Annemarie Neary
THE ORPHANS - COVER (002)
The Orphans
Annemarie Neary

Goa, 1992. Six year old Jess and her little brother Sparrow are on the beach, playing at the water’s edge. They look to the place where Mama and Pa had been sitting, but there’s no one there. Jess and Sparrow hold hands and sit on the sand so that they can catch the moment when their parents come back. But nobody comes back. And one sleep goes by and then two, and then twenty-two, then forty, then ninety-five, right to the end of numbers. And nobody came back. London, 2017. Jess, now a lawyer, wife and mother has become a locker of doors. She has built walls around her life and her ordered home to keep further disaster at bay. Ro has taken a different path. He has followed his missing mother all his life in the hope that one day he will find her and she will love him again. When Ro steps through the garden gate back into Jess’s carefully guarded world, bad things start to happen. The time has come for Jess to find out what happened on the beach that day.

Margaret Forster
how to measure a cow
How to Measure a Cow
Margaret Forster

Tara Fraser has a secret.

Desperate to escape herself and her past, she changes her name, packs up her London home and moves to a town in the North of England where she knows no one.

But one of her new neighbours, Nancy, is intrigued by her. And as hard as Tara tries to distance herself, she starts to drop her guard.

Then a letter arrives. An old friend wants to meet up. Struggling to keep her old life at bay, Tara soon discovers the dangers of fighting the past.

Clare Fisher
Clare Fisher ALL THE GOOD THINGS
All the Good Things
Clare Fisher

Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn’t deserve ever to feel good again.

But her counsellor, Erika, won’t give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby’s head.

But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.

What is the truth hiding behind her crime? And does anyone – even a 100% bad person – deserve a chance to be good?

Francesca Segal
The Awkward Age
The Awkward Age
Francesca Segal

In a Victorian terraced house, in north-west London, two families have united in imperfect harmony. After five years of widowhood, Julia has fallen deeply, unexpectedly in love. James is everything she never knew she wanted – if only her beloved teenaged daughter, Gwen, didn’t hate him so much. At the very least, Gwen could be civil to James’s son, Nathan. Bringing together two households is never easy, but Gwen’s struggle for independence will test her mother’s loyalty, and her unexpected actions will threaten this fragile new happiness.

The Awkward Age is about the new family; about starting over, about the attempt to build something beautiful amid the mess and complexity of what came before. It is a story about standing by the ones we love, even while they hurt us. We would do anything to make our children happy. But how much should we give?

Sonya Lalli
the arrangement
The Arrangement
Sonya Lalli

Twenty-nine year-old Raina is still unmarried and battling her family’s expectations for her future – they think that by now she should have been married in a dream Indian wedding. The pressure reaches new heights when her grandmother, Nani, decides to play matchmaker in order to find her the perfect arranged marriage. Eager not to disappoint her family, Raina goes along with the plan but when the love of her life returns – ex-boyfriend Dev – she’s forced to confront her true feelings. As she tries to free herself from the cultural pressures she faces, Raina realises that sometimes you have to disappoint those closest to you in order to forge your own path.

Catherine Merridale
lenin
Lenin on the Train
Catherine Merridale

A gripping account of how, in the depths of the First World War, Russia’s greatest revolutionary was taken in a ‘sealed train’ across Europe and changed the history of the world.

By 1917 the European war seemed to be endless. Both sides in the fighting looked to new weapons, tactics and ideas to break a stalemate that was itself destroying Europe. In the German government a small group of men had a brilliant idea: why not sow further confusion in an increasingly chaotic Russia by arranging for Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, the most notorious of revolutionary extremists, currently safely bottled up in neutral Switzerland, to go home?

Catherine Merridale’s Lenin on the Train recreates Lenin’s extraordinary journey from harmless exile in Zurich, across a Germany falling to pieces from the war’s deprivations, and northwards to the edge of Lapland to his eventual ecstatic reception by the revolutionary crowds at Petrograd’s Finland Station.

With great skill and insight Merridale weaves the story of the train and its uniquely strange group of passengers with a gripping account of the now half-forgotten liberal Russian revolution and shows how these events intersected. She brilliantly uses a huge range of contemporary eyewitnesses, observing Lenin as he travelled back to a country he had not seen for many years. Many thought he was a mere ‘useful idiot’, others thought he would rapidly be imprisoned or killed, others that Lenin had in practice few followers and even less influence. They would all prove to be quite wrong.

P. D. James
p-d-james
The Mistletoe Murder And Other Stories
P. D. James

As the acknowledged ‘Queen of Crime’, P. D. James was frequently commissioned by newspapers and magazines to write a special short story for Christmas. Four of the best of these have been drawn from the archives and published here. P. D. James’s prose illuminates each of these perfectly formed stories, making them ideal reading for the darkest days of the year. While she delights in the secrets that lurk beneath the surface at family gatherings, her Christmas stories also provide tantalizing puzzles to keep the reader guessing.

P. D. James embraces the challenge of the short-story form, and ingeniously weaves the strands of plot, setting, characterisation and surprise to create a satisfying whole within only a few thousand words.

From the title story about a strained country-house party on Christmas Eve, to another about an illicit affair that ends in murder, and two cases for James’s poet-detective Adam Dalgliesh, each treats the reader to James’s masterfully atmospheric storytelling, always with the lure of a mystery to be solved.

Bernadette Murphy
Van Gogh's Ear The True Story
Van Gogh’s Ear: The True Story
Bernadette Murphy

On a dark night in Provence in December 1888 Vincent van Gogh cut off his ear. It is an act that has come to define him. Yet for more than a century biographers and historians seeking definitive facts about what happened that night have been left with more questions than answers.

In Van Gogh’s Ear Bernadette Murphy sets out to discover exactly what happened that night in Arles. Why would an artist at the height of his powers commit such a brutal act? Who was the mysterious ‘Rachel’ to whom he presented his macabre gift? Was it just his lobe, or did Van Gogh really cut off his entire ear? Her investigation takes us from major museums to the dusty contents of forgotten archives, vividly reconstructing the world in which Van Gogh moved – the madams and prostitutes, café patrons and police inspectors, his beloved brother Theo and his fellow artist and house-guest Paul Gauguin. With exclusive revelations and new research about the ear and about ‘Rachel’, Bernadette Murphy proposes a bold new hypothesis about what was occurring in Van Gogh’s heart and mind as he made a mysterious delivery to her doorstep that fateful night.

Van Gogh’s Ear is a compelling detective story and a journey of discovery. It is also a portrait of a painter creating his most iconic and revolutionary work, pushing himself ever closer to greatness even as he edged towards madness – and one fateful sweep of the blade that would resonate through the ages.

Hyeonseo Lee
The Girl with Seven Names
The Girl With Seven Names
Hyeonseo Lee

An extraordinary insight into life under one of the world’s most ruthless and secretive dictatorships – and the story of one woman’s terrifying struggle to avoid capture/repatriation and guide her family to freedom.

As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee was one of millions trapped by a secretive and brutal communist regime. Her home on the border with China gave her some exposure to the world beyond the confines of the Hermit Kingdom and, as the famine of the 1990s struck, she began to wonder, question and to realise that she had been brainwashed her entire life. Given the repression, poverty and starvation she witnessed surely her country could not be, as she had been told “the best on the planet”?

Aged seventeen, she decided to escape North Korea. She could not have imagined that it would be twelve years before she was reunited with her family.

She could not return, since rumours of her escape were spreading, and she and her family could incur the punishments of the government authorities – involving imprisonment, torture, and possible public execution. Hyeonseo instead remained in China and rapidly learned Chinese in an effort to adapt and survive. Twelve years and two lifetimes later, she would return to the North Korean border in a daring mission to spirit her mother and brother to South Korea, on one of the most arduous, costly and dangerous journeys imaginable.

This is the unique story not only of Hyeonseo’s escape from the darkness into the light, but also of her coming of age, education and the resolve she found to rebuild her life – not once, but twice – first in China, then in South Korea. Strong, brave and eloquent, this memoir is a triumph of her remarkable spirit.

S. G. MacLean
the seeker
The Seeker
S. G. MacLean

London, 1654. Oliver Cromwell is at the height of his power and has declared himself Lord Protector. Yet he has many enemies, at home and abroad.

London is a teeming warren of spies and merchants, priests and soldiers, exiles and assassins. One of the web’s most fearsome spiders is Damian Seeker, agent of the Lord Protector. No one knows where Seeker comes from, who his family is, or even his real name. All that is known of him for certain is that he is utterly loyal to Cromwell, and that nothing can be long hidden from him.

In the city, coffee houses are springing up, fashionable places where men may meet to plot and gossip. Suddenly they are ringing with news of a murder. John Winter, hero of Cromwell’s all-powerful army, is dead, and the lawyer, Elias Ellingworth, found standing over the bleeding body, clutching a knife.

Yet despite the damning evidence, Seeker is not convinced of Ellingworth’s guilt. He will stop at nothing to bring the killer to justice: and Seeker knows better than any man where to search.

THE SEEKER is Winner of the 2015 CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger.

Helen Callaghan
Dear Amy
Dear Amy
Helen Callaghan

Margot Lewis is a thirty-something Classics and English literature teacher at a school in Cambridge, going through a difficult divorce and trying to make sense of her life after her husband’s betrayal.  She’s also “Amy,” advice columnist for the local newspaper.

Fifteen-year-old Katie Brown has gone missing – a suspected abduction.  Soon after, Margot receives a letter purporting to be from Bethan Avery, a fifteen-year-old girl who was abducted from the local area 20 years ago and never found. Bethan’s letter states that she is being held captive, is in terrible danger and ends with a plea to be rescued. When Margot passes the letter to the police, it turns out that the writing is a match for Bethan’s all that time ago. But the letter seems to have been written very recently…

Spurred on by her concern for both Katie and the mysterious Bethan, Margot sets out to discover if there are links between the two cases, and is aided in her quest by criminologist Martin Forrester, who is researching the historic case of Bethan Avery. But their investigation attracts the attention of the man who is the captor of both Bethan and Katie, and Margot is his next target…

Jeremy Thomas
Santa Monica
The Santa Monica Suicide Club
Jeremy Thomas

A man with a UK passport between his teeth is discovered inside a suitcase on Santa Monica beach, drowned and with both eyes and tongue cut out. One week earlier, the 28 year old son of a wealthy Mexican is found butchered in his Ocean Avenue apartment, close to his brutally murdered domestic.

The local Santa Monica crime rate may have dropped but not the one for homicide.

Ex-cop, ex-pat, ex-actor, Private Investigator Mandy (lover of junk food, an old Volvo, black cat and his younger tenant) never expected to be hired by the murdered Mexican man’s family. There was no way they wanted the local police involved but why choose him? And why did the less than friendly Police Chief agree to give him a ten-day head start on his own men?

Then a potential witness turns up hanged, the corpse yielding a disturbing clue. Mandy soon realizes that his investigations have only uncovered the tip of an iceberg, and made him the target of perpetrators far more sinister and powerful than he could have ever imagined…

 

Sue Townsend
the woman who went to bed for a year
The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year
Sue Townsend

The day her twins leave home, Eva climbs into bed and stays there. For seventeen years she’s wanted to yell at the world, ‘Stop! I want to get off’. Finally, this is her chance.

Her husband Brian, an astronomer having an unsatisfactory affair, is upset. Who will cook his dinner? Eva, he complains, is attention seeking. But word of Eva’s defiance spreads.

Legions of fans, believing she is protesting, gather in the street. While Alexander the white van man brings tea, toast and sympathy. And from this odd but comforting place Eva begins to see both herself and the world very, very differently. . .
 

A. D. Miller
The Faithful couple
The Faithful Couple
A. D. Miller

The second novel from the author of the Man Booker-shortlisted Snowdrops explores guilt, collusion and rivalry over the course of two men’s lives

California, 1993: Neil Collins and Adam Tayler, two young British men on the cusp of adulthood, meet at a hostel in San Diego. They strike up a friendship that, while platonic, feels as intoxicating as a romance; they travel up the coast together, harmlessly competitive, innocently collusive, wrapped up in each other. On a camping trip to Yosemite they lead each other to behave in ways that, years later, they will desperately regret.

The story of a friendship built on a shared guilt and a secret betrayal, The Faithful Couple follows Neil and Adam across two decades, through girlfriends and wives, success and failure, children and bereavements, as power and remorse ebb between them. Their bifurcating fates offer an oblique portrait of London in the boom-to-bust era of the nineties and noughties, with its instant fortunes and thwarted idealism. California binds them together, until-when the full truth of what happened emerges, bringing recriminations and revenge-it threatens to drive them apart.

The Faithful Couple confirms Miller as one of the most exciting and sophisticated novelists in the UK – someone who can tell a great story, with a sense of serious moral complexity. This is that rare bird: a literary novel with mass appeal as well as the potential to win prizes.

Lucy Clarke
the-blue-9781501116735_hr
The Blue
Lucy Clarke

In the tradition of Alex Garland’s The Beach, a spine-tingling adventure novel about a group of friends whose journey around the world on a yacht turns from a trip to paradise into a chilling nightmare when one of them disappears at sea.

Lana and her best friend Kitty leave home looking for freedom—and that’s exactly what they find when they are invited onto The Blue, a fifty-foot yacht making its way from the Philippines to New Zealand. Manned by a young crew of wanderers, The Blue is exactly the escape they are looking for and the two quickly fall under The Blue’s spell spending their days exploring remote islands, and their rum-filled nights relaxing on deck beneath the stars.

Yet paradise found can just as quickly become lost. Lana and Kitty begin to discover that they aren’t the only ones with secrets they’d rather run from than reveal. And when one of their new friends disappears overboard after an argument with the other crewmembers, the dark secrets that brought each of them aboard start to unravel.

Haunting and infused with spectacular detail, the latest novel by Lucy Clarke—whose writing has been hailed as “breathtaking” (Kirkus Reviews) and “exciting and mysterious” (Library Journal)—is a page-turning thriller filled with adventure, exotic locales, and high stakes.

Ben McPherson
a line of blood
A Line of Blood
Ben McPherson

Alex Mercer and his son Max find their next-door neighbour dead in the bath. It looks like suicide, but the police want to talk to Alex’s wife.

Millicent married Alex for a work permit: at least that has become the myth. The truth is they married for love, but neither wants to be exposed as a romantic. They swear and smoke in front of their son, but that’s as far as their rebelliousness goes.

The police question Millicent about a bracelet found at the neighbour’s house. She admits to a mild flirtation –nothing more. But Max knows things about his mother that no son should know, and he wants to share that burden with his father.

Alex starts to wonder how close he came to losing his wife. Part of him is almost glad the neighbour is dead.

Then the murder investigation begins…

Marianne Levy
EllieMay
Ellie May Would Like To Be Taken Seriously For A Change
Marianne Levy

The exciting new Jelly Pie series of books for girls from Marianne Levy about a little film star with a big personality.

Dear Everybody,

I’m an incredibly famous film star! I get to sign autographs and be in magazines and I have my very own chaperone, Jeffrey, to look after me. Hooray! But I am also a very serious person. I love nature. I have a bag decorated with butterflies. Did you know that butterflies turn into caterpillars? Amazingly amazing! And that’s why I’m helping to save a nature reserve. I’ve never saved anything before, but it can’t be very hard . . . can it?

Love, Ellie May xxx

Ellie May is the new comedy heroine on the block. With a ditzy brain but an enormous heart she finds herself in all manner of troubles, whether it’s rubbing shoulders with other celebrities or getting back to nature to protect endangered animals.

Jason Webster
The Spy with 29 Names
The Spy with 29 Names
Jason Webster

THE SPY WITH 29 NAMES is a gripping account of the exploits of Juan Pujol, the most extraordinary double agent of the Second World War, who was awarded both an Iron Cross by Germany and an MBE by Britain.

After the Spanish Civil War, determined to fight the spread of totalitarianism, Pujol pursuaded the German intelligence services to take him on. But in fact, he was determined all along to work for the British, whom he saw as the exemplar of democracy and freedom. The MI5 brought him to London, where he created a bizarre fictional network of spies – 29 of them – that misled the entire German high command, including Hitler himself. Above all, in Operation Fortitude he diverted German Panzer divisions away from Normandy, playing a crucial role in safeguarding D-Day and ending the war, and securing his reputation as the greatest double agent in history.

Meticulously researched, yet told with a novelist’s verve, THE SPY WITH 29 NAMES uncovers the reality – far, far stranger than any fiction – of one of recent history’s most important and dramatic events.