It’s that time again…..
A Perfect Explanation by Eleanor Anstruther – Exploring themes of ownership and abandonment, Eleanor Anstruther’s debut is a fictionalised account of the true story of Enid Campbell (1892–1964), granddaughter of the 8th Duke of Argyll and the whole handing over a child for money thing
Bryant & May: The Lonely Hour by Christopher Fowler – the seventeenth entry in one of my very favourite series, though I am behind in reading them by two or three volumes. I was invited to the book launch but sadly couldn’t attend. Anyway – On a rainy winter night outside a run-down nightclub in the wrong part of London, four strangers meet for the first time at 4:00am. A few weeks later the body of an Indian textile worker is found hanging upside down inside a willow tree on Hampstead Heath. The Peculiar Crimes Unit is called in to investigate. The victim was found surrounded by the paraphernalia of black magic, and so Arthur Bryant and John May set off to question experts in the field. But the case is not what it appears
The Near Witch by VE Schwab – The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. There are no strangers in the town of Near. These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life. But when an actual stranger, a boy who seems to fade like smoke, appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.
When the Sky Fell on Splendor by Emily Henry – Almost everyone in the small town of Splendor, Ohio, was affected when the local steel mill exploded. If you weren’t a casualty of the accident yourself, chances are a loved one was. That’s the case for seventeen-year-old Franny, who, five years after the explosion, still has to stand by and do nothing as her brother lies in a coma. In the wake of the tragedy, Franny found solace in a group of friends whose experiences mirrored her own. The group calls themselves The Ordinary, and they spend their free time investigating local ghost stories and legends, filming their exploits for their small following of YouTube fans. It’s silly, it’s fun, and it keeps them from dwelling on the sadness that surrounds them. Until one evening, when the strange and dangerous thing they film isn’t fiction–it’s a bright light, something massive hurtling toward them from the sky. And when it crashes and the teens go to investigate…everything changes.
The Ones with Crime
Breathe by Dominick Donald – I bought this because I had recently finished Death in the Air and this has similar themes but in a fictional setting – London, 1952. Dick Bourton is not like the other probationer policemen in Notting Hill. He’s older, having fought in Europe and then Korea. And he’s no Londoner, being from Cotswold farming stock. Then there’s Anna, the exotically beautiful White Russian fiancée he has brought back to these drab streets and empty bombsites. She may as well come from a different planet. The new copper also has a mind of his own. After an older colleague is shot by a small-time gangster they are chasing in a pea-souper fog, something nags at Bourton’s memory. He begins to make connections which his superiors don’t want to see, linking a whole series of deaths and the fogs that stop the city in its tracks.
Death Has Deep Roots by Michael Gilbert – originally published in 1951 – An eager London crowd awaits the trial of Victoria Lamartine: hotel worker, ex-French Resistance fighter, and the only logical suspect for the murder of her supposed lover, Major Eric Thoseby. Lamartine – who once escaped from the clutches of the Gestapo – is set to meet her end at the gallows. One final opportunity remains: the defendant calls on solicitor Nap Rumbold to replace the defence counsel, and grants an eight-day reprieve from the proceedings. Without any time to spare, Rumbold boards a ferry across the Channel, tracing the roots of the brutal murder back into the war-torn past.
Sergeant Cluff Stands Firm by Gil North – originally published in 1960 – Amy Snowden, in middle age, has long since settled into a lonely life in the Yorkshire town of Gunnarshaw, until – to her neighbours’ surprise – she suddenly marries a much younger man. Months later, Amy is found dead – apparently by her own hand – and her husband, Wright, has disappeared.Sergeant Caleb Cluff – silent, watchful, a man at home in the bleak moorland landscape of Gunnarshaw – must find the truth about the couple’s unlikely marriage, and solve the riddle of Amy’s death.
Streets of Darkness by AA Dhand – DI Harry Virdee Book 1 – bought following an article about the author on the BBC website – The sky over Bradford is heavy with foreboding. It always is. But this morning it has reason to be – this morning a body has been found. And it’s not just any body. Detective Harry Virdee should be at home with his wife. Impending fatherhood should be all he can think about but he’s been suspended from work just as the biggest case of the year lands on what would have been his desk. He can’t keep himself away.
The Ones That Are True
Dopesick by Beth Macy – Dealers, Doctors & the Drug Company that Addicted America –This powerful and moving story explains how a large corporation, Purdue, encouraged small town doctors to prescribe OxyContin to a country already awash in painkillers. The drug’s dangerously addictive nature was hidden, whilst many used it as an escape, to numb the pain of joblessness and the need to pay the bills. Macy tries to answer a grieving mother’s question – why her only son died – and comes away with a harrowing tale of greed and need.
Identical Strangers by Elyse Schein & Paula Bernstein – I bought this after watching Three Identical Strangers in which these twin sisters feature briefly, so was interested in reading more about their experiences in this, to me, shocking experiment. The documentary is excellent btw; I’ll be writing about it soon.
What Would Boudicca Do? by Elizabeth Foley & Beth Coates – It is time to start channelling the spiky superwomen of history to conquer today. It is time to turn to women like Frida Kahlo and Josephine Baker, Hypatia and Cleopatra, Coco Chanel and Empress Cixi. In this irreverent guide they will help you figure out how to dispatch a loverat, back yourself, kill it at work and trounce FoMo. Saw this in the Foyles branch in Waterloo station and could not resist it.
A Vengeance of Spies by Manda Scott – a WWII novella – War hides many secrets and some of them are better kept. But the secret of Hut Ten was never that kind: it could have been leaked and a life would have been saved. One man could have made that difference. He didn’t – and vengeance has taken forty years to catch up with him.
Mask of the Other by Greg Stolze – In 1974, something came out of the sea during the invasion of Cyprus, killing Greeks and Turks indiscriminately until it was bombed into dormancy and entombed. In 1988 a rock band disappeared while filming on an abandoned island-town off the coast of Japan. In 1991, a squad of US infantry was attacked in Iraq by a bulletproof, invisible entity. [This book] connects these disparate events, as a group of soldiers plunders the remnants of Saddam’s occult weapons program and attempts to engage with creatures of an inhuman mythos… as equals.
Scrublands by Chris Hammer – In an isolated country town ravaged by drought, a charismatic young priest opens fire on his congregation, killing five men before being shot dead himself. A year later, journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in Riversend to write a feature on the anniversary of the tragedy. But the stories he hears from the locals don’t fit with the accepted version of events. Just as Martin believes he is making headway, a shocking discovery rocks the town. The bodies of two backpackers – missing since the time of the massacre – are found in the scrublands.
As if all of that wasn’t enough I also bought the first six Dune books in Kindle form to re-read in anticipation of Denis Villeneuve’s film adaptation, which I am convinced will be awesome.