes in Hal Chase’s story his alibi, for instance, is very shaky and when Katie’s body is found, and her husband is arrested for the murder, Dismas wonders if he could possibly be defending a guilty man, while Glitsky wonders if he’ll come out of this case alive. Lescroart has occupied a chair at the head table of the legal-thriller society for quite awhile, and this smartly plotted, sharply written novel will do nothing to dislodge him from that lofty perch.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe twenty-year death / by Ariel S. Winter.
“This isn’t a first novel so much as a series of three discrete but interrelated first novels, each written (with apologies from the author) in the style of a different iconic thriller writer-Georges Simenon, Raymond Chandler, and Jim Thompson, respectively…Set in the fictitious Verargent, France, circa 1931, the first book, Malniveau Prison, revolves around the mysterious death of a prisoner-the father of one Clothilde-ma-Fleur Meprise, Rosenkrantz’s beautiful wife…In the second, The Falling Star, set in 1941, Rosenkrantz is a womanizing L.A. screenwriter on a self-destructive slide. His wife, now working under the name Chloe Rose, is a successful but unstable starlet who suspects she’s being followed. A suitably laconic Chandlerian PI, Dennis Foster, is enlisted to help the troubled star-but is he really being set up for a homicidal fall? In the third, and arguably darkest, tale, Police at the Funeral, it’s 1951 in Calvert, Md., and Rose has been institutionalized, leaving Rosenkrantz-now a remorseful has-been-roiling in the tide of his boozy dissolution. “Yeah, I’d always gotten a raw deal, and I was too pathetic to do anything about it, and I hated myself for that” pretty much sums up the self-inflicted purgatory this antihero wallows in. The stories work wonderfully well individually, but taken together create a tapestry of associations and reflections, sort of like mirrors trained on other mirrors. The whole, as they say, is greater than the sum of its parts.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWolf / by Mo Hayder.
“In Hayder’s best Jack Caffery thriller yet, a worn-out Jack is feeling all the years he has put into police service and his never-ending quest to find out what happened to his long-lost brother. The novel opens with a young girl finding a stray dog with a ripped note tucked into its collar that states, “Help us.” A vagrant known as the Walking Man witnesses this and promises the young girl that he will help the dog. Never one to give out information willingly, the Walking Man surprisingly contacts Jack-offering up a trade: find out who needs help and, in return, the Walking Man will give Jack some closure about his brother. This deal with the devil sets off a home invasion novel unlike no other. The Anchor-Ferrers, a wealthy family with secrets and issues of their own, are being held hostage in their estate. Will Jack find them in time? And why was this family chosen in the first place? VERDICT Dark and twisty, this gripping crime novel by an Edgar Award winner is an outstanding read, whether Jack is a new character to the reader or an old friend.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDog will have his day / Fred Vargas ; translated by Siân Reynolds.“Keeping watch under the windows of the Paris flat belonging to a politician’s nephew, ex-cop Louis Kehlweiler catches sight of something odd on the pavement. A small white object, surrounded by the excrement of local dogs. A piece of bone. Human bone, in fact. Naturally, when Kehlweiler takes his find to the nearest police station, he faces ridicule. But the tiny fragment obsesses him so much that he stops shadowing people with something to hide in the city and follows the trail to the tiny Breton fishing village of Port-Nicolas. Because someone there owns a pit bull terrier. A dog that would take a bite out of anything. Even the foot of a corpse.” (Publishers description from

Syndetics book coverHigh desert / Katherine V. Forrest.
“It’s been almost a decade since readers have seen LAPD homicide detective Kate Delafield (Hancock Park, 2004) and the years are beginning to take a toll. Kate is newly retired and struggling with leaving the job, controlling her drinking, and the imminent loss of her friend Maggie to cancer. But concern for her old partner, Joe Cameron, breaks her isolation, when she learns that he may be missing. Asked by their former boss to quietly investigate, Kate finds herself learning more about her partner in a few days than in the years they served together. Forrest broke ground in the 1980s with the introduction of her lesbian police detective. While her contemporaries Sara Paretsky and Sue Grafton also expanded gender roles in the detective genre, Forrest has allowed Kate to grow old into the 2010s and there is a melancholy, but not unhopeful, tone to her newest work. Verdict A solid mystery underpins a meditation on the passing of friends and Kate’s struggle to make peace with time-and herself-before it is too late.” (From Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBy its cover / Donna Leon.“Donna Leon’s critically acclaimed, internationally bestselling Commissario Guido Brunetti series has attracted readers the world over with the beauty of its setting, the humanity of its characters, and its fearlessness in exploring politics, morality, and contemporary Italian culture. In the pages of Leon’s novels, the beloved conversations of the Brunetti family have drawn on topics of art and literature, but books are at the heart of this novel in a way they never have been before. One afternoon, Commissario Guido Brunetti gets a frantic call from the director of a prestigious Venetian library. Someone has stolen pages out of several rare books. After a round of questioning, the case seems clear: the culprit must be the man who requested the volumes, an American professor from a Kansas university. The only problem—the man fled the library earlier that day, and after checking his credentials, the American professor doesn’t exist. As the investigation proceeds, the suspects multiply. And when a seemingly harmless theologian, who had spent years reading at the library turns up brutally murdered, Brunetti must question his expectations about what makes a man innocent, or guilty.” (Publishers description from

Syndetics book coverThe facts of life and death / Belinda Bauer.
“‘Call your mother.’ ‘What do I say?’ ‘Say goodbye.’ This is how it begins. Lone women terrorised and their helpless families forced to watch – in a sick game where only one player knows the rules. And when those rules change, the new game is Murder. Living with her parents in the dank beach community of Limeburn, ten-year-old Ruby Trick has her own fears. Bullies on the school bus, the forest crowding her house into the sea, and the threat of divorce. Helping her Daddy to catch the killer might be the key to keeping him close. As long as the killer doesn’t catch her first.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGallowglass / Gordon Ferris.
“Douglas Brodie is dead. The Glasgow Gazette announced the tragic death on 26 June 1947 of their chief crime reporter. Just three weeks before, life was rosy. After a tumultuous winter chasing war criminals across Glasgow, Douglas Brodie was revelling in the quiet life. His relationship with advocate Samantha Campbell was blossoming and he’d put the reins on his impulsiveness. Hope and promise filled the tranquil summer air. A day later, Brodie was arrested for the kidnap and murder of Scotland’s top banker. The case against Brodie is watertight: caught with a gun in his hand next to a man with a bullet in the head – from Brodie’s own revolver. He has no alibi. No witnesses. Despite Samantha’s best efforts, Brodie faces the gallows. Is this the sordid end for a distinguished ex-copper, decorated soldier and man of parts?” (Publisher’s description from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMurder in merino : a seaside knitters mystery / Sally Goldenbaum.
“The satisfying ninth Seaside Knitters cozy (after 2013’s Angora Alibi) from Goldenbaum has the knitters of Sea Harbor, Mass., planning a gala and gift for the 40th wedding anniversary of member Nell Endicott and her husband, Don. In the meantime, the Endicotts’ niece, Isabel “Izzy” Chambers Perry, and her husband, Sam, are putting Izzy’s old cottage home on the market. Newcomer Julia “Jules” Ainsley puzzles the community when she reveals her determination to buy the cottage, sight unseen, despite having no previous connection to Sea Harbor. When a murder victim is found in the cottage’s backyard, Jules becomes a suspect. Gradually, the knitters realize the killing has its roots in a long-buried town secret. Fans of previous entries will enjoy spending a few more hours with the Seaside Knitters, and the most dedicated might be inspired to reproduce the group’s special anniversary afghan, or their Friday-evening martini parties.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe last kind word / David Housewright.
“Here’s the ninth Rushmore McKenzie novel…Rushmore was a detective in St. Paul, Minnesota, before he resigned from the police department so he could collect a seven-figure reward for busting a major embezzler. Now independently wealthy, he’s a sort of crimesolver-for-hire. Here Rushmore is recruited by the ATF to infiltrate a gang of gunrunners, a plan that seems dicey to start with and positively suicidal once he’s in too deep to extricate himself without somebody noticing. If you took a modern-day noir and mixed it with a light comedy, you’d get something very much like a McKenzie novel: a serious, occasionally dark story told by an entertaining, often bemused narrator. Housewright just throws us into the story, too, filling us in on the background only after we’ve become convinced Rushmore might have lost his way. An excellent but strangely underappreciated series.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)

New Contemporary Fiction for May

Look Who’s Back, the title of the very humorous novel by German Author Timur Vermes comes highly recommended from this month’s selection of new Contemporary Fiction. Many new novels from some very popular writers, provide great winter reading.

Syndetics book coverParis requiem / Lisa Appignanesi.
“In 1899 widowed professor of law James Norton leaves his Boston home for Paris, intending to untangle his journalist brother, Rafael, from Olympe Fabre, an actress. On arrival, he finds Paris battling over the aftermath of the Dreyfus case; his sister, Ellie, sinking into mysterious invalidism; and Olympe missing, eventually to be found dead. With Raf under suspicion, James feels compelled to investigate. Several other women have died in similar circumstances; are the deaths suicides, crimes of passion, or displays of anti-Semitism? As he questions Olympe’s father, benefactress, and former admirers, James heals from his own losses, but not before uncovering secrets that change his family forever.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEvery day is for the thief : fiction / Teju Cole with photos by the author.
“Set in contemporary Lagos, Nigeria, the novel follows a nameless narrator’s visit to his homeland after a lengthy stay in the United States. Estranged from his mother and unemotional about his father’s death, the protagonist seeks his humanity and redemption in art. Lagos, the home of numerous Internet scams and frequent power cuts-possesses a violence that both disgusts his protagonist and fascinates him. The narrator details a Nigeria that is violent and corrupt, but also multi-cultural and alive.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe truth about the Harry Quebert affair / Joël Dicker ; translated from the French by Sam Taylor.
“Marcus Goldman, a successful young novelist, visits Somerset to see his mentor, Harry Quebert, one of the country’s most respected writers, and to find a cure for his writer’s block as his publisher’s deadline looms. But Marcus’s plans are violently upended when Harry is suddenly and sensationally implicated in the cold-case murder of Nola Kellergan.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe claimant / Janette Turner Hospital. “ Manhattan, 1996: the trial of the Vanderbilt claimant is finally coming to an end. The case, long, complex, full of unknowns, attracting huge media and social interest, has been seeking to establish whether or not a certain man is the son of the fabulously wealthy and well-connected Vanderbilt family. The son went missing, presumed dead, while serving in the Vietnam War. There is huge fortune, prestige and status at stake. But is the man, a handsome cattle farmer from Queensland really the Vanderbilt heir? And if so, why does he seem so reluctant to be found?” (Adapted from

Syndetics book coverDecoded / Mai Jia ; [translated from the Chinese by Olivia Milburn].
“The story of Rong Jinzhwen, one of the world’s greatest code-breakers. A semi-autistic mathematical genius, he is recruited to the cryptography department of China’s secret services. He rises through the ranks, until he makes a mistake, then begins his descent through the darkness of the world of cryptography into madness.” (Adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverThe son / Jo Nesbø ; translated from the Norwegian by Charlotte Barslund.
“As a teenager, Sonny Lofthus learns of his father’s death, the circumstances of which disgrace his family and catapult Sonny into despair. To cope with his loss, Sonny seeks escape through heroin and at age 18 admits to crimes he did not commit. As payment for his confession, corrupt Oslo prison staff, lawyers, and a priest supply Sonny with a steady stream of heroin. Then, 12 years later, the same faction threatens to cut off Sonny’s heroin supply unless he confesses to a murder. At the same time, a fellow inmate provides Sonny with new information about his father’s death. Sonny breaks out of prison to make the people responsible pay for their treachery. While Oslo police search for Sonny, he untangles a web of corruption throughout the city.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDept. of speculation / Jenny Offill.
“This is a magnetic novel about a marriage of giddy bliss and stratospheric anxiety, bedrock alliance and wrenching tectonic shifts. A journal-like account narrated by the wife, an ironic self-designation rooted in her growing fears about her marital state. She is smart if a bit drifty, imaginative and selectively observant and she is mordantly funny, a wry taxonomist of emotions and relationships. Her dispatches from the fog of new motherhood are hilarious and subversive. Her cynical pursuit of self-improvement is painfully accurate. Her Richter-scale analysis of the aftershocks of infidelity is gripping.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe walk home / Rachel Seiffert. “Stevie comes from a long line of people who have cut and run, just like he has. Stevie’s been to London, taught himself to get by, and now he’s working as a labourer not so far from his childhood home in Glasgow. But he’s not told his family, what’s left of them, that he’s back. Not yet. He’s also not far from his Uncle Eric’s house: another one who left, for love this time. Stevie’s toughened himself up against that emotion. And as for his own mother, Lindsey, well, she ran her whole life, from her father and Ireland, from her husband, and eventually from Stevie too. This is a powerful novel about the risk of love, and the madness and betrayals that can split a family. If you cut your ties, will you cut yourself adrift?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLook who’s back / Timur Vermes ; translated from the German by Jamie Bulloch.
“Summer 2011. Berlin. Adolf Hitler wakes up on a patch of ground, alive and well. Things have changed, no Eva Braun, no Nazi party, no war. Hitler barely recognizes his beloved Fatherland, filled with immigrants and run by a woman. People certainly recognize him, though as a brilliant, satirical impersonator who refuses to break character. The unthinkable, the inevitable, happens, and the ranting Hitler takes off, goes viral, becomes a YouTube star, gets his own TV show, becomes someone who people listen to. All the while he’s still trying to convince people that yes, it really is him, and yes, he really means it.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLove and treasure / Ayelet Waldman.
“Classics scholar Jack Wiseman, in the last throes of pancreatic cancer, entrusts an enamel locket to his granddaughter, imploring her to find the rightful owner. It’s the only thing he’s ever asked of her. During WWII, Jack had been a soldier in charge of storing the possessions found on the gold train, which contained the accumulated wealth of Hungarian Jews who had been shipped off to concentration camps. The contents were all meticulously accounted for. But who was there to receive them? The responsibility weighed heavily on Jack, not least because of his involvement with Ilona, a survivor whose shockingly black sense of humor both upsets and entrances him.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Contemporary Fiction for April

The European prize winning novel by Patrick Deville, Plague and Cholera, is highly recommended and heads this month’s selection of the latest new contemporary fiction. All provide great reading.

Syndetics book coverPlague and cholera / Patrick Deville ; translated from French by J.A. Underwood.
“Paris, May 1940. As Nazi troops storm the city, at Le Bourget airport, on the last flight out, sits Dr Alexandre Yersin, his gaze politely turned away from his fellow passengers with their jewels sewn into their luggage. He is too old for the combat ahead, and besides he has already saved millions of lives. Swiss by birth and trained in Germany and France, he had a romantic hunger for adventure, fuelled by tales of Livingstone and Conrad, he sailed to Asia. A true traveler of the century, he wanted to comprehend the universe, ceaselessly curious and courageous, Yersin stands, a genius, against a backdrop of world wars, pandemics, colonialism, progress and decadence.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAndrew’s brain / E.L. Doctorow.
“The confined thoughts of Andrew, a troubled cognitive scientist, whose conversation with an unknown questioner details the dissolution of his own relationships, career, and connection with his child. Andrew’s frantic language paints an increasingly fragmented worldview marred by disorientation. Periodically challenged by the questioner, Andrew is forced to confront his tendency toward a revisionist history and critically focus on the emotional impact of his actions.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEvery single minute / Hugo Hamilton. “A moving portrait of an Irish writer dying of cancer. Visiting Berlin for the first and last time, she is remembered, in prose of arresting directness, by the book’s narrator. Touring the city, Úna strives still to understand the tragic death of her younger brother. At last, at a performance of the opera ‘Don Carlo’, she realises the true cost of letting memory dictate the course of her life.” (Adapted from

Arctic summer / Damon Galgut.
“In 1912, the SS Birmingham approaches India. On board is Morgan Forster, novelist and man of letters, who is embarking on a journey of discovery. This book evokes the life and work of E.M. Forster, his travels to India, and the freedom and inspiration he found there.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMotherland / Maria Hummel.
“A deserter in Nazi Germany, on his way back to his family, hid letters from his new wife in an attic wall, where they were discovered decades later. Those letters led his granddaughter, poet and fiction writer Hummel, to explore the experience of Germans who struggled to keep their lives intact during WWII. Motherland follows Liesl, who recently married Frank, a widower, and is now caring for his three sons while he works as a surgeon stationed elsewhere. With separate struggles, including a debilitating illness striking one of the boys, Liesl and Frank’s stories unfold alongside each other but are only loosely connected, highlighting the depth of their separation.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIrène / Pierre Lemaitre ; translated from the French by Frank Wynne.
“For Commandant Verhoeven life is beautiful: he is happily married, expecting his first child with the lovely Irène. But his blissful existence is punctured by a murder of unprecedented savagery. Worse still, the press seem to have it in for him, his every move is headline news. When he discovers that the killer has killed before, that each murder is homage to a classic crime novel, the fourth estate is quick to coin a nickname, The Novelist. With both men in the public eye, the case develops into a personal duel, each hell-bent on outsmarting the other. There can only be one winner, whoever has the least to lose.” (Adapted from

Syndetics book coverAll that is solid melts into air / Darragh McKeon.
“Russia, 1986. In a run-down apartment block in Moscow, a nine-year-old piano prodigy practices silently for fear of disturbing the neighbours. In a factory on the outskirts of the city, his aunt makes car parts, trying to hide her dissident past. In the hospital, a surgeon immerses himself in his work to avoid facing his failed marriage. And in a rural village in Belarus, a teenage boy wakes up to a sky of the deepest crimson. Outside, the ears of his neighbour’s cattle are dripping blood. Ten miles away, at the Chernobyl Power Plant, something unimaginable has happened. Now their lives will change forever.” (Adapted from

Syndetics book coverThe ghost of the Mary Celeste / Valerie Martin.
“A ghost ship appears in the mist. To the struggling author Arthur Conan Doyle, it is an inspiration. To Violet Petra, the gifted American psychic, it is a cruel reminder. To the death-obsessed Victorian public, it is a fascinating distraction, and to one family, tied to the sea for generations, it is a tragedy. In salons and on rough seas, at séances and in the imagination of a genius, these stories converge in unexpected ways as the mystery of the ghost ship deepens. But will the sea yield its secrets, and to whom?” (Adapted from

Syndetics book coverThe Auschwitz escape / Joel C. Rosenberg.
“Luc, a French pastor, who is sentenced to the Auschwitz death camp for helping Jews, joins forces with Jacob, a Jewish man sent to the camp after his attempt to hijack a train bound for Auschwitz fails. Together they plan to escape to tell an unbelieving world about the Holocaust.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe secret of Raven Point : a novel / Jennifer Vanderbes.
“When her brother goes missing in Italy during WWII, young Juliet Dufresne signs up to be an army nurse. She and her brother have always been very close, and she cannot imagine her family life going on without him. Once in Italy, in addition to assisting in the constant surgeries performed at field hospitals, she helps psychiatrist Dr. Henry Willard, who is doing pioneering work on battle fatigue. When she finds out that patient Christopher Barnaby, a deserter up for court-martial, served in her brother’s unit, she becomes determined to bring Christopher out of his catatonic state so that he can tell her what happened to her brother.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New ‘Other Genre’ fiction this month features debut novels

Viper Wine, the highly recommend debut novel by Hermione Eyre is set in 1632 and written in Pop Art prose; a place to find alchemy, David Bowie, and recipes for seventeenth-century beauty potions. Just one of the new debut novels, from exciting new writers featured in this month’s ‘Other Genre’ fiction selections.

Syndetics book coverWhat I had before I had you : a novel / Sarah Cornwell.
“Leaving behind a failed marriage, Olivia returns to visit the Jersey Shore neighborhood in which she grew up. She has not been back in decades, reluctant to face the demons of her past, but now she visits with her children on their way to begin life anew in New York. Shortly after their arrival, though, her son, Daniel, recently diagnosed with early-onset bipolar disorder, vanishes from her side. The ensuing search through the haunts of her adolescence brings back painful memories of growing up with her psychic fortune-telling mother and the revelations that drove her to leave home at 15. But confronting the past may give Olivia what she needs to face the future.” (Adapted from

Syndetics book coverThe enchanted : a novel / Rene Denfeld.
“Set in a decaying, dark, corrupt prison, the Lady, a death-row investigator uses her unique perspective as a victim of terrible childhood abuse and conditions to research the lives of inmates. Working with her are a fallen priest, who is hiding secrets and hurt of his own, and the warden, whose wife is dying of cancer. This is a tale about being seen, understood, possibly forgiven, and maybe even loved.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverViper wine : a novel / Hermione Eyre.
“At Whitehall Palace in 1632, the ladies at the court of Charles I are beginning to look suspiciously alike. Plump cheeks, dilated pupils, and a heightened sense of pleasure are the first signs that they have been drinking a potent new beauty tonic, Viper Wine, distilled and discreetly dispensed by the physician Lancelot Choice. Famed beauty Venetia Stanley is so extravagantly dazzling she has inspired Ben Jonson to poetry and Van Dyck to painting, provoking adoration and emulation from the masses. But now she is married and her “mid-climacteric” approaches, all that adoration has curdled to scrutiny, and she fears her powers are waning.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWe used to be kings / Stewart Foster.
“Six years ago Tom’s brother died. The next day he came back. It’s Tom and Jack’s 18th birthday, but it isn’t a cause for celebration. For the past three years they’ve been in a care home for troubled children, a place where Dr Smith tries to silence the voice of Jack in Tom’s head. But Tom doesn’t want that. He’s already lost his brother once, he’s not going to lose him again. And so, when they go in front of the review board, they will have to pretend Jack has gone so they won’t be sent to the Young Men’s Institution or they’ll have to escape.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCourting Greta / Ramsey Hootman.
“Samuel Cooke, a 34-year-old crippled computer geek joins a Northern California high school’s faculty to teach programming classes after taking a 10% stake in the successful software firm that formerly employed him. Despite being warned against gym teacher Greta Cassamajor, a 46-year-old who towers over and outweighs him, he feels strangely attracted to her. Recognizing Greta’s prickly nature and uncompromising attitude, Samuel nonetheless sets out to navigate a relationship with her. He has the outward social graces she lacks, but hidden underneath is fear, anger, and self-pity, particularly over the congenital birth defect that forces him to use elbow crutches and ankle braces. While Samuel faces the school’s unprincipled principal, outdated computers, and difficult students, Greta proves remarkably perceptive and caring.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKat jumps the shark / Melinda Houston.
“Kat Kelly reckons she’s got life sorted. She has a man who cooks and does the dishes. A stepdaughter she adores. And her dream job: scouting locations for a TV production company. All the big dramas are behind her, or so she thought but before she knows it, Kat is out of love and has nowhere to live. Between her ditzy new intern and an amorous ex-footballer, work isn’t much better. And just when things couldn’t get any worse, disaster strikes Kat’s set, sending her spinning totally out of control.” (Adapted from

Syndetics book coverThe lost child / Suzanne McCourt.
“Sylvie is five. It’s the 1950s and she lives in Burley Point, a fishing village south of the Coorong on Australia’s wild southern coast. She worships her older brother Dunc. She tries to make sense of her brooding mother, and her moody father who abandons the family to visit The Trollop, Layle Lewis, who lives across the lagoon.It’s hard to keep secrets in a small town, but when Dunc goes missing, Sylvie is terrified that she is the cause. Now her father is angry all the time; her mother won’t leave the house or stop cleaning. The bush and the birds and the endless beach are Sylvie’s only salvation, apart from her teacher, Miss Taylor.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe weight of blood : a novel / Laura McHugh.
“Seventeen-year-old Lucy Dane, from Henbane, Montana, is grieving for her murdered friend, Cheri, and her mother, Lila, who vanished soon after Lucy was born. Determined to solve both mysteries, Lucy never realizes just how close the answers might lie. Her father, Carl, and her uncle, Crete, are not forthcoming about what they know, which only makes her more curious. Lucy uncovers evidence that puts her in jeopardy, leading to sudden and surprising violence.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe undertaking / Audrey Magee.
“Peter Faber, a German soldier on the Russian front, is pledging his life to a stranger thousands of miles away in Berlin. Having never met, Peter and Katharina are getting married, a contract of business rather than of love, he earns ten days respite from the war for his ‘honeymoon’ while she is promised a widow’s pension if he dies. In only ten days the two strangers fall in love and commit themselves to a future together living under the bright promises of Nazism. However, when Peter rejoins his unit in Russia, the bitter winter rapidly chills the heat of his politics. As his comrades begin to die, he loses sight of why Berlin has sent so many young men to their deaths in the snow drifts outside Stalingrad. Meanwhile, goaded on by her desperate and self-delusional parents, Katherina is ruthlessly working her way up the Nazi Party hierarchy, wedding herself and her young husband to a regime that will bury them if it ever falls.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe wives of Los Alamos : a novel / TaraShea Nesbit.
“Their average age was twenty-five. They came from Berkeley, Cambridge, Paris, London and Chicago, and arrived in New Mexico ready for adventure or at least resigned to it. But hope quickly turned to hardship in the desolate military town where everything was a secret; including what their husbands were doing at the lab. They lived in barely finished houses with a P.O. Box for an address, in a town wreathed with barbed wire, all for the benefit of ‘the project’ that didn’t exist as far as the greater world was concerned. They were constrained by the words they couldn’t say out loud, the letters they couldn’t send home, the freedom they didn’t have. Though they were strangers, they joined together,- babies were born, friendships were forged, children grew up. But then ‘the project’ was unleashed and even bigger challenges faced the women of Los Alamos, as they struggled with the burden of their contribution towards the creation of the most destructive force in mankind’s history, the atomic bomb.” (Adapted from

New Mysteries for February

New mysteries for February include the acclaimed mystery debut of Isabel Allende; new stand-alones from Laura Lippman & Zoe Sharp; and new translated crime from Finland, Florence & The Pyrenees.

Syndetics book coverRipper : a novel / Isabel Allende ; translated from the Spanish by Oliver Brock and Frank Wynne.
“Super-smart high-school senior Amanda Martin is obsessed with an Internet role-playing game, Ripper (as in Jack), and oversees a group comprising four other brilliant misfit teens from around the world as well as her grandfather, who raised her after her very young parents divorced. Amanda’s father, Bob, is a deputy chief of homicide in the San Francisco police department. Her mother, Indiana, is a healer too kind for her own good who is romantically entangled with a former navy SEAL and a wealthy dilettante. As Amanda and her cyber-brigade investigate a series of ritualistic murders no one else believes are connected, Allende richly portrays a range of intriguing characters, from Ayani, a famous Ethiopian model and women’s rights activist, to Attila, a heroic war dog. Sensitive to inequality, injustice, and psychological complexity and touching on everything from aromatherapy to illegal immigrants to PTSD, Allende’s tightly plotted tale of crimes obvious and masked is sharply perceptive, utterly charming, and intensely suspenseful.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAfter I’m gone / Laura Lippman.
“Rather than face 15 years in prison, Baltimore gambling boss Felix Brewer goes on the lam in 1976, leaving behind his wife, Bambi, the love of his life; his beloved daughters, Linda, 17, Rachel, 14, and Michelle, three; and his mistress, ex-stripper Julie Saxony. Ten years later, Julie disappears. It’s suspected that she joined Felix, until her body is discovered in 2001 in a park near Bambi’s childhood home. The Saxony cold case is reopened in 2012 by Roberto “Sandy” Sanchez, a widowed retired detective working as a consultant for the Baltimore police department. Chapters detailing critical points in the Brewer women’s lives from 1959 forward alternate with those about the murder investigation, which is ultimately solved by following the money. Verdict? In this stand-alone (adroitly linked to the Tess Monaghan series), Lippman focuses on the inner lives of the women left behind. Despite the murder at its center, this is less a suspenseful whodunit than a masterly novel of character, with secrets skillfully and gradually revealed.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCrooked Numbers / Tim O’Mara.
“O’Mara never hits a wrong note in his suspenseful sequel to 2012’s Sacrifice Fly, which introduced Raymond Donne, a former NYPD detective who now works as a middle-school dean in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. After graduation, one of Donne’s students, Douglas Lee, got a scholarship to a private school on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. A year-and-a-half later, just short of his 17th birthday, Dougie dies at the tennis courts under the Williamsburg Bridge, the victim of multiple stab wounds. Donne attends the funeral home wake, where Dougie’s mother beseeches him to do what he can to pressure the police to dig deeper into her son’s murder. With the cooperation of newspaper reporter Allison Rogers, Donne does just that, at the risk of stepping on the toes of his former colleagues on the force. He quickly concludes that the simple explanation for the killing-that Dougie had fallen from grace and that his murder was gang- and drug-related-doesn’t add up. The plot is intricate without being elaborate, and the likable lead makes a plausible investigator.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe blood whisperer / Zoë Sharp.
“The uncanny abilities of London crime-scene specialist Kelly Jacks to coax evidence from the most unpromising of crime scenes once earned her the nickname of The Blood Whisperer. Then six years ago all that changed. Kelly woke next to the butchered body of a man, the knife in her hands and no memory of what happened. She trusted the evidence would prove her innocent. It didn’t. Now released after serving her sentence for involuntary manslaughter, Kelly must try to piece her life back together. Shunned by former colleagues and friends, the only work she can get is for the crime-scene cleaning firm run by her former mentor. But old habits die hard. And when her instincts tell her things are not as they appear at the scene of a routine suicide, she can’t help but ask questions that somebody does not want answered. Plunged into the nightmare of being branded a killer once again, Kelly is soon fleeing from the police, Russian thugs and a local gangster. Betrayed at every turn, she is fast running out of options. But Kelly acquired a whole new set of skills on the inside.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA bitter taste / Annie Hauxwell.
“She was ten years old, but knew enough to wipe clean the handle of the bloody kitchen knife. The night was stifling; the windows were closed, sealing in the chaos. A table upturned, shattered crockery. Her distraught mother, bare shoulders raw with welts, knelt beside her motionless father. The child snatched up her backpack, and ran…London sweats in the height of summer. The parched city has slowed to a claustrophobic shuffle and there’s no end in sight. Heroin-addicted investigator Catherine Berlin hides her scars from prying eyes while working on the worst of all cases: matrimonial. The capital’s junkies suffer from a drought of a different kind. A strung-out ghost from Berlin’s past turns up on her doorstep with a desperate plea for help: her ten-year-old daughter is missing. Reminded of a debt owed, Berlin agrees to help, but the search becomes far deadlier than she could ever imagine, drawing her deep into an underworld of corrupt detectives, ruthless drug dealers, and a child killer. ‘A Bitter Taste’ is the thrilling second instalment in the magnificent crime series featuring civilian investigator Catherine Berlin, whose long-standing heroin addiction is only part of her story.” (Description from

Syndetics book coverDeath in Florence : an Inspector Bordelli mystery / Marco Vichi ; translated by Stephen Sartarelli.
“Florence, October 1966. The rain is never-ending. When a young boy vanishes on his way home from school the police fear the worst, and Inspector Bordelli begins an increasingly desperate investigation. Then the flood hits. During the night of 4th November the swollen River Arno, already lapping the arches of the Ponte Vecchio, breaks its banks and overwhelms the city. Streets become rushing torrents, the force of the water sweeping away cars and trees, doors, shutters and anything else in its wake. In the aftermath of this unimaginable tragedy the mystery of the child’s disappearance seems destined to go unsolved. But obstinate as ever, Bordelli is not prepared to give up.” (Description from

Syndetics book coverThe Mangle Street murders / M.R.C. Kasasian.
“Set in 1882, Kasasian’s sparkling debut introduces a memorable new detective duo. Twenty-one-year-old March Middleton, on the death of her father, decides to accept the offer of Sidney Grice, the godfather she has never met, to live with him in London. When she discovers that Grice is a personal detective – the word “private,” he insists, is best reserved for bedrooms – March insists on being involved. Her first opportunity arrives with Mrs. Grace Dillinger, who wants Grice to prove that her son-in-law, William Ashby, is innocent of her daughter’s murder. Despite March’s protests, Grice becomes convinced of Ashby’s guilt. Playful references suggest that Arthur Conan Doyle will model Sherlock Holmes on Grice. But unlike Holmes and Watson, the feisty, gin-swigging Middleton and irascible, mercenary Grice are evenly matched in both brains and determination. Their clever sparring, the appealing secondary characters, and an ingenious plot bode well for future installments.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe frozen dead / Bernard Minier ; translated by Alison Anderson.
“In a valley deep in the Pyrenees, a group of workers discover something deeply unnerving: the headless body of a horse suspended on a frozen cliff. On the same day, a young psychiatrist starts her first job at a secure asylum for the criminally insane just a few miles away. For Captain Servaz, a 40-something city cop, this might be the strangest case of his career. Why would anyone go to such trouble to kill a horse? But things get even stranger when they find DNA from one of the most notorious inmates of the asylum on the corpse…and a few days later the first murder takes place.” (From Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLight in a dark house / Jan Costin Wagner ; translated from the German by Anthea Bell.
“Finnish detective Kimmo Joentaa is called to the local hospital in which his young wife died several years before. An unidentified woman in a coma has been murdered by someone who wept over the body, their tears staining the sheets around her. The death marks the start of a series of killings, with the unknown patient at their centre. As autumn turns to winter, and Christmas fast approaches, Kimmo’s attempts to unravel the case and identify the first victim are complicated by the disappearance of his sometime girlfriend, who has vanished after an awkward encounter at a party thrown by the head of the police force, and by a colleague’s spiral into the depths of a gambling addiction.” (From Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe drowning spool / Monica Ferris.
“In Ferris’s diverting 17th needlecraft mystery (after 2012’s And Then You Dye), intrepid needlework shop owner Betsy Devonshire has to exercise at Watered Silk, a senior living facility near her home in Excelsior, Minn., because the pool at her regular gym is under repair. When the nude body of a young woman turns up in the Watered Silk pool, it raises several questions. Who is she? How did she get in past the five locked doors? And why is there lavender bath salts in her lungs? The realistic needlework details are germane to the investigation, which includes a second death. Readers will readily accept that Betsy is smarter than the cops and that the police welcome her contributions.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)