Dystopia! Aliens! Space! New sci-fi and fantasy novels

The latest science fiction and fantasy novels selected from the new material this month, include several that are dystopian themed, along with alien encounters and space warfare. Also several novels weave into their plots the present problems of global warming, war criminals, animal rights, and epidemics. All ensure fascinating, thrilling reading.

Syndetics book coverValiant dust / Richard Baker.
“Sikander Singh North has always had it easy, until he joins the crew of the Aquilan Commonwealth starship CSS Hector. As the ship’s new gunnery officer and the only Kashmiri officer, he must constantly prove himself better than his Aquilan crewmates, even if he has to use his fists. When the Hector is called to help with a planetary uprising, he’ll have to earn his unit’s respect, find who’s arming the rebels, and deal with the headstrong daughter of the colonial ruler, all while dodging bullets. Sikander’s military career is off to an explosive start but only if he and CSS Hector can survive his first mission.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe city of brass / S. A. Chakraborty.
“Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of eighteenth-century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trades she uses to get by, palm readings, zars, and a mysterious gift for healing, are all tricks. But when Nahri accidentally summons Dara, an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior, to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to reconsider her beliefs. Dara tells Nahri an extraordinary tale about Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound. In Daevabad, within gilded brass walls laced with enchantments and behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments run deep. When Nahri decides to enter this world, her arrival threatens to ignite a war that has been simmering for centuries.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe spark / David Drake.
“In the time of the Ancients the universe was united,but that was so far in the past that not even memory remains, only the broken artifacts that a few Makers can reshape into their original uses. What survives is shattered into enclaves, some tiny, some ruined, some wild. Into the gaps between settlements have crept monsters. Some creatures are men, twisted into inhuman evil; some of them are alien to Mankind. There are things which are hostile to all life, things which will raven and kill until they are stopped. A Leader has arisen, welding the scattered human settlements together in peace and safety and smashing the enemies of order with an iron fist. In his capital, Dun Add, the Leader provides law and justice. In the universe beyond, his Champions advance and enforce the return of civilization. Pal, a youth from the sticks, has come to Dun Add to become a Champion.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGnomon / Nick Harkaway.Gnomon
“In a near-future Britain, a distributed surveillance-democracy called The System knows everything you, and can even spy on your mind. It’s a Panopticon country. But when state investigators then look into the head of a refusenik novelist named Diana Hunter, what they find there is not her life story but that of four other people, spread across thousands of years, all vibrantly real and each utterly impossible and before they can unravel that puzzle, Diana Hunter, shockingly, dies as a result of the investigation, an unheard of result in a perfect system which protects everyone from harm. That’s where Inspector Mielikki Neith comes in, a staunch believer in The System who is assigned to investigate the Hunter case. The only problem is that the teasing mysteries in the dead woman’s mind may change all that.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTerminal alliance / Jim C. Hines.Terminal Alliance
“The Krakau came to Earth to invite humanity into a growing alliance of sentient species. However, they happened to arrive after a mutated plague wiped out half the planet, turned the rest into shambling, near-unstoppable animals, and basically destroyed human civilization. The Krakau’s first impulse was to turn around and go home. (After all, it’s hard to have diplomatic relations with mindless savages who eat your diplomats.) Their second impulse was to try to fix us. Now, a century later, human beings might not be what they once were, but at least they’re no longer trying to eat everyone.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBeacon 23 / Hugh Howey.
“For centuries, men and women have manned lighthouses to ensure the safe passage of ships. It is a lonely job and a thankless one for the most part, until something goes wrong, until a ship is in distress. In the 23rd century, this job has moved into outer space. A network of beacons allows ships to travel across the Milky Way at many times the speed of light. These beacons are built to be robust. They never break down. They never fail. At least, they aren’t supposed to.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNetherspace / Andrew Lane and Nigel Foster.
“Aliens came to Earth forty years ago. Their anatomy proved unfathomable and all attempts at communication failed. But through trade, humanity gained technology that allowed them to colonise the stars. The price: live humans for every alien faster-than-light drive. Kara’s sister was one of hundreds exchanged for this technology, and Kara has little love for aliens. So when she is drafted by GalDiv, the organisation that oversees alien trades, it is under duress. A group of colonists have been kidnapped by aliens and taken to an uncharted planet, and an unusual team is to be sent to negotiate. As an ex-army sniper, Kara’s role is clear. But artist Marc has no combat experience, although the team’s pre-cog Tse is adamant that he has a part to play. All three know that success is unlikely. For how will they negotiate with aliens when communication between the species is impossible?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAustral / Paul J. McAuley.
“The great geoengineering projects have failed. The world is still warming, sea levels are still rising, and the Antarctic Peninsula is home to Earth’s newest nation, with life quickened by ecopoets spreading across valleys and fjords exposed by the retreat of the ice. Austral Morales Ferrado, a child of the last generation of ecopoets, is a husky: an edited person adapted to the unforgiving climate of the far south, feared and despised by most of its population. She’s been a convict, a corrections officer in a labour camp, and consort to a criminal, and now, out of desperation, she has committed the kidnapping of the century. But before she can collect the ransom and make a new life elsewhere, she must find a place of safety amongst the peninsula’s forests and icy plateaus, and evade a criminal gang that has its own plans for the teenage girl she’s taken hostage.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDogs of war / Adrian Tchaikovsky.
My name is Rex. I am a good dog. Rex is also seven foot tall at the shoulder, bulletproof, bristling with heavy calibre weaponry and his voice resonates with subsonics especially designed to instil fear. Rex is a genetically engineered Bioform, a deadly weapon in a dirty war. He has the intelligence to carry out his orders and feedback implants to reward him when he does. All he wants to be is a Good Dog. And to do that he must do exactly what Master says and Master says he’s got to kill a lot of enemies. But who, exactly, are the enemies? What happens when Master is tried as a war criminal? What rights does the Geneva Convention grant weapons? Do Rex and his fellow Bioforms even have a right to exist? And what happens when Rex slips his leash?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe genius plague / by David Walton.
“Neil Johns has just started his dream job as a code breaker in the NSA when his brother, Paul, a mycologist, goes missing on a trip to collect samples in the Amazon jungle. Paul returns with a gap in his memory and a fungal infection that almost kills him. But once he recuperates, he has enhanced communication, memory, and pattern recognition. Meanwhile, something is happening in South America; others, like Paul, have also fallen ill and recovered with abilities they didn’t have before. But that’s not the only pattern, the survivors, from entire remote Brazilian tribes to American tourists; all seem to be working toward a common, and deadly, goal.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Graphic biographies & first volumes: new graphic novels

This month’s selection of new graphic novels includes the first volumes of four new series. There are also two brilliant graphic biographies, one by Jose-Louis Bocquet on Josephine Baker, the Afro-American dancer that became the sensation of Paris in the 1930s and the other by David Kushner and Koren Shadmi on Gary Gygax, the creator of the Dungeon and Dragons game that became a global phenomenon.

Syndetics book coverMoonshine. Vol. 1 / Brian Azzarello, writer ; Eduardo Risso, art & colors.
“This first volume in a new series is set during Prohibition, and deep in the backwoods of Appalachia, and tells the story of Lou Pirlo, a city-slick “torpedo” sent from New York City to negotiate a deal with the best moonshiner in West Virginia, Hiram Holt. Lou figures how hard could it be to set-up moonshine shipments from a few ass-backward hillbillies? What Lou doesn’t figure on is that Holt is just as cunning as ruthless as any NYC crime boss and Lou is in way over his pin-striped head. Because not only will Holt do anything to protect his illicit booze operation, he’ll stop at nothing to protect a much darker family secret, a bloody, supernatural secret that must never see the light of day, or better still, the light of the full moon.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJessica Jones [1] : uncaged! / writer, Brian Michael Bendis ; artist, Michael Gaydos.
“A lot has changed in the Marvel Universe and there are many secrets hiding in the shadows, secrets only a special woman like Jessica Jones can hope to uncover. Alias Investigations is open for business, and of all the many mysteries to discover, her new case may be the most dangerous one.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJosephine Baker / written by José-Louis Bocquet ; art by Catel Muller ; historical consultant, Jean-Claude Bouillon-Baker.
“Josephine Baker (1906-1975) was nineteen years old when she found herself in Paris for the first time in 1925. Overnight, the young American dancer became the idol of the Roaring Twenties, captivating Picasso, Cocteau, Le Corbusier, and Simenon. In the liberating atmosphere of the 1930s, Baker rose to fame as the first black star on the world stage, from London to Vienna, Alexandria to Buenos Aires. After World War II, and her time in the French Resistance, Baker devoted herself to the struggle against racial segregation, publicly battling the humiliations she had for so long suffered personally. A victim of racism throughout her life, Josephine Baker would sing of love and liberty until the day she died.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTo have & to hold / Graham Chaffee.
“Set in October 1962, while the world holds its collective breath awaiting the possibly apocalyptic climax of the unfolding Cuban Missile Crisis, the banality of everyday life goes on and Lonnie and Kate Ross confront their own domestic cold war. As Kate, frustrated and disillusioned, looks outside her marriage for satisfaction, Lonnie’s justifiable suspicions of his wife’s infidelity lead him down a deadly road of increasing paranoia and violence as he seeks to reclaim what he’s lost.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMutiny Bay / Antoine Cossé.
“1519. A Spanish fleet leaves Seville, heading west. Portuguese Captain Magellan is convinced of the existence of a South American strait that will expedite trade with the Indonesian Spice Islands. Months later, in a deserted and inhospitable land, mutiny brews, and two men are marooned and the world explodes in a riot of hallucinatory colour.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOn the Camino / Jason.
“Northwestern Spain, observed with the eye of an artist, chronicling both the good (people, conversations) and the bad (blisters, bedbugs) he encountered on his journey. Full of quiet incidents, odd encounters, small triumphs, and the occasional setback, On the Camino is the first implicitly autobiographical long-form work by a master cartoonist.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRise of the dungeon master : Gary Gygax and the creation of D&D / David Kushner and Koren Shadmi.
Rise of the Dungeon Master tells, in graphic form, the story of Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons and; Dragons, one of the most influential games ever made. Like the game itself, the narrative casts the reader into the adventure from a first person point of view, taking on the roles of the different characters in the story. Gygax was the son of immigrants who grew up in Lake Geneva, WI, in the 1950s. An imaginative misfit, he escaped into a virtual world based on science fiction novels, military history and strategic games like chess. In the mid-1970s, he co-created the wildly popular Dungeons & Dragons game, determining the rules and inventing the signature 20-sided dice. Starting out in the basement of his home, he was soon struggling to keep up with the demand.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA.D. : after death / written by Scott Snyder ; illustrated by Jeff Lemire.
“Set in a future where a genetic cure for death has been found. Years after the discovery, one man starts to question everything, leading him on a mind-bending journey that will bring him face-to-face with his past and his own mortality. This is a unique combination of comics, prose, and illustration.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBoundless / Jillian Tamaki.
“Jenny becomes obsessed with a strange “mirror Facebook,” which presents an alternate, possibly better, version of herself. Helen finds her clothes growing baggy, her shoes looser, and as she shrinks away to nothingness, the world around her recedes as well. The animals of the city briefly open their minds to us, and we see the world as they do. A mysterious music file surfaces on the internet and forms the basis of a utopian society-or is it a cult? This collection of short stories is a showcase for the masterful blend of emotion and humour of award-winning cartoonist Jillian Tamaki.” (Adapted from
Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDeadman : dark mansion of forbidden love / Sarah Vaughn, writer ; Lan Medina & Phil Hester, illustrators.
“Boston Brand is a dead man walking. More than walking, actually his uncanny abilities enable him to float, fly and seize control of the bodies of the living. He’s no mere ghost. He’s something more powerful, more heroic, he is Deadman and he’s about to meet Berenice, a living woman with powers of her own. Separated by the boundary between life and death, yet able to walk between both worlds, Deadman and Berenice must work together to unravel the mystery of the Manor and defeat the dark forces that threaten to erupt.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Contemporary Fiction for January

The selection of new contemporary fiction this month includes some brilliant writers, and some spell-binding narratives. Included are new novels from Louise Erdrich, Marcel Theroux and Ali Smith, and the best seller from Japanese writer Hiro Arikawa, titled The Travelling Cat Chronicles. Highly recommended is Nickolas Butler’s second novel, titled The hearts of Men.

Syndetics book coverThe travelling cat chronicles / Hiro Arikawa ; translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel.
“It’s not the journey that counts, but who’s at your side. Nana is on a road trip, but he is not sure where he is going. All that matters is that he can sit beside his beloved owner Satoru in the front seat of his silver van. Satoru is keen to visit three old friends from his youth, though Nana doesn’t know why and Satoru won’t say. Set against the backdrop of Japan’s changing seasons and narrated with a rare gentleness and striking humour, Nana’s story explores the wonder and thrill of life’s unexpected detours. It is about the value of friendship and solitude, and knowing when to give and when to take.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLove & fame / Susie Boyt.
“Eve, a nervous young actress from a powerful theatrical dynasty has found herself married to an international expert on anxiety called Jim. Could it work? Should it work? Across town, tabloid journalist Rebecca Melville is burning all her bridges while her devoted sister Beatrice, a therapist, tries her hardest not to intervene. How far can Eve and Rebecca go without losing the admiration of the people they love? This funny and heartbreaking story asks: do we get what we deserve in life? Must the show always go on?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe hearts of men / Nickolas Butler.
“Camp Chippewa, 1962. Thirteen-year-old Nelson, loner and over-achiever, is nicknamed the Bugler as he proudly sounds the reveille each morning. This is the summer that everything changes, marking the beginning of Nelson’s uncertain friendship with a popular boy named Jonathan, and the discovery of his father’s betrayal, which tears his family apart. As time moves on, Nelson, irrevocably scarred from the Vietnam War, becomes Scoutmaster of Camp Chippewa, while Jonathan marries, divorces, and transforms his father’s business. When something unthinkable happens during a visit from Jonathan’s grandson and daughter-in-law, the aftermath tests the depths and the limits of Nelson’s selflessness and bravery.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFuture home of the living god : a novel / Louise Erdrich.
“Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backwards, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. For twenty-six-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant. As society begins to disintegrate, Cedar first feels compelled to find her birth mother, Mary Potts, an Ojibwe living on the reservation. There are rumors of martial law, of Congress confining pregnant women, of a registry, and rewards for those who turn these wanted women in. It will take all Cedar has to avoid the prying eyes of potential informants and keep her baby safe.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAn unremarkable body / Elisa Lodato.
“Katharine is found dead at the foot of the stairs by her 30-year-old daughter Laura. The medical examiner’s report, in which precious parts of her mother’s body are weighed and categorized, motivates Laura to write her own version of events. To bear witness to the unbearable blank space between each itemized entry. What emerges are a series of stories in which Laura attempts to discover how and why her mother died, as well as make sense of her own grief, by piecing her mother’s body back together. In doing so, she is forced to confront a woman silenced by her own mother and wronged by her husband, a woman who felt shackled by motherhood and unable to love freely.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe threat level remains severe / Rowena Macdonald.
“House of Commons secretary Grace has been counting the tea breaks in the same dull job for a decade. Brett, the new boy is on a mission to shake up the dusty backrooms of power and set to collide with Grace. Office life begins to look up when Grace receives some mysterious emails.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Zanzibar wife / Deborah Rodriguez.
“Set both in Oman and on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar, the ancient land of frankincense, wind-swept deserts, craggy mountaintops and turquoise seas. This is a place where tales of evil spirits and eerie phenomena abound. Into this magical nation come three remarkable but very different women, each facing a crossroad in her life. Rachel, a troubled American war photographer, Ariana Khan, a bubbly British woman struggling to keep up with the glitz of Dubai and ready to give up on love, and Miza, a young woman living far from her beloved homeland of Zanzibar. As the second wife of Tariq, an Omani man, she remains a secret from his terrifying ‘other’ wife, Maryam. Until one day, when Tariq fails to come home. As the three women journey together across this weird and wonderful land, they are forced to confront their darkest fears and their deepest wishes. Because here in Oman, things aren’t always what they appear to be.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe secret books / Marcel Theroux.
“Seeking adventure, a young man flees the drudgery of shop keeping in Tsarist Russia to make a new life among the bohemians and revolutionaries of 19th century Paris. Travelling undercover in the mountains of British India, he discovers a manuscript that transforms the world’s understanding of the historical Jesus. Decades later, in a Europe threatened by unimaginable tragedy, he makes a despairing attempt to right a historic injustice.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFlights / Olga Tokarczuk ; translated by Jennifer Croft.
Flights is a series of imaginative and mesmerizing meditations on travel in all its forms, not only the philosophy and meaning of travel, but also fascinating anecdotes that take us out of ourselves, and back to ourselves, about life and death, about the very nature of humankind. Thrilling characters and stories abound, the Russian sect who escape the devil by remaining constantly in motion; the anatomist Verheyen who writes letters to his amputated leg; the story of Chopin’s heart as it makes its journey from Paris to Warsaw, stored in a tightly sealed jar beneath his sister’s skirt; the quest of a Polish woman who emigrated to New Zealand as a teen but must now return in order to poison her terminally ill high-school sweetheart.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWinter / Ali Smith.
“Winter? Bleak and cold, frosty wind, earth as iron, water as stone, so the old song goes with the shortest days, and the longest nights. The trees are bare and shivering, the summer’s leaves? Dead litter.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

These short stories are perfect for summer holidays

This month, short stories are the feature of our ‘Other Genres’ category of fiction recent picks. There are collections from many much acclaimed writers including William Boyd, Helen Garner, P.D. James and our own Paula Morris. There are several debut short story collections also, one notably from Emily Fridlund whose first novel History of Wolves was shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize.

Syndetics book coverTell tale / Jeffrey Archer.
“Fourteen gripping and rewarding short stories from the master of short story writing. Find out what happens to the hapless young detective from Naples who travels to an Italian hillside town to solve a murder and the pretentious schoolboy whose discovery of the origins of his father’s wealth changes his life forever. Follow the stories of the woman who dares to challenge the men at her Ivy League university during the 1930s, and another young woman who thumbs a lift and has an encounter of a lifetime.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe dreams of Bethany Mellmoth / William Boyd.
“A philandering art dealer tries to give up casual love affairs, seeking only passionate kisses as a substitute. A man recounts his personal history through the things he has stolen from others throughout his life. Couple charts the journey of their five year relationship backwards, from awkward reunion to lovelorn first encounter. And, at the heart of the book, a 24-year old young woman, Bethany Mellmoth, embarks on a year-long journey of wishful and tentative self-discovery. Original, funny, surprising and moving stories from a much acclaimed writer.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe relive box and other stories / T. Coraghessan Boyle.
“Known as one of our greatest American novelists, Boyle’s sharp wit and rich imagination combine with a penetrating social consciousness to produce raucous, poignant, and expansive short stories defined by an inimitable voice. The twelve stories in this collection speak to the humor, the pathos, and the struggle that is part of being human while relishing the whimsy of wordplay and the power of a story well told.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCatapult : stories / Emily Fridlund.
“Following Emily Fridlund’s acclaimed debut novel History of Wolves . The characters in these stories are sometimes calculating, at other times bewildered, they orbit around each other, enacting a deeply human tragicomedy of wit, misunderstanding, and loss. With dexterous, atmospheric, and darkly comic prose, Fridlund conjures worlds where longing is open-ended, intentions misfire, and the line between comfort and cruelty is often difficult to discern. This is a gripping collection, unsettling as much in its familiarity as in its near-gothic strangeness.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStories : the collected short fiction / Helen Garner.
“This collection of short fiction celebrates the seventy-fifth birthday of one of Australia’s most loved authors. These stories delve into the complexities of love and longing, of the pain, darkness and joy of life, are all told with her characteristic sharpness of observation, honesty and humour. Each one a perfect piece, together they showcase Garner’s mastery of the form.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUncommon type : some stories / Tom Hanks ; photographs by Kevin Twomey.
“A collection of seventeen wonderful short stories showing that two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks is as talented a writer as he is an actor. In this first collection the stories are surprising, intelligent, and heartwarming.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSleep no more : six murderous tales / P. D. James ; foreword by Peter Kemp.
“From this brilliant crime writer, who is acknowledged as a past master of the short story, who weaves together motifs of crime-writing with deep psychological insight to create gripping, suspenseful tales. As the six murderous tales unfold, the dark motive of revenge is revealed at the heart of each.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThat was a shiver : and other stories / James Kelman.
“A trucker passes through a town he used to know and a local tries to sell him his sister; a couple put their children to bed and hear a loud scratching at the wall; a Principal and his associate examine the dead body before them; a man looks into a mirror and reflects on becoming more like his father. Sparky, touching and brilliantly daring, these stories uncover human feeling in the ordinary and the everyday.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHer body and other parties : stories / Carmen Maria Machado.
“ In these stories the writer blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulist. There is a bending of bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFalse river : stories, essays, secret histories / Paula Morris.
“Fictional characters muse upon the truth behind real people, non-fiction pieces contain short interludes of fiction, fiction is written to read like an essay, made-up elements slip into true accounts. These pieces range the world, from America, to Antwerp to Aoteoroa, and talk about writers and writing, famous figures, family members, witch-burning in Denmark, cyclones and numerous pertinent and stimulating topics.”(Adapted from Syndeitics summary)

New mystery novels from around the world

Mystery readers will once again enjoy the prospect of much arm-chair travel in this month’s selection of new mysteries recently added to Wellington City Libraries fiction collection. There are mysteries set in Australia, Botswana, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Siberia, and in America: Los Angeles and New Mexico. All of course, involve murder, and will keep the reader in spine tingling suspense until the very last pages.

Syndetics book coverThe trust / Ronald H. Balson.
“When his uncle dies, Private Investigator Liam Taggart reluctantly returns to his childhood home in Northern Ireland for the funeral, a home he left years ago after a bitter confrontation with his family, never to look back. But when he arrives, Liam learns that not only was his uncle shot to death, but that he’d anticipated his own murder: In an astonishing last will and testament, Uncle Fergus has left his entire estate to a secret trust, directing that no distributions be made to any person until the killer is found. Did Fergus know, but refuse to name, his killer? Was this a crime of revenge, a vendetta leftover from Northern Ireland’s bloody sectarian war? Or is it possible that the killer is a family member seeking Fergus’s estate? As his investigation draws Liam farther and farther into the past he has abandoned, he realizes he is forced to reopen doors long ago shut and locked. Now, accepting the appointment as sole trustee of the Fergus Taggart Trust, Liam realizes he has stepped into the center of a firestorm.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe girl in the fog / Donato Carrisi ; translated by Howard Curtis.
“A man is arrested in the small town of Avechot. His shirt is covered in blood. Could this have anything to do with a missing girl called Anna Lou? What really happened to the girl? Detective Vogel will do anything to solve the mystery surrounding Anna Lou’s disappearance. When a media storm hits the quiet town, Vogel is sure that the suspect will be flushed out. Yet the clues are confusing, perhaps false, and following them may be a far cry from discovering the truth at the heart of a dark town.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMadness treads lightly / Polina Dashkova ; translated by Marian Schwartz.
“As a working mother, Lena Polyanskaya has her hands full. She’s busy caring for her two-year-old daughter, editing a successful magazine, and supporting her husband, a high-ranking colonel in counterintelligence. She doesn’t have time to play amateur detective. But when a close friend’s suspicious death is labeled a suicide, she’s determined to prove he wouldn’t have taken his own life. As Lena digs in to her investigation, all clues point to murder and its connection to a string of grisly cold-case homicides that stretches back to the Soviet era. When another person in her circle becomes a victim, Lena fears she and her family may be next. She’s determined to do whatever it takes to protect them. But will learning the truth unmask a killer or put her and her family in even more danger?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTwo kinds of truth / Michael Connelly.
“Harry Bosch is back as a volunteer working cold cases for the San Fernando Police Department and is called out to a local drug store where a young pharmacist has been murdered. Bosch and the town’s 3-person detective squad sift through the clues, which lead into the dangerous, big business world of pill mills and prescription drug abuse. Meanwhile, an old case from Bosch’s LAPD days comes back to haunt him when a long-imprisoned killer claims Harry framed him, and seems to have new evidence to prove it. He must fend for himself in clearing his name and keeping a clever killer in prison. The two unrelated cases wind around each other like strands of barbed wire. Along the way Bosch discovers that there are two kinds of truth: the kind that sets you free and the kind that leaves you buried in darkness.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe angel / Katerina Diamond.
“When a burned body is found in a disused signal box, suspicion falls on lonely teenager Gabriel Webb. There’s no doubt he was at the scene of the crime, but does he really deserve what awaits him in prison? DS Imogen Grey is certain there’s more to the case than meets the eye. But while she struggles to convince those around her of the truth, her partner DS Adrian Miles is distracted by his own demons. When a brutal double murder is reported, their investigation is stopped in its tracks. Is the body in the box even who they thought it was? The duo realise Gabriel might have been locked up for a crime he didn’t commit. But with enemies watching Gabriel’s every move, they may be too late.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDown for the count / Martin Holmén ; translated by Henning Koch.
“Harry Kvist walks out of the gates of Langholmen jail into the biting Stockholm winter of 1935. He has nothing to his name but a fiercely burning hope: that he can leave behind his old existence. But the city has other ideas. Nazis are spreading their poison on the freezing streets, and one of Kvist’s oldest friends has been murdered. Before he can leave Stockholm’s underworld for good, he must track down the killer. As Kvist uncovers a trail of blood leading to the highest echelons of Swedish society, the former boxer finds himself in a fight to the death with his most dangerous opponent yet.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKilling season : a thriller / Faye Kellerman.
” Four years ago, fifteen-year-old Ellen Vicksburg went missing in the quiet town of River Remez, New Mexico. Ellen was kind, studious, and universally liked. Her younger brother, Ben, could imagine nothing worse than never knowing what happened to her until, on the first anniversary of her death; he found her body in a shallow grave by the river s edge. Now he is committed to finding her murderer police believe she was the victim of a psychopath known as the Demon. In the police files, Ben’s analytical mind sees patterns that don t fit, tiny threads that he adds to the clues from other similar unsolved murders. As the body count rises, a picture emerges of an adversary who is as cunning and methodical as he is twisted.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Anthill murders / Hans Olav Lahlum ; translated from the Norwegian by Kari Dickson.
“1972. Across Oslo, a serial killer is hunting down young women. Each body found strangled and with a peculiar calling-card placed upon her body: a cut-out picture of an ant. The first victim is a timid theology student, the next a jazz singer, followed by the heir to one of the largest fortunes in Oslo. But despite Inspector K2’s best efforts to find a link, the only thing connecting them seems to be their murder. With assistant Patricia’s intellect put to the test and increasing pressure from his boss as the clock ticks down to the next possible killing, K2 is in danger of losing his position as Oslo’s leading homicide detective.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDying to live : a Detective Kubu mystery / Michael Stanley.
“A Bushman is discovered dead near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Africa. Although the man looks old enough to have died of natural causes, the police suspect foul play, and the body is sent to Gaborone for an autopsy. Pathologist Ian MacGregor confirms the cause of death as a broken neck, but is greatly puzzled by the man’s physiology. Although he’s obviously very old, his internal organs look remarkably young. He calls in Assistant Superintendent David “Kubu” Bengu. When the Bushman’s corpse is stolen from the morgue, suddenly the case takes on a new dimension.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAnd fire came down / Emma Viskic.
“Deaf since early childhood, Caleb Zelic is used to meeting life head-on. Now, he is struggling just to get through the day. His best mate is dead, his ex-wife, Kat, is avoiding him, and nightmares haunt his waking hours. But when a young woman is killed, after pleading for his help in sign language, Caleb is determined to find out who she was. The trail leads Caleb back to his hometown, Resurrection Bay. The town is on bushfire alert, and simmering with racial tensions. As Caleb delves deeper, he uncovers secrets that could ruin any chance of reuniting with Kat, and even threaten his life. Driven by his own demons, he pushes on. But who is he willing to sacrifice along the way?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Out of this world new sci-fi and fantasy novels

This month the selection from the new material received in this genre covers a broad range of themes.
From conspiracies to cybernetics, robots to vampires, humour to horror, and survival to dystopia, plus many more, all provide some brilliant out of this world reading.

Syndetics book coverMageborn / Stephen Aryan.
“It’s been ten years since the battlemage war, where thousands died as mages sundered the earth and split the sky. Habreel believes eradicating magic is the only way to ensure a lasting peace. He will do anything to achieve his goal, even if it means murdering every child born with the ability. As deaths involving magic increase and the seat of magical learning, the Red Tower, falls under suspicion, two students and one lawbringer must do everything they can to combat Habreel and his followers, before magic disappears from the world for good.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe island will sink / Briohny Doyle.
“The energy crisis has come and gone. Cities have been rethought and redesigned, and Ecolaw(TM) is enforced by insidious cartoon Pandas and their armies of viral-marketing children. Max Galleon is a filmmaker of immersive cinema, a father to two children distressed by the world around, a distant husband, a brother to a comatose mystery man, and falling rapidly in love with a doctor who is not what she seems” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIt devours! : a welcome to Night Vale novel / Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor.
“Nilanjana Sikdar is an outsider to the town of Night Vale. Working for Carlos, the town’s top scientist, she relies on fact and logic as her guiding principles. But all of that is put into question when Carlos gives her a special assignment investigating a mysterious rumbling in the desert wasteland outside of town. This investigation leads her to the Joyous Congregation of the Smiling God, and to Darryl, one of its most committed members. Caught between her beliefs in the ultimate power of science and her growing attraction to Darryl, she begins to suspect the Congregation is planning a ritual that could threaten the lives of everyone in town.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe fifth doll / Charlie N. Holmberg.
“Matrona lives in an isolated village, where her life is centered on pleasing her parents. She’s diligent in her chores and has agreed to marry a man of their choosing. But a visit to Slava, the local tradesman, threatens to upend her entire life. Entering his empty house, Matrona discovers a strange collection of painted nesting dolls, one for every villager. Fascinated, she can’t resist the urge to open the doll with her father’s face. But when her father begins acting strangely, she realizes Slava’s dolls are much more than they seem. When he learns what she’s done, Slava seizes the opportunity to give Matrona stewardship over the dolls, whether she wants it or not. Forced to open one of her own dolls every three days, she falls deeper into the grim power of Slava’s creations. But nothing can prepare her for the profound secret hiding inside the fifth doll.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe fall of the House of Cabal / Jonathan L. Howard.
“Johannes Cabal, a necromancer of some little infamy, has come into possession of a vital clue that may lead him to his ultimate goal: a cure for death. The path is vague, however, and certainly treacherous as it takes him into strange territories that no one has ever seen before. The task is too dangerous to venture upon alone, so he must seek assistance, comrades for the coming travails. So assisted, ably and otherwise, by his vampiric brother, Horst, and by the kindly accompaniment of a criminologist and a devil, he will encounter ruins and diableries, mystery and murder, the depths of the lowest pit and a city of horrors, London, to be exact. As the snare closes slowly and subtly around them, it may be that there will be no survivors at all.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe salt line / Holly Goddard Jones.
“In an unspecified future, the United States’ borders have receded behind a salt line, a ring of scorched earth that protects its citizens from deadly disease-carrying ticks. Those within the zone live safe lives in a society controlled by a common fear. Few have any reason to venture out of zone, except for the adrenaline junkies who pay a fortune to tour what’s left of nature. Once out of zone, this group finds itself at the mercy of deadly ticks and at the centre of a murderous plot. How far are they are willing to go to get to the right side of the salt line?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAutonomous / Annalee Newitz.
“Earth, 2144. Jack is an anti-patent scientist turned drug pirate, traversing the world in a submarine as a pharmaceutical Robin Hood, fabricating cheap scrips for poor people who can’t otherwise afford them. But her latest drug hack has left a trail of lethal overdoses as people become addicted to their work, doing repetitive tasks until they become unsafe or insane.Hot on her trail, an unlikely pair: Eliasz, a brooding military agent, and his robotic partner, Paladin. As they race to stop information about the sinister origins of Jack’s drug from getting out, they begin to form an uncommonly close bond that neither of them fully understands. And underlying it all is one fundamental question: Is freedom possible in a culture where everything, even people, can be owned?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe real-town murders / Adam Roberts.
“Alma is a private detective in a near-future England, a country desperately trying to tempt people away from the delights of Shine, the immersive successor to the internet. But most people are happy to spend their lives plugged in, and the country is decaying. Alma’s partner is ill, and has to be treated without fail every 4 hours, a task that only Alma can do. If she misses the 5 minute window her lover will die. She is one of the few not to access the Shine.So when Alma is called to an automated car factory to be shown an impossible death and finds herself caught up in a political coup, she knows that getting too deep may leave her unable to get home.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe uploaded / Ferrett Steinmetz.
“In the near future, the elderly have moved online and their consciousness’s now live within the computer network. But that doesn’t stop them interfering in the lives of the living, whose sole real purpose now is to maintain the vast servers which support the new digital version of Heaven. For one young orphan that just isn’t enough, he wants more for himself and his sister than a miserable life slaving away for the dead. It turns out that he’s not the only one who wants to reset the world.” (Adapted from Syndetic summary)

Syndetics book coverArtemis : a novel / Andy Weir.Artemis
“Jasmine Bashara never signed up to be a hero. She just wanted to get rich. Not crazy, eccentric-billionaire rich, like many of the visitors to her hometown of Artemis, humanity’s first and only lunar colony, just rich enough to pay off a debt she’s owed for a long time. So when a chance at a huge score finally comes her way, Jazz can’t say no. Sure, it requires her to graduate from small-time smuggler to full-on criminal mastermind. And it calls for a particular combination of cunning, technical skills, and large explosions, not to mention sheer brazen swagger. But Jazz has never run into a challenge her intellect can’t handle, and she figures she’s got the ‘swagger’ part down. The trouble is, engineering the perfect crime is just the start of Jazz’s problems, because her little heist is about to land her in the middle of a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New contemporary fiction from award-winning authors

Among the fantastic selection of new Contemporary Fiction there are new novels by many much acclaimed award winner authors. These include Isabel Allende, John Banville, Peter Carey, and Ali Smith. Along with very popular authors, Lee Child and John Grisham, this month’s selection promises many hours of wonderful holiday reading

Syndetics book coverIn the midst of winter : a novel / Isabel Allende ; translated by Nick Caistor and Amanda Hopkinson.
“A minor traffic accident becomes the catalyst for an unexpected and moving love story between two people who thought they were deep into the winter of their lives. Richard Bowmasterm, a 60-year-old human rights scholar, hits the car of Evelyn Ortega,a young, undocumented immigrant from Guatemala, in the middle of a snowstorm in Brooklyn. What at first seems just a small inconvenience takes an unforeseen and far more serious turn when Evelyn turns up at the professor’s house seeking help. At a loss, the professor asks his tenant Lucia Maraz, a 62-year-old lecturer from Chile, for her advice. These three very different people are brought together in a mesmerizing story that moves from present-day Brooklyn to Guatemala in the recent past to 1970s Chile and Brazil, sparking the beginning of a long overdue love story between Richard and Lucia.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe death of the Fronsac / Neal Ascherson
“In 1940, during the Phoney War, a French destroyer blows up in the Firth of Clyde. The disaster is witnessed by Jackie, a young girl who, for a time, thinks she caused the explosion by running away that day from school; by her mother Helen, a spirited woman married to a dreary young officer; and by a Polish officer, whose country has just been erased from the map by Hitler and Stalin. Their lives, and the lives of many others, are changed by the death of the Fronsac. This is a story about divided loyalties, treachery, and exile; about people in flight from the destinies that seemed to be theirs before the war disrupted the world they knew.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMrs. Osmond : a novel / John Banville.Mrs. Osmond
“A novel that extends the story of Isabel Archer, the heroine of Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady, into unexpected territory. Isabel Archer is a young American woman, swept off to Europe in the late nineteenth century by an aunt who hopes to round out the impetuous but naive girl’s experience of the world. When Isabel comes into a large, unexpected inheritance, she is finagled into a marriage with the charming, penniless, and as Isabel finds out too late, cruel and deceitful Gilbert Osmond, whose connection to a certain Madame Merle is suspiciously intimate. On a trip to England to visit her cousin Ralph Touchett on his deathbed, Isabel is offered a chance to free herself from the marriage, but nonetheless chooses to return to Italy.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA long way from home / Peter Carey.
“Irene Bobs loves fast driving. Her husband is the best car salesman in western Victoria. Together they enter the Redex Trial, a brutal race around the ancient continent over roads no car will ever quite survive. With them is their lanky fair-haired navigator, Willie Bachhuber, a quiz show champion and failed schoolteacher whose job it is to call out the turns, the grids, the creek crossings on a map that will finally remove them, without warning, from the lily-white Australia they know so well. This thrilling, high-speed story starts in one way and then takes you someplace else. Set in the 1950s amid the consequences of the age of empires, this brilliantly vivid and lively novel reminds us how Europeans took possession of a timeless culture, the high purpose they invented and the crimes they committed along the way.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe midnight line / Lee Child.The Midnight Line
“Jack Reacher takes a stroll through a small Wisconsin town and sees a class ring in a pawn shop window: West Point 2005. A tough year to graduate: Iraq, then Afghanistan. The ring is tiny, for a woman, and it has her initials engraved on the inside. Reacher wonders what unlucky circumstance made her give up something she earned over four hard years. He decides to find out. And find the woman. And return her ring. So begins a harrowing journey that takes Reacher through the upper Midwest, from a lowlife bar on the sad side of small town to a dirt-blown crossroads in the middle of nowhere, encountering bikers, cops, crooks, muscle, and a missing persons PI who wears a suit and a tie in the Wyoming wilderness. The deeper Reacher digs, and the more he learns, the more dangerous the terrain becomes and the ring was just a small link in a far darker chain” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGo, went, gone / Jenny Erpenbeck ; translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky.
“A newly retired, widowed classics professor involves himself in the lives of African refugees in Berlin, getting an education in geography, linguistics, and human suffering as well as a chance to reexamine the various displacements in his life. Initially just curious about the men demonstrating at Alexanderplatz and living in a tent city in Kreuzberg, solitary, Richard listens to harrowing stories. Fascinated by the starkness of the refugees’ circumstances and their resilience, Richard discovers new compassion within himself. But there isn’t much he can do to stop the bureaucratic grind of the German legal system or the cruelties of EU immigration policy.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe rooster bar / John Grisham.
“ Mark, Todd, and Zola came to law school to change the world, to make it a better place. But now, as third-year students, these close friends realize they have been duped. They all borrowed heavily to attend a third-tier, for-profit law school so mediocre that its graduates rarely pass the bar exam, let alone get good jobs. And when they learn that their school is one of a chain owned by a shady New York hedge-fund operator who also happens to own a bank specializing in student loans, the three know they have been caught up in The Great Law School Scam. But maybe there’s a way out. Maybe there’s a way to escape their crushing debt, expose the bank and the scam, and make a few bucks in the process. But to do so, they would first have to quit school. And leaving law school a few short months before graduation would be completely crazy, , well, yes and no.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

The passage of love / Alex Miller.
“Sitting in a New York park, an old man holds a book and tries to accept that his contribution to the future is over. Instead, he remembers a youthful yearning for open horizons, for Australia, a yearning he now knows inspired his life as a writer. Instinctively he picks up his pen and starts at the beginning. At twenty-one years, Robert Crofts leaves his broken dreams in Far North Queensland, finally stopping in Melbourne almost destitute. It’s there he begins to understand how books and writing might be the saving of him. They will be how he leaves his mark on the world. He also begins to understand how many obstacles there will be to thwart his ambition. When Robert is introduced to Lena Soren, beautiful, rich and educated, his life takes a very different path. But in the intimacy of their connection lies an unknowability that both torments and tantalises as Robert and Lena long for something that neither can provide for the other.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDunbar / Edward St. Aubyn.
” Henry Dunbar, the once all-powerful head of a global corporation, is not having a good day. In his dotage he hands over care of the corporation to his two eldest daughters, Abby and Megan, but as relations sour he starts to doubt the wisdom of past decisions. Imprisoned in a care home in the Lake District with only a demented alcoholic comedian as company, Dunbar starts planning his escape. As he flees into the hills, his family is hot on his heels. But who will find him first, his beloved youngest daughter, Florence, or the tigresses Abby and Megan, so keen to divest him of his estate?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWinter / Ali Smith.
“Winter? Bleak,frosty wind, earth as iron, water as stone, so the old song goes, the shortest days, the longest nights. The trees are bare and shivering. The world shrinks; the sap sinks. But winter makes things visible. And if there’s ice, there’ll be fire. It’s the season that teaches us survival.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

A selection of new graphic novel arrivals

There is some fascinating reading for the holidays in this month’s selection of new graphic novels, with a re-telling of a Jim Thompson classic noir novel, the story of John Lennon in New York, the development of hip hop, and the true story of the kidnapping by terrorist of Christopher Andre, almost twenty years later. The most brilliant cover would go to animator Pieter Coudyzer’s graphic novel Outburst.

Syndetics book coverOutburst / written and illustrated by Pieter Coudyzer ; translated from the Dutch by Peter Mennen.
Outburst is about a man who has a forest inside him. When we meet him, all his limbs end in squeezed branches (or roots) where hands and feet should be. He tells his story, that of a fat, nerdy boy always chosen last for teams and relentlessly bullied, whose only defense is to withdraw within himself. Growth to manhood puts an end to physical abuse but not to ostracism, and he has to take a job that suits him night watchman. Eventually, he experiences an outburst; he now awaits the police or a final decision.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHostage / Guy Delisle ; translated by Helge Dascher.
“How does one survive when all hope is lost? In the middle of the night in 1997, Doctors Without Borders administrator Christophe Andre was kidnapped by armed men and taken away to an unknown destination in the Caucasus region. For three months, Andre was kept handcuffed in solitary confinement, with little to survive on and almost no contact with the outside world. Close to twenty years later, this award-winning cartoonist recounts Andre’s harrowing experience in Hostage, a book that attests to the power of one man’s determination in the face of a hopeless situation.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJim Thompson’s The killer inside me / writer, Devin Faraci ; artist, Vic Malhotra.
“Celebrated crime novelist Jim Thompson’s sinewy, brutal, and beloved novel comes to life in this graphic noir novel. Thompson went where few have dared, giving us a pitch-black glimpse into the evil mind of the American serial killer years before Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy, and Brett Easton Ellis’s American Psycho. Lou Ford is the deputy sheriff of a small unsuspecting Texas town. The worst thing most people can say against him is that he’s a little slow and a little boring. But most people don’t know about the sickness,the sickness that almost got Lou put away when he was younger, the psychosis that is about to surface again.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMy favorite thing is monsters. Book one / Emil Ferris.
“Set against the tumultuous political backdrop of late ’60s Chicago, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is the fictional graphic diary of 10-year-old Karen Reyes, filled with B-movie horror and pulp monster magazines iconography. Karen Reyes tries to solve the murder of her enigmatic upstairs neighbour, Anka Silverberg, a holocaust survivor, while the interconnected stories of those around her unfold. When Karen’s investigation takes us back to Anka’s life in Nazi Germany, the reader discovers how the personal, the political, the past, and the present converge.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLennon : the New York years / adaptation by Corbeyran ; illustration by Horne ; story by Foenkinos ; translated by Ivanka Hahnenberger.
“In 1975 John Lennon moved to New York City, stopped being a Beatle, and started being a father. Though his life was cut tragically short in front of his home by a fan, John Lennon’s forty years on earth changed millions of lives and shaped the course of pop culture. Many know the Beatle, the activist, the man gone balmy over Yoko, but more lies beneath the surface. From the imagined couch of a fictional therapist in NYC’s posh Dakota building, Lennon recounts the many joys, shortcomings, failures, and triumphs that marked this pop culture juggernaut’s rise to superstardom.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFaith / Jody Houser, Francis Portela, Marguerite Sauvage, Andrew Dalhouse.
“Faith Herbert has always wanted to be a superhero, just like the ones in her favorite comic books. When she unlocked her latent psiots powers and joined the Harbinger Renegades she finally had her shot. But now she’s going to see if she’s got what it takes to make it as a solo hero, secret identity and all. By day, she’s a mild-mannered pop-culture blogger, by night she’s L.A.’s leading superhero, the sky-soaring Zephyr. When other young psiots start going missing without a trace all over the City of Angels, it’s going to be up to her to find out why.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCryptocracy / written by Van Jensen ; art by Pete Woods.
“For time beyond memory, the Nine Families watched from the shadows, believing themselves shepherds and manipulating whole societies as they saw fit. Nothing happened that they didn’t observe or control. Outsiders knew naught of the Families, much less threatened them, until now.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverViolenzia : and other deadly amusements / by Richard Sala.
“Is she a brave and reckless heroine taking on a monstrous evil? Or is she a deranged angel of death? One thing is clear: whether she is dropping from a high window into a crowd of red-robed fanatical cultists, or facing down a horde of psychotic hillbillies, you don’t want to get in her way.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMy brother’s husband. Volume 1 / Gengoroh Tagame ; translated from the Japanese by Anne Ishii.
“Yaichi is a work-at-home suburban dad in contemporary Tokyo; formerly married to Natsuki, father to their young daughter, Kana. Their lives suddenly change with the arrival at their doorstep of a hulking, affable Canadian named Mike Flanagan, who declares himself the widower of Yaichi’s estranged gay twin, Ryoji. Mike is on a quest to explore Ryoji’s past, and the family reluctantly but dutifully takes him in. What follows is an unprecedented and heartbreaking look at the state of a largely still-closeted Japanese gay culture: how it’s been affected by the West, and how the next generation can change the preconceptions about it and prejudices against it.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGhetto brother : warrior to peacemaker / Julian Voloj and Claudia Ahlering.
“From the seemingly bombed-out ravages of his neighbourhood, wracked by drugs, poverty and violence, Benjy manages to extract an incredibly positive energy: his gang is multi-racial and peacemaking. Amongst its many accomplishments: weekly concerts on the asphalt of the streets or in abandoned buildings which see the emergence of hip-hop.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

NZ writers feature in our latest ‘other genre’ fiction picks

This is the fourth ‘other genres’ selection featuring New Zealand writers this year. There has been an amazing number of novels from new and well known writers published this year. Included in this month’s selection are two veterans of New Zealand writing Patrick Evans and C. K. Stead, and two debut novelists, Michalia Arathimos and Jonothan Cullinane.

Syndetics book coverAukati / Michalia Arathimos.
“Alexia is a law student escaping the Greek family that stifles her, and Isaiah is a young Maori returning home to find the family he’s lost. Cut loose from their own cultures, they have volunteered to help Isaiah’s Taranaki iwi get rid of the fracking that’s devastating their land and water. The deeper Alexia and Isaiah go into the fight, the closer they get to understand the different worlds they inhabit. But when a protest march becomes violent a boundary is crossed, and they need to decide where they stand and fast. It’s clear the police have been tipped off, and the activists gathered at the marae suspect they’re being watched or, worse, there is an informant in the group. Can Alexia and Isaiah be trusted and can they trust themselves?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTo the white Gate / by Robert Philip Bolton.
“In a park in an antipodean city in the 1930s a teenaged boy starts work as an apprentice nurseryman. It’s an idyllic world, patient and unhurried, with a pace as predictable as the seasons; this is a miniature version of the pre-war colonial empire lying just beyond the park gates. But as secure as the park may seem it can’t protect anyone, least of all Tommy, from the changing world outside. There’s a war coming, an unwanted baby and heartbreaking changes at home. Through all this the park is a constant, a companion, a teacher, a home and a friend. With it he grows, learning wisdom and patience, as the park brings him friendship, love, knowledge and family.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe direction of our fear / David Briggs.
“On a morning commuter train in New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington, the lives of three people briefly intersect. Sally is a 17-year-old, tentatively stepping into womanhood. Brendan is a middle-aged widower, living in the shadow of his wife’s death. Tamas is a Hungarian immigrant, missing his wife and child as he struggles to begin a new life far from home. Meanwhile, in a nondescript building near Dunedin’s Otago University, Farida translates messages for the security services and catches glimpses of a plot that could threaten them all.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRed herring / Jonothan Cullinane.
“In Auckland 1951 the workers and the government are heading for bloody confrontation and the waterfront is the frontline. But this is a war with more than two sides and nothing is what it seems. Into the secret world of rival union politics, dark political agendas and worldwide anti-communist hysteria steps Johnny Molloy, a private detective with secrets of his own. Caitlin O’Carolan, a feisty young reporter, is following her own leads. Together they begin to uncover a conspiracy that goes to the heart of the Establishment – and which will threaten their own lives in the process.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSoldier’s son / by Ian Dodds.
“David sees his father’s World War II 2 ex-soldier macho behavior as being destructive and abusive. When his father gives up alcohol he sees that he could change himself too, and be a more sensitive man than his father has been. When he goes to Teachers College the seventies feminist wave is filtered through his feminist friends. This results in giving him the tools he needed to be the kind of father he wished he’d always had earlier in his life enabling him to be in tune with the roles of husband and father.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSalt picnic / Patrick Evans.
“All the time on the island there had been something she was looking for. She knew she had to keep this in mind, and that she’d know what it was when she found it, whatever it proved to be. It’s 1956 and Iola arrives on the island of Ibiza, on the fringes of Franco’s Spain, with little more than a Spanish phrasebook. Soon she meets a fascinating American photographer who falls in and out of focus: is he really a photographer, and who exactly is the German doctor he keeps asking her about? The mysterious doctor, when he appears, takes Iola for a picnic on a salt island, where she learns how easily the world can be obscured.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSodden downstream / Brannavan Gnanalingam.
“Thousands flee central Wellington as a far too common ‘once in a century’ storm descends. Roads are closed and all rail is halted. For their own safety, city workers are told that they must go home early. Sita is a Tamil Sri Lankan refugee living in the Hutt Valley. She’s just had a call from her boss. If she doesn’t get to her cleaning job in the city she’ll lose her contract. This novel charts the help and hindrances that make for a long, damp evening. But the book also highlights the kinds of care and solidarity that come out in times of need.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBaby / Annaleese Jochems
“Cynthia is twenty-one, bored and desperately waiting for something big to happen when her bootcamp instructor, the striking Anahera, suggests they run away together. With stolen money and a dog in tow they buy ‘Baby’, an old boat docked in the Bay of Islands, where Cynthia dreams they will live in a state of love. But there is an intruder waiting to upset Cynthia’s plans and when a trip to an island utopia goes horribly wrong, a rot sets in on their relationship.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe necessary angel / C. K. Stead.
“A beautifully written, carefully observed novel that takes you to the heart of contemporary Paris and into a world of books and witty conversation. It can be read on many levels, as a story of people grappling with love and fidelity; as a story about the importance of books in everyday life; as a commentary on living in complex modern-day Europe; and as a page-turning mystery.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOperation Iran / Brian Wilson.
“The CIA have a double agent leaking secrets to the Chinese. In an attempt to identify the double agent, Adam Brown, a senior CIA operative disappears leading to speculation and confusion, which is added to when Frank, a world renowned physicist becomes involved.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New contemporary fiction featuring Aussie award winners

This month’s selection of new contemporary fiction show cases the best latest works from several well-known, much acclaimed writers. There are three debut authors, whose novels have been much praised. Also two award winning Australian writers, Man Booker Prize winner Richard Flanagan and this year’s Miles Franklin Literary Award winner Josephine Wilson. These come highly recommended, as do all the novels in this selection.

Syndetics book coverFirst person / Richard Flanagan.
“A young and penniless writer, Kif Kehlmann, is rung in the middle of the night by the notorious con man and corporate criminal, Siegfried Heidl. About to go to trial for defrauding the banks of $700 million, Heidl proposes a deal, $10,000 for Kehlmann to ghost write his memoir in six weeks. But as the writing gets under way, Kehlmann begins to fear that he is being corrupted by Heidl. As the deadline draws closer, he becomes ever more unsure if he is ghost writing a memoir, or if Heidl is rewriting him, his life, his future. Everything that was certain grows uncertain as he begins to wonder, who is Siegfried Heidl and who is Kif Kehlmann?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMunich / Robert Harris ; [map by Gemma Fowlie].
“September 1938 Hitler is determined to start a war. Chamberlain is desperate to preserve the peace. The issue is to be decided in a city that will forever afterwards be notorious for what takes place there. Munich. As Chamberlain’s plane judders over the Channel and the Fuhrer’s train steams relentlessly south from Berlin, two young men travel with secrets of their own. Hugh Legat is one of Chamberlain’s private secretaries; Paul Hartmann a German diplomat and member of the anti-Hitler resistance. Great friends at Oxford before Hitler came to power; they haven’t seen one another since they were last in Munich six years earlier. Now, as the future of Europe hangs in the balance, their paths are destined to cross again. When the stakes are this high, who are you willing to betray, your friends, your family, your country or your conscience?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAffections / Rodrigo Hasbún ; translated by Sophie Hughes.
“The eccentric, fascinating Ertl clan, headed by the egocentric and extraordinary Hans, was once the cameraman for the Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl. Shortly after the end of World War II, Hans and his family flee to Bolivia to start over. There, the ever-restless Hans decides to embark on an expedition in search of the fabled lost Inca city of Paititi, enlisting two of his daughters to join him on his outlandish quest into the depths of the Amazon, with disastrous consequences.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStandard deviation / Katherine Heiny.
“Graham Cavanaugh’s second wife, Audra, is everything his first wife was not. She considers herself privileged to live in the age of the hair towel, talks non-stop through her epidural, labour and delivery, invites the doorman to move in and the eccentric members of their son’s Origami Club to Thanksgiving. She is charming and spontaneous and fun but life with her can be exhausting.In the midst of the day-to-day difficulties and delights of marriage and raising a child with Asperger’s, his first wife, Elspeth, reenters Graham’s life. Former spouses are hard to categorize, are they friends, enemies, old flames, or just people who know you really, really well? Graham starts to wonder: How can anyone love two such different women? Did he make the right choice? Is there a right choice?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverElmet / Fiona Mozley.
“Daniel is heading north. He is looking for someone. The simplicity of his early life with Daddy and Cathy has turned menacing and fearful. They lived apart in the house that Daddy built for them in the woods with his bare hands. They foraged and hunted. Cathy was more like their father: fierce and full of simmering anger. Daniel was more like their mother: gentle and kind. Sometimes their father disappeared, and would return with a rage in his eyes. But when he was at home, he was at peace. He told them that the little copse in Elmet was theirs alone. But that wasn’t true. Local men, greedy and watchful, began to circle like vultures. All the while, the terrible violence in Daddy grew.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverActs of vanishing / Fredrik T. Olsson, translation by Michael Gallagher.
“It was ten past four on the afternoon of the third of December. Everything was darkness and ink, and the snow falling turned to water. Through it ran Sara Sandberg, the girl who was about to die, and somewhere in the cold, lead-grey hell that was Stockholm was a man who called himself her father. In her rucksack, she had a warning for him. Now whether he would receive it or not was all down to her.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMan with a seagull on his head / by Harriet Paige.
“Under the intense summer sun on the Essex coast a gull falls from the sky and strikes an unassuming local council worker sitting on the beach below. From that moment on he is obsessed, a crazed visionary repeatedly depicting the scene and the unknown figure within in it which filled his view at the moment of impact. The mysterious beauty of his creations draws others to him but can they lay hold of that which possesses him and what of his anonymous muse?”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe last hours / Minette Walters ; [maps by Janet Hunt].
“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. The Church cites God as the cause, and religious fear grips the people as they come to believe that the plague is a punishment for wickedness. But Lady Anne of Develish has her own ideas. With her brutal husband absent from Develish when news of this pestilence reaches her, she takes the decision to look for more sensible ways to protect her people than daily confessions of sin. The people of Develish are alive but for how long and what will they discover when the time comes for them to cross the moat?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverExtinctions / Josephine Wilson.
“Professor Frederick Lothian, retired engineer, world expert on concrete, and connoisseur of modernist design, has quarantined himself from life by moving to a retirement village. His wife, Martha, is dead and his two adult children are lost to him in their own ways. Surrounded and obstructed by the debris of his life-objects he has collected over many years and tells himself he is keeping for his daughter, he is determined to be miserable. When a series of unfortunate incidents forces him and his neighbour, Jan, together, he begins to realise the damage done by the accumulation of a lifetime’s secrets and lies, and to comprehend his own shortcomings. Finally, Frederick Lothian has the opportunity to build something meaningful for the ones he loves.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)