“Here lies Arthur:” New Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Here lies Arthur, King that was, King that will be.”

― Thomas Malory

The myths legends and mysteries surrounding King Arthur and the knights of the round table have for a very long time held a particular fascination on the imagination of writers, artists and film makers.

The Arthurian legend has inspired films as varied as Disney’s The Sword in the Stone, Terry Gilliam’s The Fisher King , Monty Python and the Holy Grail,   King Arthur Legend of the sword starring Charlie Hunnam there is even a Scooby Doo adventure about the legend called Scooby-Doo! The Sword and the Scoob. And authors as diverse as Kazuo Ishiguro, Stephen King, Kevin Crossley-Holland, Bernard Cornwell, C. S. Lewis, T.H. White and John Steinbeck have all tied to pull out their own literary works from the fabled stone (to name but a few).

So, it is fabulous to see in this month’s list of recently acquired Science Fiction and Fantasy titles another author joining these illustrious ranks. Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian brings a fresh and new feminist reimagining of the Arthurian tale, whilst retaining much of the original source material such Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur at its core, pleasing both newbies and Arthurian buffs alike. For details of Half Sick of Shadows and our other selected recently acquired Science Fiction and Fantasy titles, please see below.

Half sick of shadows / Sebastian, Laura
” Everyone knows the legend. Of Arthur, destined to be a king. Of the beautiful Guinevere, who will betray him with his most loyal knight, Lancelot. Of the bitter sorceress, Morgana, who will turn against them all. But Elaine alone carries the burden of knowing what is to come — for Elaine of Shalott is cursed to see the future. On the mystical isle of Avalon, Elaine runs free and learns of the ancient prophecies surrounding her and her friends — countless possibilities, almost all of them tragic. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The stranding / Sawyer, Kate
“Ruth lives in the heart of the city. When a new romance becomes claustrophobic, Ruth chooses to leave behind the failing relationship, but also her beloved friends and family, and travels to the other side of the world in pursuit of her dream life working with whales in New Zealand. But when Ruth arrives, the news cycle she has been ignoring for so long is now the new reality. Far from home and with no real hope of survival, she finds herself climbing into the mouth of a beached whale alongside a stranger. When she emerges, it is to a landscape that bears no relation to the world they knew before. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The crow folk / Stay, Mark
“As Spitfires roar overhead and a dark figure stalks the village of Woodville, a young woman will discover her destiny…Faye Bright always felt a little bit different. And today she’s found out why. She’s just stumbled across her late mother’s diary which includes not only a spiffing recipe for jam roly-poly, but spells, incantations, runes and recitations… a witch’s notebook. And Faye has inherited her mother’s abilities. Just in time, too. The Crow Folk are coming. Led by the charismatic Pumpkinhead, their strange magic threatens Faye and the villagers. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

The weight of a thousand oceans / Webster, Jillian
“In a world where cities sprawl like half-submerged skeletons, Maia has spent her entire life hidden within the mountains of New Zealand. Her only companions being her ailing grandfather and a nomadic dog named Huck, Maia resents being alone. She spends her days wandering the ruins of a population long-gone, dreaming of a place where the few humans left behind can start again-a place her grandfather insists is a myth. But Maia cannot escape a strong and mysterious force calling her out into the world, as well as bizarre events following her around the island. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

This fragile earth / Wise, Susannah
“Signy and Matthew lead a dull, difficult life. But they’re surviving, just about. Until the day the technology that runs their world stops working.  Matthew assumes that this is just a momentary glitch in the computers that now run the world. But then the electricity and gas are cut off. Even the water stops running. And the pollination drones – vital to the world, ever since the bees all died – are behaving oddly. People are going missing. Soldiers are on the streets. London is no longer safe. Determined to protect her son, Signy will do almost anything to survive as the world falls apart around them. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Appleseed : a novel / Bell, Matt
“Eighteenth-century Ohio: two brothers travel into the wooded frontier, planting apple orchards from which they plan to profit in the years to come. As they plan for a future of settlement and civilization. In the second half of the twenty-first century: climate change has ravaged the Earth. Having invested early in genetic engineering and food science, one company now owns all the world’s resources. In a pivotal moment for the future of humanity, one of the company’s original founders returns to headquarters, intending to destroy what he helped build. A thousand years in the future: North America is covered by a massive sheet of ice. One lonely sentient being inhabits a tech station on top of the glacier, and sets out to follow a homing beacon across the continent in the hopes of discovering the last remnant of civilization.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A psalm for the wild-built / Chambers, Becky
“It’s been centuries since the robots of Panga gained self-awareness and laid down their tools; centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again; centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend. One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of “what do people need?” is answered. But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how. They’re going to need to ask it a lot. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Strange beasts of China / Yan, Ge
“In the fictional Chinese city of Yong’an, an amateur cryptozoologist is tasked with uncovering the stories of its fabled beasts, which draws her deep within a mystery that threatens her very sense of self.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

“It was as if the sun had come out”: new general fiction

Demonstrators protesting against a South African rugby tour, Wellington. Evening post (Newspaper. 1865-2002) :Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: 35mm-01392-11a-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22543224

“It was as if the sun had come out” — Nelson Mandela, after hearing that the Hamilton match had been cancelled.

Read this post in Te Reo

In our selection of newly acquired general fiction titles this month we have a novel that centres around one of the most divisive events of modern Aotearoa / New Zealand history.

Forty years ago, the South African rugby team (the Springboks) toured the country. The tour and the attendant political situation in South Africa caused a huge social schism that split New Zealand society in half, triggering mass demonstrations, unprecedented police actions and creating a for or against divide across the whole country. The 1981 Springbok Tour became one of its biggest political conflicts in New Zealand of the 20th century. The issue at the heart of this rip in society was the fact that South Africa was still operating under the abhorrent apartheid system of racial segregation and whether this should have any bearing on sporting events.

Much has been written about the tour from all sides of the argument.

And if you want more information on the history of the Tour Wellington City Libraries and Wellington Archives have joined forces this year to mark the events of 1981 as they happened.

The Twitter account Tweet the Tour is live tweeting things as they happened.

In this month newly acquired general fiction selection we have Hold the line: The Springbok tour of ’81: a family, a love affair, a nation at war: a novel by Kerry Harrison. A fictionalised recreation of this momentous time that dramatically recreates the tensions of the tour.

We also have two other very different Aotearoa / New Zealand titles in this month’s selection. The Piano Girls is a very welcome new fiction work from Elizabeth Smither. And The Only Living Lady Parachutist by Catherine Clarke is a novel based on fact, centring on the life of Lillian a death defying daredevil hot air balloon acrobat who thrilled crowds in New Zealand and Australia in the 1890s.

A darker reality / Perry, Anne
“Elena’s grandparents are marking a milestone anniversary by throwing an elaborate party with the influential friends of her grandfather. But the festivities come to a sudden and tragic end when one of the guests, Lila Worth, is run over by a car in the driveway outside. Elena believes Lila was trying to tell her something before her death, and when a call from her employer back home, MI6, confirms that Lila was a British spy, Elena pairs with a fellow agent to find out what vital information the young woman had in her possession.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Hard like water / Yan, Lianke
“Returning to his village invigorated by success in the army, Gao Aijun sees the beautiful Xia Hongmei walking barefoot alongside the railway track in the warm afternoon sun, and is instantly smitten. Hiding their relationship from their spouses, the pair hurl themselves into the struggle to bring revolution to their backwater village. They wait to consummate their relationship until Aijun has managed to dig a literal tunnel of love between their homes, where underneath the village their revolutionary and sexual fervor reaches a boiling point.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The hummingbird / Veronesi, Sandro
“Marco Carrera is ‘the hummingbird,’ a man with the almost supernatural ability to stay still as the world around him continues to change. As he navigates the challenges of life – confronting the death of his sister and the absence of his brother; taking care of his parents as they approach the end of their lives; raising his granddaughter when her mother, Marco’s own child, can no longer be there for her; coming to terms with his love for the enigmatic Luisa – Marco Carrera comes to represent the quiet heroism that pervades so much of our everyday existence. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The piano girls / Smither, Elizabeth
“Three musical sisters honour their mother with a piano recital every year in her memory. They compete with one another, practising in secret to see who can be the best. In other stories, music, food, and restaurants are themes. There is a woman who fends off a seducer by cooking up a storm; Fire Lady prepares flambe dishes in a restaurant. There is a cat called Min; an agonising breakup in a luxury hotel; a young woman obsessed with her breasts. The stories cover a wide range from schooldays and ballet lessons to advanced age.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The vixen : a novel / Prose, Francine
“1953. Simon Putnam, newly hired by a distinguished New York publishing firm, gets his first assignment: editing The Vixen, the Patriot and the Fanatic, a lurid bodice-ripper improbably based on the recent trial and execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. It is a potboiler intended to shore up the firm’s failing finances. Simon’s mother was a childhood friend of Ethel Rosenberg’s; his parents mourn Ethel’s death. Simon meets The Vixen author, reckless, seductive Anya Partridge, ensconced in her opium-scented boudoir in a luxury Hudson River mental asylum. Simon comes to realize that everyone is not what they seem, that everyone is keeping secrets, and that ordinary events may conceal a diabolical plot.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Breathe : a novel / Oates, Joyce Carol
“Amid a starkly beautiful but uncanny landscape in New Mexico, a married couple from Cambridge, MA takes residency at a distinguished academic institute. When the husband is stricken with a mysterious illness, misdiagnosed at first, their lives are uprooted and husband and wife each embarks upon a nightmare journey. At thirty-seven, Michaela faces the terrifying prospect of widowhood – and the loss of Gerard, whose identity has greatly shaped her own.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Hold the line : the Springbok tour of ’81 : a family, a love affair, a nation at war : a novel / Harrison, Kerry
“It’s 1981 and New Zealand is about to host the Springboks from apartheid South Africa for a national rugby tour. Thousands, in a well-supported protest movement, pitch against a nation of die-hard rugby supporters. Despite growing public protest, the Government and Rugby Union are adamant the tour will proceed. Beth returns from London. Her World War 2 veteran father is a rugby fanatic, her brother becomes a protestor embroiled in street violence. She studies law and meets Viktor who, unknown to her, is a member of the notorious Police Red Squad. What will happen to their polarised relationship in a country where the very survival of civil order is at risk? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The only living lady parachutist / Clarke, Catherine
“To test her courage, daredevil Lillian risks her life for fame and fortune by parachuting from a hot air balloon throughout Australia and New Zealand. But in the competitive 1890s era of charlatans, showmen, and theatrical hucksters, is she brave enough to confront the truth about her past?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

“Demon dog of American crime fiction”: New Crime and Mystery

 

 

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In this month’s recently acquired crime, mystery, and detective novels we have a new work from James Ellroy, nicknamed the “Demon dog of American crime fiction.”

James Ellroy is one of the most accomplished, celebrated, and acclaimed modern crime writers around, known for his moral but often relentlessly pessimistic and complex style, which recently has incorporated his own tele grammatic prose, where he often omits connecting words leaving only short, staccato sentences, incorporating in the process his own version of drug vernacular, profanity, cop talk and jazz slang.

His own dark and very troubled past has definitely had a huge influence on Ellroy himself, both as an individual and his writing. His mother was brutally murdered when he was only ten and Ellroy struggled to come to terms with this immense tragedy (which he would eventually write about in his memoir My Dark Places). Dropping out of school, he abused both alcohol and drugs and suffered from intense clinical depression. Often homeless, he turned to petty crime, including shoplifting and housebreaking, eventually spending time in prison. After suffering from pneumonia which caused an abscess on his lung, he quit drinking. He then took up golf caddying which allowed him the time to pursue writing. His first detective book Brown’s Requiem is based partially around his caddying experiences. He quickly became a cult favourite and later with L.A. Quartet series of books both critical and commercial success would follow.  Widespread Panic is his most recent work. You can read further details of Widespread Panic along with our other selected Crime and Mystery titles below:

Widespread panic : a novel / Ellroy, James
“Freddy Otash is the man in the know and the man to know in Tinseltown. He operates with two simple rules–he’ll do anything but murder, and he’ll never work with commies. Freddy is a corrupt L.A. cop on the skids. He executed a cop killer named Horvath and it gores him. So Captain “Whiskey” Bill Parker cans him. Now, Freddy dons an array of new hats–sleazoid private eye, shakedown artist, matchmaker for Rock Hudson, pimp for President John F. Kennedy–and, most notably–the lead tipster and head strongarm goon for Confidential magazine.  In Widespread Panic we traverse the depths of ’50s L.A. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The second woman / Philby, Charlotte
“Artemis leaves the remote Greek island she grew up on to start a shiny new life in 1990s London with her British husband, a successful entrepreneur. Finally, she has escaped the ghosts of her past. Until she is found hanging from the stairs of her beautiful family home. Two decades later, the apparent suicide of an heiress uncannily mirrors Artemis’ mysterious death. And when the ensuing investigation uncovers links to a criminal cartel, National Crime Agency officer Madeleine Farrow begins to pull apart the web of deceit surrounding the two women.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The doll / Yrsa Sigurdardottir
“It was meant to be a quiet family fishing trip, a chance for mother and daughter to talk. But it changes the course of their lives forever. They catch nothing except a broken doll that gets tangled in the net. After years in the ocean, the doll is a terrifying sight and the mother’s first instinct is to throw it back, but she relents when her daughter pleads to keep it. This simple act of kindness proves fatal. That evening, the mother posts a picture of the doll on social media. By the morning, she is dead and the doll has disappeared….” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Farewell my herring / Tyler, L. C
“Ethelred Tressider and his agent Elsie Thirkettle have been invited to lecture on a creative writing course at Fell Hall, a remote location in the heart of ragged countryside that even sheep are keen to shun. While Ethelred’s success as a writer is distinctly average, Elsie sees this as an opportunity to scout for new, hopefully more lucrative, talent. But heavy snow falls overnight, trapping those early arrivals inside, and tensions are quick to emerge between the assembled group. When one of their number goes missing, Ethelred leads a search party and makes a gruesome discovery. With no phone signal and no hope of summoning the police, can Ethelred and Elsie identify the killer among them before one of them is next?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The truth-seeker’s wife / Granger, Ann
“It is spring 1871 when Lizzie Ross accompanies her formidable Aunt Parry on a restorative trip to the south coast. Lizzie’s husband, Ben, is kept busy at Scotland Yard and urges his wife to stay out of harm’s way. But when Lizzie and her aunt are invited to dine with other guests at the home of wealthy landowner Sir Henry Meager, and he is found shot dead in his bed the next morning, no one feels safe. On Lizzie’s last visit to the New Forest, another gruesome murder took place, and the superstitious locals now see her as a bad omen. And once Ben arrives to help with the investigation, he and Lizzie must work together to expose  dark secrets and a ruthless killer intent on revenge.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Sleepless / Hausmann, Romy
“It’s been years since Nadja Kulka was convicted of a cruel crime. After being released from prison, she’s wanted nothing more than to live a normal life: nice flat, steady job, even a few friends. But when one of those friends, Laura von Hoven–free-spirited beauty and wife of Nadja’s boss–kills her lover and begs Nadja for her help, Nadja can’t seem to refuse. The two women make for a remote house in the woods, the perfect place to bury a body. But their plan quickly falls apart and Nadja finds herself outplayed, a pawn in a bizarre game in which she is both the perfect victim and the perfect murderer..”(Adapted from Catalogue)

Shadow over Edmund Street / Frankham, Suzanne
“Raised in a poverty-scarred part of Auckland, Edwina is a battler. Life revolves around the church and her mundane job unpacking vegetables. Meanwhile, a new generation has gentrified her suburb. After winning a gym membership, she loses weight, gets a new hairstyle, clothes, job – and makes a new friend, Rose. Edwina’s life is brutally taken, a swift and silent killer leaving no clues. Her murder seems unsolvable until a casual comment sends Inspector Alex Cameron and his seasoned team trawling through Edwina’s childhood. Can they uncover the link in time to save the next victim? Alex Cameron must unravel the shadow hanging over Edmund Street. Everyone and no one is a suspect, until…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The dying day / Khan, Vaseem
“For over a century, one of the world’s great treasures, a six-hundred-year-old copy of Dante’s The Divine Comedy, has been safely housed at Bombay’s Asiatic Society. But when it vanishes, together with the man charged with its care, British scholar and war hero, John Healy, the case lands on Inspector Persis Wadia’s desk. Uncovering a series of complex riddles written in verse, Persis – together with English forensic scientist Archie Blackfinch – is soon on the trail. But then they discover the first body. As the death toll mounts it becomes evident that someone else is also pursuing this priceless artefact and will stop at nothing to possess it…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The 2021 Sir Julius Vogel Award winners announced

Huge congratulations to Octavia Cade, winner of this year’s Sir Julius Vogel Awards for Best Novel with her enthralling cli-fi thriller The Stone Wētā.

The Sir Julius Vogel Awards are New Zealand’s very own annual celebration of home-grown science fiction and fantasy — with awards covering books, dramatic presentations, fan publications and much more.

Octavia won the Best Novel category with her book The Stone Wētā, a novel set in a time when the cold war of data preservation turns explosive. Trying to overcome this disaster and working in a claustrophobic network, a group of dedicated and isolated scientists are each faced with the question of how much they will risk for their colleagues, the future and the truth.

In other categories:

Best Youth Novel went to Chloe Gong for These Violent Delights.

Best Novella/Novelette went to A.J. Fitzwater for No Man’s Land.

Best Short Story went to Casey Lucas for For Want of Human Parts.

Best Collected Work award went to A.J. Fitzwater for The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper.

Our heartfelt congratulations to all the winners and shortlisted authors! Have a browse and a bit more of a read below!


The stone wētā / Cade, Octavia
“When the cold war of data preservation turns bloody – and then explosive – an underground network of scientists, all working in isolation, must decide how much they are willing to risk for the truth. For themselves, their colleagues, and their future. A claustrophobic and compelling cli-fi thriller by Octavia Cade”” (Adapted from Catalogue)

These violent delights / Gong, Chloe
“In 1926 Shanghai, eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, heir of the Scarlet Gang, and her first love-turned-rival Roma Montagov, leader of the White Flowers, must work together when mysterious deaths threaten their city.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover No Man’s Land, A.J. Fitzwater (ebook)
“While her brother fights a war on the other side of the world, Dorothea ‘Tea’ Gray joins the Land Service and is sent to work on a remote farm in the golden plains of North Otago, in the South Island of New Zealand. But Tea finds more than hard work and hot sun in the dusty North Otago nowhere—she finds a magic inside herself she never could have imagined, a way to save her brother in a distant land she never thought she could reach, and a love she never knew existed. Inspired by feminist and LGBTQ+ history and family wartime memories.” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper, A.J. Fitzwater (ebook)
“Dapper. Lesbian. Capybara. Pirate. Cinrak the Dapper is a keeper of secrets, a righter of wrongs, the saltiest capybara on the sea and a rider of both falling stars and a great glass whale. Join her, her beloveds, the rat Queen Orvilia and the marmot diva Loquolchi, lead soprano of the Theatre Rat-oyal, her loyal cabin kit, Benj the chinchilla, and Agnes, last of the great krakens, as they hunt for treasures of all kinds and find adventures beyond their wildest dreams. Let Sir Julius Vogel Award-winning storyteller A.J. Fitzwater take you on a glorious journey about finding yourself, discovering true love and found family, and exploring the greatest secrets of the deep. Also, dapperness.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Year’s best Aotearoa New Zealand science fiction & fantasy. V2
“Ancient myths go high-tech a decade after the New New Zealand Wars. Safe homes and harbours turn to strangeness within and without. Splintered selves come together again – or not. Twelve authors. Thirteen stories. The best short science fiction and fantasy from Aotearoa New Zealand in 2019. With works by: Juliet Marillier, Nic Low, Rem Wigmore, Andi C Buchanan, Octavia Cade, A.J. Fitzwater, Nicole Tan, Melanie Harding-Shaw, Alisha Tyson, James Rowland, Zoë Meager, and Casey Lucas.”  (Adapted from Catalogue)

Fiction set in Tokyo

Were you hooked on watching our fabulous athletes in action at this year’s Olympics? And in amongst the thrills, spills Golds, silvers and bronzes have you got to wondering like us about, Tokyo the city that is hosting this sporting extravaganza? Due to the pandemic the television coverage we are seeing is more of empty indoor stadiums than of the city itself.

Originally a fishing village, called Edo Tokyo became a, prominent political centre in 1603. and now with 39 million residents in its greater area it is the most populous city in the world.

Tokyo is a city of extremes; the most modern city on the planet but also with deep roots in traditional Japanese culture. The only place on the planet where you can meet interactive robots trying to get you to shop on one street under a blinding  neon urban skyscraper and just round the corner you can find a Traditional wooden Shinto temple hundreds of years old.

And beyond the sport, technology and history,  the city has spawned a rich and vibrant culture spanning hundreds of years and covering every artistic field imaginable.

So, we thought what better time there could be to expand on this interest in the city by looking at some of the fiction literature about or originating in this great metropolis.

Out / Kirino, Natsuo
“It is a dynamic example of the work of a new breed of Asian women writers excelling in the smart, hard-nosed, well-written, and realistically plotted mystery novel.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

After dark / Murakami, Haruki
“A short, sleek novel of encounters set in Tokyo during the witching hours between midnight and dawn. At its center are two sisters – Eri, a fashion model slumbering her way into oblivion, and Mari, a young student soon led from solitary reading at an anonymous Denny’s toward people whose lives are radically alien to her own: a jazz trombonist who claims they’ve met before, a burly female “love hotel” manager and her maid staff, and a Chinese prostitute savagely brutalized by a businessman. These “night people” are haunted by secrets and needs that draw them together more powerfully than the differing circumstances that might keep them apart.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

In the miso soup / Murakami, Ryū
“It is just before New Year’s. Frank, an overweight American tourist, has hired Kenji to take him on a guided tour of Tokyo’s sleazy nightlife on three successive evenings. But Frank’s behavior is so strange that Kenji begins to entertain a horrible suspicion: that his new client is in fact the serial killer currently terrorizing the city. It isn’t until the second night, however, in a scene that will shock you and make you laugh and make you hate yourself for laughing, that Kenji learns exactly how much he has to fear and how irrevocably his encounter with this great white whale of an American will change his life.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Number 9 dream / Mitchell, David
“As Eiji Miyake’s twentieth birthday nears, he sets out for the seething metropolis of Tokyo to find the father he has never met. There, he begins a thrilling, whirlwind journey where dreams, memories and reality collide then diverge as Eiji is caught up in a feverish succession of encounters by turn bizarre, hilarious and shockingly dangerous. But until Eiji has fallen in love and exorcised his childhood demons, the belonging he craves will remain, tantalizingly, just beyond his grasp.”  (Adapted from Catalogue)

Confessions of a mask / Mishima, Yukio
“Confessions of a Mask tells the story of Kochan, an adolescent boy tormented by his burgeoning attraction to men: he wants to be “normal.” Kochan is meek-bodied and unable to participate in the more athletic activities of his classmates. He begins to notice his growing attraction to some of the boys in his class, particularly the pubescent body of his friend Omi. To hide his homosexuality, he courts a woman, Sonoko, but this exacerbates his feelings for men. As news of the war reaches Tokyo, Kochan considers the fate of Japan and his place within its deeply rooted propriety. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover The Earthquake Bird, Susanna Jones (ebook)
The Earthquake Bird, a haunting novel set in Japan which reveals a murder on its first page and takes its readers into the mind of the chief suspect, Lucy Fly – a young, vulnerable English girl living and working in Tokyo as a translator. As Lucy is interrogated by the police she reveals her past to the reader, and it is a past which is dangerously ambiguous and compromising . . .
Why did Lucy leave England for the foreign anonymity of Japan ten years before, and what exactly prompted her to sever all links with her family back home? She was the last person to see the murdered girl alive, so why is she not more forthcoming about the circumstances of their last meeting?  (Overdrive description)

One morning like a bird / Miller, Andrew
“Tokyo, 1940. As Japan’s war with China escalates, Yuji Takano, a young man so far spared fighting by ill-health, clings to his calm, cultured life – the company of friends, evenings of French conversation at the home of the trader, Monsieur Feneon, the days of writing and contemplation enabled by an allowance from his father.” “But the world begins to close in on Yuji. His father loses his professorship over a comment about the Emperor, the allowance is scrapped and, with the nation heading towards conflict with the Allies, conscription threatens. ” (Catalogue)

Who is Mr Satoshi? / Lee, Jonathan
“Reclusive photographer Rob Fossick, having never recovered from the death of his wife, has come adrift both from society & his creative urge. But when his mother suddenly dies he is presented with an intriguing problem to solve – Rob discovers that his mother was hoping to deliver a package to an enigmatic character called Mr Satoshi.” (Catalogue)

The Nakano Thrift Shop / Kawakami, Hiromi
“In the Nakano Thrift Shop, the young woman who works the register falls for her reserved co-worker and asks her employers sister for advice in attracting him and soon comes to realize that love requires acceptance of idiosyncrasies and secrets.” (Catalogue)

Sweet bean paste / Dorian Sukegawa
“Sentaro has failed. He has a criminal record, drinks too much, and his dream of becoming a writer is just a distant memory. With only the blossoming of the cherry trees to mark the passing of time, he spends his days in a tiny confectionery shop selling dorayaki, a type of pancake filled with sweet bean paste. Into his life comes Tokue, an elderly woman with disfigured hands and a troubled past. Tokue makes the best sweet bean paste Sentaro has ever tasted. She begins to teach him her craft, but as their friendship flourishes, social pressures become impossible to escape and Tokue’s dark secret is revealed, with devastating consequences.” (adapted from catalogue)

Convenience store woman / Murata, Sayaka
“Keiko isn’t normal. At school and university people find her odd, and her family worries she will never fit in. To make them happy, she takes a job at a convenience store. But in Keiko’s circle it just won’t do for an unmarried woman to spend her time stacking shelves and ordering green tea. As the pressure to find a new job – or worse, a husband – increases, Keiko is forced to take desperate action… –Cover.” (Catalogue)

Author interview: Rajorshi Chakraborti

Rajorshi Chakraborti is one of the most interesting and exciting voices in New Zealand literature at the moment; a superb novelist, essayist, and short story writer. Rajorshi grew up in Calcutta and Mumbai and now lives in New Zealand.

He is the author of six novels and his novel The Man Who Would Not See was longlisted for the 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. Set in Calcutta, it is the story of a family split apart by a very small error that moves ahead thirty years, so a possible apparent reconciliation, but is it?

His latest novel Shakti is a supernatural magical realist mystery thriller set in India, that delves into the murky and dark waters of modern Indian politics in a carefully chosen, considered  and unique fashion.

And as an accompaniment to this exceptional book, we recently had the pleasure of interviewing Rajorshi in conjunction with  Caffeine and Aspirin arts and entertainment review show on Radioactive FM. The interview was conducted by Caffeine and Aspirin host Liam Wild.

You can also borrow his books:

Shakti / Chakraborti, Rajorshi
“Amid a climate of right-wing, nationalist politics, three Indian women find themselves wielding powers that match their wildest dreams. There is one catch: they come with a Faustian price.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook. 

 

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

Shadow play / Chakraborti, Rajorshi
“An international conspiracy thriller in the vein of The Parallax View— a Salman Rushdie-esque figure uses his latest novel to explain his own disappearance after a journalist’s murder   Raj Chakraborti, internationally renowned novelist and commentator, has disappeared from public view. What’s worse, the police want to question him about the murder of a young journalist. Raj claims to explain everything in chapters from his latest work of fiction about a serial-killer-turned-hired-assassin. Is Raj right to believe that he is being hunted, or is it his past that has finally borne down to haunt him?” (Catalogue)

Lit : stories from home
“Home-grown literary heroes, established contemporary authors, and award-winning emerging writers have been brought together in this new short story collection. Exploring ideas about identity, activism awareness, coming-of-age, society, and family in Aotearoa, New Zealand” (Catalogue)

Existentialism in art and literature

“Life has no meaning the moment you lose the illusion of being eternal.”

– Jean-Paul Sartre.

Toy Story Aliens GIFvia GIPHY Aliens from Toy Story  (Toy Story, 1995)

Existentialism aims to unravel some of the most profound issues around human existence. Taking as their starting point the confusion, anxiety, and disorientation they feel at a seemingly pointless and absurd world. This viewpoint came into focus originally with European philosophers in the 19th and 20th Century with philosophers such as Søren Kierkegaard, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Friedrich Nietzsche.

This philosophical approach has influenced the creation of many works of art from films such as The Seventh Seal, Taxi Driver, Easy Rider, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, A Clockwork Orange, Groundhog Day, Apocalypse Now, Badlands, Blade Runner and even the Toy Story films.

But the main artistic avenue used to explore and incorporate existential ideas has been fiction.
The existential viewpoint has proven fertile ground for writers.  With its promise as a route to explore the issues relating to the purpose, meaning and the existence of life, or the indeed the lack of meaning behind these concepts.

From classic masterpieces by authors such as Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Franz Kafka, and Hermann Hesse, to slightly more modern writers such as Philip K. Dick, Kurt Vonnegut, and Jack Kerouac, and a thread of existential writers continues right up to this day with authors such as David Foster Wallace, Chuck Palahniuk, Mark Z. Danielewski and Marilynne Robinson.

Below is a very small selection of the existential novels available to borrow from our catalogue.

Death on credit / Céline, Louis-Ferdinand
” In Death on Credit, Ferdinand Bardamu, Celine’s alter ego, is a doctor in Paris, treating the poor who seldom pay him but who take every advantage of his availability. The action is not continuous but goes back in time to earlier memories and often moves into fantasy, the style becomes deliberately rougher and sentences disintegrate to catch the flavour of the teeming world of everyday Parisian tragedies, the struggle to make a living, illness, venereal disease, the sordid stories of families whose destiny is governed by their own stupidity, malice, lust and greed.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The mandarins / Beauvoir, Simone de
“A Harper Perennial Modern Classics reissue of this unflinching examination of post-war French intellectual life, and an amazing chronicle of love, philosophy and politics from one of the most important thinkers of the twentieth century.” (Catalogue)

 

 

The trial / Kafka, Franz
“A novel of such ambiguity will inevitably lend itself to a diversity of interpretation, but in The Trial you can at least be sure to find every element of storytelling now defined as Kafkaesque.” (Catalogue)

 

 

Siddhartha : an Indian tale / Hesse, Hermann
“A young Brahmin named Siddhartha searches for ultimate reality after meeting with the Buddha. His quest takes him from a life of decadence to asceticism, from the illusory joys of sensual love with a beautiful courtesan, and of wealth and fame, to the painful struggles with his son and the ultimate wisdom of renunciation. Integrating Eastern and Western spiritual traditions with psychoanalysis and philosophy, written with a deep and moving empathy for humanity, Herman Hesse{u2019}s strangely simple Siddhartha is perhaps the most important and compelling moral allegory the troubled twentieth century ever produced.” (Catalogue)

The Dharma bums / Kerouac, Jack
“Two ebullient young men are engaged in a passionate search for dharma, or truth. Their major adventure is the pursuit of the Zen way, which takes them climbing into the high Sierras to seek the lesson of solitude, a lesson that has a hard time surviving their forays into the pagan groves of San Francisco’s Bohemia with its marathon wine-drinking bouts, poetry jam sessions, experiments in “yabyum,” and similar nonascetic pastimes.” (Catalogue)

 

Cat’s cradle / Vonnegut, Kurt
“Cat’s Cradle unfolds from the point of view of a narrator, who, in preparing to write a book, wants to know what some famous Americans were up to the day the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. He is led to the grown-up children of an absent-minded professor who was the “father of the atomic bomb.” They are the key to what follows, possessing the only example of their father’s last discovery, a potentially destructive kind of super-ice called “ice-nine.”Cat’s Cradle is a wild, hurtling apocalyptic tale that satirizes, among many other things, the blithe indifference and goofiness of the people who populate the nuclear science community.” (Catalogue)

Housekeeping / Robinson, Marilynne
“The story of Ruth and her sister Lucille, who grew up haphazardly. The family house is in the harsh environment of the Far West town of Fingerbone, USA. Ruth and Lucille’s struggle toward adulthood touches themes of loss and survival, and the undertow of transience.” (Catalogue)

 

 

Infinite jest : a novel / Wallace, David Foster
“A spoof on our culture featuring a drug-and-alcohol rehabilitation house near Boston. The center becomes a hotbed of revolutionary activity by Quebec separatists in revolt against the Organization of North American Nations which now rules the continent.” (Catalogue)

 

 

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.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Trains and boats and planes: our selection of recently acquired fiction titles

Amongst this month’s recently acquired fiction titles we have a few that have modes of transport woven into their plots, including a Japanese novel by Kōtarō Isaka intriguingly situated almost entirely on a bullet train. The first initial Shinkansen, known in English as the bullet train, routes started to transport passengers in 1964, expanding over the following decades. The high-speed network has now chalked up over 10 billion passenger journeys. In the novel, five killers find themselves competing for a suitcase full of money on a bullet train.

We also have Falling by real-life flight attendant T. J. Newman, written on redeye flights at 35,000 feet whilst her passengers were asleep.

We also have the fabulous Bug week & other stories by Airini Beautrais, the winner of this year’s Ockham prize and the recently released New Zealand novel Greta & Valdin, set in an Auckland apartment and revolving round brother and sister, navigating the complexities of modern romance. For a wider selection of our recently acquired new fiction just check out our list below.

Bullet train / Isaka, Kōtarō
“Satoshi looks like an innocent schoolboy but he is really a viciously cunning psychopath. Kimura’s young son is in a coma thanks to him, and Kimura has tracked him onto the bullet train headed from Tokyo to Morioka to exact his revenge. But Kimura soon discovers that they are not the only dangerous passengers onboard. Nanao, the self-proclaimed ‘unluckiest assassin in the world’, and the deadly partnership of Tangerine and Lemon are also travelling to Morioka. A suitcase full of money leads others to show their hands. Why are they all on the same train, and who will get off alive at the last station?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

 Falling / Newman, T. J.
“You just boarded a flight to New York. There are one hundred and forty-three other passengers onboard. What you don’t know is that thirty minutes before the flight your pilot’s family was kidnapped. For his family to live, everyone on your plane must die. The only way the family will survive is if the pilot follows his orders and crashes the plane. Enjoy your flight.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Bug week & other stories / Beautrais, Airini
“A science educator in domestic chaos fetishises Scandinavian furniture and champagne flutes. A group of white-collar deadbeats attend a swinger’s party in the era of drunk Muldoon. A pervasive smell seeps through the walls of a German housing block. A seabird performs at an open-mic night. Bug Week is a scalpel-clean examination of male entitlement, a dissection of death, an agar plate of mundanity. From 1960s Wellington to post-Communist Germany, Bug Week traverses the weird, the wry and the grotesque in a story collection of human taxonomy.”(Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Greta & Valdin / Reilly, Rebecca K
“Valdin is still in love with his ex-boyfriend Xabi, who used to drive around Auckland in a ute but now drives around Buenos Aires in one. Greta is in love with her fellow English tutor Holly, who doesn’t know how to pronounce Greta’s surname, Vladislavljevic, properly. From their Auckland apartment, brother and sister must navigate the intricate paths of modern romance as well as weather the small storms of their eccentric Māori-Russian-Catalonian family”–Information from publisher.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The discomfort of evening / Rijneveld, Marieke Lucas
“Jas lives with her devout farming family in the rural Netherlands. One winter’s day, her older brother joins an ice skating trip; resentful at being left alone, she makes a perverse plea to God; he never returns. As grief overwhelms the farm, Jas succumbs to a vortex of increasingly disturbing fantasies, watching her family disintegrate into a darkness that threatens to derail them all. “–Publisher.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook. 

 

Katharine Parr : the sixth wife / Weir, Alison
“Having sent his much-beloved but deceitful young wife Katheryn Howard to her beheading, King Henry fixes his lonely eyes on a more mature woman, thirty-year-old, twice-widowed Katharine Parr. She, however, is in love with Sir Thomas Seymour, brother to the late Queen Jane. Aware of his rival, Henry sends him abroad, leaving Katharine no choice but to become Henry’s sixth queen. Four years into the marriage, Henry dies, leaving England’s throne to nine-year-old Edward—a puppet in the hands of ruthlessly ambitious royal courtiers. The result is a tangled tale of love and a struggle for power, bringing to a close the dramatic and violent reign of Henry VIII.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A fine madness : a novel inspired by the life and death of Christopher Marlowe / Judd, Alan
“Danger and dissent stalk the streets and taverns of Elizabethan England. The Queen’s chief spymaster, Francis Walsingham, and his team of agents must maintain the highest levels of vigilance to ward off Catholic plots and the ever-present threat of invasion. One operative in particular – a young Cambridge undergraduate, controversial beliefs and literary genius who goes by the name of Kit Marlowe – is relentless in his pursuit of intelligence for the Crown. When he is killed outside an inn in Deptford, his mysterious death becomes the subject of rumours and suspicion .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

With teeth / Arnett, Kristen
“If she’s being honest, Sammie Lucas is scared of her son. Working from home in the close quarters of their Florida house, she lives with one wary eye peeled on Samson, a sullen, unknowable boy who resists her every attempt to bond with him. Uncertain in her own feelings about motherhood, she tries her best—driving, cleaning, cooking, prodding him to finish projects for school—while growing increasingly resentful of Monika, her confident but absent wife. When her son’s hostility finally spills over into physical aggression, Sammie must confront her role in the mess—and the possibility that it will never be clean again.” (Catalogue)

Under a Dark Angel’s Eye and other selections from our recently acquired crime, mystery and thriller titles

“His stories were good because he imagined them intensely, so intensely that he came to believe them.”
― Patricia Highsmith, The Talented Mr. Ripley

via GIPHY Alain Delon in Plein Soleil (Purple Noon, 1960) 

Among this month’s recently acquired crime and mystery fiction we have a newly released collection of stories from one of the most accomplished thriller and suspense novelists ever – Patricia Highsmith. Some of the stories included in this collection have never been published and others only in very small numbers, including her first ever published short story released when she was only 15.

She was an infamously complex, troubled, and often difficult individual, with a reputation for causing self-inflicted havoc and chaos at dinner parties and social occasions. Her brilliant stories and novels often reflect her character; she once wrote about how she had fantasised about murdering someone, and these inner demons make you feel that her often troubled central characters came from within rather than being literary constructs.

Highsmith often said she preferred animals to people, loved cats, and she bred about three hundred snails in her garden at home in Suffolk. She famously attended a cocktail party with a “gigantic handbag” that “contained a head of lettuce and a hundred snails” which she told her fellow guests were her “companions for the evening.” She also loved woodworking tools and made several pieces of furniture.

During her life Highsmith wrote 22 novels and numerous short stories and was a dedicated lifelong diary keeper, leaving over eight thousand pages of diary entries at her death. Below is a link to this title and some of our other recently acquired picks.

Under a dark angel’s eye : the selected stories of Patricia Highsmith / Highsmith, Patricia
“Patricia Highsmith was one of the great twentieth-century fiction writers, celebrated for classics The Talented Mr Ripley, Carol and Strangers on a Train, but she was also a masterful and prolific short-story writer. This definitive new collection, featuring two stories that have never been published before, reveals Highsmith as a genius of the genre. Peerlessly disturbing, exhilarating and savagely funny, Highsmith’s stories still have the power to startle.” (Adapted from Catalogue) We also have the acclaimed French movie adaptation of the The Talented Mr Ripley click here for details.

The lost gallows : a London mystery / Carr, John Dickson
“In this follow up to It Walks by Night, Inspector Bencolin attempts to piece together a puzzle involving a disappearing street and a set of gallows that mysteriously appears through the thick London fog. And a mythical spirit, Jack Ketch, may be afoot and in the business of wanton execution, leaving Londoners on edge and in fear of the bogeyman. The Lost Gallows is an early gem from one of the great writers of the genre. This edition also includes the rare Bencolin short story “The Ends of Justice.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Before you knew my name / Bublitz, Jacqueline
“Dead girls don’t usually get to tell their story, but Alice Lee has always been a different type of girl. When she arrives in New York on her eighteenth birthday, carrying nothing but $600 cash and a stolen Leica in her bag, Alice is a plucky teenager looking to start a new life away from her dark past. Now she’s ‘Jane Doe’, ‘Riverside Jane’, an unidentified body on a slab at City Morgue. Newspaper headlines briefly report that ‘the body was discovered by a jogger’. Alice, seemingly stuck between life and death, narrates Ruby’s story From this first, devastating encounter, an enduring connection between the two women is formed. One that will eventually lead to the man who murdered Alice…” (Catalogue) Also available as an Ebook.

The creak on the stairs / Eva Björg Ægisdóttir
“When a body of a woman is discovered at a lighthouse in the Icelandic town of Akranes, it soon becomes clear that she’s no stranger to the area. Chief Investigating Officer Elma, who has returned to Akranes following a failed relationship, and her colleagues Saevar and Hoerdur, commence an uneasy investigation, which uncovers a shocking secret in the dead woman’s past that continues to reverberate in the present day … But as Elma and her team make a series of discoveries, they bring to light a host of long-hidden crimes that shake the entire community. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Ebook.

Triflers need not apply / Bruce, Camilla
“Early in life Bella Sorensen discovers the world is made only for men. They own everything: jobs, property, wives. But Bella understands what few others do: where women are concerned, men are weak. A woman unhampered by scruples can take from them what she wants. And so Bella sets out to prove to the world that a woman can be just as ruthless, black-hearted and single-minded as any man. Starting with her long suffering husband Mads, Bella embarks on a killing spree the like of which has never been seen before nor since. And through it all her kind, older sister Nellie can only watch in horror as Bella’s schemes to enrich herself and cut down the male population come to a glorious, dreadful fruition.”(Adapted from Catalogue)

The coral bride / Bouchard, Roxanne
“Sequel to We Were the Salt of the Sea. Detective Moralès finds that a seemingly straightforward search for a missing fisherwoman is anything but…” (Catalogue)

 

 

 

Midnight at Malabar House / Khan, Vaseem
“Bombay, New Year’s Eve, 1949. As India celebrates the arrival of a momentous new decade, Inspector Persis Wadia stands vigil in the basement of Malabar House, home to the city’s most unwanted unit of police officers. Six months after joining the force she remains India’s first female police detective, mistrusted, sidelined and now consigned to the midnight shift. And so, when the phone rings to report the murder of prominent English diplomat Sir James Herriot, the country’s most sensational case falls into her lap. In the crucible of male hostility that surrounds her, she must find a way to solve the murder – whatever the cost.”(Adapted from Catalogue)

Valentino will die / Casey, Donis
“Who is trying to kill the world’s greatest lover? Though Bianca LaBelle, star of the wildly popular silent movie serial ‘The Adventures of Bianca Dangereuse,’ and Rudolph Valentino, the greatest screen idol of all time, have been friends for years, in the summer of 1926 they are making their first picture together, a steamy romance called ‘Grand Obsession.’ One evening after dinner at Bianca’s fabulous Beverly Hills estate, a troubled Rudy confesses that he has received anonymous death threats. In a matter of days, filming comes to an abrupt halt when Rudy falls deathly ill. Could it be poison? As Rudy lies dying, Bianca promises him that she will find out who is responsible. ”  (Adapted from Catalogue)

“Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely”: Our latest selection of recently acquired Science Fiction and Fantasy titles

“Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception.”

― Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince

Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince was first published in 1532 and is commonly regarded as one of the first books of modern philosophy. And it was also the work responsible for bringing the word Machiavellian into usage, the cunning, sneaky, underhand, the ends-justify-the-means approach to the acquisition of power, particularly in politics, is sadly still often used to this day. The influence of the Machiavellian approach to power is in great evidence in our recently acquired fantasy novel The Councillor by E. J Beaton, in which the death of a queen triggers a series of events and dramatic power plays. In other recently acquired titles we have the latest gripping and thrilling novel from The Martian author Andy Weir,  Hail Mary is a truly compelling page turner. The film rights have already been snapped up with Ryan Gosling slated to be the lead. Below is just a small selection of our other recently acquired Science Fiction and Fantasy titles.

The councillor / Beaton, E. J
“When the death of Iron Queen Sarelin Brey fractures the realm of Elira, Lysande Prior, the palace scholar and the queen’s closest friend, is appointed Councillor. Publically, Lysande must choose the next monarch from amongst the city-rulers vying for the throne. Privately, she seeks to discover which ruler murdered the queen, suspecting the use of magic. Resourceful, analytical, and quiet, Lysande appears to embody the motto she was raised with: everything in its place. Yet while she hides her drug addiction from her new associates, she cannot hide her growing interest in power.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Project Hail Mary : a novel / Weir, Andy
“The sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission to save both humanity and the earth. Ryland Grace has been asleep for a very, very long time. He’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company. He can’t remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment. Alone on this tiny ship that’s been cobbled together, it’s up to him to conquer an extinction-level threat to our species. And thanks to an unexpected ally, he just might have a chance.” (Catalogue)

The stone wētā / Cade, Octavia
“When the cold war of data preservation turns bloody – and then explosive – an underground network of scientists, all working in isolation, must decide how much they are willing to risk for the truth. For themselves, their colleagues, and their future. A claustrophobic and compelling cli-fi thriller by Octavia Cade.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Firebreak / Kornher-Stace, Nicole
“New Liberty City, 2134. Two corporations have replaced the US, splitting the country’s remaining forty-five states (five have been submerged under the ocean) between them: Stellaxis Innovations and Greenleaf. There are nine supercities within the continental US, and New Liberty City is the only amalgamated city split between the two megacorps, and thus at a perpetual state of civil war as the feeds broadcast the atrocities committed by each side. Here, Mallory streams Stellaxis’s wargame SecOps on BestLife, spending more time jacked in than in the world just to eke out a hardscrabble living from tips…….” (Catalogue)

A river called Time / Newland, Courttia
“The Ark was built to save the lives of the many, but rapidly became a refuge for the elite, the entrance closed without warning. Years after the Ark was cut off from the world–a world much like our own, but in which slavery has never existed–a chance of survival within the Ark’s confines is granted to a select few who can prove their worth. Among their number is Markriss Denny, whose path to future excellence is marred only by a closely guarded secret: Once inside the Ark, Denny learns of another with the same power, whose existence could spell catastrophe for humanity. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Immunity index / Burke, Sue
“In a US facing growing food shortages, stark inequality, and a growing fascist government, three perfectly normal young women are about to find out that they share a great deal in common. Their creator, the gifted geneticist Peng, made them that way–before such things were outlawed. Rumors of a virus make their way through an unprotected population on the verge of rebellion, only to have it turn deadly. As the women fight to stay alive and help, Peng races to find a cure–and the cover up behind the virus” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook. 

Spellmaker / Holmberg, Charlie N.
“England, 1895. An unsolved series of magician murders and opus thefts isn’t a puzzle to Elsie Camden. But to reveal a master spellcaster as the culprit means incriminating herself as an unregistered spellbreaker. When Elsie refuses to join forces with the charming assassin, her secret is exposed, she’s thrown in jail, and the murderer disappears. But Elsie’s hope hasn’t vanished.Through a twist of luck, the elite magic user Bacchus Kelsey helps Elsie join the lawful, but with a caveat: they must marry to prove their cover story. Forced beneath a magical tutor while her bond with Bacchus grows, Elsie seeks to thwart the plans of England’s most devious criminal.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Radio life / Miller, Derek B.
“When Lilly was first Chief Engineer at The Commonwealth, nearly fifty years ago, the Central Archive wasn’t yet the greatest repository of knowledge in the known world, protected by scribes copying every piece of found material – books, maps, even scraps of paper – and disseminating them by Archive Runners to hidden off-site locations for safe keeping. Back then, there was no Order of Silence to create and maintain secret routes deep into the sand-covered towers of the Old World or into the northern forests beyond Sea Glass Lake. Back then, the world was still quiet, because Lilly hadn’t yet found the Harrington Box. But times change. …..” (Adapted from Catalogue)

“Choose a life. Choose a job. Choose a career” – Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting. Our selection of recently acquired fiction

“Now there is apparently a causal link between heroin addiction and vegetarianism.”
― Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting

Slow Show | Trainspotting, Renton trainspotting, Giphy

Scottish urban life in recent times has proved a fertile ground for novelists, with Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain winning the  2020 Man Booker prize and David Keenan’s  This Is Memorial Device: An Hallucinated Oral History of the Post-Punk Music Scene in Airdrie, Coatbridge and Environs 1978–1986 shortlisted for a whole plethora of awards. And this month’s selection of newly acquired fiction sees another novel joining these illustrious ranks. The Young Team by Graeme Armstrong revolves round gang life and culture in the Scottish town of Airdrie. A gritty and darkly humorous story told in the vernacular of the area it has already been highly praised and compared to the Scottish generational defining novel Trainspotting.

The young team / Armstrong, Graeme
“Azzy Williams is ready. Ready to smoke, pop pills, drink wine and ready to fight. But most of all, he’s ready to do anything for his friends, his gang, his young team. Round here, in the schemes of the forgotten industrial heartland of Scotland, your mates, your young team – they’re everything. Azzy Williams is fourteen; a rising star, this is his life and he loves it. Azzy Williams is seventeen; he’s out of control. Azzy Williams is twenty-one; he’d like to leave it all behind. But a way out isn’t easy to find…” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The untameable / Arriaga Jordán, Guillermo
“Yukon, Canada’s far north. A young man tracks a wolf through the wilderness. The one his grandfather warned him about… In Mexico City, Juan Guillermo has pledged vengeance. For his murdered brother, Carlos. For his parents, sentenced to death by their grief. But in 1960s Mexico justice is sold to the highest bidder, and the Catholic fanatics who killed Carlos are allied to Zunita, a corrupt and influential police commander. If he is to quench his thirst for revenge Juan Guillermo will have to answer his inner call of the wild and discover what links his destiny to a hunter on the other side of America.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Safe and sound / East, Philippa
“In a small London bedsit, a radio is playing. A small dining table is set for three, and curled up on the sofa is a body… Jenn is the one who discovers the woman, along with the bailiffs. All indications suggest that the tenant – Sarah Jones – was pretty, charismatic and full of life. So how is it possible that her body has lain undiscovered for ten whole months? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

How do you live? / Yoshino, Genzaburō
“The streets of Tokyo swarm below fifteen year-old Copper as he gazes out into the city of his childhood. Struck by the thought of the infinite people whose lives play out alongside his own, he begins to wonder, how do you live? Considering life’s biggest questions for the first time, Copper turns to his dear uncle for heart-warming wisdom. As the old man guides the boy on a journey of philosophical discovery, a timeless tale unfolds, offering a poignant reflection on what it means to be human.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The secret talker : a novel / Yan, Geling
“Hongmei is the perfect Asian wife: beautiful, diligent, and passive. She lives a quiet life in Northern California with her husband, Glen, an intelligent and caring college professor. But when a mysterious person begins to email her, Hongmei can’t resist and soon finds herself enthralled in a psychological cat-and-mouse game. Who is stalking her? And why does s/he know her deepest, darkest secrets? As Hongmei is forced to confront her own dark past in China, her perfect life begins to fall apart. Desperate and self-destructive, she embarks on an investigation into her emailer’s secret history. One that may tear her life and marriage apart forever” (Adapted from Catalogue)

We trade our night for someone else’s day / Simić Bodrožić, Ivana
“Nora is a journalist assigned to do a puff piece on the perpetrator of a crime of passion–a Croatian high school teacher who fell in love with one of her students, a Serb, and is now in prison for having murdered her husband. But Nora herself is the daughter of a man who was murdered years earlier under mysterious circumstances. And she wants, if not to avenge her father, at least to bring to justice whoever committed the crime.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Dreamland / Rankin-Gee, Rosa
“In the coastal resort of Margate, hotels lie empty and sun-faded ‘For Sale’ signs line the streets. The sea is higher – it’s higher everywhere – and those who can are moving inland. A young girl called Chance, however, is just arriving. Chance’s family is one of many offered a cash grant to move out of London – and so she, her mother Jas and brother JD relocate to the seaside, just as the country edges towards vertiginous change. In their new home, they find space and wide skies, a world away from the cramped bedsits they’ve lived in up until now.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The shadow king / Mengiste, Maaza
“With the threat of Mussolini’s army looming, recently orphaned Hirut struggles to adapt to her new life as a maid in Kidane and his wife Aster’s household. Kidane, an officer in Emperor Haile Selassie’s army, rushes to mobilise his strongest men before the Italians invade. Meanwhile, Mussolini’s hundreds of thousands of Italian soldiers march on Ethiopia expecting an easy victory. As the war begins in earnest, Hirut, Aster, and the other women long to do more than care for the wounded and bury the dead. When Emperor Haile Selassie goes into exile and Ethiopia quickly loses hope, it is Hirut who offers a plan to maintain morale. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

“Writers use everything” – Octavia E. Butler: Our selection of newly acquired Science Fiction and Fantasy titles

“Writers use everything. We can’t help it. Whatever touches us touches our writing.”
Octavia E. Butler Landing

When NASA’s  Perseverance rover landed on mars it did so at a landing location called “Octavia E. Butler Landing,” after the acclaimed science fiction author Octavia E. Butler.


MISSION: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter : SPACECRAFT Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) :
INSTRUMENT  High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) Image credit NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

Amongst this month’s recently acquired Science Fiction and Fantasy writers we have a newly-released collection of Octavia E Butler works from The Library of America. Octavia E Butler was a painfully shy child who sought refuge in Pasadena Central Library reading and writing fantasy; at age ten she begged her mother to buy a Remington typewriter and rarely wavered from that point onward in her quest to become a writer.

She attended community college during the time of the Black Power movement where she was encouraged to continue writing science fiction. Octavia E Butler was dismayed by the genre’s unimaginative portrayal of class and ethnicity, not to mention lack of female protagonists and set about writing works that addressed this bias.  She sold her first stories to the American Science Fiction writer Harlan Ellison, an early supporter of her work.

Octavia E  Butler works often explore issues of race, sex and power in an unsentimental and evocative way.  In her works she foresaw the major issues of the 21st century: environmental collapse, corporate greed, political and socio-economic decay and the ever-growing gap between the wealthy and the poor. She went on to become a multiple recipient of both the Nebula and the Hugo awards as well as a host of other accolades; her work is cited as a major influence by many of today’s Science Fiction authors. She passed in 2006.

Other fabulous titles we have in this month’s selection include Ben Aaronovitch’s latest work, a powerful new voice in the form of South Korean Kim Bo Young and the much anticipated The Memory Theater from Karin Tidbeck.

Octavia E. Butler : Kindred, Fledgling, collected stories / Butler, Octavia E
“This first volume in the Library of America edition of Octavia E. Butler’s collected works opens with her masterpiece, Kindred, one of the landmark American novels of the last half century. Its heroine, Dana, a Black woman, is pulled back and forth between the present and the pre-Civil War past, where she finds herself enslaved on the plantation of a white ancestor whose life she must save to preserve her own. In Fledgling, an amnesiac discovers that she is a vampire, with a difference: she is a new, experimental birth with brown skin, giving her the fearful ability to go out in sunlight. Rounding out the volume are eight short stories and five essays–including two never before collected.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

I’m waiting for you : and other stories / Kim, Bo Young
“In this mind-expanding work of speculative fiction, available in English for the first time, one of South Korea’s most treasured writers explores the driving forces of humanity–love, hope, creation, destruction, and the very meaning of existence–in two pairs of thematically interconnected stories. Four tales of speculative fiction includes the story of an engaged couple trying to fight time and space to get married and a story featuring godlike beings who created Earth and humanity and pass judgement on them” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The memory theater / Tidbeck, Karin
“In a world just parallel to ours exists a mystical realm known only as the Gardens. It is a place where feasts never end, games of croquette have devastating consequences, and teenagers are punished for growing up. For a select group of Masters, it’s a decadent paradise where time stands still. For those who serve them, however, it’s a slow torture where their lives can be ended in a blink. In a bid to escape before their youth betrays them, Dora and Thistle–best friends and confidants–set out on a remarkable journey through time and space.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

In the quick : a novel / Day, Kate Hope
“June is a brilliant but difficult girl with a gift for mechanical invention who leaves home to begin a grueling astronaut training program. Six years later, she has gained a coveted post as an engineer on a space station, but is haunted by the mystery of Inquiry, a revolutionary spacecraft powered by her beloved late uncle’s fuel cells. The spacecraft went missing when June was twelve years old, and while the rest of the world has forgotten them, June alone has evidence that makes her believe the crew is still alive…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Dark lullaby / Ho-Yen, Polly
“The world is suffering an infertility crisis, the last natural birth was over twenty years ago and now the only way to conceive is through a painful fertility treatment. Any children born are strictly monitored, and if you are deemed an unfit parent then your child is extracted. After witnessing so many struggling to conceive – and then keep – their babies, Kit thought she didn’t want children. But then she meets Thomas and they have a baby girl, Mimi. Soon the small mistakes build up and suddenly Kit is faced with the possibility of losing her daughter, and she is forced to ask herself how far she will go to keep her family together.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The ladies of the secret circus / Sayers, Constance
“Paris, 1925: To enter the Secret Circus is to enter a world of wonder–a world where women weave illusions of magnificent beasts, carousels take you back in time, and trapeze artists float across the sky. Bound to her family’s circus, it’s the only world Cecile Cabot knows until she meets a charismatic young painter and embarks on a passionate affair that could cost her everything. Virginia, 2004: Lara Barnes is on top of the world, but when her fiancé disappears on their wedding day every plan she has for the future comes crashing down… ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The fall of Koli / Carey, M. R.
““What will the future hold for those who are left? Koli has come a long way since being exiled from his small village of Mythen Rood. In his search for the fabled tech of the Old Times, he knew he’d be battling shunned men, strange beasts, and trees that move as fast as whips. But he has already encountered so much more than he bargained for. Now that Koli and his companions have found the source of the signal they’ve been following—the mysterious “Sword of Albion”—there is hope that their perilous journey will finally be worth something. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Doors ? Colony / Heitz, Markus
“When his beloved only daughter goes missing, millionaire entrepreneur Walter van Dam calls in a team of experts to find her. But the rescuers are not the only people on her trail, and there are dangers in the underground labyrinth that no one could ever have foreseen. In a gigantic cavern the would-be rescuers come across a number of strange doors marked with enigmatic symbols. Anna-Lena must be behind one of them, but time is running out and they need to choose, quickly, for suddenly, they are all at risk. They little expect DOOR ? to take them back to the 1940s — but this is not the 1940s they know….” (Adapted from Catalogue)

What Abigail did that summer / Aaronovitch, Ben
“Ghost hunter, fox whisperer, troublemaker. It is the summer of 2013 and Abigail Kamara has been left to her own devices. This might, by those who know her, be considered a mistake. While her cousin, police constable and apprentice wizard Peter Grant, is off in the sticks chasing unicorns, Abigail is chasing her own mystery. Teenagers around Hampstead Heath have been going missing but before the police can get fully engaged, the teens return home – unharmed but vague about where they’ve been. Aided only by her new friend Simon, her knowledge that magic is real, and a posse of talking foxes that think they’re spies, Abigail must venture into the wilds of Hampstead to discover who is luring the teenagers and more importantly – why?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Check out our interview with Ben Aaronovitch ( see below)

“There’s only one Maltese Falcon” – our most recent selection of newly acquired crime and mystery novels

“If you lose a son, it’s possible to get another. There’s only one Maltese Falcon.” –Sydney Greenstreet as Kasper Gutman from the  1941 film The Maltese Falcon.

There's only one Maltese Falcon." -Kasper Gutman #SydneyGreenstreet #TheMalteseFalcon | Dark city, Giphy, Green street

The Alfred Hitchcock plot device known as the McGuffin is strongly in evidence in our recently acquired crime novel Blotto, Twinks and the Maharajah’s Jewel by Simon Brett. In the case of this book the McGuffin in question is a huge diamond, but what actually is a McGuffin?

Well, Hitchcock described it in this way: “The McGuffin is the thing that the spies are after, but the audience don’t care.” It is an event, object, or device, necessary to the motivation of the characters and the story, though largely irrelevant in itself.

Two very famous examples of McGuffins are the Maltese Falcon in the book by Dashiell Hammett and as described by George Lucas himself (perhaps controversially)  R2D2 in Star Wars: A New Hope (Episode IV) the first 1977 Star Wars film .  Of course, novels employ many other plot drivers and in many of this month’s selection of recently acquired crime novels the main plot driver is the old classic, the burning desire to solve a ghastly crime. Below is a selection of our newly acquired crime novels.

Blotto, Twinks and the Maharajah’s jewel / Brett, Simon
“An idle conversation on the merits of the glorious game with an old Etonian chum is just the excuse Blotto needs to put himself forward for a cricket tour to foreign climes… and so begins the next adventure for our intrepid duo, So Twinks joins Blotto on a steamer bound for India, one that is full of young woman desperate to marry well there — only once having encountered the dashing Blotto, a lot of them fancy the idea of getting married before they reach their destination. And, unbeknownst to the siblings, also on the ship is the international jewel thief M. le Vicomte Xavier Douce, passing himself off as one of Blotto’s cricketing entourage.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A man named Doll / Ames, Jonathan
“Happy Doll is a charming, if occasionally inexpert, private detective living just one sheer cliff drop beneath the Hollywood sign with his beloved half-Chihuahua half-Terrier, George. A veteran of both the Navy and LAPD, Doll supplements his meager income as a P.I. by working through the night at a local Thai spa that offers its clients a number of special services. Armed with his sixteen-inch steel telescopic baton, biting dry humor, and just a bit of a hero complex, the ex-cop sets out to protect the women who work there from clients who have trouble understanding the word “no.”  (Catalogue)

House with no doors / Noon, Jeff
“At first glance, Leonard Graves’ death was unremarkable. Sleeping pills, a bottle of vodka, a note saying goodbye. But when Detective Henry Hobbes discovers a grave in the basement, he realizes there is something far more sinister at work. Further investigation unearths more disturbing evidence. Scattered around the old house are women’s dresses. All made of the same material. All made in the same colours. And all featuring a rip across the stomach, smeared in blood. As the investigation continues and the body count rises, Hobbes must also deal with the disappearance of his son–” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Figure in the photograph / Sullivan, Kevin
“1898. Juan Cameron’s father is killed while working as a photographer amidst the chaos of war in Cuba, but his last pictures reveal a sinister truth to his final moments. Juan travels to Scotland to grieve with family and immerses himself in the study of photography. When he invents a device that inadvertently solves a crime, local law enforcement recruit him to help stop a brutal serial killer plaguing the streets of Glasgow.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

The Oxford Brotherhood / Martínez, Guillermo
“Mathematics student G is trying to resurrect his studies, which is proving difficult as he finds himself — and not for the first time — drawn into investigating a series of mysterious crimes. After meeting with a member of the Lewis Carroll Brotherhood, a startling new discovery by Carroll’s great niece rocks Oxford, leading to deadly plots, salacious pictures and murder. G must stretch his mathematical mind to its limits to solve the mystery and understand the cryptic workings of the Brotherhood. Until then, nobody, not even G, is safe.”–Publisher.” (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. If the Duke falls, it will endanger the whole city. ….” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook. 

The Marlow Murder Club / Thorogood, Robert
“Judith is 77 years old and blissfully happy. She lives on her own in a faded mansion just outside Marlow, there’s no man in her life to tell her what to do or how much whisky to drink. One evening, while out swimming in the Thames, Judith witnesses a brutal murder. The local police don’t believe her story, so she decides to investigate for herself.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

 

Before you knew my name / Bublitz, Jacqueline
“Ruby Jones is a lonely Australian woman trying to put distance between herself and a destructive relationship back home, and is struggling in the aftermath of being the person to find Alice’s body. When she encounters Death Club, a small group of misfits who meet at bars around the city to discuss death and dying, she finds a safe space to explore her increasing obsession with the girl and her unidentified killer. Alice, seemingly stuck between life and death, narrates Ruby’s story, hoping that this woman will help her come to terms with what happened and help identify her body. ” (Catalogue)

“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!

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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)