Our November Books of the Month roundup is full of excitement, cheer and barnstorming reads. The return of Minette Walters with a historical novel is a welcome surprise, and we’re sure it’s going to be a big hit. Also, do look out for Sing, Unburied, Sing, about which reviewers and early readers have been raving. Enjoy!
BOOK OF THE MONTH
The Last Hours
Allen & Unwin
Minette Walters burst onto the scene in 1992 with The Ice House – a novel that introduced her unique blend of psychological insight and brilliant plotting. Twenty-five years later, The Last Hours sees her turn her hand to historical fiction. And it’s just as gripping as one would hope.
June, 1348: the Black Death enters England. In the Dorsetshire estate of Develish, Lady Anne decides to quarantine herself, bringing the serfs inside the walls. But Lady Anne’s plan causes conflicts, fear and uncertainty – and ultimately a dreadful event that threatens the uneasy status quo…
Superbly written and utterly convincing, The Last Hours is a historical epic not to be missed.
Sing, Unburied, Sing
Already a finalist for the US National Book Award, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a genuinely affecting, hauntingly written novel of family, home and hope. Jojo’s mother, Leonie, packs up the kids to drive them to collect their father, lately imprisoned in Mississippi. It’s a journey that will teach Jojo about what it means to be a son, a father and a man, as well as laying bare the battles and scars that his parents have lived. Important, immersive, and utterly distinctive, this is a bravura novel of modern America.
A sensation across Europe, The Mountain is an unusual and beguiling take on the cold case thriller. Distraught and depressed after a crash he caused, Jeremiah Salinger takes his daughter Clara to the Bletterbach – a canyon in the Dolomites. There he discovers that in 1985 three students were murdered there, their bodies savaged by a killer who was never found. Solving the mystery might be the only thing that can keep him sane. An atmospheric thriller for fans of Stephen King and Joël Dicker.
Matthew Weiner is best known as the creator of the television classic Mad Men – and his forensic understanding of the dark hearts that lie beneath a veneer of wealth and sophistication are evident in this intense and menacing page-turner. The Breakstone family centre themselves around their daughter Heather, a perfect child with a perfect life. But as Heather grows, so does the darkness that surrounds her. A darkness that comes from home and from the street, where someone is watching…
An Almost Perfect Christmas
Nina Stibbe’s bestselling Love, Nina was full of wry humour, nostalgia and deft characterisation – and this festive book serves up more of her hilarious memories and musings. Stibbe is a natural heir to the late, great Sue Townsend, and An Almost Perfect Christmas cements her reputation as one of the funniest writers around. Whether it’s the dryness of turkey, round robin letters or the perils of re-gifting, Stibbe will show you the yule-tide horrors anew, and ensure you’re still laughing at New Year.
With high-profile endorsements from JK Rowling and Irvine Welsh, Poverty Safari is set to be one of the year’s most important and talked about books on modern Britain. Part memoir, part travelogue, part impassioned plea, Poverty Safari takes the reader deep into the invisible world of the systemically deprived, a world ignored and derided, a world that is caught between apathy and seething anger. It is an anger that society will have to get used to – unless something changes. Urgent, vital and startling, this is a must read.
The Secret of Vesalius
You’ve never seen Barcelona this way before – gothic, dangerous, romantic and diabolical – and The Secret of Vesalius will make you want to board a plane immediately. 1888: Called back to Barcelona from Oxford, expert linguist Daniel Amat is asked to help investigate a series of murders – all of which point to an ancient curse and a 16th Century anatomist, Vesalius. Amat is soon plunged into a deadly pursuit to stop the unravelling of Vesalius’s secret. A breath-taking, genre-busting enigma for fans of The Shadow of the Wind.
The Alphabet of Heart's Desire
It is a bold move to include a literary genius as your central character, but it’s one that Brian Keaney pulls off with aplomb. A young Thomas De Quincey collapses on Oxford Street and is nursed to health far from his safe, rich normal life. There he discovers another world, another realm where pleasure and pain constantly rub against each other. Keaney’s depiction of its denizens is pitch perfect, and its tale of love, desire and addiction utterly compelling.
The third in the Eddie Flynn series – though you can read them in any order – is another tightly, tensely plotted legal thriller with a difference. Former con-man turned criminal attorney, Flynn is the man you want in a crisis, and Leonard Howell is in crisis: his daughter is missing. Flynn vows to bring her home, but soon realises things are not quite what they seem. One of the best new mystery series around, this latest instalment is the best yet.
The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night
From the bestselling author of Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops comes a magical, original and enthralling collection of modern fairy stories. Elegantly weaving the traditional with the contemporary, these twelve tales swirl with outsiders, enchantment, ghouls and ghosts, making for a haunting and often unnerving read. Fans of Angela Carter, Louise O’Neill and The Night Circus will down these stories like nectar.