“Mine is a gruesome job, but for a scientist with a love for the mechanics of the human body, a great one.” – Judy Melinek

“Mine is a gruesome job, but for a scientist with a love for the mechanics of the human body, a great one.”

― Judy Melinek, Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner

Recently we had the great pleasure of hosting a crime writers’ panel event at our Newtown branch (if you missed it, have no fear – you can watch it below). Amongst our fabulous panel we had husband and wife crime-writing duo T. J. Mitchell and Judy Melinek. So it is fabulous to see in this month’s selection of newly-acquired crime fiction Aftershock, the latest book from the couple which features their forensic sleuth Dr. Jessie Teska.

We have a whole selection of other detective and mystery novels, including the wonderful Paul Cleave, Anna Bailey (a chilling new voice who is gathering rave reviews and definitely an author to check out), and Jane Adam’s historical whodunnit Old Sins, set in the 1920’s and featuring Scotland Yard’s Chief Inspector Henry Johnstone (if you are a fan of the golden age of crime writers this will definitely be of interest).

Below are these and a few other picks from our recently acquired titles.

Aftershock / Melinek, Judy
“There’s a body crushed under a load of pipes on a San Francisco construction site, and medical examiner Dr. Jessie Teska is on call. Her autopsy reveals that the death is a homicide staged as an accident. When an earthquake sends the city reeling, her case falls apart and an innocent man is being framed. Jessie is the only one who can prove it– if she can piece together the truth before it gets buried in the rubble.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The quiet people / Cleave, Paul
“Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are successful crime-writers. They have been on the promotional circuit, joking that no-one knows how to get away with crime like they do. After all, they write about it for a living. So when their 7 year old son Zach goes missing, naturally the police and the public wonder if they have finally decided to prove what they have been saying all this time – are they trying to show how they can commit the perfect crime?” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook. 

Old sins / Adams, Jane
“1929. The discovery of the bodies of two retired policemen, Walter Cole and Hayden Paul, sounds warning bells to DCI Henry Johnstone. Both men were experiencing financial difficulties, and their deaths were staged to look like suicides. Hayden left a note containing two words: old sins. And when Henry attends his sister’s Halloween party, he is approached by a flamenco dancer who leaves a note with the name of another man. Could this be a grim warning?Henry is forced on a painful journey back to an old case he worked on with Cole and Paul.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Tall bones / Bailey, Anna
“When seventeen-year-old Emma leaves her best friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes, that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, but Emma will never see her friend again. Abi’s disappearance cracks open the facade of the small town of Whistling Ridge. Even within Abi’s family, there are questions to be asked.  Anything could happen in Whistling Ridge, this tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark – the truth of what really happened that night out at the Tall Bones….” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Murder ink / Hechtman, Betty
“Veronica Blackstone is a writer for hire. Be it love letters, biographies, resumes or wedding vows, Veronica has you covered. Her latest assignment is writing a celebration of life book for the funeral of one-time client Rachel Ross who tragically died one year after her wedding. While researching Rachel’s life, Veronica finds the information surrounding the circumstances of her death to be shrouded in mystery. No one quite knows what happened and her prominent family are more concerned with their image than the truth. Was her fall an accident, deliberate or something else? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Becoming Inspector Chen / Qiu, Xiaolong
“After a number of grueling cases Chief Inspector Chen is facing mounting pressure from his superiors, many of whom are concerned with where his loyalties lie. What’s more, he is excluded from an investigation into an incendiary poem posted on an online forum. Wracked with self-doubt and facing an anxious wait to discover the fate of his career, Chen is left to reflect on the events that have led to where he is now – from his amateur investigations as a child during the Cultural Revolution, to his very first case on the Shanghai Police Force. Has fighting for the Chinese people and the morals he believes in put him in conflict with the Party? Why is he being kept away from the new case? As well as his career, is his life now also at risk?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

On an outgoing tide / Ramsay, Caro
“The body is found in the early hours of the morning, drifting lifelessly on the outgoing tide. Twenty-three-year-old medical student Aasha Ariti had been enjoying a night out to celebrate the end of lockdown. Anthony Poole, the last person to have seen her alive, is the prime suspect. Before detectives Anderson and Costello can make further headway, they are pulled off the case to investigate the murder of a pensioner in his own home. As they dig deeper however, the two detectives uncover a number of secrets in the dead man’s past. Secrets that link to another murder more than forty years before. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Blood grove / Mosley, Walter
“After being approached by a shell-shocked Vietnam War veteran who claims to have gotten into a fight protecting a white woman from a black man, Easy embarks on an investigation that takes him from mountaintops to the desert, through South Central and into sex clubs and the homes of the fabulously wealthy, facing hippies, the mob, and old friends perhaps more dangerous than anyone else.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Please, sir, I want some more? New fiction additions in May

Please, sir, I want some more

Charles Dickens from Oliver Twist

Below you’ll find some of our picks of the newly added fiction titles, including a timely modern-day reimagining by Keisha Bush of Charles Dickens’ Oliver TwistNo heaven for Good Boys, set in Senegal. Drawn from real life events, the novel, like its inspiration, explores the links between extreme poverty, cruelty and exploitation and the power of small, tender acts of kindness. It’s all very unsurprisingly Dickensian and sadly shows that whilst time moves on, in many ways human cruelty will always be there — a poignant and moving work.

Other highlights this month include The Great British Bake Off’s Mel Giedroyc‘s debut novel — The best things — about a family who lose everything financially only in turn to find themselves. The book is  loosely based on Mel’s own personal experiences. Also this month on our list is bestselling author Mike Gayle’s latest outing — All the lonely people — which looks set to be another very popular book from  the author of Turning forty.

Brother sister mother explorer : a novel / Figueroa, Jamie
“In the tourist town of Ciudad de Tres Hermanas, in the aftermath of their mother’s passing, two siblings spend a final weekend together in their childhood home. Seeing her brother, Rafa, careening toward a place of no return, Rufina devises a bet: if they can make enough money performing for privileged tourists in the plaza over the course of the weekend to afford a plane ticket out, Rafa must commit to living. If not, Rufina will make her peace with Rafa’s own plan for the future, however terrifying it may be. As the siblings reckon with generational and ancestral trauma, set against the indignities of present-day prejudice, other strange hauntings begin to stalk these pages: their mother’s ghost kicks her heels against the walls; Rufina’s vanished child creeps into her arms at night; and above all this, watching over the siblings, a genderless, flea-bitten angel remains hell-bent on saving what can be saved.” (Catalogue)

The best things / Giedroyc, Mel
“Sally Parker is struggling to find the hero inside herself. All she wants to do is lie down. Her husband Frank has lost his business, their home and their savings, in one fell swoop. Their bank cards are being declined. The children have gone feral. And now the bailiffs are at the door. What does an ordinary woman do when the bottom falls out? Sally Parker is about to surprise everybody, most of all herself.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

All the lonely people / Gayle, Mike
“In weekly phone calls to his daughter in Australia, widower Hubert Bird paints a picture of the perfect retirement, packed with fun, friendship and fulfilment. But Hubert Bird is lying. The truth is day after day drags by without him seeing a single soul. Until, that is, he receives some good news – good news that in one way turns out to be the worst news ever, news that will force him out again, into a world he has long since turned his back on. Now Hubert faces a seemingly impossible task: to make his real life resemble his fake life before the truth comes out.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The vanishing half / Bennett, Brit
“The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

No heaven for good boys : a novel / Bush, Keisha
“Six-year-old Ibrahimah loves snatching pastries from his mother’s kitchen, harvesting string beans with his father, and searching for sea glass with his sisters. But when he is approached in his rural village one day by Marabout Ahmed, a seemingly kind stranger and highly regarded teacher, the tides of his life turn forever. Ibrahimah is sent to the capital city of Dakar to join his cousin Tienne in studying the Koran under Marabout Ahmed for a year, but instead of the days of learning that Ibrahimah’s parents imagine, the young boys, called Talib, are forced to beg in the streets in order to line their teacher’s pockets. To make it back home, Tienne and Ibrahimah must help each other survive both the dangers posed by their Marabout, and the darker sides of Dakar: threats of black-market organ traders, rival packs of Talib, and mounting student protest on the streets. Drawn from real incidents and transporting readers between rural and urban Senegal.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Continue reading “Please, sir, I want some more? New fiction additions in May”

New science fiction and fantasy titles

I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.

Robert Louis Stevenson

This month’s science fiction and fantasy showcase features five-time Nebula award-winner Greg Bear‘s latest epic historical fantasy novel, The unfinished land, which evokes the seafaring spirit of Robert Louis Stevenson’s work. Also included this month is The burning god — the fantastic finale to R. F. Kuang’s acclaimed Poppy war trilogy, partly inspired by 20th century Chinese history. On a much stranger and weirder note, Nino Cipri’s Finna sees carnivorous furniture running amok and elderly customers slipping through portals in a box furniture store to find themselves ending up in other dimensions. And if Finna is your cup of tea, you should also try Grady Hendrix’s Horrorstör. Have a browse of these and other exciting new titles below!

The unfinished land / Bear, Greg
“Reynard, a young apprentice, seeks release from drudgery in the English village of Southwold. His rare days off lead him to strange encounters — not just with press gangs hoping to fill English ships to fight the coming Spanish Armada, but strangers who seem to know him — one of whom casts a white shadow. And after a fierce battle at sea, Reynard finds himself the sole survivor. For days he drifts, until he is rescued by a galleon, also lost– both are propelled by a strange current to the unknown northern island of Thule. Here Reynard must meet his destiny in a violent clash between humans and gods.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The burning god / Kuang, R. F.
“After saving her nation of Nikan from foreign invaders and battling the evil Empress Su Daji in a brutal civil war, Fang Runin was betrayed by allies and left for dead. Despite her losses, Rin hasn’t given up on those for whom she has sacrificed so much – the people of the southern provinces and especially Tikany, the village that is her home. Returning to her roots, Rin meets difficult challenges – and unexpected opportunities. While her new allies in the Southern Coalition leadership are sly and untrustworthy, Rin quickly realizes that the real power in Nikan lies with the millions of common people who thirst for vengeance and revere her as a goddess of salvation.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Finna / Cipri, Nino
“When an elderly customer at a Swedish big box furniture store — but not that one — slips through a portal to another dimension, it’s up to two minimum-wage employees to track her across the multiverse and protect their company’s bottom line. Multi-dimensional swashbuckling would be hard enough, but those two unfortunate souls broke up a week ago. To find the missing granny, Ava and Jules will brave carnivorous furniture, swarms of identical furniture spokespeople, and the deep resentment simmering between them. Can friendship blossom from the ashes of their relationship? In infinite dimensions, all things are possible.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Horrorstor, Grady Hendrix (ebook)
Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.
To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

The mask of mirrors / Carrick, M. A.
“Renata Virdaux is a con artist who has come to the sparkling city of Nadezra — the city of dreams — with one goal: to trick her way into a noble house and secure her fortune and her sister’s future.But as she’s drawn into the aristocratic world of House Traementis, she realises her masquerade is just one of many surrounding her. And as corrupted magic begins to weave its way through Nadezra, the poisonous feuds of its aristocrats and the shadowy dangers of its impoverished underbelly become tangled — with Ren at their heart.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The bone maker : a novel / Durst, Sarah Beth
“Twenty-five years ago, five heroes risked their lives to defeat the bone maker Eklor — a corrupt magician who created an inhuman army using animal bones. But victory came at a tragic price. Only four of the heroes survived. Since then, Kreya, the group’s leader, has exiled herself to a remote tower and devoted herself to one purpose: resurrecting her dead husband.  Maybe the dead don’t rest in peace after all. Five warriors — one broken, one gone soft, one pursuing a simple life, one stuck in the past, and one who should dead. Their story should have been finished. But evil doesn’t stop just because someone once said, “the end.”” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Remote control / Okorafor, Nnedi
“The day Fatima forgot her name, Death paid a visit. From hereon in she would be known as Sankofa—-a name that meant nothing to anyone but her, the only tie to her family and her past. Her touch is death, and with a glance a town can fall. And she walks–alone, except for her fox companion–searching for the object that came from the sky and gave itself to her when the meteors fell and when she was yet unchanged; searching for answers. But is there a greater purpose for Sankofa, now that Death is her constant companion? ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The swimmers / Womack, Marian
“After the ravages of the Green Winter, Earth is a place of deep jungles and monstrous animals. The last of the human race is divided into surface dwellers and the people who live in the Upper Settlement, a ring perched at the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere. Bearing witness to this divided planet is Pearl, a young techie with a thread of shuvani blood, who lives in the isolated forests of Gobari, navigating her mad mother and the strange blue light in the sky. But Pearl’s stepfather promises her to a starborn called Arlo, and the world Pearl thought she knew will never be the same again.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Upright women wanted / Gailey, Sarah
“Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her — a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda. The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing. A good old-fashioned horse opera for the 22nd century. Gunslinger librarians of the apocalypse are on a mission to spread public health, decency, and the revolution” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Gothic Revival: our selection of modern gothic novels

“Our ways are not your ways, and there shall be to you many strange things. Listen to them — children of the night. What music they make”
– Dracula referring to the howling of the wolves to Jonathan Harker.

The 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole is commonly regarded as the first ever Gothic novel and since then the genre, defined by heightened emotional states, pleasurable terror, elements of romanticism and often containing one or several of the following elements: churchyards, coffins, graveyards, skeletons or ghosts, has had enduring popularity. Some of the most iconic, popular, and influential books of all time are encompassed in its arms such as Dracula, Northanger Abbey, Rebecca Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde to name but a few. This popularity has endured and below is our very small collection of modern gothic novels for your delight, edification and to chill your blood and freeze your soul.

Beloved / Morrison, Toni
“Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has borne the unthinkable and not gone mad, yet she is still held captive by memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Meanwhile Sethe’s house has long been troubled by the angry, destructive ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Sethe works at beating back the past, but it makes itself heard and felt incessantly in her memory and in the lives of those around her.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Fledgling : a novel / Butler, Octavia E
“An apparently young, amnesiac girl whose alarmingly un-human needs and abilities lead her to a startling conclusion: she is in fact a genetically modified, 53-year-old vampire.  Forced to discover what she can about her stolen former life, she must at the same time learn who wanted–and still wants–to destroy her and those she cares for, and how she can save herself. Fledgling is a captivating novel that tests the limits of otherness and questions what it means to be truly human.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

Mexican gothic / Moreno-Garcia, Silvia
“Lovecraft meets the Bronte’s in Latin America.” After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noem Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. There are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noem digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness. And Noem , mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The night circus : a novel / Morgenstern, Erin
“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. And it is only open at night. But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway–a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The shadow of the wind / Ruiz Zafón, Carlos
Hidden in the heart of the old city of Barcelona is the ‘Cemetery of Lost Books’, a labyrinthine library of obscure and forgotten titles that have long gone out of print. To this library, a man brings his 10-year-old son Daniel one cold morning in 1945. Daniel is allowed to choose one book from the shelves and pulls out ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ by Julian Carax. But as he grows up, several people seem inordinately interested in his find. Then, one night, as he is wandering the old streets once more, Daniel is approached by a figure who reminds him of a character from the book, a character who turns out to be the devil. This man is tracking down every last copy of Carax’s work in order to burn them.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell / Clarke, Susanna
The year is 1806. England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon, and centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation’s past. But scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains- the reclusive Mr Norrell whose displays of magic send a thrill through the country. Proceeding to London, he raises a beautiful woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of another magician- the brilliant novice Jonathan Strange. Young, handsome and daring, Strange is the very opposite of Norrell. So begins a dangerous battle between these two great men which overwhelms the one between England and France. And their own obsessions and secret dabblings with the dark arts are going to cause more trouble than they can imagine.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of leaves / Danielewski, Mark Z
“A blind old man, a young apprentice working in a tattoo shop, and a mad woman haunting an Ohio institute narrate this story of a family that encounters an endlessly shifting series of hallways in their new home, eventually coming face to face with the awful darkness lying at its heart. Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility, until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story — of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams.” (Catalogue)

The secret history / Tartt, Donna
“Donna Tartt’s The Secret History is the original American campus novel. When Richard Papen joins an elite group of clever misfits at his New England college, it seems he can finally become the person he wants to be. But the moral boundaries he will cross with his new friends – and the deaths they are responsible for – will change all of their lives forever. The Secret History recounts the terrible price we pay for mistakes made on the dark journey to adulthood.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Our selection of newly acquired Science Fiction and fantasy books for March

“Sourdough is basically an edible Tamagotchi.”
– Meik Wiking, The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well
(Click here for availability of title).

Over the course of lockdown many of us discovered the magical powers of baking, but what if your baking was actually magical and you could make gingerbread people dance? Well, this is the fun and quirky premise of A wizard’s guide to defensive baking by T Kingfisher, a fantasy novel where Mona, the book’s protagonist, has to defend her embattled city using her unique magical powers. Other recently acquired titles include Samantha Shannon’s The Mask Falling, the very welcome release of Octavia E Butler’s Clay’s Ark,  the much-anticipated latest work from Lovecraft Country author Matt Ruff 88 names and Dealbreaker by L.X. Beckett, which should appeal to fans of Star Trek and Neuromancer.

A wizard’s guide to defensive baking / Kingfisher, T
“Fourteen-year-old Mona isn’t like the wizards charged with defending the city. She can’t control lightning or speak to water. Her familiar is a sourdough starter and her magic only works on bread. She has a comfortable life in her aunt’s bakery making gingerbread men dance. But Mona’s life is turned upside down when she finds a dead body on the bakery floor. An assassin is stalking the streets of Mona’s city, preying on magic folk, and it appears that Mona is his next target. And in an embattled city suddenly bereft of wizards, the assassin may be the least of Mona’s worries…” (Catalogue)

Fireheart tiger / Bodard, Aliette de
“Thanh is royalty in a beleaguered nation of scattered provinces pressured on all sides. The daughter of ancestors armed with swords and courage, she was fostered in a foreign capital to seal an alliance, and returned–to her powerful mother’s disappointment–quiet and thoughtful instead of brash and confident. Propped up by the guns and silver of Ephteria, a far more powerful empire, her country is losing the game of power. In Eldris, an Ephterian princess, Thanh finds both romance and intoxicating risk. Eldris may desire her, but she doesn’t respect what Thanh holds dear.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The mask falling / Shannon, Samantha
“Dreamwalker Paige Mahoney has eluded death again. Snatched from the jaws of captivity and consigned to a safe house in the Scion Citadel of Paris, she finds herself caught between those factions that seek Scion’s downfall and those who would kill to protect the Rephaim’s puppet empire. The mysterious Domino Program has plans for Paige, but she has ambitions of her own in this new citadel. With Arcturus Mesarthim-her former enemy-at her side, she embarks on an adventure that will lead her from the catacombs of Paris to the glittering hallways of Versailles. ” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Dealbreaker / Beckett, L. X
“Rubi Whiting has done the impossible. She has proved that humanity deserves a seat at the galactic table. Well, at least a shot at a seat. Having convinced the galactic governing body that mankind deserves a chance at fixing their own problems, Rubi has done her part to launch the planet into a new golden age of scientific discovery and technological revolution. However, there are still those in the galactic community that think that humanity is too poisonous, too greedy, to be allowed in, and they will stop at nothing to sabotage a species determined to pull itself up.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Clay’s ark / Butler, Octavia E
“In an alternate America marked by volatile class warfare, Blake Maslin is traveling with his teenage twin daughters when their car is ambushed. Their attackers appear sickly yet possess inhuman strength, and they transport Blake’s family to an isolated compound. There, the three captives discover that the compound’s residents have a highly contagious alien disease that has mutated their DNA to make them powerful, dangerous, and compelled to infect others. If Blake and his daughters do not escape, they will be infected with a virus that will either kill them outright or transform them into outcasts whose very existence is a threat to the world around them.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

We could be heroes / Chen, Mike
Jamie woke up in an empty apartment with no memory and only a few clues to his identity, but with the ability to read and erase other people’s memories–a power he uses to hold up banks to buy coffee, cat food and books. Zoe is also searching for her past, and using her abilities of speed and strength. When the archrivals meet in a memory-loss support group, they realize the only way to reveal their hidden pasts might be through each other. As they uncover an ongoing threat, suddenly much more is at stake than their fragile friendship.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Beyond Kuiper : the galactic star alliance. Part one Volume one. / Medney, Matthew
“If our galaxy is so full of sentient life, why has no one said hello? We thought of a simple, logical reason: no one wants to. We possess extremely short memories and long grudges, and the likelihood of receiving alien tools to hasten our expansion seems downright foolhardy. The Galactic Star Alliance has been alive and well for millions of earth years. Hundreds of thousands of sentient worlds and trillions of beings walk, run, and crawl across the many home worlds of the Alliance. This revelation led to many questions. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A history of what comes next / Neuvel, Sylvain
Always run, never fight. Preserve the knowledge. Survive at all costs.
Take them to the stars. Over 99 identical generations, Mia’s family has shaped human history to push them to the stars, making brutal, wrenching choices and sacrificing countless lives. Her turn comes at the dawn of the age of rocketry. Her mission: to lure Wernher Von Braun away from the Nazi party and into the American rocket program, and secure the future of the space race. But Mia’s family is not the only group pushing the levers of history: an even more ruthless enemy lurks behind the scenes. ” (Catalogue)

88 names : a novel / Ruff, Matt
“John Chu is a “sherpa”–a paid guide to online role-playing games like the popular Call to Wizardry. For a fee, he and his crew will provide you with a top-flight character. Chu’s new client, the pseudonymous Mr. Jones, claims to be a “wealthy, famous person” with powerful enemies, and he’s offering a ridiculous amount of money for a comprehensive tour of the world of virtual-reality gaming.  What begins as a whirlwind online adventure soon spills over into the real world. Chu must use every trick and resource at his disposal to stay one step ahead–because in real life, there is no reset button.” (Catalogue)

Prophetic Science Fiction Novels

” Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition.”
Isaac Asimov

Science fiction has always had an element to it that is about providing ways to explore the issues and problems that dominate our present but in an imaginative fiction laboratory context.  However, another aspect of science fiction is how it endeavours to look into our future and predict what it may hold.  And some works have proved to be almost perfect crystal balls predicting the future with such uncanny accuracy that readers might suspect that the authors might own their own time machines.

For example, William Gibson’s Neuromancer foresaw and coined the term cyberspace, plus developments in AI, virtual reality, hacker culture and a whole host of other now common sciences and cultural phenomena. Other authors have predicted climate change, overpopulation and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World predicted modern antidepressants, social conditioning, and even reproductive technology.

And going way back to the book that arguably spawned all modern-day science fiction Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. Frankenstein talks about limb transplants, organ regeneration as well as the dangers of run-away technology hundreds of years before they existed in reality.  Below are just a few prophetic science fictions works we have available to borrow, including the remarkable recent and chilling The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson.

Neuromancer / Gibson, William
“Before the Internet was commonplace, William Gibson showed us the Matrix–a world within the world, the representation of every byte of data in cyberspace. Henry Dorsett Case was the sharpest data-thief in the Matrix, until an ex-employer crippled his nervous system. Now a new employer has recruited him for a last-chance run against an unthinkably powerful artificial intelligence. With a mirror-eyed girl street-samurai riding shotgun, he’s ready for the silicon-quick, bleakly prophetic adventure that upped the ante on an entire genre of fiction.” (Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

 

Brave new world / Huxley, Aldous
“Brave New World remains absolutely relevant to this day as both a cautionary dystopian tale in the vein of the George Orwell classic 1984, and as thought-provoking, thoroughly satisfying entertainment. Far in the future, the World Controllers have created the ideal society. Through genetic engineering, brainwashing and recreational sex and drugs all its members are happy consumers. Bernard Marx seems alone in feeling discontent, harbouring an ill-defined longing to break free. A visit to one of the few remaining Savage Reservations, where the old, imperfect life still continues, may be the cure for his distress.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The ministry for the future / Robinson, Kim Stanley
The Ministry for the Future is a masterpiece of the imagination, using fictional eyewitness accounts to tell the story of how climate change will affect us all. Its setting is not a desolate, post apocalyptic world, but a future that is almost upon us–and in which we might just overcome the extraordinary challenges we face. It is a novel both immediate and impactful, desperate and hopeful in equal measure, and it is one of the most powerful and original books on climate change ever written. ” (Catalogue)

Frankenstein,or The modern Prometheus / Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft
“Victor Frankenstein, a gifted medical student, has discovered the secret of bringing dead matter to life. Gathering materials from graveyards and slaughterhouses, he creates a giant of superhuman strength. But he is horrified by what he has done, and runs away. How will the creature react to being left alone in the world by his creator? The book  has fascinated readers ever since it was first published in 1818.” (Catalogue) Also available the classic 1931 James Whale film  adaptation.

I, robot / Asimov, Isaac
“Earth is ruled by master-machines but the Three Laws of Robotics have been designed to ensure humans maintain the upper hand: 1) A robot may not injure a human being or allow a human being to come to harm, 2) A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. But what happens when a rogue robot’s idea of what is good for society contravenes the Three Laws?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The shape of things to come : the ultimate revolution / Wells, H. G.
“A prescient look at mankind’s future. When Dr. Philip Raven, an intellectual working for the League of Nations, dies in 1930, he leaves behind a powerful legacy – an unpublished ‘dream book’. Inspired by visions he has experienced for many years, it appears to be a book written far into the future: a history of humanity from the date of his death up to 2105. The Shape of Things to Come provides this ‘history of the future’, an account that was in some ways remarkably prescient – predicting climatic disaster and sweeping cultural changes, including a second world war, the rise of chemical warfare and political instabilities in the Middle East.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

1984 / Orwell, George
“To Winston Smith, a young man who works in the Ministry of Truth (Minitru for short), come two people who transform his life completely. One is Julia, whom he meets after she hands him a slip reading, “I love you.” The other is O’Brien, who tells him, “We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.” The way in which Winston is betrayed by the one and, against his own desires and instincts, ultimately betrays the other, makes a story of mounting drama and suspense. ” (Catalogue) Also available is the 1984  film  adaptation.

The left hand of darkness / Le Guin, Ursula K.
“When the human ambassador Genly Ai is sent to Gethen, the planet known as Winter by those outsiders who have experienced its arctic climate, he thinks that his mission will be a standard one of making peace between warring factions. Instead the ambassador finds himself wildly unprepared. For Gethen is inhabited by a society with a rich, ancient culture full of strange beauty and deadly intrigue – a society of people who are both male and female in one, and neither. This lack of fixed gender, and the resulting lack of gender-based discrimination, is the very cornerstone of Gethen life. But Genly is all too human. Unless he can overcome his ingrained prejudices about the significance of “male” and “female,” he may destroy both his mission and himself.” (Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook .

“Whose Body ?” – The birth and origin of the detective novel.

“Excellent!” I cried. “Elementary,” said he.”

-Arthur Conan Doyle, The Complete Sherlock Holmes

When and where did the detective novel first originate? Well, the answer to this question is unclear but the suspects may surprise you.

Several stories in the Old Testament have detective story elements; for example, the story of Susanna and the Elders, where a falsely-accused woman escapes death after her accusers reveal their lies, could be regarded as a detective tale . Certainly, the Greek classic Oedipus Rex is about the investigations around the murder of King Laius. Early Arabic fiction also has several detective stories and there are several examples in One Thousand and One Nights.

Thirteenth-century Chinese fiction had a whole genre of detective fiction with the Yan Dynasty story ‘Circle of Chalk’ being but one example. Interestingly most of the surviving examples use the inverted detective story format, where the murderer is revealed at the start.

The earliest examples in western literature include Voltaire’s Zadig , Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue and Louisa May Alcott’s V.V: Plots and Counterplots. Works by Wilkie Collins, such as The Woman in White and Dicken’s Bleak House have detective fiction elements. By the time Arthur Conan Doyle starts putting pen to paper, we are about to enter what is now described as the Golden Age of the detective novel – and by that time, the genre has already had a long and illustrious history.

Greek Tragedy / Euripides
“Agamemnon is the first part of the Aeschylus’s Orestian trilogy in which the leader of the Greek army returns from the Trojan war to be murdered by his treacherous wife Clytemnestra. In Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex the king sets out to uncover the cause of the plague that has struck his city, only to discover the devastating truth about his relationship with his mother and his father. Medea is the terrible story of a woman’s bloody revenge on her adulterous husband through the murder of her own children.” (Catalogue)

One thousand and one nights : a retelling / al-Shaykh, Hanan
“Lebanese author al-Shaykh here translates 19 of the stories told by young queen Shahrazad. Gathered and passed down over the centuries from India, Persia, and across the Arab world, the mesmerizing stories of “One Thousand and One Nights” tell of the real and the supernatural, love and marriage, power and punishment, wealth and poverty, and the endless trials and uncertainties of fate. They are related by the beautiful, wise, young Shahrazad, who gives herself up to murderous King Shahrayar.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Candide and other stories / Voltaire
“Candide is the most famous of Voltaire’s ‘philosophical tales’, in which he combined witty improbabilities with the sanest of good sense. This edition includes four other prose tales – Micromegas, Zadig, The Ingênu, and The White Bull – and a verse tale based on Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath’s Tale, What Pleases the Ladies. The spirit of satire flourished during the Enlightenment, and its crowning achievement was Voltaire’s Candide. It follows the worldwide encounters – with shipwrecks, earthquakes, pestilence and human insanity – of its hero and his absurd tutor, Dr Pangloss.” (Catalogue)

The rivals of Sherlock Holmes : the greatest detective stories: 1837-1914
“If “Rue Morgue” was the first true detective story in English, the title of the first full-length detective novel is more hotly contested. Two books by Wilkie Collins–The Woman in White (1859) and The Moonstone (1868)–are often given that honor, with the latter showing many of the features that came to identify the genre: a locked-room murder in an English country house; bungling local detectives outmatched by a brilliant amateur detective; a large cast of suspects and a plethora of red herrings; and a final twist before the truth is revealed. Others point to Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s The Trail of the Serpent (1861) or Aurora Floyd (1862), and others still to The Notting Hill Mystery (1862-3) by the pseudonymous “Charles Felix.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The complete Edgar Allan Poe tales. / Poe, Edgar Allan
“Including Ligeia —  The devil in the belfry —  The fall of the house of Usher  — The murders in the Rue morgue — A descent into the maelström — The island of the fay — The colloquy of Monos and Una — Never bet the Devil your head —  The masque of the red death — The pit and the pendulum — The tell-tale heart — The gold-bug — The black cat —  The premature burial — The oblong box — The Sphinx — The cask of Amontillado — “(Adapted from Catalogue)

 

The woman in white / Collins, Wilkie
“This mystery story first appeared in 1860 and tells of a plot to illegally obtain the inheritance of the heroine of the novel.  The Woman in White is one of the most eerily thrilling melodramas of the Victorian age. This gripping dramatization of Wilkie Collins’s gothic tale of love, greed and insanity opens in a London courtroom, where the main characters are testifying about the mysterious death of heiress Laura Fairlie. William Hope stars as drawing teacher Walter Hartwright, who aids a ghostly woman, dressed all in white, only to be struck by her strange resemblance to the beautiful Laura. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Bleak House / Dickens, Charles
Bleak House opens in the twilight of foggy London, where fog grips the city most densely in the Court of Chancery. The obscure case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, in which an inheritance is gradually devoured by legal costs, the romance of Esther Summerson and the secrets of her origin, the sleuthing of Detective Inspector Bucket and the fate of Jo the crossing-sweeper, these are some of the lives Dickens invokes to portray London society, rich and poor, as no other novelist has done.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The moonstone / Collins, Wilkie
“The Moonstone – a brilliant but flawed diamond- was pried from the forehead of a Hindu idol by a British officer in India. He brought the stolen jewel back to England as a family heirloom, bequeathing it to his niece, but on the night of her 18th birthday, the Moonstone goes missing. The moonstone is a yellow diamond of unearthly beauty brought from India and given to Rachel Verrinder as an eighteenth birthday present, but the fabled diamond carries with it a terrible curse.” (Catalogue)

A study in scarlet / Doyle, Arthur Conan
“The very first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet was also the first of Conan Doyle’s books to be published. Convalescing in London after a disastrous experience of war in Afghanistan, Dr John Watson finds himself sharing rooms with his enigmatic new acquaintance, Sherlock Holmes. But their quiet bachelor life at 221B Baker Street is soon interrupted by the grisly discovery of a dead man in a grimy ‘ill-omened’ house in south-east London, his face contorted by an expression of horror and hatred such as Watson has never seen before. ” (Catalogue)

“Is there life on Mars?” Our selection of Martian novels.

Oh man, wonder if he’ll ever know
He’s in the best selling show
Is there life on Mars?” — David Bowie Life on Mars? lyrics

Gif Credit  NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Red Planet is very much in the news at the moment with the NASA’s Perseverance rover at this very moment trundling around its surface looking for life and sending back some astounding images in the process.

Click here for the latest news and images from the Perseverance mission.

However, Science fiction authors have for well over one hundred years, had a long romance with Mars with many finding life on the fourth planet from the sun.

Some of the most celebrated names in Science Fiction have looked to Mars for inspiration and, in the process, have created some of the most iconic novels in the genre. From the imperial fantasies of Edgar Rice Burroughs to realistic portrayals of survival on the Red  planet as portrayed in Andy Weirs The Martian, from the dying embers of a fading civilisation as documented by Ray Bradbury in The Martian Chronicles, to a future terra formed world where we can live as written in the Mars series by Kim Stanley Robinson. Below are just a few of the Science Fiction masterworks that use Mars as a point of inspiration.


Red Mars / Robinson, Kim Stanley
” Mars – the barren, forbidding planet that epitomises mankind’s dreams of space conquest. From the first pioneers who looked back at Earth and saw a small blue star, to the first colonists – hand-picked scientists with the skills necessary to create life from cold desert – Red Mars is the story of a new genesis. It is also the story of how Man must struggle against his own self-destructive mechanisms to achieve his dreams: before he even sets foot on the red planet, factions are forming, tensions are rising and violence is brewing… for civilization can be very uncivilized.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Martian chronicles / Bradbury, Ray
“Colonists from Earth were few at first, and most of them suffered the illness called The Loneliness – because when you saw your home town, then your home planet, dwindle to the size of a fist, you felt you had never been born. Then came the overwhelming strangeness they would find on Mars.” (Catalogue)

The war of the worlds / Wells, H. G.
“In the late 19th century, a cylinder crashes down near London.  When George investigates, a Martian activates an evil machine and begins destroying everything in its path!  George must find a way to survive a War of the Worlds. Destruction erupts – ten massive aliens roam England and destroy with heat rays everything in their path. Very soon mankind finds itself on the brink of extinction. Wells raises questions of mortality, man’s place in nature, and the evil lurking in the technological future.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook as read by Star Trek actors . And as movie click here for details.

Overdrive cover The Martian Megapack,
“Edgar Rice Burroughs (ebook)This volume in the Megapack series assembles classic Martian science fiction, including the first 5 volumes of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom saga (A Princess of Mars, The Gods of Mars, Warlord of Mars, Thuvia, Maid of Mars, and The Chessmen of Mars), plus six more Martian novels and stories by other great writers. More than 1,300 pages of classic science fiction in all!” (Overdrive description) Click here for details of the recent movie. 

The Martian : a novel / Weir, Andy
“Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive–and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?” (Adapted from Catalogue) We also have the award winning film Click here for details.

The sands of Mars / Clarke, Arthur C.
Renowned science fiction writer Martin Gibson joins the spaceship Ares, the world’s first interplanetary ship for passenger travel, on its maiden voyage to Mars. His mission: to report back to the home planet about the new Mars colony and the progress it has been making. First published in 1951, before the achievement of space flight, Clarke addresses hard physical and scientific issues with aplomb—and the best scientific understanding of the times. Included are the challenges of differing air pressures, lack of oxygen, food provisions, severe weather patterns, construction on Mars, and methods of local travel—both on the surface and to the planet’s two moons.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)  Also Available as an eBook

Overdrive cover The Lady Astronaut of Mars, Mary Robinette Kowal (ebook)
” Thirty years ago, Elma York led the expedition that paved the way to life on Mars. For years she’s been longing to go back up there, to once more explore the stars. But there are few opportunities for an aging astronaut, even the famous Lady Astronaut of Mars. When her chance finally comes, it may be too late. Elma must decide whether to stay with her sickening husband in what will surely be the final years of his life, or to have her final adventure and plunge deeper into the well of space.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Stranger in a strange land / Heinlein, Robert A.
” A human raised on Mars, Valentine Michael Smith has just arrived on planet Earth. Among his people for the first time, he struggles to understand the social mores and prejudices of human nature that are so alien to him, while his own “psi” powers–including telepathy, clairvoyance, telekenesis, and teleportation–make him a type of messiah figure among humans.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Martian time-slip / Dick, Philip K
Mars is not a happy place–a planet for exiles, drifters, and psychics, who would otherwise be executed. One such psychic is a ten-year-old boy named Manfred, a boy so powerful he not only looks into the future, but can send people there. But with the turbulent politics of Mars, that future might not be any better than the present. This twisty novel from Philip K. Dick is combines political intrigue, time travel, family drama, and all the perils that come with being the first at anything.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Out of the silent planet / Lewis, C. S.
“The first novel in C.S. Lewis’s classic sci-fi trilogy which tells the adventure of Dr Ransom who is kidnapped and transported to Mars, Dr Ransom, a Cambridge academic, is abducted and taken on a spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra, which he knows as Mars. His captors are plotting to plunder the planet’s treasures and plan to offer Ransom as a sacrifice to the creatures who live there. Ransom discovers he has come from the ‘silent planet’ – Earth – whose tragic story is known throughout the universe.” (Adapted from Catalogue) also available as an Audiobook .

“All things are transient here below and frail” – Our latest crime fiction showcase

“All things are transient here below and frail. Death only standeth fast for evermore”
Lorenzo de’ Medici  1449-1492,

One of the wonderful things about the genre of crime fiction is that it knows no geographical borders,  a wellwritten crime book from any part of the globe will stand a good chance of being quickly translated and released into a worldwide market. There is a huge global readership for good crime novels.  And the truly international nature and appeal of a good crime novel is amply demonstrated in this month’s crime fiction showcase; in this month’s selection we have novels from eight different countries. Ranging from Sweden and Germany to Scotland and Renaissance era Italy we even have a crime novel set in England where HRH Queen Elizabeth is the sleuth.

The family business / Allen, Hania
“In the north of Dundee, DI Dania Gorska is leading the search for a missing boy,  combing the dramatic landscape in hope of finding the child. What they discover in a derelict hut in the hills isn’t the boy, but is the remains of a body, chained to a wall. This body isn’t the missing child but is identified as another young boy. Dania begins to unearth the old case, determined to discover Cameron’s killer and looking for possible connections to the present-day missing child. But as she digs into the past, she realises that the Affleck family are hiding more than they let on and that there are some dark secrets that everyone wants to stay buried.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

For the dead / Bengtsdotter, Lina
“Thirty years ago, teenager Paul Bergman was found drowned in Gullspang’s lake, and his best friend Francesca vanished from her home. Paul’s death was ruled a suicide, and Francesca was never found. DI Charlie Lager is still haunted by childhood memories of a strange house and the missing girl who once lived there.
Convinced that the original investigation was flawed, Charlie is determined to uncover what really happened all those decades ago. But someone out there is willing to do whatever it takes to keep the truth from coming out.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Windsor knot / Bennett, S. J.
“The morning after a dinner party at Windsor Castle, eighty-nine-year-old Queen Elizabeth is shocked to discover that one of her guests has been found murdered in his room, with a rope around his neck. When the police begin to suspect her loyal servants, Her Majesty knows they are looking in the wrong place. For the queen has been living an extraordinary double life ever since her teenage years. Away from the public eye, she has a brilliant knack for solving crimes. With her household’s happiness on the line, her secret must not get out. Can the queen and her trusted secretary Rozie catch the killer, without getting caught themselves?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

City of vengeance / Bishop, D. V.
“Florence. Winter, 1536. A prominent Jewish moneylender is murdered in his home, a death with wide implications in a city powered by immense wealth. Cesare Aldo, a former soldier and now an officer of the Renaissance city’s most feared criminal court, is given four days to solve the murder: catch the killer before the feast of Epiphany – or suffer the consequences. During his investigations Aldo uncovers a plot to overthrow the volatile ruler of Florence, Alessandro de’ Medici. Can Aldo stop the conspiracy before anyone else dies, or will his own secrets destroy him first?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook .

The dance of the serpents / De Muriel, Oscar
“December, 1889. There have been many bad days in Edinburgh police’s secret subdivision ‘The Commission for the Elucidation of Unsolved Cases Presumably Related to the Odd and Ghostly’. But today is surely the worst. Because the exiled English Inspector Ian Frey, and his Scottish boss ‘Nine-Nails’ McGray are summoned to a meeting in the middle of the night with the Prime Minister himself. And he tells them that Queen Victoria  wants them both dead. To be pardoned they must embark on a mission so dangerous that they might be saving Her Majesty the job of executing them. A conspiracy within the highest office in the land.” (Catalogue)

Jeremiah’s bell : a D.C.I. Daley thriller / Meyrick, Denzil
“When rich American hotelier Alice Wenger arrives in Kinloch, some eyebrows are raised and memories are rekindled. Meanwhile, the secretive Doig family live a solitary existence on a remote part of the Kintyre peninsula, without even the basic amenities of modern life. After the family’s patriarch plummets to his death, secrets of stolen gold, whisky smuggling, shipwrecks and brutal events going back decades begin to emerge. With emotions running high in Kinloch Police Office, the team must put aside their own problems and get to the bottom of a sickening crime. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Stasi winter / Young, David
“In 1978 East Germany, nothing is as it seems. The state’s power is absolute, history is re-written, and the “truth” is whatever the Stasi say it is. So when the murder of a woman is officially labeled an “accidental death,” Major Karin Muller of the People’s Police is faced with a dilemma. To solve the crime, she must defy the official version of events. But defying the Stasi means putting her own life–and the lives of her young family–in danger. As the worst winter in history holds Germany in its freeze, Muller must untangle a web of state secrets and make a choice: between the truth and a lie, justice and injustice, and, ultimately, life and death.” (Catalogue)

These women / Pochoda, Ivy
“There’s Dorian, still adrift after her daughter’s murder remains unsolved; Julianna, a young dancer nicknamed Jujubee, who lives hard and fast, resisting anyone trying to slow her down; Essie, a brilliant vice cop who sees a crime pattern emerging where no one else does; Marella, a daring performance artist whose work has long pushed boundaries but now puts her in peril; and Anneke, a quiet woman who has turned a wilfully blind eye to those around her for far too long. The careful existence they have built for themselves starts to crumble when two murders rock their neighborhood.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

 

“Let us not take ourselves too seriously.” Our latest fiction showcase acquisitions

Let us not take ourselves too seriously. None of us has a monopoly on wisdom.” ― Queen Elizabeth II Christmas Broadcast 1991

The Crown television series and a certain Oprah interview has proven, if there was any doubt, that there is still a huge public appetite for all things Royal. And this month’s selection of newly acquired fiction contains not one but two novels with The Royals involved in their plots. Wendy Holden’s The Governess provides an intimate fictionalised peek behind the scenes of the real-life Royal Governess Marion ‘Crawfie’ Crawford into the imagined domestic lives of the future Queen and Princess Margaret. Whilst The Royal Correspondent By Alexandra Joel is about a young Sydney journalist covering the upcoming marriage of Princess Margaret to photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones. However, her wider investigations start to uncover the Profumo spy scandal. There are also some fabulous non-Royal books in our latest selections too.

Rainbow milk / Mendez, Paul
” In the Black Country in the 1950s, ex-boxer Norman Alonso is a determined and humble Jamaican who has moved to Britain with his wife to secure a brighter future for themselves and their children. Blighted with unexpected illness and racism, Norman and his family are resilient in the face of such hostilities, but are all too aware that they will need more than just hope to survive. At the turn of the millennium, Jesse seeks a fresh start in London – escaping from a broken immediate family, a repressive religious community and the desolate, disempowered Black Country – but finds himself at a loss for a new centre of gravity, and turns to sex work to create new notions of love, fatherhood and spirituality. ” (Catalogue)

The governess / Holden, Wendy
“The fictionalised story of Marion ‘Crawfie’ Crawford, the progressive young working-class woman who, as royal governess for seventeen years, lived on the most intimate terms with Princess Margaret and the future Queen Elizabeth II. As the royal governess, Marion Crawford played a major role in shaping the childhood and subsequent world-view of Queen Elizabeth II, but her story is largely unknown and has never been explored in much depth. The Governess brings ‘Crawfie’ to life.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Lullaby beach / Duffy, Stella
 When Lucy discovers the body of her great aunt Kitty, with a puzzling note and empty pill bottles by her bed, she can’t believe that the formidable woman who held her family together is gone – or understand why she has taken her own life. Lucy is determined to decipher Kitty’s final message. What she finds will overturn everything she thought she knew about her family. Lullaby Beach takes the reader on a journey through three generations of a complicated, close-knit family whose joys and misfortunes track many of the most pressing conflicts and concerns of post-war Britain, from the promise and hypocrisies of 1950s London to the political divides and risky freedoms of the present day.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The city of tears / Mosse, Kate
“June 1572: for ten violent years the Wars of Religion have raged across France.  But now a precarious peace is in the balance: a royal wedding has been negotiated by Catherine de’ Medici and Jeanne d’Albret, an alliance between the Catholic Crown and Henri, the Huguenot king of Navarre. It is a marriage that could see France reunited at last. Meanwhile in Puivert, an invitation has arrived for Minou Joubert and her family to attend this historic wedding in Paris in August. But what Minou does not know is that the Joubert family’s oldest enemy, Vidal, will also be there. Nor that, within days of the marriage, on the eve of the Feast Day of St Bartholomew’s, Minou’s family will be scattered to the four winds and one of her beloved children will have disappeared without trace . ” (Catalogue)

Undercover bromance / Adams, Lyssa Kay
“Liv Papandreas has a dream job as a sous chef at Nashville’s hottest restaurant. Too bad the celebrity chef owner is less than charming behind kitchen doors. After she catches him harassing a young hostess, she confronts him and gets fired. Liv vows revenge, but she’ll need assistance to take on the powerful chef.  He’ll need to call in reinforcements: the Bromance Book Club. Inspired by the romantic suspense novel they’re reading, the book club assists Liv in setting up a sting operation to take down the chef. But they’re just as eager to help Mack figure out the way to Liv’s heart… even though she’s determined to squelch the sparks between them before she gets burned.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Meet me in Bombay : a novel / Ashcroft, Jenny
“It’s New Year’s Eve in Bombay, 1913, and Madeline Bright, new to the sweltering heat of colonial India, is yearning for all she has left behind in England. Then, at the stroke of midnight, Maddy meets Luke Devereaux, and as the year changes so do both their lives. Bold and charismatic, Luke opens her eyes to the wonders of Bombay, while Maddy’s beauty and vivacity captures his heart. Only her mother disapproves, preferring the devoted Guy Bowen as a match for her daughter. But while Maddy and Luke are falling in love, the world is falling apart. World War I is on the horizon, and Luke will be given no choice but to fight. They will be continents apart, separated by danger and devastating loss, but bound by Luke’s promise that they will meet again in Bombay.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

I’m just a teenage punchbag / Clune, Jackie
I’m Just A Teenage Punchbag is a laugh-out-loud, sob-on-the bus journey through the so-called life of a middle-aged woman. Ciara is mother to three ungrateful, entitled teenagers, is married to steady Martin, a man with hairy udders, and is grieving for her mum who now lives in the wardrobe in a cardboard box from the crematorium. She finds solace in her anonymous blog, and in the daily chats she has with her mum’s ashes (often the best conversations she has all day.)  She embarks on a mission to fulfil her mum’s dying wishes to have her remains sprinkled from the top of the Empire State Building, finding company, distraction and – ultimately – herself in the process.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The royal correspondent / Joel, Alexandra
“When Blaise Hill, a feisty young journalist from one of Sydney’s toughest neighbourhoods, is dispatched to London at the dawn of the swinging sixties to report on Princess Margaret’s controversial marriage to an unconventional photographer, she is drawn into an elite realm of glamour and intrigue. As the nation faces an explosive upheaval, Blaise must grapple with a series of shocking scandals at the pinnacle of British society. Yet, haunted by a threat from her past and torn between two very different men, who can she trust in a world of hidden motives and shifting alliances? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

“Well, it’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon”. Our latest fiction acquisitions.

Well, it’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon, Minnesota, my hometown, out on the edge of the prairie.”  ― Garrison Keillor.

Lake Wobegon first appeared in print in 1985 the fictitious town was the setting for the semi-autobiographical novel Lake Wobegon Days. The recorded version of which subsequently went on to win a Grammy.

The much-loved town actually started its existence earlier on radio in Garrison’s A Prairie Home Companion show, known for its relaxed humour, folk music, fake nostalgic adverts and of course the news from Lake Wobegon inserts created by Garrison. When questioned about the town’s name Keillor explained that he got the name for the town from an old Native American word meaning “the place where we waited all day in the rain [for you].”

The Lake Wobegon virus is the twelfth book in the Lake Wobegon series. It sees the author returning to America’s most beloved mythic town to look at some very contemporary issues, intolerance and pandemics. When a virus passed on through cheese causes the town’s usually demure citizens to loss their inhibitions, Garrison Keillor uses his trademark gentle wit and humour to take its readers through their adventures and misadventures.

There are lots of other fabulous new fiction acquisitions in our selection that feature a diverse range of tones, voices, and styles.

The Lake Wobegon virus : a novel / Keillor, Garrison
“A mysterious virus has infiltrated the good people of Lake Wobegon, transmitted via unpasteurised cheese made by a Norwegian bachelor farmer, the effect of which is episodic loss of social inhibition. Mayor Alice, Father Wilmer, Pastor Liz, the Bunsens and Krebsbachs, formerly taciturn elders, burst into political rants, inappropriate confessions, and rhapsodic proclamations, while their teenagers watch in amazement. Meanwhile, a wealthy outsider is buying up farmland for a Keep America Truckin’ motorway and amusement park, estimated to draw 2.2 million visitors a year.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The butchers’ blessing / Gilligan, Ruth
“Every year, Úna prepares for her father to leave her. He will wave goodbye early one morning, then disappear with seven other men to traverse the Irish countryside. Together, these men form the Butchers, a group that roams from farm to farm, enacting ancient methods of cattle slaughter. The Butchers’ Blessing moves between the events of 1996 and the present, offering a simmering glimpse into the modern tensions that surround these eight fabled men. For Úna, being a Butcher’s daughter means a life of tangled ambition and incredible loneliness. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The sunken land begins to rise again / Harrison, M. John
“Shaw had a breakdown, but he’s getting himself back together. He has a single room, a job on a decaying London barge, and an on-off affair with a doctor’s daughter called Victoria, who claims to have seen her first corpse at age fourteen. It’s not ideal, but it’s a life. Or it would be if Shaw hadn’t got himself involved in a conspiracy theory that, on dark nights by the river, seems less and less theoretical… Why has the local waitress disappeared into a shallow pool in a field behind the house? And why is the town so obsessed with that old Victorian morality tale, The Water Babies? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Paris never leaves you / Feldman, Ellen
“Living through World War II working in a Paris bookstore with her young daughter, Vivi, and fighting for her life, Charlotte is no victim, she is a survivor. But can she survive the next chapter of her life? Alternating between wartime Paris and 1950s New York publishing, Ellen Feldman’s Paris Never Leaves You is an extraordinary story of resilience, love, and impossible choices, exploring how survival never comes without a cost. The war is over, but the past is never past.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Contacts / Watson, Mark
‘Richard Curtis James Chiltern boards the 23:50 sleeper train from London to Edinburgh with two pork pies, six beers and a packet of chocolate digestives. At 23:55 he sends a message to all 158 people in his contacts, telling them that he plans to end his life in the morning. He then switches his phone to flight mode. He’s said goodbye. To him, it’s the end of his story – and time to crack open the biscuits. But across the world, 158 phones are lighting up with a notification. Phones belonging to his mum. His sister. His ex-best friend. The woman who broke his heart. People he’s lost touch with. Contacts is about the weight of loneliness, the importance of kindness – and how it’s never too late to reach out.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook. 

The liar’s dictionary : a novel / Williams, Eley
Winceworth, Victorian lexicographer, is toiling away at the letter S for Swansby’s multivolume Encyclopaedic Dictionary. His disaffection compels him to insert unauthorized fictitious entries into the dictionary in an attempt to assert some sense of individual purpose and artistic freedom. In the present day, Mallory, a young intern employed by the publisher, is tasked with uncovering these mountweazels before the work is digitized. She also has to contend with threatening phone calls from an anonymous caller. Is the change in the definition of marriage really that upsetting? And does the caller really intend for the Swansby’s staff to ‘burn in hell’?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

His only wife : a novel / Medie, Peace A.
” Afi Tekple is a young seamstress in Ghana. She is smart; she is pretty; and she has been convinced by her mother to marry a man she does not know. Afi knows who he is, of course–Elikem is a wealthy businessman whose mother has chosen Afi in the hopes that she will distract him from his relationship with a woman his family claims is inappropriate. But Afi is not prepared for the shift her life takes when she is moved from her small hometown of Ho to live in Accra, Ghana’s gleaming capital, a place of wealth and sophistication where she has days of nothing to do but cook meals for a man who may or may not show up to eat them.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Boyfriend material / Hall, Alexis J.
“When tangentially — and reluctantly — famous Luc O’Donnell is forced back into the spotlight in the worst possible way, he has to think fast if he wants to save his floundering reputation. Enter Oliver Blackwood. Stunningly handsome and effortlessly put together, Oliver is successful, an ethical vegetarian, and has never appeared in a scandal mag even once. In other words, he’s perfect boyfriend material and exactly what Luc needs to appear respectable again. But when their fake relationship starts to feel like real romance, Luc and Oliver might have to consider whether they’re willing to fight for the truth of their new relationship…scandal, and consequences, be damned. (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Fragile monsters / Menon, Catherine
“On a visit to her childhood home in rural Malaysia, Durga faces a reckoning. Stuck with her sharp-tongued grandmother in the rising heat, both women must untangle the truth from the myth of their family’s past. What happened to Durga’s mother after she gave birth? Why did so many of their family members disappear during the war? And who is to blame for the childhood tragedy that haunts Durga?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

New Crime and Mystery titles

I don’t think it’s healthy for a man to be always brooding over crime and detective stories, reading up all sorts of cases. It puts ideas into his head.” ― Agatha Christie, Death in the Clouds

One of this month’s Newly acquired crime novels revolves around one of the perennial true-life mysteries surrounding the Golden age of crime the disappearance of Agatha Christie.

On Friday 3 December 1926, Agatha Christie, already a crime writing sensation, went missing for 11 days, sparking a huge manhunt, one of the biggest ever mounted in the UK. Even fellow crime writers Arthur Conan Doyle, and Dorothy L. Sayers were called in to help. With Arthur Conan Doyle trying paranormal techniques to solve the mystery, Agatha was subsequently found 11 days later in a hotel under the assumed name of Theresa Neele (her husband’s mistresses name). And to this day no one really knows what happened to Agatha Christie over these days. Agatha herself always claiming to have no memory of what happened. Marie Benedict postulates a very possible and believable solution to the mystery.

There are lots of other fabulous new offerings including the latest novel from the Ngaio Marsh Shortlisted author Christina O’Reilly Retribution.

The mystery of Mrs. Christie : a novel / Benedict, Marie
“In December 1926, Agatha Christie goes missing. Investigators find her empty car on the edge of a deep, gloomy pond, the only clues some tire tracks nearby and a fur coat left in the car–strange for a frigid night. Her World War I veteran husband and her daughter have no knowledge of her whereabouts, and England unleashes an unprecedented manhunt to find the up-and-coming mystery author. Eleven days later, she reappears, just as mysteriously as she disappeared, claiming amnesia and providing no explanations for her time away. The puzzle of those missing eleven days has persisted. What is real, and what is mystery? What role did her unfaithful husband play, and what was he not telling investigators? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The coffinmaker’s garden / MacBride, Stuart
“As a massive storm batters the Scottish coast, Gordon Smith’s home is falling into the North Sea. But the crumbling headland has revealed what he’s got buried in his garden: human remains. A house full of secrets… With the storm still raging, it’s too dangerous to retrieve the bodies and waves are devouring the evidence. Which means no one knows how many people Smith’s already killed and how many more he’ll kill if he can’t be found and stopped. The media are baying for blood, the top brass are after a scapegoat, and ex-Detective Inspector Ash Henderson is done playing nice. He’s got a killer to catch, and God help anyone who gets in his way. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook

The hollow ones / Toro, Guillermo del
“Odessa Hardwicke’s life is derailed when she’s forced to turn her gun on her partner, Walt Leppo, a decorated FBI agent who turns suddenly, inexplicably violent while apprehending a rampaging murderer. The shooting, justified by self-defense, shakes the young FBI agent to her core. Devastated, Odessa is placed on desk leave pending a full investigation. But what most troubles Odessa isn’t the tragedy itself — it’s the shadowy presence she thought she saw fleeing the deceased agent’s body after his death.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The Thursday murder club / Osman, Richard
” In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves The Thursday Murder Club. When a local developer is found dead with a mysterious photograph left next to the body, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case. As the bodies begin to pile up, can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Retribution / O’Reilly, Christina
“A young woman has been murdered on Ripton Beach. DSS ‘Archie’ Baldrick and DC Ben Travers eventually identify the body as that of Lucy Martin, who has been renting a bach in the area. Her husband, Oliver, seems to know very little about his wife or her background. What was Lucy hiding? Why has she no family or friends? As the number of suspects mounts up, Archie begins to conclude that the real answer lies in Lucy’s dark and mysterious past, and that the murderer may be just a little too close for comfort …” (Adapted from Catalogue)
No room at the morgue / Manchette, Jean-Patrick
“Eugene Tarpon, private eye, a sometime cop who has set up shop after being kicked off the force for accidentally killing a political demonstrator. Months have passed, and Tarpon desultorily tries to keep in shape while drinking all the time. No one has shown up at the door of his office in the midst of the market district of Les Halles. Then the bell rings and a beautiful woman bursts in, her hands dripping blood. It’s Memphis Charles, her roommate’s throat has been cut, and Memphis can’t go to the police because they’ll only suspect her. Can Tarpon help? Well, somehow he can’t help trying. Soon bodies mount, and the craziness only grows.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The night of the fire : a mystery / Eriksson, Kjell
“Police inspector Ann Lindell has left the Uppsala police and is living a quiet life, producing local cheese in a small town in Uppland. But life in the country is not as idyllic as it seems. On New Year’s Eve someone sets fire to the former village school which is now a home for asylum seekers, and three people are killed. Ann Lindell’s investigative instincts come back to life and soon she takes on the case. She is contacted by a person who has been involved in a previous investigation and who wants to warn her. His message is short and clear: Many will die. A few weeks later a bomb explodes in a suburb of Stockholm.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

A catered book club murder / Crawford, Isis
” If anything can be said about the endearingly predictable Margo Hemsley, it’s that she always serves elaborate desserts at her mystery book club meetings. That’s why everyone fears the worst after she doesn’t pick up her order from Bernie and Libby and skips out on the monthly gathering. . When the search ends with the discovery of a dead body, Bernie and Libby agree to help the nine remaining book club members prove their friend was murdered. As the sleuthing sisters unearth scandalous secrets about the book club members, they’ll have to determine who was connected to Margo’s shady dealings–and who sent her to an early grave…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Monique Roffey wins the Costa book of the year with The Mermaid of Black Conch

I knew I was missing out, missing this: the thrum of population, out here, in the street. I sailed by, a white ghost in their midst.” ― Monique Roffey, The White Woman on the Green Bicycle

The Costa book of the year award has just been announced and the winner was Monique Roffey with her novel The Mermaid of Black Conch.

Written in Creole English it is the story of a young fisherman rescuing a mermaid off the coast of a small Caribbean island and features a series of layered love affairs and poisonous hatred descended from colonisation. The novel is written using a patchwork of styles and unashamedly embraces magical realism turned up to level eleven. Monique Roffey found it really difficult to find a publisher for the work with most publishers considering the magical realist style and content to be too uncommercial. Monique even crowdfunded her own publicist for the book to avoid it being lost in the ocean of other releases. On receiving the news of the win, she expressed surprise that such a daring work should win the Costa book of the year award. The book has already been hailed “as a modern classic in the making”. Enjoy!


Overdrive cover The Mermaid of Black Conch, Monique Roffey (Audiobook)
“Winner of the 2020 Costa Novel Award. Shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize 2020 Features original music created for the audiobook. March 1976: St Constance, a tiny Caribbean village on the island of Black Conch, at the start of the rainy season. A fisherman sings to himself in his pirogue, waiting for a catch but attracts a sea-dweller he doesn’t expect. Aycayia, a beautiful young woman cursed by jealous wives to live as a mermaid, has been swimming the Caribbean Sea for centuries. And she is entranced by this man David and his song. “(Overdrive description)

The white woman on the green bicycle / Roffey, Monique
“An unforgettable love story brimming with politics and passion, hope and despair, set over fifty years in Trinidad This novel tells how when George and Sabine Harwood arrive in Trinidad from England George instantly takes to their new life but Sabine feels isolated, heat-fatigued, and ill at ease with the racial segregation and the imminent dawning of a new era. George eventually finds out that Sabine has been keeping secrets from him.” (Catalogue)

House of Ashes / Roffey, Monique
“The corrupt government has been ruling over the people too long and the city is becoming restless. Then one hot evening The Leader, a head of a group of rebels, gathers his followers and tells them: ‘Today, we will be making history. For ourselves, and our fellow countrymen of Sans Amen.’ And so a ragtag collection of men and boys take up arms and storm two of the most important buildings in the city: the house of power and the television studios. Together they will take back what is rightfully theirs. Caught up in the madness is Ashes. ” (Catalogue)

With the kisses of his mouth : a memoir / Roffey, Monique
“A passionate, provocative and pioneering memoir from an Orange Prize shortlisted author Monique Roffey had found her soulmate. But then the love affair she had always longed for came to a sudden and heartbreaking end. Devastated, Monique felt that she could never love again. But as time went on, she began to ask questions. Does ruling out love have to mean ruling out sex? And, can you have great sex without love?” (Catalogue)

The year of the Ox

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

2021 will be the year of the Ox and begins on the 12th February in the Western Calendar.

The Ox is second of the 12-year cycle of animals that appear in the Chinese zodiac. The legend is that there was a race between all the animals to reach the Heavenly Gate and the first twelve in the race would go into the Zodiac. Rat having crossed a river in the Ox’s ear jumped out at the last minute to become the first animal in the race with the Ox coming second. In Chinese culture, the Ox is seen in a very positive light because of its role in agriculture with having many positive attributes such as being honest and hardworking.

As part of our Chinese New Year celebrations and to highlight this rich and ancient culture we have highlighted just a few of the most critically acclaimed Chinese novels in English we have available to borrow. We also have an extensive collection of books in Chinese as well as loads of other Chinese resources and items. Enjoy and Happy New Year!

点击这里查看中文版


Red sorghum / Mo, Yan
“Red Sorghum is a novel of family, myth, and memory, set during the fratricidal barbarity of the 1930s, when the Chinese battled both Japanese invaders and each other. [It is] narrated by a young man at the end of the cultural revolution who tells the stories of his father, Douguan; his granddad, the most ruthless and infamous bandit and guerrilla commander in the region; and his grandma who fell in love with the commander when he raped her in the sorghum fields, only three days after her arranged marriage.”(Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Waiting / Jin, Ha
“Lin Kong, a devoted and ambitious doctor, is in love with an educated, modern woman, Mannu Wu. But, his family chose a wife for him when he was young. Tracing these lives through their summer of decision, this work conjures the texture of daily life in a place where the demands of human longing must contend with the weight of centuries of wisdom.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The seventh day / Yu, Hua
“Yang Fei was born on a moving train. Lost by his mother, adopted by a young switchman, raised with simplicity and love, he is utterly unprepared for the tempestuous changes that await him and his country. As a young man, he searches for a place to belong in a nation that is ceaselessly reinventing itself, but he remains on the edges of society. At age forty-one, he meets an accidental and unceremonious death. Lacking the money for a burial plot, he must roam the afterworld aimlessly, without rest. Over the course of seven days, he encounters the souls of the people he’s lost.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Soul mountain = Ling shan / Gao, Xingjian
“Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 2000.  ‘Soul Mountain’ is an elegant, unforgettable novel that journeys deep into the heart of modern-day China.Interwoven with a myriad of stories and countless memorable characters – from venerable Daoist masters and Buddhist nuns to mythical Wild Men, deadly Qichun snakes, and farting buses – is the narrator’s poignant inner journey and search for freedom. Slowly, with the help of memory, imagination, and sensory experience, he reconstructs his personal past. He laments the impact of the Cultural Revolution on the ecology – both human and physical – of China.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Balzac and the little Chinese seamstress / Sijie, Dai
“At the height of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, two boys are exiled to the countryside for “reeducation.” But the boys have a violin to distract them – as well as, before long, a beautiful young tailor’s daughter and a stash of Western classics. Two boys, both sons of doctors, are sent to the top of a mountain for re-education in Mao’s China; an education that involves carting buckets of excrement up and down precipitous paths. They discover instead the discreet charm of bourgeois literature and the local tailor’s attractive daughter.” (Catalogue) Click here to borrow the film adaptation.

The flowers of war / Yan, Geling
“This short novel is based on true events that took place during the Nanking Massacre in 1937 when the Japanese invaded the Chinese city. It tells the story of an American missionary who, for a few terrifying days, finds himself sheltering a group of schoolgirls, prostitutes and wounded Chinese soldiers in the compound of his church.” (Catalogue) Click here to see the availability of the film adaptation.

Overdrive cover To Live, Yu Hua (ebook)
“After squandering his family’s fortune in gambling dens and brothels, the young, deeply penitent Fugui settles down to do the honest work of a farmer. Forced by the Nationalist Army to leave behind his family, he witnesses the horrors and privations of the Civil War, only to return years later to face a string of hardships brought on by the ravages of the Cultural Revolution. Left with an ox as the companion of his final years, Fugui stands as a model of flinty authenticity, buoyed by his appreciation for life in this narrative of humbling power.” (Adapted from Overdrive description) Click here to see the availability of the film adaptation.

The three-body problem / Liu, Cixin
“A Hugo-Award winning tour de force”  Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

Ask the queen of crime fiction, Val McDermid, a question

Browse Val McDermid's books on our catalogue

We’re excited to announce that bestselling queen of crime fiction Val McDermid has kindly agreed to answer questions from her Wellington readers in a Q&A to be recorded on video this month.

Send us your questions for Val by Wednesday 10 February and we’ll do our best to get them answered. A big thank you to Val McDermid for agreeing to do this Q & A session!

Email a question — enquiries@wcl.govt.nz

About Val McDermid

Val McDermid is one of the biggest names in contemporary crime fiction and ‘Tartan Noir’ — her novels have sold more than 16 million copies and have been translated into 40 languages worldwide. Her novels currently fall into four main series, featuring a host of memorable characters:

The  Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series has also been adapted into a TV series — the critically acclaimed Wire in the blood.

Val McDermid has also won crime writing’s most prestigious award, the much-coveted Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of the Year, for her novel The Mermaids Singing. Along with her plethora of awards, she also holds an Honorary Fellowship from St Hilda’s College in Oxford — where she was the first student from a state school in Scotland ever to attend.

So, send us your questions for Val! You can use the email link above, or contact us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram on or before Wednesday 10 February, and we’ll do our best to put your questions to Val in our interview.

You can also read more about Val at her website below:

Visit valmcdermid.com

Have a browse of Val’s work below, and keep an eye out here and on social media for our Val McDermid interview coming soon!


Still life / McDermid, Val
“On a freezing winter morning, fishermen pull a body from the sea. It is quickly discovered that the dead man was the prime suspect in a decade-old investigation, when a prominent civil servant disappeared without trace. DCI Karen Pirie was the last detective to review the file and is drawn into a sinister world of betrayal and dark secrets. But Karen is already grappling with another case, one with even more questions and fewer answers. A skeleton has been discovered in an abandoned campervan and all clues point to a killer who never faced justice – a killer who is still out there. In her search for the truth, Karen uncovers a network of lies that has gone unchallenged for years. But lies and secrets can turn deadly when someone is determined to keep them hidden for good…”( Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

A place of execution / McDermid, Val
“On a freezing day in December 1963, Alison Carter vanishes from her rural village, an insular community that distrusts the outside world. For the young George Bennett, a newly promoted inspector, it is the beginning of his most difficult and harrowing case – a suspected murder with no body, an investigation with more dead ends and closed faces than he’d have found in the anonymity of the inner city, and an outcome that reverberates through the years.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The mermaids singing / McDermid, Val
“Another body has been found. The fourth. Now even the most reluctant members of the Bradfield police department have to admit they have a serial killer on their hands. A sicko.” “All the victims have been young men, their naked bodies broken and battered. All have been tortured.” “Detective Inspector Carol Jordan has been working around the clock, teamed with criminologist Dr. Tony Hill. While Jordan is hunting for clues, Hill is composing a psychological profile of the murderer.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The wire in the blood / McDermid, Val
” Young girls are disappearing around the country, and there is nothing to connect them to one another, let alone the killer whose charming manner hides a warped and sick mind. Dr Tony Hill, head of the new National Profiling Task Force, sets his team an exercise: they are given the details of missing teenagers and asked to discover any possible links between the cases. For Tony Hill, the murder becomes a matter for personal revenge and, joined by colleague Carol Jordan, he embarks on a campaign of psychological terrorism – a game where hunter and hunted can all too easily be reversed.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Booked for murder : the fifth Lindsay Gordon mystery / McDermid, Val
“Why would anyone want to kill bestselling author Penny Varnavides? Her demise can’t be the freak accident it first appeared to be: it is an exact replica of the unique murder method employed in her forthcoming novel. Only three people seemed to know the details of this unpublished book – her literary agent, her editor, and her ex-girlfriend, Meredith. Who stood to gain the most from Penny’s death? Did anyone else know about this unusual plot device?” “In an effort to clear her friend Meredith’s name, Lindsay Gordon delves beneath the glittering facade of the high-powered, seemingly glamorous world of London publishing in search of a murderer.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Northanger Abbey / McDermid, Val
“A modern re-imagining of the Gothic Classic Northanger Abbey by the bestselling crime author Val McDermid. The second book in The Austen Project. Cartier Diamond Dagger winner McDermid puts her gifts to good use in this update of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, which features sheltered young Cat Morland, who’s charmed by Henry Tilney when she visits Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival. Jane Austen in the hands of queen of crime, Val McDermid. Get ready for a very different Northanger Abbey.” (Catalogue)

Forensics : what bugs, burns, prints, DNA, and more tell us about crime / McDermid, Val
Val McDermid is one of the finest crime writers we have, whose novels have captivated millions of readers worldwide with their riveting narratives of characters who solve complex crimes and confront unimaginable evil. In the course of researching her bestselling novels McDermid has become familiar with every branch of forensics, and now she uncovers the history of this science, real-world murders and the people who must solve them. It’s a journey that will take McDermid to war zones, fire scenes, and autopsy suites, and bring her into contact with both extraordinary bravery and wickedness, as she traces the history of forensics from its earliest beginnings to the cutting-edge science of the modern day.” (Catalogue)

“Show Holmes a drop of water and he would deduce the existence of the Atlantic”. New Crime and Mystery titles

Show Holmes a drop of water and he would deduce the existence of the Atlantic. Show it to me and I would look for a tap. That was the difference between us.” ― Anthony Horowitz, The House of Silk

This year’s newly acquired Crime and Mystery titles kick off with an incredibly varied selection of globetrotting novels. Featuring crimes set in such exotic locations as the Milanese underworld, Marlborough Sounds, San Diego and the grimy rain-washed streets of Glasgow. However, the most unusual location for a murder in our new titles is a Human Preserve in Ariel S Winter’s genre jumping The Preserve reminiscent of futuristic works such as Blade Runner and Westworld. All in all, a whole new world of crime awaits your reading delectation. Enjoy!

The second life of Inspector Canessa / Perrone, Roberto
“Annibale Canessa didn’t want to go back to his old life. When everything went wrong in 1984, he traded his brutal, exciting career in the Carabinieri for paradise in San Fruttuoso. He started swimming in the bay at dawn and helping his elderly aunt run a small restaurant. His life was calm. But some shattering news pulls him back in – his estranged brother has been found dead; lying beside him, the body of an ex-terrorist, a man Canessa himself caught. Back in Milan, Canessa must pursue old connections and unsolved crimes, which draw him ever deeper into the underworld he thought he’d left behind.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Moonflower murders : a novel / Horowitz, Anthony
“Susan Ryeland is living the good life. She is running a small hotel on a Greek island. It should be everything she’s always wanted. But is it? Truth be told she’s beginning to miss London. And then the Trehearnes come to stay. The strange and mysterious story they tell, about an unfortunate murder that took place on the same day and in the same hotel in which their daughter was married–a picturesque inn on the Suffolk coast named Farlingaye Hall–fascinates Susan and piques her editor’s instincts. When the Trehearnes reveal that Cecily is now missing, Susan knows that she must return to England and find out what really happened. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Doom Creek / Carter, Alan
“Sergeant Nick Chester has dodged the Geordie gangsters he once feared. He’s out of hiding and looking forward to the quiet life. But gold fever is creating ill-feeling between prospectors, and a new threat lurks in the form of trigger-happy Americans preparing for Doomsday by building a bolthole in the Wakamarina valley. As tensions simmer in the Marlborough Sounds, Chester finds himself working on a bizarre cold-case murder and investigating a scandal-plagued religious sect. When local and international events reach fever pitch, Chester comes face to face with an evil that knows no borders.”–Publisher.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The lost and the damned / Norek, Olivier
“A corpse that wakes up on the mortuary slab, A case of spontaneous human combustion. There is little by the way of violent crime and petty theft that Capitaine Victor Coste has not encountered in his fifteen years on the St Denis patch – but nothing like this. Something unusual is afoot, and Coste is about to be dragged out of his comfort zone. Stranger still, anonymous letters addressed to him personally have begun to arrive, highlighting the fates of two women, invisible victims whose deaths were never explained. Just two more blurred faces among the ranks of the lost and the damned.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A madness of sunshine / Singh, Nalini
Golden Cove was a peaceful town. Then one fateful summer a tragedy shattered the trust holding the community together. All that’s left are whispers behind closed doors, broken friendships and a silent agreement to never look back. But you can’t run from the past forever. Eight years later, a young woman disappears without a trace, and the residents of Golden Cove wonder if their home shelters something far more dangerous than an unforgiving landscape. The town’s dark past and haunted present are about to collide . . . in a murder mystery that’s been years in the making, ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Anonymous / Breck, Elizabeth
“Madison Kelly, a San Diego private investigator, arrives home to a note stabbed to her front door: Stop investigating me, or I will hunt you down and kill you. The only problem? Madison hasn’t been investigating anyone–she’s been taking time off to figure out what to do with her life. But how does she prove a negative? The only way to remove the threat is to do exactly what “Anonymous”, the note writer, is telling her not to do: investigate to see who left it. Could this have something to do with the true crime podcast she’s been tweeting about, and the missing girls? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

When shadows fall / Gray, Alex
When his old friend and former colleague is shot dead at his home, Detective Superintendent William Lorimer is devastated. And his problems are only just beginning. It’s not long before two further deaths are reported: both victims ex-policemen. It’s clear this is a targeted campaign against their own, yet with no other link between the victims to identify the killer, Lorimer’s police team are starting to panic. Who will be next? Lorimer knows he must keep his cool if he is to solve the case. But with time running out before the next attack, he’s struggling to ignore the sickening question at the back of his mind: will he get to the killer, before the killer gets to him” (Catalogue)

The innocent dead : … are always the first victims / Anderson, Lin
” The present day discovery of a child’s remains in a peat bog south of Glasgow looks to finally solve the decades old mystery of ten year old Mary McInally’s disappearance. Karen Marshall had been devastated by her best pal’s abduction on the day of her confirmation. Questioned by the police but traumatised by the loss of her friend, nothing Karen remembered back then had helped. Now decades later, the news of the possible discovery of Mary’s body brings the nightmares back, but added to that are returning memories long buried by Karen.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

The preserve : a novel / Winter, Ariel S
” Decimated by plague, the human population is now a minority. Robots–complex AIs almost indistinguishable from humans–are the ruling majority. Nine months ago, in a controversial move, the robot government opened a series of preserves, designated areas where humans can choose to live without robot interference. Now the preserves face their first challenge: someone has been murdered. Chief of Police Jesse Laughton on the SoCar Preserve is assigned to the case. He fears the factions that were opposed to the preserves will use the crime as evidence that the new system does not work. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Queens of the Abyss: Lost Stories from the Women of the Weird – new Sci-Fi and Fantasy

The task of the right eye is to peer into the telescope, while the left eye peers into the microscope.” ― Leonora Carrington (Down Below)

One of our new and recently acquired Science Fiction and Fantasy titles is Queens of the Abyss: Lost Stories from the Women of the Weird. There is a mistaken perception that in the 19th and early 20th centuries, weird and wonderful fiction, was the exclusive domain of male writers but, as this fabulous new anthology shows, this view is far from the truth.

The fundamental contributions made by women authors to the birth of this genre is celebrated in this anthology from overlooked pulp magazine contributors to more established authors such as Frances Hodgson Burnett, Marie Corelli, Margaret St Clair and Leonora Carrington. Many of these tales have never been reprinted since their first publication so why not delve into the abyssal depths of surreal darkness in this entertaining and important work? There’s lots of other wonderful new Science Fiction and Fantasy titles recently acquired by us, this short list is only our picks. Enjoy!

Queens of the abyss : lost stories from the women of the weird
” Contents include  A revelation by Mary E. Braddon,  The sculptor’s angel by Marie Corelli, From the dead by Edith Nesbit, The Christmas in the fog by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The haunted flat by  Marie Belloc Lowndes, A modern circle by Alicia Ramsey, The nature of the evidence by May Sinclair,   The Bishop of hell by Marjorie Bowen,  The antimacassar by Greye La Spina, White lady by Sophie Wenzel Ellis,  The laughing thing by  G.G. Pendarves ,  Candlelight by Lady Eleanor Smith,  The wonderful tune by Jessie Douglas Kerruish, Island of the hands by Margaret St Clare, The unwanted by Mary Elizabeth Counselman and The seventh horse by the exceptional genius Leonora Carrington.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Tomorrow The World / Joseph, M. K.
“A dying Hitler dictates his memoirs to a personal aide whilst his top commanders plot against each other to see who will become the next Fuhrer. Meanwhile a small resistance group from England tries to smuggle a package across Europe that will help to smash the fascist rule, but are they in reality the pawns of one of the German Generals? … Now a new novel has been discovered that imagines Britain and Europe as ruled by the Nazis after they won WWII.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Blood of the sun / Rabarts, Dan
“There’s been a gang massacre on Auckland’s Freyberg Wharf. Body parts everywhere. And with the police’s go-to laboratory out of action, it’s up to scientific consult Pandora (Penny) Yee to sort through the mess. It’s a hellish task, made worse by the earthquake swarms, the insufferable heat, and Cerberus’ infernal barking. And what’s got into her brother Matiu? Does it have something to do with the ship’s consignment? Or is Matiu running with the gangs again?  Join Penny and Matiu Yee for the family reunion to end all family reunions, as the struggle between light and dark erupts across Auckland’s volcanic skyline.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Archangel’s sun / Singh, Nalini
“The Archangel of Death and the Archangel of Disease may be gone but their legacy of evil lives on – especially in Africa, where the shambling, rotting creatures called the reborn have gained a glimmer of vicious intelligence. It is up to Titus, archangel of this vast continent, to stop the reborn from spreading across the world. Titus can’t do it alone, but of the surviving powerful angels and archangels, large numbers are wounded, while the rest are fighting a surge of murderous vampires. There is no one left . . . but the Hummingbird. Old, powerful, her mind long a broken kaleidoscope. Now she must stand at Titus’s side against a tide of death, upon a discovery more chilling than any other. For the Archangel of Disease has left them one last terrible gift .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A girl from nowhere / Maxwell, James
“Life in the wasteland is a constant struggle. No one knows it better than Taimin. Crippled, and with only his indomitable aunt to protect him, Taimin must learn to survive in a world scorched by two suns and frequented by raiders. But when Taimin discovers his homestead ransacked and his aunt killed, he sets off with one mission: to seek revenge against those who stole everything. With nowhere to call home, his hunt soon takes a turn when he meets a mystic, Selena, who convinces him to join her search for the fabled white city. Taimin and Selena both need refuge, and the white city is a place where Taimin may find someone to heal his childhood injury. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Ambergris / VanderMeer, Jeff
 Before Area X, there was Ambergris. Jeff VanderMeer conceived what would become his first cult classic series of speculative works: the Ambergris Trilogy. Now, for the first time ever, the story of the sprawling metropolis of Ambergris is collected into a single volume, including City of Saints and Madmen, Shriek: An Afterword, and Finch.” (Catalogue)

Piranesi / Clarke, Susanna
“Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house. There is one other person in the house-a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known. ” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The blue eye / Khan, Ausma Zehanat
“The Companions of Hira used their wits and magic to battle against the Talisman, an organization whose hyper conservative agenda limits free thinking and subjugates women. They were defeated. But Arian continues to lead a disparate group of Companions in pursuit of the mystical artifact that could end the Talisman’s rule: The Bloodprint. For the arcane tome slipped out of their reach once more in the heat of battle. Through all they have endured, Arian’s band of allies has always remained united in the face of their enemy. ” (Catalogue)

Master of poisons : a novel / Hairston, Andrea
“The world is changing. Poison desert eats good farmland. Once-sweet water turns foul. The wind blows sand and sadness across the Empire. To get caught in a storm is death. To live and do nothing is death. There is magic in the world, but good conjure is hard to find. Djola, righthand man and spymaster of the lord of the Arkhysian Empire, is desperately trying to save his adopted homeland, even in exile. Awa, a young woman training to be a powerful griot, tests the limits of her knowledge and comes into her own in a world of sorcery, floating cities, kindly beasts, and uncertain men. ” (Catalogue)

What to look out for in the World of fiction in 2021 – Part two

Welcome to our second part of our “What to look out for in the World of fiction in 2021” (click here to visit our first instalment).

And for a more comprehensive overview of fiction in 2021 click here to view the Guardian’s overview of literature in 2021.

September

Colm Tóibín author of The Master, which explored the life of Henry James, looks at the life of another literary giant Thomas Mann in his latest novel called The Magician.

The master / Tóibín, Colm
“In January 1895 James anticipates the opening of his first play in London. He has never been so vulnerable, nor felt so deeply unsuited to the public gaze. When the production fails, he returns, chastened, to his writing desk. The result is a string of masterpieces, but they are produced at a high personal cost.” “Colm Toibin captures the exquisite anguish of a man whose artistic gifts made his career a triumph but whose private life was haunted by loneliness and longing, and whose sexual identity remained unresolved. Henry James circulated in the grand parlours and palazzos of Europe, he was lauded and admired, yet his attempts at intimacy inevitably failed him and those he tried to love.” (Catalogue)

Colson Whitehead follows up The Nickel Boys with a “lively heist” novel set amid the crime syndicates of 1960s Harlem called Harlem Shuffle.

The Underground Railroad : a novel / Whitehead, Colson
“A slave named Cora, brutalized by her Georgia master yet shunned by her own, determines to escape via the railroad with newly arrived slave Caesar. When Caesar, a slave recently arrived from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they take the perilous decision to escape to the North. In Whitehead’s razor-sharp imagining of the antebellum South, the Underground Railroad has assumed a physical form: a dilapidated box car pulled along subterranean tracks by a steam locomotive, picking up fugitives wherever it can. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. ” (Catalogue)

Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka first novel in almost 50 years Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth is due in September 2021 and promises “murder, mayhem and no shortage of drama” and is eagerly awaited in many circles.

You must set forth at dawn : a memoir / Soyinka, Wole
“The first African to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, as well as a political activist of prodigious energies, Soyinka now follows his modern classic “Ake: The Years of Childhood” with an equally important chronicle of his turbulent life as an adult in (and in exile from) his beloved, beleaguered homeland. The first African to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, as well as a political activist of prodigious energies, Wole Soyinka now follows his modern classic Ake: The Years of Childhood with an equally important chronicle of his turbulent life as an adult in (and in exile from) his beloved, beleaguered homeland.” (Catalogue)

Pointless host Richard Osman wrote one of the biggest selling books of 2020 The Thursday Murder Club. Despite the fact that it was only published in September 2020 the film rights have already been snapped up by no less than Steven Spielberg. The sequel The Thursday Murder Club 2 is due out in September.

The Thursday murder club / Osman, Richard
” In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves The Thursday Murder Club. When a local developer is found dead with a mysterious photograph left next to the body, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case. As the bodies begin to pile up, can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Lauren Groff follows up the Fates and Furies with a novel called the Matrix set in the 12th-century in a failing abbey in England.

We see the welcome return of Birdsong author Sebastian Faulks with a novel called Snow Country, a book whose plot revolves around the prelude to World War Two.

Birdsong / Faulks, Sebastian
“Birdsong is the story of Stephen Wraysford, a young Englishman who journeys to France on business in 1910 and becomes so entangled in a passionate clandestine love affair that he never returns home. Rootless and heartbroken when war breaks out in 1914, he joins the army and is given command of a brigade of miners, whose macabre assignment is to tunnel beneath German lines and set off bombs under the enemy trenches – thereby creating a pitch-dark subterranean battlefield even more ghastly than the air and trench warfare above them. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

September also sees the provisional date for as yet Untitled new historical novel from Bernard Cornwell.

October

October sees (hopefully) the much delayed and much anticipated cinematic release of Frank Herbert’s science fiction masterwork Dune.

Jonathan Franzen’s latest novel is called Crossroads and examines the myths in 1970s America.

Booker shortlisted Graeme Macrae Burnet releases Case Study about a controversial 60s psychotherapist.

His bloody project : documents relating to the case of Roderick Macrae, a historical thriller / Burnet, Graeme Macrae
“Presented as a collection of documents discovered by the author, His Bloody Project opens with a series of police statements taken from the villagers of Culdie, Ross-shire. They offer conflicting impressions of the accused; one interviewee recalls Macrae as a gentle and quiet child, while another details him as evil and wicked. Chief among the papers is Roderick Macrae’s own memoirs where he outlines the series of events leading up to the murder in eloquent and affectless prose. There follow medical reports, psychological evaluations, a courtroom transcript from the trial, and other documents that throw both Macrae’s motive and his sanity into question.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Novermber

In November there is a new as yet untitled novel by the author of The Sea John Banville.

In November Helen Oyeyemi releases a story about a mysterious train journey called Peaces.

Gingerbread / Oyeyemi, Helen
” Perdita Lee may appear your average British schoolgirl; Harriet Lee may seem just a working mother trying to penetrate the school social hierarchy; but there are signs that they might not be as normal as they think they are. For one thing, they share a gold-painted, seventh-floor flat with some surprisingly verbal vegetation. And then there’s the gingerbread they make. Londoners may find themselves able to take or leave it, but it’s very popular in Druhástrana, the far-away (and, according to Wikipedia, non-existent) land of Harriet Lee’s early youth. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

And finally, in our brief overview of 2021 is Salley Vickers follow up to Grandmothers called The Gardener.

Grandmothers / Vickers, Salley
Grandmothers follows four grandmothers – Blanche, who can’t seem to stop stealing things from the local pharmacy; Minna, who just wants a quiet life in her shepherd’s hut, though the local children have other ideas; Cherry, who’s adjusting to life in a care home; and Nan, whose favourite occupation is researching funerals – whose lives and grandchildren become unexpectedly entangled.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Of course, one of the most exciting, interesting and exhilarating things about the world of literature are the unexpected gems and unheralded classics that emerge as the year goes on. We can’t wait to read them!

What to watch out for in the World of fiction in 2021 – Part one

The beginning is always today.” ― Mary Shelley

So now that 2020 is over, what can we look forward to in the world of fiction in 2021? Well, below we have highlighted just a few of the books that have caught our eye some of them by new voices others by well established name and we have supplied ( where relevant ) links to some previous works. For a more comprehensive fiction roundup of 2021 click here to see the Guardian’s Fiction highlights list.

 January

The start of the year sees the release of Luster the debut novel by Reven Leilani. A book that has already attracted a lot of advanced publicity. The plot revolving around an American black millennial tackling the difficulties of sex, work and being.

January also sees the release of Booker prize winning Richard Flanagan’s latest novel The Living Sea of Waking Dreams in which a family deals with questions of mortality in an extinction fable with magical realist overtones set in Australia.


The narrow road to the deep north / Flanagan, Richard
“August, 1943. In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma death railway, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle’s young wife two years earlier. Struggling to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from beatings, he receives a letter that will change his life forever. This savagely beautiful novel is a story about the many forms of love and death, of war and truth, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

February

The traditionally quiet publishing month of February sees international prize for Arabic fiction winner Hoda Barakat releasing Voices of the Lost in which six characters share secrets in a war torn country.

March

A busier month with many great books! We see the publication of Klara and the Sun by Nobel prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro. March also heralds the publication of Yaa Gyasi’s Transcendent Kingdom, her follow-up to her bestselling debut Homegoing.

A pale view of hills / Ishiguro, Kazuo
“Etsuko, a middle-aged Japanese woman now living alone in England, dwells on the recent suicide of her elder daughter, Keiko. Despite the efforts of her surviving daughter to distract her thoughts, Etsuko finds herself recalling a particular summer in Nagasaki after the bomb fell.” (Catalogue)

Scottish author Alan Warner’s Kitchenly 434 iIs the tale of a rock star’s Butler at the tail end of the 70’s and promises to be very colourful. Another title to look out for in march is The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen, the sequel to The Sympathizer, set in underworld of 80s Paris.

The sympathizer / Nguyen, Viet Thanh
The Sympathizer is a sweeping epic of love and betrayal. The narrator, a communist double agent, is a “man of two minds,” a half-French, half-Vietnamese army captain who arranges to come to America after the Fall of Saigon, and while building a new life with other Vietnamese refugees in Los Angeles is secretly reporting back to his communist superiors in Vietnam.The Sympathizer is a blistering exploration of identity and America, a gripping espionage novel, and a powerful story of love and friendship.” (Catalogue)

In March we also have the international release of the fabulous Elizabeth Knox’s The Absolute Book, which has been available here in New Zealand/Aotearoa for quite some time.

The absolute book / Knox, Elizabeth
“The Absolute Book is an epic fantasy, intimate in tone. A book where hidden treasures are recovered; where wicked things people think they’ve shaken from their trails find their scent again. A book about beautiful societies founded on theft and treachery, and one in which dead sisters are a living force. It is a book of journeys and returns, set in London, Norfolk, and the Wye Valley; in Auckland, New Zealand; in the Island of Apples and Summer Road of the Sidhe; at Hell’s Gate; in the Tacit with its tombs; and in the hospitals and train stations of Purgatory.” (Catalogue)

April

April kicks off with Reservoir 13’s author Jon McGregor latest book Lean Fall Stand. And also a new collection of stories by Haruki Murakami called First Person SingularHummingbird Salamander by Annihilation’s author Jeff VanderMeer, described as “a climate change conspiracy thriller about ecoterrorism and extinction.”

Dead astronauts / VanderMeer, Jeff
“Under the watchful eye of The Company, three characters – Grayson, Morse and Chen – shapeshifters, amorphous, part human, part extensions of the landscape, make their way through forces that would consume them. A blue fox, a giant fish and language stretched to the limit. A messianic blue fox who slips through warrens of time and space on a mysterious mission. A homeless woman haunted by a demon who finds the key to all things in a strange journal. A giant leviathan of a fish, centuries old, who hides a secret, remembering a past that may not be its own. ” (Catalogue)

May

Rachel Cusk’s Second Place explores the nature of male power and privilege as seen through the lens of the Art World and the relationship between a famous male artist and a woman.

Also in May Patrick McGrath releases Last Days in Cleaver Square. Set in 70’s London but concerning a man haunted by his days fighting in the Spanish civil war.

June

June sees the release of Greta and Valdin the debut novel by Rebecca K Reilly. Set in an Auckland apartment, and revolving around a brother and sister navigating around the pit falls of modern romance in what is described as a “beguiling and hilarious novel”.

Also in June we have the third instalment of David Peaces’s Tokyo trilogy entitled Tokyo Redux.

There’s also a modern translation of the ‘Wife of Bath’ called The Wife of Willesden by White Teeth author Zadie Smith; as well as a semi autobiographical novel written her mother Yvonne Bailey-Smith called The Day I Fell Off My Island.

Overdrive cover White Teeth, Zadie Smith (ebook)
“One of the most talked about debut novels of all time, White Teeth is a funny, generous, big-hearted novel, adored by critics and readers alike. Dealing – among many other things – with friendship, love, war, three cultures and three families over three generations, one brown mouse, and the tricky way the past has of coming back and biting you on the ankle, it is a life-affirming, riotous must-read of a book.”(Overdrive description)

Finally, we have a new book by Scottish author David Keenan called Monument Maker, revolving around France’s great cathedrals.

This is Memorial Device : an hallucinated oral history of the post-punk scene in Airdrie, Coatbridge and environs 1978-1986 / Keenan, David
This Is Memorial Device, the debut novel by David Keenan, is a love letter to the small towns of Lanarkshire in the west of Scotland in the late 1970s and early 80s as they were temporarily transformed by the endless possibilities that came out of the freefall from punk rock. It follows a cast of misfits, drop-outs, small town visionaries and would-be artists and musicians through a period of time where anything seemed possible, a moment where art and the demands it made were as serious as your life. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

July

July sees the release of Animal by Lisa Taddeo, a debut novel about a woman driven to kill when on a road trip with three women.

August

The Women of Troy is the latest book by the multi award winning author Pat Barker and is scheduled for an August release.

The silence of the girls : a novel / Barker, Pat
“There was a woman at the heart of the Trojan war whose voice has been silent – till now... Briseis was a queen until her city was destroyed. Now she is slave to Achilles, the man who butchered her husband and brothers. Trapped in a world defined by men, can she survive to become the author of her own story? Discover the greatest Greek myth of all – retold by the witness history forgot. ‘Make s] you reflect on the cultural underpinnings of misogyny, the women throughout history who have been told by men to forget their trauma.” (Catalogue)

And finally for our first instalment of ‘What to look out for in the World of fiction in 2021’ we have Girl on the Train author Paula Hawkin’s new novel, A Slow Fire Burning, about a murder on a London houseboat. Look out for our second instalment of ‘What to watch out for in the World of fiction in 2021’ soon.

The girl on the train / Hawkins, Paula
“Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life–as she sees it–is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
UNTIL TODAY And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Monsters in the Garden Event…. Now exclusively online

Back at the tail end of 2020 we had the very special privilege of hosting an event to celebrate the recent publication of Monsters in the Garden: An Anthology of Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy.

In attendance were four of the most accomplished writers in New Zealand who all contributed works to the anthology: Elizabeth Knox, Tina Makereti, Dylan Horrocks and Craig Gamble.

The ensuing discussions were entertaining, informative, lively and a real insight into the inner workings of these fabulous authors as well as the current status of speculative fiction in Aotearoa.

If you missed the live event or want to re-experience this fascinating conversation you can watch below.

And keep your eyes peeled on our various social media channels for future events coming in 2021. Enjoy!



Monsters in the Garden : An Anthology of Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy / Knox, Elizabeth
“Casting its net widely, this anthology of Aotearoa-New Zealand science fiction and fantasy ranges from the satirical novels of the 19th-century utopians – one of which includes the first description of atmospheric aerobreaking in world literature – to the bleeding edge of now. Spaceships and worried sheep. Dragons and AI. The shopping mall that swallowed the Earth. The deviant, the fishy and the rum, all bioengineered for your reading pleasure. Featuring stories by some of the country’s best known writers as well as work from exciting new talent, Monsters in the Garden invites you for a walk on the wild side. We promise you’ll get back safely. Unchanged? Well, that’s another question.” (Publisher’s description)

Dreamhunter / Knox, Elizabeth
“Set in 1906, Dreamhunter describes a world very similar to ours, except for a special place, known simply as the Place, where only a select group of people can go. these people are called Dreamhunters and they harvest dreams which are then transmitted to the general public for the purposes of entertainment, therapy – or terror and political coercion. Fifteen-year-old cousins Laura Hame and Rose Tiebold both come from famous dreamhunting families, but only Laura proves to be blessed with the gift and once inside the Place she finds out what happened to her missing dreamhunter father .” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The imaginary lives of James Pōneke / Makereti, Tina
‘The hour is late. The candle is low. Tomorrow I will see whether it is my friends or a ship homewards I meet. But first I must finish my story for you. My future, my descendant, my mokopuna. Listen.’ So begins the tale of James Poneke – orphaned son of a chief; ardent student of English; wide-eyed survivor. All the world’s a stage, especially when you’re a living exhibit. But anything can happen to a young New Zealander on the savage streets of Victorian London. When James meets the man with laughing dark eyes and the woman who dresses as a man, he begins to discover who people really are beneath their many guises.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Sam Zabel and the magic pen / Horrocks, Dylan
“A burned-out superhero comic artist goes on an adventure that spans time and space–with two female companions. Cartoonist Sam Zabel hasn’t drawn a comic in years. Stuck in a nightmare of creative block and despair, Sam spends his days writing superhero stories for a large American comics publisher and staring at a blank piece of paper, unable to draw a single line. Then one day he finds a mysterious old comic book set on Mars and is suddenly thrown headlong into a wild, fantastic journey through centuries of comics, stories, and imaginary worlds. (Adapted from Catalogue)

A cornucopia of books. Our latest selection of recently acquired fiction

Remember if people talk behind your back, it only means you are two steps ahead.”
― Fannie Flagg, from Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

This month’s newly acquired fiction titles feature a plethora of fantastic new books including a sequel to Fannie Flagg’s much loved Fried green tomatoes at the Whistle-Stop Café a keenly anticipated new book from author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Louis de Bernières. Mikaela Nyman’s community centred, mysterious, natural disaster novel set in Vanuatu Sado. And a Scottish family tragi-saga by Sarah Moss set in a faded cabin park called Summerwater. Enjoy!

A bookshop in Algiers / Adimi, Kaouther
A Bookshop in Algiers celebrates quixotic devotion and the love of books in the person of Edmond Charlot, who at the age of twenty founded Les Vraies Richesses , the famous Algerian bookstore/publishing house/lending library. He more than fulfilled its motto ‘by the young, for the young’, discovering the twenty-four-year-old Albert Camus in 1937. A Bookshop in Algiers interweaves Charlot’s story with that of another twenty-year-old, Ryad.  ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The autumn of the ace / De Bernières, Louis
“Daniel Pitt has seen a lot of action. He was an RAF fighter in the First World War and an espionage agent for the SOE in the Second. Now the conflicts he faces are closer to home. Daniel and Rosie’s marriage has fractured beyond repair and Daniel’s relationship with their son, Bertie, has been a failure since Bertie was a small boy. But after his brother Archie’s death, Daniel is keen for new perspectives. He first travels to Peshawar to bury Archie in the place he loved best, and then finds himself in Canada, avoiding his family and friends back in England. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Actress / Enright, Anne
“This is the story of Irish theatre legend Katherine O’Dell, as told by her daughter Norah. It tells of early stardom in Hollywood, of highs and lows on the stages of Dublin and London’s West End. Katherine’s life is a grand performance, with young Norah watching from the wings. But this romance between mother and daughter cannot survive Katherine’s past, or the world’s damage. As Norah uncovers her mother’s secrets, she acquires a few of her own. Then, fame turns to infamy when Katherine decides to commit a bizarre crime.” (Catalogue)

The wonder boy of Whistle Stop : a novel / Flagg, Fannie
 Bud Threadgoode grew up in the bustling little railroad town of Whistle Stop with his mother, Ruth, church-going and proper, and his Aunt Idgie, the fun-loving hell-raiser. Together they ran the town’s popular Whistle Stop Cafe, known far and wide for its fun and famous fried green tomatoes. And as Bud often said of his childhood to his daughter Ruthie, “How lucky can you get?” But sadly, as the railroad yards shut down and Whistle Stop became a ghost town, nothing was left but boarded-up buildings and memories of a happier time. Then one day, Bud decides to take one last trip, just to see what has become of his beloved Whistle Stop. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A lover’s discourse / Guo, Xiaolu
“A Chinese woman comes to London to start a new life, away from her old world. She knew she would be lonely, adrift in the city, but will her new relationship bring her closer to this land she has chosen, will their love give her a home? A Lover’s Discourse is an exploration of romantic love told through fragments of conversations between the two lovers. How can a man and woman be together? And how best to find solid ground in a world of uncertainty?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Summerwater / Moss, Sarah
“On the longest day of the summer, twelve people sit cooped up with their families in a faded Scottish cabin park. The endless rain leaves them with little to do but watch the other residents. A woman goes running up the Ben as if fleeing; a retired couple reminisce about neighbours long since moved on; a teenage boy braves the dark waters of the loch in his red kayak. Each person is wrapped in their own cares but increasingly alert to the makeshift community around them. One particular family, a mother and daughter without the right clothes or the right manners, starts to draw the attention of the others. Tensions rise and all watch on, unaware of the tragedy that lies ahead as night finally falls.” (Catalogue)

A saint from Texas / White, Edmund
“Yvette and Yvonne Crawford are twin sisters, born on a humble patch of East Texas prairie but bound for far grander fates. Just as an untold fortune of oil lies beneath their daddy’s land, both girls harbour their own secrets and dreams oones that will carry them far from Texas and from each other. As the decades unfold, Yvonne will ascend the highest ranks of Parisian society as Yvette gives herself to a lifetime of worship and service in the streets of Jeric , Colombia. And yet, even as they remake themselves in their radically different lives, the twins find that the bonds of family and the past are unbreakable.” (Catalogue)

Sado / Nyman, Mikaela
” Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Pam makes landfall with devastating consequences. Vanuatu is bruised but not broken. Reeling from the loss of livelihood and struggling to meet basic human needs, people start to reassemble their lives. Cathryn is an NGO worker from New Zealand who has a ruined home, a teenage son and a Ni-Vanuatu boyfriend she hasn’t heard from since the phone lines went dead. Faia is a community organiser, a radio journalist and a survivor who fights for women to be heard.  ” (Catalogue)

Our latest highlighted Science Fiction, Fantasy and speculative fiction selection

I had always wanted to be a writer who confused genre boundaries and who was read in multiple contexts”  Jonathan Lethem

A nuclear powered supercar that can tunnel through the earth, a progressive pulp tome in which a band of Mercenary librarians set out to save a crumbling America, an enthralling fantasy epic from a New Zealand author,  a world where men have become a prized commodity and a very welcome return of Elizabeth Bear in a star spanning space opera with ex crime lords and mega intelligent AI systems. All are to be found in Decembers recently acquired Science Fiction and Fantasy titles. Enjoy.

The tower of fools / Sapkowski, Andrzej
Reinmar of Bielawa, sometimes known as Reynevan, is a healer, a magician, and according to some, a charlatan. When a thoughtless indiscretion forces him to flee his home, he finds himself pursued not only by brothers bent on vengeance but by the Holy Inquisition. In a time when tensions between Hussite and Catholic countries are threatening to turn into war and mystical forces are gathering in the shadows, Reynevan’s journey will lead him to the Narrenturm — the Tower of Fools.  And escaping it, avoiding the conflict around him, and keeping his own sanity will prove more difficult than he ever imagined” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook 

Afterland / Beukes, Lauren
“All Cole has left in the world is her boy, Miles. With men now a prized commodity, keeping him safe means breaking hastily written new rules – and leaving her own sister for dead. All Miles has left in the world is his mother.But is one person enough to save him from the many who would kill to get their hands on a living boy? Together, Cole and Miles embark on a journey across a changed, hostile country, towards a freedom they may never reach. And when Cole’s sister tracks them down, they’ll need to decide who to trust – and what loyalty really means in this unimaginable new world.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Deal with the Devil : a Mercenary Librarians novel / Rocha, Kit
” Nina is an information broker with a mission–she and her team of mercenary librarians use their knowledge to save the hopeless in a crumbling America. Knox is the bitter, battle-weary captain of the Silver Devils. His squad of supersoldiers went AWOL to avoid slaughtering innocents, and now he’s fighting to survive. They’re on a deadly collision course, and the passion that flares between them only makes it more dangerous. They could burn down the world, destroying each other in the process… Or they could do the impossible: team up. This is the first book in a near-future science fiction series with elements of romance.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Providence / Barry, Max
” We thought the universe was a twinkling ocean of opportunity, waiting to be explored. Afterward, we knew better. Seven years after first contact, Providence Five launches. It is an enormous and deadly warship, built to protect humanity from its greatest ever threat. On board is a crew of just four–tasked with monitoring the ship and reporting the war’s progress to a mesmerized global audience by way of social media. But while pursuing the enemy across space, Gilly, Talia, Anders, and Jackson confront the unthinkable: their communications are cut, their ship decreasingly trustworthy and effective. To survive, they must win a fight that is suddenly and terrifyingly real.” (Catalogue)

Scardown / Bear, Elizabeth
“Jenny Casey was not born for this mission. She was modified for it.  Those who were once her enemies are now her allies, and at fifty, she’s been handpicked for the most important mission of her life – a mission for which her artificially reconstructed body is perfectly suited. With the earth capable of sustaining life for just another century, Jenny – as pilot of the starship Montreal – must discover brave new worlds. And with time running out, she must succeed where others have failed.  With the help of a brilliant AI, an ex-crime lord, and the man she loves, Jenny may just get her chance to save the world.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The saints of salvation / Hamilton, Peter F
” Humanity is struggling to hold out against a hostile takeover by an alien race that claims to be on a religious mission to bring all sentient life to its God at the End of Time. But while billions of cocooned humans fill the holds of the Olyix’s deadly arkships, humankind is playing an even longer game than the aliens may have anticipated. From an ultra-secret spy mission to one of the grandest battles ever seen, no strategy is off the table. Will a plan millennia in the making finally be enough to defeat this seemingly unstoppable enemy? ” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The arrest : a novel / Lethem, Jonathan
“Before the Arrest, Sandy Duplessis had a reasonably good life as a screenwriter in L.A. An old college friend and writing partner, the charismatic and malicious Peter Todbaum, had become one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. That didn’t hurt. Now, post-Arrest, nothing is what it was. Sandy, who calls himself Journeyman, has landed in rural Maine. There he assists the butcher and delivers the food grown by his sister, Maddy, at her organic farm. But then Todbaum shows up in an extraordinary vehicle: a retrofitted tunnel-digger powered by a nuclear reactor.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Mother of daemons / Hair, David
Lyra, Queen of Rondelmar, has fought enemies without and within, dealt with grief and loss, embraced forbidden magic, found her father and borne a child – and still it isn’t enough. Her enemies are on the march and the Rondian Empire is collapsing. But a more dangerous adversary is out there . . . and he is winning. Ervyn Naxius, amoral genius, has unleashed war on two continents and is now laughing kings and priests dance to his tune and his daemonic followers are spreading through the lands, but still he isn’t satisfied. His ultimate goal – absolute control of all life – is finally within his reach . . .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

“Live forever” Our highlighted Crime and mystery titles

Ideas excite me, and as soon as I get excited, the adrenaline gets going and the next thing I know I’m borrowing energy from the ideas themselves.”
— Ray Bradbury.

OR

There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”
— Joseph Brodsky

Killer, come back to me is one of this month’s newly acquired titles. It is a compendium of crime and mystery stories by one of America’s greatest storywriters of the 20th and early 21st century Ray Bradbury. Bradbury is perhaps best known for his science fiction works such as Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Martian Chronicles. However, as this collection amply shows he was adept at working in any fiction genre he choose. Many of his works have been adapted for television and film. He attributed becoming a writer to being touched on the nose at age 12 by a carnival entertainer with an electrified sword called Mr. Electrico who commanded him to “live forever”.


Killer, come back to me / Bradbury, Ray
“Celebrating Ray Bradbury’s centennial, a deluxe illustrated commemorative collection of his finest crime stories  Is it murder to destroy a robot if it looks and speaks and thinks and feels like a human being? Can a ventriloquist be incriminated by the testimony of his own dummy? Can a time traveler prevent his younger self from killing the woman they both loved? And can the survivor of a pair of Siamese twins investigate his own brother’s murder?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The roots of evil / Jardine, Quintin
When struggling ex-copper Terry Coats was discovered in bed with an air hostess, his excuse that he was ‘going undercover’ cut no ice with the force – or his wife. But now he is brutally killed on Hogmanay night, it seems there may have been more to his plea. Dragged from the new year celebrations, Special Constable Sir Bob Skinner is shocked to find coats’ body alongside that of Griff Montell: his erstwhile protege, and former lover of Skinner’s own daughter, Alex. Could there be some dark truth under Coats’ cock -and -bull story, after all? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Murder in old Bombay / March, Nev
“In 1892, Bombay is the center of British India. Nearby, Captain Jim Agnihotri lies in Poona military hospital recovering , with little to do but re-read the tales of his idol, Sherlock Holmes. The case that catches Captain Jim’s attention is being called the crime of the century: Two women fell from the busy university’s clock tower in broad daylight. Moved by Adi, the widower of one of the victims — his certainty that his wife and sister did not commit suicide — Captain Jim approaches the Parsee family and is hired to investigate what happened that terrible afternoon. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Murder by milk bottle / Truss, Lynne
“In the wake of two extremely high-profile murder cases, and with the summer of 1957 finally winding down, Constable Twitten is eagerly anticipating a quiet spell at work. But his hoped-for rest is interrupted when he and his colleagues find a trio of bodies, all murdered with the same unusual weapon: a milk bottle. The three victims are seemingly unconnected-a hardworking patrolman, a would-be beauty queen, and a catty BBC radio personality-so Constable Twitten, Sergeant Brunswick, and Inspector Steine are baffled. ” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Angels weep / Falconer, Colin
“Three can keep a secret. If two of you are dead… Two women are snatched off the streets of London in one weekend. DI Charlie George and his team get to work. The lives of these young women – one of them a mother – are on the line, and the clock is ticking. When they catch a lucky break from a CCTV camera, Charlie is sure they have their man. And that’s when he gets his first surprise. Because nothing about this case is simple and not everyone is quite what they seem. Charlie’s job is to find the missing women and get to the truth. But some people would rather the truth stays hidden – even when the bodies start to pile up…”(Adapted from Catalogue)

Once you go this far : a Roxane Weary mystery / Lepionka, Kristen
 Junior-high school nurse Rebecca Newsome was an experienced hiker–until she plummeted to her death at the bottom of a ravine in a Columbus metro park. Her daughter, Maggie, doesn’t believe it was an accident, and Rebecca’s ex-husband is her prime suspect. But he’s a well-connected ex-cop and Maggie is certain that’s the reason no one will listen to her. PI Roxane Weary quickly uncovers that the dead woman’s ex is definitely a jerk, but is he a murderer? As she pieces together the days before Rebecca died, what Roxane finds doesn’t quite add up.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook .

Fortune favors the dead : a novel / Spotswood, Stephen
“It’s 1942 and Willowjean “Will” Parker is a scrappy circus runaway whose knife-throwing skills have just saved the life of New York’s best, and most unorthodox, private investigator, Lillian Pentecost. When the dapper detective summons Will a few days later, she doesn’t expect to be offered a life-changing proposition: …
Three years later, Will and Lillian are on the Collins case: Abigail Collins was found bludgeoned to death with a crystal ball following a big, boozy Halloween party at her home–her body slumped in the same chair where her steel magnate husband shot himself the year before. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Murder in the band room / Snelling, Patricia
“After retiring as a Detective Inspector, Ann Grieves enjoys her cottage by the sea in the Auckland Region. When she isn’t sleuthing unfaithful spouses and small-time crooks, she enjoys a laid-back life walking the promenade with Scout, her ex-police Beagle dog or making preserves for the oldies in her street. Until a body turns up in her friend’s band room.”–Publisher.” (Catalogue)

The unstoppable rise of Progressive Pulp

If you think this Universe is bad, you should see some of the others.”

Philip K. Dick

Progressive Pulp is a new trend in science fiction that we have seen emerging in recent years, where the fast paced, page turning, addictive aspects of old fashioned pulp fiction are being reimagined or merged with bigger more serious ideas or concepts  such as explorations of gender or racial oppression.  Some authors are working almost exclusively in this new genre, e.g. Adam Christopher, whilst others are releasing individual titles that fit into this exciting and fast-growing sub-genre. Below are a couple of the authors and books we consider as fitting into this new Progressive Pulp category. Enjoy.


Ring shout : or, Hunting Ku Kluxes in the end times / Clark, P. Djèlí
“D. W. Griffith is a sorcerer, and The Birth of a Nation is a spell that drew upon the darkest thoughts and wishes from the heart of America. Now, rising in power and prominence, the Klan has a plot to unleash Hell on Earth. Luckily, Maryse Boudreaux has a magic sword and a head full of tales. When she’s not running bootleg whiskey through Prohibition Georgia, she’s fighting monsters she calls Ku Kluxes. She’s damn good at it, too. But to confront this ongoing evil, she must journey between worlds to face otherworldly nightmares–and her own demons. Together with a foul-mouthed sharpshooter and a Harlem Hellfighter.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Harrow the ninth / Muir, Tamsyn
“She answered the Emperor’s call. She arrived with her arts, her wits, and her only friend. In victory, her world has turned to ash. Nothing is as it seems in the halls of the Emperor, and the fate of the galaxy rests on one woman’s shoulders. Harrowhark Nonagesimus, last necromancer of the Ninth House, has been drafted by her Emperor to fight an unwinnable war. Side-by-side with a detested rival, Harrow must perfect her skills and become an angel of undeath — but her health is failing, her sword makes her nauseous, and even her mind is threatening to betray her. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

I only killed him once : a Ray Electromatic mystery / Christopher, Adam
“Another Hollywood night, another job for electric-detective-turned-robotic-hitman Raymond Electromatic. The target is a tall man in a black hat, and while Ray completes his mission successfully, he makes a startling discovery–one he soon forgets when his 24-hour memory tape loops to the end and is replaced with a fresh reel… When a tall man in a black hat arrives in the offices of the Electromatic Detective Agency the next day, Ray has a suspicion he has met this stranger before, although Ray’s computerized boss, Ada, is not saying a thing. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Condomnauts / Yoss
“In the 24th century, Josu Vald’s rise from an orphan in the slums of Rubble City, Cuba to one of the galaxy’s most accomplished explorers was nothing short of meteoric. On the streets, Josue raced cockroaches for cash–until he discovered his true-calling: as a sexual ambassador for humanity and the Nu Barsa colony. Every so-called “condomnaut” knows that diplomacy and trade deals depend on sexual pacts in the galactic community–and every encounter becomes a close encounter, a wildly inventive and unapologetic tale that would make even Barbarella blush.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Altered carbon / Morgan, Richard K.
“In the twenty-fifth century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy. While divisions in race, religion, and class still exist, advances in technology have redefined life itself. Now, assuming one can afford the expensive procedure, a person’s consciousness can be stored in a cortical stack at the base of the brain and easily downloaded into a new body (or “sleeve”).  Ex-U.N. envoy Takeshi Kovacs has been killed before, now he is thrown into the dark heart of a shady, far-reaching conspiracy that is vicious even by the standards of a society that treats “existence” as something that can be bought and sold. (Adapted from Catalogue)

Blood of the Sun / Rabarts, Dan.
“There’s been a gang massacre on Auckland’s Freyberg Wharf. Body parts everywhere. And with the police’s go-to laboratory out of action, it’s up to scientific consult Pandora (Penny) Yee to sort through the mess. It’s a hellish task, made worse by the earthquake swarms, the insufferable heat, and Cerberus’ infernal barking. And what’s got into her brother Matiu? Does it have something to do with the ship’s consignment? Or is Matiu running with the gangs again? Because if he’s involved, Penny will murder him herself… Matiu can taste the chaos in the air. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Ready Player Two / Cline, Ernest
“In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the Oasis. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines — puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Trail of lightning / Roanhorse, Rebecca
“In a world sinking beneath climate-warmed waves, Maggie works as a monster hunter in Dinétah, once the Navajo reservation. There, she encounters a creature that out-Grendels Grendel and seeks help from medicine man Kai Arviso. Maggie Hoskie is a Din tah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last best hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much more terrifying than anything she could imagine. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The southern book club’s guide to slaying vampires / Hendrix, Grady
” Patricia Campbell’s life has never felt smaller. The only thing keeping her sane is her book club.  One evening after book club, Patricia is viciously attacked by an elderly neighbor, bringing the neighbor’s handsome nephew, James Harris, into her life. Little by little, James will insinuate himself into Patricia’s life and try to take everything she took for granted–including the book club–but she won’t surrender without a fight in this blood-soaked tale of neighborly kindness gone wrong.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

New crime, thriller and mystery novels

Writers always think their greatest work is just ahead of them.” — Ian Rankin

The crime genre has for a long time been one of those genres that really embraces an international perspective. A good crime novel from any part of the World will often find a ready willing and eager readership. And this month’s highlighted crime, thriller and mystery novels really demonstrate this, the list contains authors from Sweden, Italy, Scotland, Australia, America and Ireland. The tales included range from a New Inspector Rebus story where family and career collide set in Scotland, to an inspector Montalbano outing where the murder clues are in an Italian theatrical production from a Scandinavian lottery winner with a secret double life, to a crime caper set in a magical World. Enjoy.

Snow / Banville, John
“Detective Inspector St. John Strafford has been summoned to County Wexford to investigate a murder. A parish priest has been found dead in Ballyglass House, the family seat of the aristocratic, secretive Osborne family. The year is 1957 and the Catholic Church rules Ireland with an iron fist. Strafford–flinty, visibly Protestant and determined to identify the murderer–faces obstruction at every turn, from the heavily accumulating snow to the culture of silence in the tight-knit community he begins to investigate. As he delves further, he learns the Osbornes are not at all what they seem.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Sicilian method / Camilleri, Andrea
” Montalbano finds his answers to a murder in a theatrical play.Mimi Augello is visiting his lover when the woman’s husband unexpectedly returns to the apartment. Hurriedly, he climbs out the window and into the downstairs apartment, but from one danger to another. In the dark he sees a body lying on the bed. Shortly afterwards another body is found and the victim is Carmelo Catalanotti, a director of bourgeois dramas with a harsh reputation for the acting method he developed for his actors: digging into their complexes to unleash their talent, a traumatic experience for all. Are the two deaths connected? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The secret life of Mr Roos / Nesser, Håkan
“A man starts a double life after a secret lottery win. But he can’t know just how sour his new life will turn .Every day he travels down to this man-made oasis, returning each evening to his unsuspecting wife. Life couldn’t be better, until a young woman arrives in paradise .Anna Gambowska is a twenty-one-year-old recovering drug addict. On the run from the rehab centre she hated and an abusive relationship she can’t go back to, all Anna’s prayers are answered when she comes across a seemingly vacant hut in the Swedish woodland. Inspector Barbarotti doesn’t take much interest when a woman reports her husband as missing. That is, until a dead body is found near the missing man’s newly-bought hut, and Mr Roos becomes the number one murder suspect.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Trust / Hammer, Chris
“Martin Scarsden’s new life seems perfect, right up until the moment it’s shattered by a voicemail: a single scream, abruptly cut off, from his partner Mandaly Blonde. Racing home, he finds an unconcious man sprawled on the floor and Mandy gone. Someone has abducted her. But who, and why? So starts a twisting tale of intrigue and danger, as Martin probes the past of the woman he loves, a woman who has buried her former life so deep she has never mentioned it. And for the first time, Mandy finds denial impossible, now the body of a mystery man has been discovered, a man whose name she doesn’t know, a man she was engaged to marry when he died. It’s time to face her demons once and for all; it’s time she learned how to trust” (Catalogue)

The searcher / French, Tana
” Cal Hooper thought a fixer-upper in a bucolic Irish village would be the perfect escape. After twenty-five years in the Chicago police force and a bruising divorce, he just wants to build a new life in a pretty spot with a good pub where nothing much happens. But when a local kid whose brother has gone missing arm-twists him into investigating, Cal uncovers layers of darkness beneath his picturesque retreat, and starts to realize that even small towns shelter dangerous secrets. THE SEARCHER is a gripping standalone novel from a singular writer who has been called “incandescent” by Stephen King, “absolutely mesmerizing” by Gillian Flynn, and “unputdownable” (People).” (Catalogue)

Dead man in a ditch / Arnold, Luke
” The name’s Fetch Phillips — what do you need? Cover a Gnome with a crossbow while he does a dodgy deal? Sure. Find out who killed Lance Niles, the big-shot businessman who just arrived in town? I’ll give it shot.  Help an old-lady Elf track down her husband’s murderer? That’s right up my alley. What I don’t do, because it’s impossible, is search for a way to bring the goddamn magic back. Rumors got out about what happened with the Professor, so now people keep asking me to fix the world. But there’s no magic in this story. Just dead friends, twisted miracles, and a secret machine made to deliver a single shot of murder.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The postscript murders / Griffiths, Elly
The death of a ninety-year-old woman with a heart condition should absolutely not be suspicious. DS Harbinder Kaur certainly sees nothing to concern her in carer Natalka’s account of Peggy Smith’s death. But when Natalka reveals that Peggy lied about her heart condition and that she had been sure someone was following her…And that Peggy Smith had been a ‘murder consultant’ who plotted deaths for authors, and knew more about murder than anyone has any right to…And when clearing out Peggy’s flat ends in Natalka being held at gunpoint by a masked figure…Well then DS Harbinder Kaur thinks that maybe there is no such thing as an unsuspicious death after all. ” (Catalogue)

A song for the dark times / Rankin, Ian
He’s gone…’ When his daughter Samantha calls in the dead of night, John Rebus knows it’s not good news. Her husband has been missing for two days. Rebus fears the worst – and knows from his lifetime in the police that his daughter will be the prime suspect. He wasn’t the best father – the job always came first – but now his daughter needs him more than ever. But is he going as a father or a detective? As he leaves at dawn to drive to the windswept coast – and a small town with big secrets – he wonders whether this might be the first time in his life where the truth is the one thing he doesn’t want to find.. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)