Murder, Magic and Magnificence
Presenting Our Books of the Month for October
Murder mysteries may be a staple of fiction, but two debut talents have separately discovered bold new directions. In the time-looping The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, Stuart Turton turns the genre on its head (think Poirot meets Inception), whilst Nicki Thornton’s The Last Chance Hotel takes a pinch of Agatha Christie and mixes it into a magic cauldron of children’s adventure. Norwegian Wood’s Lars Mytting takes up his novelist’s pen for a charged account of families and war in The Sixteen Trees of Somme, and Matthew Kneale brings intimate local knowledge to Rome: A History in Seven Sackings.
Fiction Book of the Month
For decades, secrets have haunted Edvard’s family. The arrival of a beautifully-made coffin from his grandfather’s supposedly-dead brother opens a journey that will take Edvard across Europe and the devastating legacy of two world wars. From the author of the breakaway hit Norwegian Wood, European literary superstar Lars Mytting reveals his elegant skills as novelist in this perfectly-plotted tale of family conflict and the divisive toll of war.
Non-Fiction Book of the Month
English Passengers author Matthew Kneale is your expert guide to the city that has truly outlived all others - Rome. Even today, visitors can regard the same sights gazed upon by Cicero and Julius Caesar, but from the Gauls to the Nazis, how has Rome continued to flourish? Through the histories of seven key sackings, Kneale sets out to prove that threat has served as the city’s lifeblood, revealing along the way a fascinating tapestry of travelogue and cultural history.
Thriller of the Month
‘Original’, ‘unique’, ‘fiendishly clever’ and ‘remarkable’: critics have been knocked for six by Stuart Turton’s mind-blowing take on the country house thriller. The setup – a murder, a set of assembled guests – seems familiar, but the execution is anything but: our narrator is to assume a different life at the outset of each day, doomed to witness the act again and again. He must discover the killer’s identity to be released from the loop, but plot twist after plot twist will render freedom ever more remote...
Children's Book of the Month
Nicki Thornton’s debut fuses magic and whodunit together in an exuberant mystery for 9 to 12-year-olds. Aspirant chef Seth is the downtrodden kitchen boy for The Last Chance Hotel, an unusual guest house for very unusual guests. Wrongfully accused of a crime he didn’t commit, Seth – with the help of Nightshade, the kitchen cat – sets about proving his innocence. A wild imagination, fabulous cast and a plot Agatha Christie would be proud of make for one of the year’s must-reads for children.
Scottish Book of the Month
Over the course of more than 20 novels (including The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Loitering with Intent), Muriel Spark became a gifted giant of British literature. Personal friend Alan Taylor plunges into the myths and controversies of Spark’s eventful life, emerging with a portrait of a spirited talent who never lost sight of her Scottish origins, despite being fêted across the world. ‘it’s a delight to read a memoir of an author,’ writes Allan Massie in the Scotsman, ‘that celebrates friendship rather than disparaging its subject.’
Irish Book of the Month
Travelling in a Strange Land is a novel of atonement. Tom is middle-aged, a father of three, a man juggling with the present to push aside spectres of the past. Laying ahead, a mission to collect his son Luke from university in Sunderland; the weather, however, has set in, making passage by air from Belfast impossible. The rescue must be by ferry and car. What follows is an extraordinary voyage into Tom’s sense of his flawed self, punctuated by random incident and the gulf of his own inner anger and grief. Brilliant, sparse, knowing, David Park’s eleventh book lives long with its essential truth.