Skip to content
More +
Recommendations

New fiction for January 2020

The 24-Hour Cafe, A Long Petal of the Sea, The Other People

A Long Petal of the Sea, by Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende is visiting the UK for the first time in 12 years from 9-13 February. You can see her at the Royal Festival Hall on Sunday 9 February and the UEA Literature Festival on Wednesday 12 February. She's also given us a great interview for Meet the Author.

"That September 2, 1939, the day of the Spanish exiles' splendid arrival in Chile, the Second World War broke out in Europe. Victor Dalmau is a young doctor when he is caught up in the Spanish Civil War, a tragedy that leaves his life - and the fate of his country - forever changed. Together with his sister-in-law, the pianist Roser Bruguera, he is forced out of his beloved Barcelona and into exile.

"When opportunity to seek refuge in Chile arises, they take it, boarding a ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda to the promised 'long petal of sea and wine and snow' over the seas. There, they find themselves enmeshed in a rich web of characters who come together in love and tragedy over the course of four generations, destined to witness the battle between freedom and repression as it plays out across the world."

The Death of Jesus, by J. M. Coetzee

Conclusion of the trilogy that began with The Childhood of Jesus and The Schooldays of Jesus.

"David has grown to be a tall ten-year-old. He is a natural at soccer, and loves kicking a ball around with his friends. His father Simón and Bolívar the dog usually watch. His mother Inés works in a fashion boutique. David still asks lots of questions. In dancing class at the Academy of Music he dances as he chooses. He refuses to do sums and will not read any books except Don Quixote.

"One day Julio Fabricante, the director of a nearby orphanage, invites David and his friends to form a proper soccer team. David decides he will leave Simón and Inés to live with Julio. Before long he succumbs to a mysterious illness."

Nine Elms, by Robert Bryndza

"Kate Marshall was a rising star in the London Metropolitan police force. Young, ambitious and with a keen sense of justice, she solved several high-profile murder cases. But when Kate was tasked with tracking down a vicious serial killer, even her sharp instincts couldn't help her find him - until he found her.

"Sixteen years after her narrow escape, Kate lives a quiet life on the English coast, though her years with the police are still with her. And when one day she receives a letter from someone in her past, she is pulled back into the twisted mind of a murderer she knows only too well - and into a case only she can solve."

Haven't They Grown, by Sophie Hannah

"All Beth has to do is drive her son to his under-14s away match, watch him play, and bring him home. Just because she knows that her former best friend lives near the football ground, that doesn't mean she has to drive past her house and try to catch a glimpse of her. Why would Beth do that, and risk dredging up painful memories? She hasn't seen Flora Braid for 12 years. But she can't resist. She parks outside Flora's house and watches from across the road as Flora and her children, Thomas and Emily, step out of the car.

"Except - there's something terribly wrong. Flora looks the same, only older - just as Beth would have expected. It's the children that are the problem. 12 years ago, Thomas and Emily Braid were five and three years old. Today, they look precisely as they did then. They are still five and three - but they haven't changed at all. They are no taller, no older. Why haven't they grown?"

A Silent Death, by Peter May

We’re expecting a long waiting list for this one, so get your reservations in soon!

"Spain, 2020. When ex-pat fugitive Jack Cleland watches his girlfriend die, gunned down in a pursuit involving officer Cristina Sanchez Pradell, he promises to exact his revenge by destroying the policewoman.

"Cristina's aunt Ana has been deaf-blind for the entirety of her adult life: the victim of a rare condition named Usher Syndrome. Ana is the centre of Cristina's world - and of Cleland's cruel plan.

"John Mackenzie - an ingenious yet irascible Glaswegian investigator - is seconded to aid the Spanish authorities in their manhunt. He alone can silence Cleland before the fugitive has the last, bloody, word."

The Runner, by Stephen Leather

Standalone thriller from the ever popular author of the Spider Shepherd series.

"Sally Page is an MI5 'footie', a junior Secret Service Agent who maintains 'legends': fake identities or footprints used by real spies. Her day consists of maintaining flats and houses where the legends allegedly live, doing online shopping, using payment, loyalty and travel cards and going on social media in their names - anything to give the impression to hostile surveillance that the legends are living, breathing individuals.

"One day she goes out for a coffee run from the safe house from which she and her fellow footies operate. When she comes back they have all been murdered and she barely escapes with her own life. She is on the run: but from whom she has no idea. Worse, her bosses at MI5 seem powerless to help her. To live, she will have to use all the lies and false identities she has so carefully created while discovering the truth."

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, by Deepa Anappara

Debut novel.

"Nine-year-old Jai watches too many reality cop shows, thinks he's smarter than his friend Pari (even though she always gets top marks) and considers himself to be a better boss than Faiz (even though Faiz is the one with a job). When a boy at school goes missing, Jai decides to use the crime-solving skills he has picked up from episodes of Police Patrol to find him.

"With Pari and Faiz by his side, Jai ventures into some of the most dangerous parts of the city; the bazaar at night, and even the railway station at the end of the Purple Line. But kids continue to vanish, and the trio must confront terrified parents, an indifferent police force and soul-snatching djinns in order to uncover the truth. As the disappearances edge ever closer to home, the lives of Jai and his friends will never be the same again."

Mirror, Mirror, by Paula Byrne

From the author of Look to Your Wife.

"Discovered in a Berlin cabaret in the roaring twenties, she is brought to the glamour of Los Angeles. She becomes a superstar of the silver screen and Hollywood’s darling, but nothing perfect lasts forever.

"The cost of beauty is always high, for those who have it and those who live in its shadow. The weight falls on her daughter to untangle the complicated truths of being ordinary beside an extraordinary mother, a woman who has bent and broken and skewed her perception of reality, a woman adored by the world, but from whom her daughter longs to escape.

"Evocative and deeply moving, Mirror, Mirror is based on Marlene Dietrich’s glittering life, a dramatic novel set in Hollywood’s golden age, that tells the story of mothers and daughters and of time’s war against beauty – and the unbearable pain of a woman when beauty is the only game in town."

Highfire, by Eoin Colfer

First adult fantasy novel from the superstar author of the Artemis Fowl series.

""Squib Moreau may be swamp-wild, but his intentions are (generally) good: he really wants to be a supportive son to his hard-working momma Elodie. But sometimes life gets in the way - like when Fake Daddy walked out on them leaving a ton of debt, or when crooked Constable Regence Hooke got to thinking pretty Elodie Moreau was just the gal for him.

"An apprenticeship with the local moonshine runner, servicing the bayou, looks like the only way to pay off the family debts and maybe get Squib and his momma a place in town, far from Constable Hooke's unwanted courtship and Fake Daddy's reputation. Unfortunately for Squib, Hooke has his own eye on that very same stretch of bayou - and neither of them have taken into account the fire-breathing dragon hiding out in the Louisiana swamp.

Agency, by William Gibson

This is the sequel to The Peripheral, but it can be read as a standalone.

"San Francisco, 2017. Clinton's in the White House, Brexit never happened - and Verity Jane's got herself a new job. They call Verity 'the app-whisperer', and she's just been hired by a shadowy start-up to evaluate a pair-of-glasses-cum-digital-assistant called Eunice. Only Eunice has other ideas. Pretty soon, Verity knows that Eunice is smarter than anyone she's ever met, conceals some serious capabilities and is profoundly paranoid - which is just as well since suddenly some bad people are after Verity.

"Meanwhile, in a post-apocalyptic London a century from now, PR fixer Wilf Netherton is tasked by all-seeing policewoman Ainsley Lowbeer with interfering in the alternative past in which Verity and Eunice exist. It appears something nasty is about to happen there - and fixing it will require not only Eunice's unique human-AI skillset but also a little help from the future."

The Dilemma, by B. A. Paris

"It's Livia's 40th birthday and she's having the party of a lifetime to make up for the wedding she never had. Everyone she loves will be there except her daughter Marnie, who's studying abroad. But although Livia loves Marnie, she's secretly glad she won't be at the party. She needs to tell Adam something about their daughter but she's waiting until the party is over so they can have this last happy time together.

"Adam wants everything to be perfect for Livia so he's secretly arranged for Marnie to come home and surprise her on her birthday. During the day, he hears some terrible news. He needs to tell Livia, because how can the party go on? But she's so happy, so excited - and the guests are about to arrive.

"How far would you go to give someone you love a last few hours of happiness?"

Miss Austen, by Gill Hornby

"1840. 23 years after the death of her famous sister Jane, Cassandra Austen returns to the village of Kintbury, and the home of her family's friends, the Fowles. She knows that, in some dusty corner of the sprawling vicarage, there is a cache of family letters which hold secrets she is desperate should not be revealed.

"As Cassandra recalls her youth and her relationship with her brilliant yet complex sister, she pieces together buried truths about Jane's history, and her own. And she faces a stark choice: should she act to protect Jane's reputation? Or leave the contents of the letters to go unguarded into posterity?"

Little Bandaged Days, by Kyra Wilder

"A mother moves to Geneva with her husband and their two young children. In their beautiful new rented apartment, surrounded by their rented furniture, and several Swiss instructions to maintain quiet, she finds herself totally isolated. Her husband's job means he is almost never present, and her entire world is caring for her children - making sure they are happy, and fed and comfortable, and that they can be seen as the happy, well-fed, comfortable family they should be. Everything is perfect. But, of course, it's not.

"The isolation, the sleeplessness, the demands of two people under two, are getting to Erika. She has never been so alone, and once the children are asleep, there are just too many hours to fill until morning, and there is something coming to get her."

The 24-Hour Café, by Libby Page

From the author of The Lido.

"Welcome to the café that never sleeps. Day and night Stella's café opens its doors for the lonely and the lost, the morning people and the night owls. It is many things to many people but most of all it is a place where life can wait at the door. A place of small kindnesses. A place where anyone can be whoever they want, where everyone is always welcome.

"Meet Hannah and Mona: best friends, waitresses, dreamers. They work at Stella's but they dream of more, of leaving the café behind and making their own way in life. Come inside and spend 24 hours at Stella's café; a day when Hannah and Mona's friendship will be tested, when the community will come together and when lives will be changed."

Black 13, by Adam Hamdy

Action packed thriller. James Patterson is a fan of Hamdy’s work.

"Ex-MI6 officer Scott Pearce is about to burn the espionage rule book. Our world is changing, and only he can break the conspiracy and expose the truth."

Mr Nobody, by Catherine Steadman

Latest from the author of Something in the Water.

"When a man is found on a Norfolk beach, drifting in and out of consciousness, with no identification and unable to speak, interest in him is sparked immediately. From the hospital staff who find themselves inexplicably drawn to him; to international medical experts who are baffled by him; to the national press who call him Mr Nobody; everyone wants answers. Who is this man? And what happened to him?

"Neuropsychiatrist Dr Emma Lewis is asked to assess the patient. This is her field of expertise, this is the chance she's been waiting for and this case could make her name known across the world. But therein lies the danger. Emma left this same small town in Norfolk fourteen years ago and has taken great pains to cover all traces of her past since then. But now something - or someone - is calling her back. And the more time she spends with her patient, the more alarmed she becomes."

The Other People, by C. J. Tudor

"Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl's face appear in the rear window. She mouths one word: 'Daddy.' It's his five-year-old daughter, Izzy. He never sees her again.

"Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead.

"Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them. Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe's daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows what they will do if they ever catch up with her and Alice."