Upcoming: ISLAND REICH by Jack Grimwood (Michael Joseph)

GrimwoodJ-IslandReichUKI’ve been a fan of Jack Grimwood‘s writing for some time. I enjoyed his  Assassini series (an atmospheric horror/vampire trilogy), and was intrigued when he decided to move into historical thrillers. His first Cold War thriller/mystery, Moskva was great, and introduced readers to Tom Fox (who also appears in Nightfall Berlin). This year, Penguin are due to publish a new stand-alone World War II mystery, Island Reich, which also sounds really interesting:

An unlikely spy.

July 1940. As Britain braces itself for invasion, ex-Tommy and safecracker Bill O’Hagan is glad to have escaped the battlefield. But when a job goes wrong, he finds himself forced to serve his country once more.

A former king.

Spurned by his government and fearing for his life, the Duke of Windsor flees to Portugal with the woman for whom he abdicated the throne, Wallis Simpson. As a web of Nazi trickery threatens to ensnare him, his fate and the fate of Britain rest on one man.

The fate of a nation in their hands.

Dropped on an occupied Channel Island without backup, Bill must crack an enemy safe and get its contents to safety. Failure will devastate any hope Britain has of winning the war.

But with the layers of deception and intrigue drawing ever more tightly around them, Bill and the Duke both learn they aren’t the only players in this game. And Berlin – which has the Duke in its own sights — is plotting its greatest move yet…

Jack Grimwood’s Island Reich is due to be published by Penguin in the UK, on May 27th, 2021. (Couldn’t find any information about a North American release, at the time of writing.)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: THE ABSOLUTE BOOK by Elizabeth Knox (Viking/Michael Joseph)

KnoxE-AbsoluteBookUSElizabeth Knox‘s The Absolute Book generated quite a bit of positive buzz when the publisher(s) sent out the advance review copies. It kept popping up in my Twitter feed, typically accompanied with a positive review or response. Now that we’re getting closer to its publication, I thought it was time to write a quick post about it. Pitched as a contemporary fantasy that is a “spellbinding mix of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, American Gods and His Dark Materials” (quite an interesting mix), here’s the synopsis:

Taryn Cornick believes that the past — her sister’s violent death, and her own ill-conceived revenge — is behind her, and she can get on with her life. She has written a successful book about the things that threaten libraries: insects, damp, light, fire, carelessness and uncaring… but not all of the attention it brings her is good.

KnoxE-AbsoluteBookUKA policeman, Jacob Berger, questions her about a cold case. Then there are questions about a fire in the library at her grandparents’ house and an ancient scroll box known as the Firestarter, as well as threatening phone calls and a mysterious illness. Finally a shadowy young man named Shift appears, forcing Taryn and Jacob toward a reckoning felt in more than one world.

The Absolute Book is epic, action-packed fantasy in which hidden treasures are recovered, wicked things resurface, birds can talk, and dead sisters are a living force. It is a book of journeys and returns, from contemporary England to Auckland, New Zealand; from a magical fairyland to Purgatory. Above all, it is a declaration of love for stories and the ways in which they shape our worlds and create gods out of mortals.

Elizabeth Knox’s The Absolute Book is due to be published by Viking Books in North America (February 9th) and Michael Joseph in the UK (March 18th).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Quick Review: THE EIGHTH DETECTIVE by Alex Pavesi (Henry Holt / Michael Joseph)

PavesiA-EightDetectiveUSAn intriguing mystery novel, quite well executed

A young editor travels to a remote village in the Mediterranean in the hopes of convincing a reclusive writer to republish his collection of detective stories, only to realize that there are greater mysteries beyond the pages of books.

There are rules for murder mysteries. There must be a victim. A suspect. A detective. The rest is just shuffling the sequence. Expanding the permutations. Grant McAllister, a professor of mathematics, once sat down and worked them all out – calculating the different orders and possibilities of a mystery into seven perfect detective stories he quietly published. But that was thirty years ago. Now Grant lives in seclusion on a remote Mediterranean island, counting the rest of his days.

Until Julia Hart, a sharp, ambitious editor knocks on his door. Julia wishes to republish his book, and together they must revisit those old stories: an author hiding from his past, and an editor, keen to understand it.

But there are things in the stories that don’t add up. Inconsistencies left by Grant that a sharp-eyed editor begins to suspect are more than mistakes. They may be clues, and Julia finds herself with a mystery of her own to solve.

The synopsis for Alex Pavesi’s debut novel caught my attention some time ago, so I jumped at the chance to review it. It’s quite unlike any mystery novel I’ve read before, and with an intriguing premise/structure, it was a pretty good read. Continue reading

Review: THE FUTURES by Anna Pitoniak (Lee Boudreaux Books/Michael Joseph)

PitoniakA-TheFuturesUSAn interesting, engaging novel about a young couple whose hopes and dreams must confronting cold reality in New York…

Julia and Evan fall in love as undergraduates at Yale. For Evan, a scholarship student from a rural Canadian town, Yale is a whole new world, and Julia — blond, beautiful, and rich — fits perfectly into the future he’s envisioned for himself. After graduation, and on the eve of the great financial meltdown of 2008, they move together to New York City, where Evan lands a job at a hedge fund. But Julia, whose privileged upbringing grants her an easy but wholly unsatisfying job with a nonprofit, feels increasingly shut out of Evan’s secretive world.

With the market crashing and banks failing, Evan becomes involved in a high-stakes deal at work — a deal that, despite the assurances of his Machiavellian boss, begins to seem more than slightly suspicious. Meanwhile, Julia reconnects with someone from her past who offers a glimpse of a different kind of live. As the economy craters, and as Evan and Julia spin into their separate orbits, they each find that they are capable of much more — good and bad — than they’d ever imagined.

This novel has received an incredible amount of early buzz — I’ve seen it mentioned and praised since early 2016. Naturally, this made me curious, and I was lucky enough to get an eARC a little while ago. Overall, this is an enjoyable, well-written novel set in New York. Continue reading

Review: SLEEPING GIANTS by Sylvain Neuvel (Del Rey/ Michael Joseph)

NeuvelS-SleepingGiantsUSAn interesting start to a new series

Deadwood, USA. A girl sneaks out just before dark to ride her new bike. Suddenly, the ground disappears beneath her. Waking up at the bottom of a deep pit, she sees an emergency rescue team above her. The people looking down see something far stranger…

“We always look forward. We never look back.”

That girl grows up to be Dr. Rose Franklyn, a brilliant scientist and the leading world expert on what she discovered. An enormous, ornate hand made of an exceptionally rare metal, which predates all human civilisation on the continent. 

“But this thing … it’s different. It challenges us. It rewrites history.”

An object whose origins and purpose are perhaps the greatest mystery humanity has ever faced. Solving the secret of where it came from — and how many more parts may be out there — could change life as we know it.

“It dares us to question what we know about ourselves.”

But what if we were meant to find it? And what happens when this vast, global puzzle is complete…?

“About everything.”

I had very high hopes for Neuvel’s Sleeping Giants. It sounded really interesting and, as an epistolary novel, I was certainly intrigued to see how the author built the story. For the main, it is very well-written and interesting. That being said, the story flagged a bit towards the end, despite being the start of a new series. Continue reading

Upcoming: SLEEPING GIANTS by Sylvain Neuvel (Michael Joseph)

NeuvelS-SleepingGiantsUKI stumbled across this title on Penguin UK’s website, while looking for information on another book. It caught my eye first because of the interesting cover, but then I read the synopsis and my interest was even more piqued:

Deadwood, USA. A girl sneaks out just before dark to ride her new bike. Suddenly, the ground disappears beneath her. Waking up at the bottom of a deep pit, she sees an emergency rescue team above her. The people looking down see something far stranger…

“We always look forward. We never look back.”

That girl grows up to be Dr. Rose Franklyn, a brilliant scientist and the leading world expert on what she discovered. An enormous, ornate hand made of an exceptionally rare metal, which predates all human civilisation on the continent. 

“But this thing… it’s different. It challenges us. It rewrites history.”

An object whose origins and purpose are perhaps the greatest mystery humanity has ever faced. Solving the secret of where it came from — and how many more parts may be out there — could change life as we know it.

“It dares us to question what we know about ourselves.”

But what if we were meant to find it? And what happens when this vast, global puzzle is complete…?

“About everything.”

My interested grew again when I learned that Neuvel is Canadian — as a recent immigrant, I’m rather keen on discovering more authors from Canada.

Sylvain Neuvel‘s Sleeping Giants, the first in the Themis Files series, is due to be published by Michael Joseph in the UK, on April 7th, 2016; it is due to be published by Del Rey in the US (cover below), on April 26th, 2016.

NeuvelS-SleepingGiantsUS

Upcoming: MOSKVA by Jack Grimwood (Penguin)

GrimwoodJ-MoskvaUKJack Grimwood is a pseudonym for Jon Courtenay Grimwood, the extremely talented author of, among others, The Fallen Blade, End of the World Blues and The Last Banquet. Now, he adds Moskva, a serial killer thriller set in Cold War Moscow. Here’s the synopsis:

Christmas Eve, 1985. The shaved, exsanguinated body of a young man is found in Red Square, frozen solid — like marble to the touch — missing the little finger of his right hand.

A week later, Alex Masterton, the 15-year-old stepdaughter of the British ambassador, goes missing. Army Intelligence officer, Tom Fox, posted to Moscow, is asked to help find her. It’s a shot at redemption.

Fox’s investigation drags him ever deeper towards the dark heart of a Soviet establishment determined to protect its own…

Moskva is due to be published by Michael Joseph/Penguin, on May 6th, 2016. It looks fantastic, and I can’t wait to read it.

Also on CR: Interview with Jon Courtenay Grimwood; Guest Posts on We Know Goblins Don’t Exist” and group-post “Should You Write What You Read?”; Review of The Fallen Blade

Audio Review: MORE FOOL ME by Stephen Fry (Audible)

FryS-MoreFoolMeA third excellent memoir from Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry invites readers to take a glimpse at his life story in the unputdownable More Fool Me.

It is a heady tale of the late Eighties and early Nineties, in which Stephen – ever more driven to create, perform and entertain – burned bright and partied hard with a host of famous and infamous friends, regardless of the consequences.

This electric and extraordinary book reveals a new side to Mr. Fry.

Stephen Fry is an award-winning comedian, actor, presenter and director. He rose to fame alongside Hugh Laurie in A Bit of Fry and Laurie (which he co-wrote with Laurie) and Jeeves and Wooster, and was unforgettable as Captain Melchett in Blackadder. He also presented Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, his groundbreaking documentary on bipolar disorder, to huge critical acclaim. His legions of fans tune in to watch him host the popular quiz show QI each week.

I listened to the Audible edition of this biography. And, much like The Fry Chronicles, it is both entertaining and excellently produced. Fry’s performance is, as can be expected, superb – welcoming, honest, and rather whimsical. This is another excellent memoir, and superb audiobook. Continue reading