Excerpt: A HERO BORN by Jin Yong (MacLehose Press)

yongj-1-aherobornukToday, we have an excerpt from A Hero Born, the first novel in Jin Yong’s Legends of the Condor Heroes. The second novel in the series, A Bond Undone is also out now in the UK, published by MacLehose Press. Here’s the synopsis for A Hero Born:

China: 1200 A.D.

The Song Empire has been invaded by its warlike Jurchen neighbours from the north. Half its territory and its historic capital lie in enemy hands; the peasants toil under the burden of the annual tribute demanded by the victors. Meanwhile, on the Mongolian steppe, a disparate nation of great warriors is about to be united by a warlord whose name will endure for eternity: Genghis Khan.

Guo Jing, son of a murdered Song patriot, grew up with Genghis Khan’s army. He is humble, loyal, perhaps not altogether wise, and is fated from birth to one day confront an opponent who is the opposite of him in every way: privileged, cunning and flawlessly trained in the martial arts.

Guided by his faithful shifus, The Seven Heroes of the South, Guo Jing must return to China — to the Garden of the Drunken Immortals in Jiaxing — to fulfil his destiny. But in a divided land riven by war and betrayal, his courage and his loyalties will be tested at every turn.

This extract opens near the beginning of the volume with the Song patriots, Ironheart Yang and Skyfury Guo, and their wives exchanging the latest troubles of the Imperial Court by the fire. The dynamics of their simple gathering change, however, when Yang and Guo spot a mysterious passerby and invite him in for a drink.

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Upcoming: LOST EMPRESS by Sergio De La Pava (Pantheon/MacLehose Press)

delaPavaS-LostEmpress

Sergio de la Pava‘s prize-winning A Naked Singularity is one of those novels I purchased quite some time ago, but keep forgetting I have on my Kindle. I recently found out about his upcoming book, Lost Empress, which sounds really interesting. If potentially weird. Described as “a shockingly hilarious novel that tackles, with equal aplomb, both America’s most popular sport and its criminal justice system”, it sounds pretty ambitious. If the author pulls it off, it could also be amazing. Here’s the synopsis:

From Paterson, New Jersey, to Rikers Island to the streets of New York City, Sergio de la Pava’s Lost Empress introduces readers to a cast of characters unlike any other in modern fiction: dreamers and exiles, immigrants and night-shift workers, a lonely pastor and others on the fringes of society — each with their own impact on the fragile universe they navigate.

Nina Gill, daughter of the aging owner of the Dallas Cowboys, was instrumental in building her father’s dynasty. So it’s a shock when her brother inherits the franchise and she is left with the Paterson Pork, New Jersey’s failing Indoor Football League team. Nina vows to take on the NFL and make the Paterson Pork pigskin kings of America. All she needs to do is recruit the coach, the players, and the fans.

Meanwhile, Nuno DeAngeles — a brilliant and lethal criminal mastermind — has been imprisoned on Rikers Island for a sensational offense. Nuno fights for his liberty — while simultaneously planning an even more audacious crime.

In Lost Empress, de la Pava weaves a narrative that encompasses Salvador Dalí, Joni Mitchell, psychiatric help, emergency medicine, religion, theoretical physics, and everything in between. With grace, humor, and razor-sharp prose, all these threads combine, counting down to an epic and extraordinary conclusion.

Lost Empress is due to be published in North America by Pantheon and in the UK by MacLehose Press, on May 8th, 2018. (The UK cover, top right, is much better than the US cover…)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Joël Dicker introduces THE TRUTH ABOUT THE HARRY QUEBERT AFFAIRS (Penguin US, MacLehose Press UK)

Last week, I published my review of Joël Dicker’s debut novel and international sensation, THE TRUTH ABOUT THE HARRY QUEBERT AFFAIR. A thoroughly enjoyable read, the novel was provided for review by Dicker’s UK publisher, MacLehose Press (an imprint of Quercus). This week, I have a video interview with the author to share, provided by his American publisher, Penguin:

“The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair” by Joel Dicker (MacLehose Press)

DickerJ-TruthAboutTheHarryQuebertAffairUKA gripping and absorbing, slightly flawed thriller

August 30, 1975. The day of the disappearance. The day a small New Hampshire town lost its innocence.

That summer Harry Quebert fell in love with fifteen-year-old Nola Kellergan. Thirty-three years later, her body is dug up from his yard along with a manuscript copy of his career-defining novel. Quebert is the only suspect.

Marcus Goldman – Quebert’s most gifted protégé – throws off his writer’s block to clear his mentor’s name. Solving the case and penning a new bestseller soon blur together. As his book begins to take on a life of its own, the nation is gripped by the mystery of ‘The Girl Who Touched the Heart of America’. But with Nola, in death as in life, nothing is ever as it seems.

This is not an easy book to review. It has been on my radar for a while, and I’ve been eager to read it ever since I saw it mention on (I think) The Bookseller. I would say it mostly lived up to my expectations. It is expansive, brilliant, absorbing, briskly-paced, but also flawed and at times frustrating, even aggravating. A confounding novel to review. Despite the issues I had with certain elements of the novel and story, it was utterly gripping, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

First of all, I very much enjoyed reading it – I was always eager to get back to it, when life forced me to stop reading (sleep, meetings, etc.). Dicker has written an engaging thriller, one that brings a decades-old disappearance back into the spotlight, as a beloved member of a small town community – the titular Harry Quebert – is accused of two shocking, heinous acts: continuing an affair with a fifteen year-old girl, and also her murder. What follows is an investigation by the accused’s protégé (of sorts), in an attempt to clear his name and salvage his reputation. Along the way, things get very messy indeed. Threats and revelations abound, which keeps readers guessing all the way through – the truth is only revealed in the final 10% of the novel (I read it as an eARC). I really liked the way Dicker keeps throwing out red herrings, and also that Marcus’s investigation does one hell of a lot of damage along the way: relationships are shattered, secrets (related and not) are brought into the light, and the competing agendas at work tear the community apart.

Speaking of these competing agendas: there are times when Dicker’s character come across as cartoonish, and not in a good way. For example, Marcus’s editor/publisher is rather unrealistic – as if every commercial consideration that any publisher would need to take into account is exaggerated and overblown. He is an awful person, and there’s no reason to disbelieve the existence of such characters, but he does certain things that seem so stupid. Considering he’s able to offer $2,000,000 dollar advances, he comes across as singularly devoid of the emotional intelligence to be a high-powered, successful publisher in New York. The publishing aspects of the novel were, actually, the most lacking in verisimilitude, which was a real pity.

Dicker’s writing is, for the main, excellent and the translation is superb, too. The pacing is superb, and I was absolutely captivated by the narrative and investigation. At the same time, there were instances when the dialogue – especially that featuring Marcus’s editor, Nola and select other characters – appears melodramatic and just not very good. At the risk of sounding condescending or unfair, I can’t help but wonder if this is an instance of lost-in-translation?

There were times when the investigation – official and Marcus’s amateurish actions – veered off in strange ways. Partly, this was to allow for the frequent upending of their attempts to get to the bottom of things. For the main, it worked very well, but there were certainly times when I became frustrated. Without shedding too much light on particulars, some of the switcheroos felt forced. In addition, some of the characters are morons – especially when it comes to the writing of the book-within-the-book. Marcus and his editors commit some astonishing failures and cock-ups, one that didn’t ring true at all. One in particular, very near the end, is an unforgivable oversight that I just can’t see happening in real life – something that could so easily have been rectified over the course of the investigation. Frustrating moments like this robbed the novel of some of its impact.

This review is, I recognise, rather vague on the details. This is because, despite this flaws – and some might consider them huge – I could not stop reading. In terms of sheer enjoyment, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in a while. Given how picky I can be, and how easy gaffs and inconsistencies can ruin a novel for me, I think that’s saying something. It is not surprising to me that this has been such a success.

If the goal of any novel should be to entertain, be thought-provoking, and get the reader thinking, this this novel succeeds on every level. That is has some shortcomings is made almost irrelevant by just how good the rest of it is.

Gripping and absorbing, this is well worth reading. Definitely recommended, but be warned that there are some niggles.

Recently Received Titles…

BooksReceived-201404-01

Featuring: Anne Bishop, Carole K. Carr, Joël Dicker, Charlaine Harris, Tanya Huff, Mark Millar, Gary Meehan, Isla Morley, Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter, Tom Rachman, Samantha Shannon, Joel Shepherd, F.R. Tallis, David Wingrove

Bishop-BJ2-HeirToTheShadowsUKAnne Bishop, Heir to the Shadow (Jo Fletcher Books)

Witch – the Queen who would bring freedom to the realms – has come, but now she is lost in darkness, and has a long road to recovery ahead of her.

While her adopted father, Saeten, waits for her to return to the living world, the third side of the triangle needed to complete the prophecy – the lover, Daemon – walks in the Twisted Kingdom on the edge of madness.

As insidious whispers and dark schemes ferment treachery and betrayal, Jaenelle must make a choice: to protect those she loves, she must be more than an heir, she must become a Queen.

The second novel in Bishop’s Black Jewel trilogy, available in the UK for the first time (as a non-import).

*

Carole K. Carr, India Black & India Black and the Widow of Windsor (Titan Books)

CarrCK-IndiaBlack1and2UK

When Sir Archibald Latham of the War Office dies from a heart attack while visiting her brothel, Madam India Black is unexpectedly thrust into a deadly game between Russian and British agents who are seeking the military secrets Latham carried.

Blackmailed into recovering the missing documents by the British spy known as French, India finds herself dodging Russian agents, seducing spies and embarking on midnight sleigh rides, not to mention ignoring the attraction she starts to feel for her handsome and exasperating British co-conspirator.

These are the first two novels in Carr’s A Madam of Espionage series (of four, with also a couple of short stories). I am quite intrigued by the series, as it looks both fun and different to what I normally read.

*

DickerJ-TruthAboutTheHarryQuebertAffairUKJoël Dicker, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (MacLehose Press)

August 30, 1975. The day of the disappearance. The day a small New Hampshire town lost its innocence.

That summer Harry Quebert fell in love with fifteen-year-old Nola Kellergan. Thirty-three years later, her body is dug up from his yard along with a manuscript copy of his career-defining novel. Quebert is the only suspect.

Marcus Goldman – Quebert’s most gifted protégé – throws off his writer’s block to clear his mentor’s name. Solving the case and penning a new bestseller soon blur together. As his book begins to take on a life of its own, the nation is gripped by the mystery of “The Girl Who Touched the Heart of America”. But with Nola, in death as in life, nothing is ever as it seems.

This is one of my most-anticipated novels of the year. I’ll be reading it next-but-one (it’s always dependent on my mood, as long-time readers will know). Because before that, I’ll be reading (and have actually already started)…

*

HarrisC-MT1-MidnightCrossroadUKCharlaine Harris, Midnight Crossroad (Gollancz)

Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It’s a pretty standard dried-up western town.

There’s a pawnshop (where someone lives in the basement and runs the store during the night). There’s a diner (although those folk who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there’s new resident: Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he’s found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own).

If you stop at the one traffic light in town, then everything looks normal. But if you stay a while, you might learn the truth…

The start of a brand new urban fantasy series from mega-selling author of the Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood series. This will actually be my first read by Harris, and I will be starting it within a couple days.

*

HuffT-C4-ValoursTrialUKTanya Huff, Valour’s Trial (Titan)

Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr is a Confederation Marines marine. She’s survived more deadly encounters and kept more of her officers and enlistees alive than anyone in the Corps. Unexpectedly pulled from battle, Torin finds herself in an underground POW camp that shouldn’t exist, where her fellow marine prisoners seem to have lost all will to escape. Now, Torin must fight her way not only out of the prison but also past the growing compulsion to sit down and give up not realizing that her escape could mean the end of the war.

This is the fourth novel in Huff’s Confederation series – an ass-kicking military sci-fi series. It’s been available in the States for some time, but Titan have been releasing the series over the course of the past couple of years in the UK – and I’m very happy they did!

*

SecretService-KingsmanMark Millar, Secret Service: Kingsman (Titan Comics)

The world’s greatest secret agent is on the most exciting case of his career. But will the end of the world as we know it take a back seat to training his street-punk nephew to be the next James Bond?

Meanwhile, what’s the secret link between a series of kidnapped sci-fi stars, the murder of an entire town, and a dark secret from inside Mount Everest? Under Uncle Jack’s supervision, Gary’s spy skills and confidence blossom – but when the duo learn what’s behind the celebrity kidnappings, the knowledge comes at a price. The conspiracy begins to unravel, but who can be trusted when so many prominent figures seem to be involved?

I read the first issue of Secret Service when it first came out in the US. It was pretty good. I don’t really know why I didn’t keep reading it… Well, now I have the opportunity to get the whole story.

*

MeehanG-TrueFireGary Meehan, True Fire (Quercus)

Sixteen-year-old Megan is pregnant.

As she prepares to tell her family, the unthinkable happens. Her village is razed by soldiers: her grandfather murdered, her twin sister taken.

On a desperate mission to rescue her beloved Gwyneth, Megan discovers a terrifying truth – that the destruction of her old life is inextricably linked to her unborn child. The feared witch soldiers, vanquished a generation ago, have returned to see the fulfilment of a prophecy: one that will put Megan and her new friends – Eleanor, a fiery ex-aristocrat, and Damon, a wayward charmer – at the heart of the greatest war her world has ever known.

This could be interesting. Not sure how quickly I’ll get around to it, but I do hope to read this relatively soon.

*

MorleyI-AboveIsla Morley, Above (Two Roads)

I am a secret no one is able to tell.

Blythe Hallowell is sixteen when she is abducted by a survivalist and locked away in an aban­doned missile silo in Eudora, Kansas. At first, she focuses frantically on finding a way out, until the harrowing truth of her new existence settles in – the crushing loneliness, the terrifying madness of a captor who believes he is saving her from the end of the world, and the persistent temptation to give up. But nothing prepares Blythe for the burden of raising a child in confinement. Deter­mined to give the boy everything she has lost, she pushes aside the truth about a world he may never see for a myth that just might give mean­ing to their lives below ground. Years later, their lives are ambushed by an event at once promising and devastating. As Blythe’s dream of going home hangs in the balance, she faces the ultimate choice – between survival and freedom.

Never heard anything about this book or author, before it arrived in the mail. Guess I’ll just have to dive in, see what I find…

*

PratchettBaxter-TheLongWarTerry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter, The Long War (Transworld)

A generation after the events of The Long Earth, mankind has spread across the new worlds opened up by Stepping. Where Joshua and Lobsang once pioneered, now fleets of airships link the stepwise Americas with trade and culture. Mankind is shaping the Long Earth – but in turn the Long Earth is shaping mankind… A new “America”, called Valhalla, is emerging more than a million steps from Datum Earth, with core American values restated in the plentiful environment of the Long Earth – and Valhalla is growing restless under the control of the Datum government…

Meanwhile the Long Earth is suffused by the song of the trolls, graceful hive-mind humanoids. But the trolls are beginning to react to humanity’s thoughtless exploitation… Joshua, now a married man, is summoned by Lobsang to deal with a gathering multiple crisis that threatens to plunge the Long Earth into a war unlike any mankind has waged before.

The second volume in Pratchett and Baxter’s shared science fiction series, The Long Earth. I haven’t read the first in the series, but I’m willing to give the series a try.

*

RachmanT-Rise&FallOfGreatPowersTom Rachman, The Rise and Fall of Great Powers (Sceptre)

Tooly Zylberberg, the American owner of an isolated bookshop in the Welsh countryside, conducts a life full of reading, but with few human beings. Books are safer than people, who might ask awkward questions about her life. She prefers never to mention the strange events of her youth, which mystify and worry her still.

Taken from home as a girl, Tooly found herself spirited away by a group of seductive outsiders, implicated in capers from Asia to Europe to the United States. But who were her abductors? Why did they take her? What did they really want? There was Humphrey, the curmudgeonly Russian with a passion for reading; there was the charming but tempestuous Sarah, who sowed chaos in her wake; and there was Venn, the charismatic leader whose worldview transformed Tooly forever. Until, quite suddenly, he disappeared.

Years later, Tooly believes she will never understand the true story of her own life. Then startling news arrives from a long-lost boyfriend in New York, raising old mysteries and propelling her on a quest around the world in search of answers.

I’ve only read one of Rachman’s short stories, but I’m really looking forward to giving this a try.

*

ShannonS-BoneSeasonSamantha Shannon, The Bone Season (Bloomsbury)

It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city – Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly – as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

I’m hoping to read this pretty soon – I’ve been dragging my feet. I’ve heard mixed things, but I’m going to go in with an open mind.

*

ShepherdJ-CK2-OperationShieldUSJoel Shepherd, Shield (Pyr)

Part military SF, part cyberpunk, part grand-scale space opera, and part techno-psychological thriller, the Cassandra Kresnov novels transcend the recently narrow segmentation of the science fiction genre.

In 23 Years on Fire, Cassandra discovered that the technology that created her has been misused in her former home and now threatens all humanity with catastrophe. Returning home to Callay, she finds that Federation member worlds, exhausted by the previous thirty-year-war against the League, are unwilling to risk the confrontation that a solution may require. Some of these forces will go to any lengths to avoid a new conflict, including taking a sledgehammer to the Federation Constitution and threatening the removal by force of Cassandra’s own branch of the Federal Security Agency.

More frighteningly for Sandy, she has brought back to Callay three young children, whom she met on the mean streets of Droze, discovering maternal feelings she had not known she possessed. Can she reconcile her duty as a soldier, including what she must do as a tactician, with the dangers that those decisions will place upon her family-the one thing that has come to mean more to her than any cause she now believes in?

I’ve been aware of Joel Shepherd for a little while, having seen his name and novels mentioned in Pyr’s catalogues and on their website for a while. And yet, for some reason I’ve never picked one up. They seem to be in the same sub-genre of science fiction as Justina Robson’s Quantum Gravity series (also published by Pyr in the US, and Gollancz in the UK). This is the second in the series, so I’m not sure how long it will take me to catch up and read the first one before moving on to this. It does sound cool, though…

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SmytheJ-NoHarmCanComeToAGoodManJames Smythe, No Harm Can Come to a Good Man (Borough Press)

How far would you go to save your family from an invisible threat?

ClearVista is used by everyone and can predict anything. It’s a daily lifesaver, predicting weather to traffic to who you should befriend.

Laurence Walker wants to be the next President of the United States. ClearVista will predict his chances. It will predict whether he’s the right man for the job. It will predict that his son can only survive for 102 seconds underwater. It will predict that Laurence’s life is about to collapse in the most unimaginable way.

This has a really intriguing premise. I’ve dipped in already, and am not sure what I think. I’ll come back to it when I’m more in the mood for something along these lines. Hopefully won’t be too long.

*

TallisFR-VoicesF.R. Tallis, The Voices (Pan Macmillan)

In the scorching summer of 1976 the hottest since records began Christopher Norton, his wife Laura and their young daughter Faye settle into their new home in north London. The faded glory of the Victorian house is the perfect place for Norton, a composer of film soundtracks, to build a recording studio of his own. But soon in the long, oppressively hot nights, Laura begins to hear something through the crackle of the baby monitor. First, a knocking sound. Then come the voices. For Norton, the voices mark an exciting opportunity. Putting his work to one side, he begins the project of a lifetime a grand symphony incorporating the voices and becomes increasingly obsessed with one voice in particular. Someone who is determined to make themselves heard…

I’ve never read anything by Tallis. Not sure when (or if) I’ll be able to get around to this one, but it does sound interesting.

*

Wingrove-1-TheEmpireOfTimeDavid Wingrove, The Empire of Time (Del Rey UK)

There is only the war.

Otto Behr is a German agent, fighting his Russian counterparts across three millennia, manipulating history for moments in time that can change everything.

Only the remnants of two great nations stand and for Otto, the war is life itself, the last hope for his people.

But in a world where realities shift and memory is never constant, nothing is certain, least of all the chance of a future with his Russian love…

Wingrove is the author of the multi-volume Chung Kuo series. I have the first book in that series, but for some reason I just never got around to reading it. This novel has a really intriguing premies, though, so I may get to this far sooner than the author’s previous series.

*

Which of these has caught your eye? Any other books you’ve received recently that you’re excited to get started on?

“The Library of Unrequited Love” by Sophie Divry & Siân Reynolds (trans.) (MacLehose Press)

Divry-TheLibraryOfUnrequitedLoveA peculiar, endearing little book

One morning a librarian finds a reader who has been locked in overnight.

She starts to talk to him, a one-way conversation that soon gathers pace as an outpouring of frustrations, observations and anguishes. Two things shine through: her shy, unrequited passion for a quiet researcher named Martin, and an ardent and absolute love of books.

A delightful flight of fancy for the lonely bookworm in all of us…

What a peculiar little book. The Library of Unrequited Love is a 98-page, stream-of-consciousness, single-paragraph monologue. Ordinarily, such a description would be an automatic turn-off for me. This, however, was a very endearing read.

Someone has been locked in a library over-night, and in the morning an old librarian finds him as she prepares to open up. Rather strangely, instead of being particularly concerned, the librarian goes on a great, long, free-form ramble that covers a broad-range of topic – from libraries, books, librarians-vs.-readers, society, and, of course, Martin (who has attracted her eye and is the emerges-late-in-the-story focus of the title).

Given its extremely brief length, it’s difficult to know how to approach it for a review. Reynolds has done a great job with the translation, and there’s a great flow to the narrative. We really get a sense of the librarian’s character, her biases and tastes. There’s a wealth of information and great commentary, too – especially on the subject of libraries. Here are just a couple of nuggets.

First, a thought on the strange people they attract, but also why they’re important in the Summer:

“… libraries do attract mad people. Especially in summer. Of course, if you closed the libraries during the summer holidays, you wouldn’t see them. No more lunatics, poor people, children on their own, students who’ve failed their exams, no more little old chaps, no more culture and no more humanity. When I think that some mayors dare to close their libraries in August. Just to cut down on costs. Barbaric. Think of it: when the town’s sweltering in the heat, the shops are all shut, the swimming baths are full, people’s purses are empty, their pay’s too low, and they’re brooding over their problems in the shade, with the tar melting on the road, the house of culture could be opening its arms to all those children lost in an ocean of urban idiocy, but no, his nibs the Mayor has closed the library … What’s the little old pensioner going to do in August? I’ll tell you: he gets up on Tuesday morning, he takes the only bus of the day, and he toddles along slowly to the entrance of the library, because for twenty-four hours he’s been looking forward to a nice long day spent in an air-conditioned reading room, leafing through his favourite newspapers, and then like a stab in the back, or Napoleon’s coup d’etat, my poor little pensioner sees the criminal notice on the door: Closed until September … Nothing is sadder than an empty library.”

And also this amusing interpretation of the never-ending war that takes place in a library:

“I’ll tell you how it works. The library is the arena where every day the Homeric battle begins between books and readers. In this struggle, the librarians are the referees. In this arena, they have a part to play. Either they’re cowards and take the side of the mountain of books, or they bravely help the worried reader. And in this fight, you have to let your conscience be your guide. But librarians aren’t automatically on the side of the humans, don’t be fooled. You don’t realize, but you’re a flock of sheep in our hands, you think you’re gambolling about free as air, but there are wolves everywhere lying in wait for you, cyclops, sirens, naked nymphs, oh, the pity of it … A barricade only has two sides and I know which side I’m on, comrade. I’m here to help the poor, depressed, thirsty reader faced with the crushing prestige of the Army of Books.”

Overall, then, I would strongly recommend this to anyone who was brought up visiting libraries and thinks of them fondly, any bibliophile, and also anyone who has a couple of hours to fill and doesn’t want to dive in to a new full-length novel quite yet.

A peculiar, endearing, very well-written novella. Definitely recommended.

Upcoming: “The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair” by Joël Dicker (Maclehose Press)

DickerJ-TruthAboutTheHarryQuebertAffairUKI’ve been seeing a lot of buzz surrounding Joël Dicker’s latest novel, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair. Last year, I started reading more (literary) fiction, and I’ve become as keen on finding new novels in all genres, and not just SFF, to feature on here. I’ve become particularly interested in American literary fiction – author such as Michael Chabon, Donna Tartt, Richard Russo, and Claire Messud to name but four (all but one of whom have featured on the blog already). It was therefore interesting to me that Dicker’s novel has created such a storm (it has sold over two million copies on the continent) and that it has even been hailed as having “all the elements of the Great American novel” (La Croix), despite Dicker actually being Swiss. Now that Maclehose Press has unveiled the UK artwork for the novel, I thought it a good time to post a quick something about it.

The novel is translated by Sam Taylor, who also translated HHhH. Here’s the synopsis…

Who killed Nola Kellergan?

Marcus Goldman, the toast of the New York literary scene, is at his wit’s end after being struck by writer’s block. Desperate not to lose his new found fame and in search of inspiration he decides to spend a few weeks in New Hampshire at the home of Harry Quebert, world famous author and his mentor from university.

During his stay, Marcus discovers that in 1975, aged 34, Harry had an affair with 15 year old Nola Kellergan. The summer of their affair, Nola disappeared after she was seen running through the woods, covered in blood. No one has seen Nola since and no one knows what happened.

Then the unthinkable happens, 33 years after her disappearance, the body of Nola Kellergan is found in Harry’s garden. Determined to prove Harry’s innocence, Marcus gets embroiled in the murder case of the century, while everywhere in America people are asking: Who Killed Nola Kellergan?

Not just a book about an unsolved murder case, The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair explores the price of fame and the seduction of success, the ferocity of the publishing industry and the power of the media, love in all its forms and what it means to be a truly great writer.

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is published in the UK by Maclehose Press, in May 2014.