Yep, late as ever – it was actually written yesterday, I just haven’t had time to add the images until now!
The Faithful Couple by A.D. Miller and Freedom’s Child by Jax Miller were both won in competitions – they’re books I really wanted to read, but Jax Miller was archived on NetGalley by the time everybody was raving about Freedom’s Child. I read Snowdrops by A.D. Miller, his debut, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and absolutely adored it, even though what happens in the story is really mercenary and, ultimately, heartbreaking. It’s set in Moscow, and quite a slim book, so if you see it at the library or in a charity shop, grab it. If “Booker Prize shortlist” puts you off, don’t worry – this is from the year where the judging panel scandalized the literary establishment by saying said they were looking for a good story that zipped along. (Personally, that’s what I’m looking for every time I open a book, although of course there has to be more to it than that, obviously.) And Snowdrops is that. The Faithful Couple appears to be a totally different animal, but on the author’s past performance, I was dying to read it.
Exposure by Helen Dunmore and Inside Enemy by Alan Judd are two books I specifically requested from a publicist – I don’t make a habit of this, unless I’m really, really dying to read something – and they – Simon & Schuster – were generous enough to send me two lovely hardbacks immediately. I’d read great reviews of the Helen Dunmore on various blogs recently. It’s set in 1960, at the height of the Cold War, and doing a seemingly innocuous favour for a friend lands a man in trouble with MI5. Apparently it’s not an out-and-out spy novel, but more subtle than that. I haven’t had much chance to read even a few pages of it yet, though, as I went to read “a few pages” of the Alan Judd and was still reading at 2 am this morning. I haven’t read him before, but his name has came up so many times in recommendations of the best spy writers that I knew I had to try him out – and so far, the accolades seem well deserved. Regular readers will know I’m on a bit of a spy novel binge at the moment. The thing is, I’d read plenty le Carré, and some of the older writers, like Len Deighton, and books, like Gorky Park, and The Eagle Has Landed, but knew nothing about the new generation of spy writers, barring Stella Rimington and Charles Cumming (who’s rather good). So I’m on a quest to discover who’s worth reading in spy novels now (as well as dipping into the past, no doubt!)
The Missing Hours by Emma Kavanagh is a book I’m really excited about. Falling was so close to making my Top Ten last year, and she’s definitely on my list of writers to watch – I’m sure many bloggers would agree with me there. I’ve been “saving” Hidden, but now I’ve a new Emma Kavanagh I’ll be reading it asap. She writes totally differently to any other writer I’ve come across, but I’m not well-educated enough to explain exactly what I mean – I’ll just stick with the tried-and-tested “bloody brilliant” when describing her books.
The Truth About Julia by Anna Schaffner is described as a debut psychological thriller – the word “psychological” in a description always makes me prick up my ears; that’s me and thousands more which is why it’s in the blurb of so many books you pick up at the moment! This one’s hugely different though: “In June 2014, Julia White – a beautiful and intelligent young woman – blows up a coffee shop in central London, killing twenty-four people before turning herself in to the police. Apart from publishing a potentially ironic manifesto, she refuses to explain the reasons for her actions. Clare Hardenberg, an investigative journalist, has been commissioned to write a biography of Julia but at the start of the novel she is on her way to prison herself. What has brought her to this point? Had Julia been seduced and corrupted by someone? Was she simply evil? Had her character been spoiled and damaged by bad parenting? Or was there a cold, perhaps even sociopathic streak in her personality? The truth about Julia will make you question everything…” This book reminds me I’ve a digital ARC of One Of Us by Åsne Seierstad, about Anders Behring Breivik and the bombings and subsequent shooting of young people at a political camp on an island off Norway. I haven’t read or reviewed it yet, but I wonder if his actions inspired this novel? Anyway, it certainly sounds intriguing, and I’m sure I’ll be reading it soon, in order to review it around its release date of April 7th.
She Died Young by Elizabeth Wilson – a new name to me, but this is her fourth novel – only arrived this morning, and, reading the press release now, it’s as if someone knows exactly what I’m looking to read at the moment (spooky! Maybe GCHQ are monitoring me!) Quoting from some of the blurb: “Set in 1956, the title refers to a woman found with a broken neck in an hotel in King’s Cross, having fallen down some stairs. Journalist Gerry Blackstone thinks there could be more to it than accidental death. A Special Branch officer, McGovern wants help from Blackstone with what he’s been tasked with – finding bent cops, so in return Blackstone asks him for help looking into the girl’s death. Meanwhile, Oxford is filling with Hungarians fleeing the failed revolution. With Burgess and Maclean’s defections still relatively recent, there are concerns that Soviet spies could be amongst them, and McGovern is asked to go there to keep an eye out. As they carry out their parallel investigations, clues start to emerge that their investigations could be linked. As they look deeper, shady characters complicate the picture: the well-to-do madam; the Classics professor; the East London crime boss; the Oxford doctoral student; the fiery Hungarian immigrant; the government minister…does it all lead back to the dead girl? And if so, is something even more sinister going on?”
Straight Into Darkness by Faye Kellerman came straight from the charity shop, £1 as it’s a hardback, but still ludicrously cheap. To be honest, if I’d known my Friday Finds list would end up so long, I’d have probably just left it, but this was on Saturday – I always pop in when putting on Mr C’ s weekly £4 at the bookies, as it’s opposite, with the books calling to me…! It’s not one of her Peter Decker & Rina Lazarus series though – it’s from 2005, and, I think, a standalone. It’s set in Munich, in the late 1920s, as the Nazis are rising to power. Inspector Axel Berg investigates murders, mostly routine deaths. But when investigating the grisly murder of a young society wife, he is thrown into a web of dangerous intrigue, with senior colleagues taking an unprecedented interest in his work, and there are rumours that the death, like everything in Munich, is linked to a political conspiracy. Then two more corpses are discovered, and the city is thrown into confusion and panic. Is Berg searching for a lone lunatic, or a calculating assassin with a more sinister agenda? With few to trust, even among his closest colleagues, Berg has to judge who’s more dangerous: The killer who hunts in the darkness, or the faceless enemy who could be anyone…Actually, it sounds rather good – quite Bernie Gunther-like…I take back what I said about not buying it!
Shatter The Bones by Stuart MacBride was also a charity shop find from the same day – 50p – as I’m picking up any of the older ones I see about the place to fill in my gaps in his series, as I enjoyed In The Cold Dark Ground so much. My enthusiasm for Logan (and DCI Roberta Steel, who’s the real star of the show!) has been renewed!
So, what do you think – do any of these sound like they’d be up your street? I’m sure some of my fellow bloggers received some of the same books – are any going to head straight to the top of your TBR pile?