Another busy week for incoming review copies – and I’m a sucker for an Amazon deal….
The Plague Charmer by Karen Maitland (paperback, review copy courtesy of Headline)
Riddle me this: I have a price, but it cannot be paid in gold or silver. 1361. Porlock Weir, Exmoor. Thirteen years after the Great Pestilence, plague strikes England for the second time. Sara, a packhorse man’s wife, remembers the horror all too well and fears for safety of her children. Only a dark-haired stranger offers help, but at a price that no one will pay. Fear gives way to hysteria in the village and, when the sickness spreads to her family, Sara finds herself locked away by neighbours she has trusted for years. And, as her husband – and then others – begin to die, the cost no longer seems so unthinkable. The price that I ask, from one willing to pay. A human life.
Did You Whisper Back? by Kate Rigby (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author & Neverland Book Tours)
Set in the nineteen-seventies, Did You Whisper Back? begins with Amanda Court’s longing to be reunited with her estranged twin sister Jo. Following a false lead, Amanda leaves her Merseyside home and family and goes to Devon to work as a chambermaid where she believes Jo now lives. Gradually it emerges that Jo is, seemingly, just a figment of Amanda’s imagination arising from distorted childhood truths. Did You Whisper Back? is a psychological novel about family secrets and a disturbing portrayal of the fragility of the mind.
Perfect Remains by Helen Field (ebook, free)
On a remote Highland mountain, the body of Elaine Buxton is burning. All that will be left to identify the respected lawyer are her teeth and a fragment of clothing. In the concealed back room of a house in Edinburgh, the real Elaine Buxton screams into the darkness. Detective Inspector Luc Callanach has barely set foot in his new office when Elaine’s missing persons case is escalated to a murder investigation. Having left behind a promising career at Interpol, he’s eager to prove himself to his new team. But Edinburgh, he discovers, is a long way from Lyon, and Elaine’s killer has covered his tracks with meticulous care. It’s not long before another successful woman is abducted from her doorstep, and Callanach finds himself in a race against the clock. Or so he believes… The real fate of the women will prove more twisted than he could have ever imagined.
The King’s Jew, Book One by Darius Stransky (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author)
Midnight, Westminster Abbey, Friday, October 27, 1307. Lord Cristian Gilleson keeps a lonely vigil at the tomb of King Edward the First. Death stalks the Abbey as King Edward II, Piers Gaveston and their supporters seek to destroy Cristian before the funeral rites begin. A long night of danger awaits and many will not live to see the dawn. Plot and counterplot in the dark streets of medieval London as Gilleson (known to his enemies as “The King’s Jew”) reflects on a turbulent life with his king. His enemies are many and supporters few yet he will keep his promise to the greatest of England’s monarchs or die in the attempt. Death holds no fears for a man who has walked in the company of kings.
We Were The Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates (ebook, 99p)
The Mulvaneys are seemingly blessed by everything that makes life sweet. They live together in the picture-perfect High Point Farm, just outside the community of Mt Ephraim, New York, where they are respected and liked by everybody. Yet something happens on Valentine’s Day 1976. An incident involving Marianne Mulvaney, the pretty sixteen-year-old daughter, is hushed up in the town and never discussed within the family. The impact of this event reverberates throughout the lives of the characters. As told by Judd, years later, in an attempt to make sense of his own past reveals the unspoken truths of that night that rends the fabric of the family life with tragic consequences. In ‘We Were the Mulvaneys’, Joyce Carol Oates, the highly acclaimed author of ‘Blonde’, masterfully weaves an unforgettable story of the rise, fall and ultimate redemption of an American family.
Catherine Dickens: Outside the Magic Circle by Heera Datta (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author)
Catherine was Charles Dickens’ wife whom he separated from after twenty-two years of marriage and ten children. Enamoured of a young actress, Charles scripted a fiction about his marriage in which he was the long suffering husband to a woman who was unfit to be wife and mother. He spread this story through his powerful editor friends. Catherine did not, could not, fight him. Even the law gave custody of minor children to fathers, and all her children, except one, were minor. She retreated into dignified silence which seems baffling today. But the strength of her agony is exhibited in her words to her daughter, to whom she gave letters written to her by Charles, and told her to give them to the British Museum, “so that the world may know he loved me once.” Outside the Magic Circle is the story of Catherine and the repressive times she lived in.
The Other Twin by L V Hay (ebook, advance reader copy courtesy of Orenda Books)
When India falls to her death from a bridge over a railway, her sister, Poppy, returns home to Brighton for the first time in years. Unconvinced by official explanations, Poppy begins her own investigation into India’s death. But the deeper she digs, the closer she comes to uncovering deeply buried secrets. Could Matthew Temple, the boyfriend she abandoned, be involved? And what of his powerful and wealthy parents, and his twin sister, Ana? Enter the mysterious and ethereal Jenny: the girl Poppy discovers after hacking into India’s laptop. What is exactly is she hiding, and what did India find out about her? Taking the reader on a breathless ride through the winding lanes of Brighton, into its vibrant party scene and inside the homes of its well- heeled families, The Other Twin is a startling and up-to-the-minute thriller about the social-media world, where resentments and accusations are played out online, where identities are made and remade, and where there is no such thing as truth …
Wolves in the Dark by Gunner Staalesen (ebook, advance reader copy courtesy of Orenda Books)
Reeling from the death of his great love, Karin, Varg Veum’s life has descended into a self-destructive spiral of alcohol, lust, grief and blackouts. When traces of child pornography are found on his computer, he’s accused of being part of a paedophile ring and thrown into a prison cell. There, he struggles to sift through his past to work out who is responsible for planting the material . . . and who is seeking the ultimate revenge. When a chance to escape presents itself, Varg finds himself on the run in his hometown of Bergen. With the clock ticking and the police on his tail, Varg takes on his hardest—and most personal—case yet.
The Illegal Gardener by Sara Alexi (ebook, free)
Driven by a need for some control in her life, Juliet sells up on impulse and buys a rundown farmhouse in a tiny Greek village, leaving her English life behind. Her boys have grown and she has finally divorced her bullying husband. This is her time now. Whilst making her new home habitable, Juliet discovers she needs a sturdy helping hand with the unruly and neglected garden. Unwilling to share her newfound independence with anyone, but unable to do all the work by herself, she reluctantly enlists casual labour. Aaman has travelled to Greece from Pakistan illegally. Desperate to find a way out of poverty, his challenge is to find work and raise money for the harvester his village urgently need to survive. In what begins as an uncomfortable exchange, Juliet hires Aaman to be her gardener, but resents the intrusion even though she needs the help. Aaman needs the work and money but resents the humiliation. In spite of themselves, as the summer progresses, they get to know one another and discover they have something in common. Pieces of their lives they have kept hidden even from themselves are exposed, with each helping the other to face their painful past. Will Juliet and Amaan finally let each other in? And what will be the outcome of this improbable conjoining of two lost souls?
The Last Train by Michael Pronko (ebook, review copy courtesy of the author)
Detective Hiroshi Shimizu investigates white collar crime in Tokyo. He’s lost his girlfriend and still dreams of his time studying in America, but with a stable job, his own office and a half-empty apartment, he’s settled in. When an American businessman turns up dead, his mentor Takamatsu calls him out to the site of a grisly murder. A glimpse from a security camera video suggests the killer was a woman, but in Japan, that seems unlikely. To find her, Hiroshi goes deeper and deeper into Tokyo’s intricate, ominous market for buying and selling the most expensive land in the world. When Takamatsu inexplicably disappears, Hiroshi teams up with ex-sumo wrestler Sakaguchi. They scour Tokyo’s sacred temples, corporate offices and industrial wastelands to find out where Takamatsu went, and why one woman would be driven to murder when she seems to have it all. Hiroshi’s determined to cut through Japan’s ambiguities—and dangers—to find the murdering ex-hostess before she extracts her final revenge—which just might be him.
The Former Chief Executive by Kate Vane (ebook, advance reader copy courtesy of the author)
Without your past, who are you? Deborah was a respected hospital manager until a tragedy destroyed her reputation. She has lost her career, her husband and even her name. Luca wants to stay in the moment. For the first time in his life he has hope and a home. But a fresh start is hard on a zero-hours contract, harder if old voices fill your mind. When a garden share scheme brings them together, Deborah is beguiled by Luca’s youth and grace. He makes her husband’s garden live again. He helps her when she’s at her lowest. But can she trust him? And when the time comes to confront her past, can she find the strength?
On What Cathy Read Next last week
On Monday I published my review of The King’s Jew: In the Shadow of the King by Darius Stransky, the second book in a planned four part series. Thursday saw the publication of my review of The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain, one of the novels shortlisted for this year’s Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. The following day I reviewed A Tapestry of Tears, a collection of Indian short stories by Gita Reddy. Appropriately enough, Sunday say my review of Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift, another of the novels shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.
On Tuesday I took part in a book blitz for Breaker and the Sun by Lauren Nicolle Taylor. The following day my guest on What Cathy Read Next was Timothy Ashby, author of In Shadowland. Timothy kindly answered some questions about his book, its inspiration and his approach to writing. On Saturday I hosted the blog tour stop for Last Witness by Carys Jones. Carys wrote a really interesting guest post on creating characters.
- Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge – 57 out of 78 books read (3 more than last week)
- Classics Club – 2 out of 50 books reviewed (same as last week)
- NetGalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2017 (Gold) – 31 ARCs reviewed out of 50 (same as last week)
- From Page to Screen – 6 book/film comparisons completed (same as last week)
- The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction Shortlist 2017 – 3 out of 7 read (same as last week)
On What Cathy Read Next this week
- Review: The Wages of Sin by Kaite Welsh
- Blog Tour/Review: Crimson & Bone by Marina Fiorato
- Review: Vindolanda by Adrian Goldsworthy
Reviews to be added to NetGalley
Vindolanda by Adrian Goldsworthy
How was your Week In Books? Prize-winning literary sensation or charity shop donation?