“Sybil and Blake Gregory live a well-ordered, predictable Manhattan life - she as a cutting-edge design authority and museum consultant, he in high-tech investments - raising their teenagers Andrew and Caroline and six-year-old Charlie.
“But when Blake is offered a dream job as CEO of a start-up in San Francisco, he accepts it, without consulting his wife, and buys a magnificent, historic mansion as their new home in Pacific Heights. Past and present collide at their elegant mansion, when they meet the large and lively family who lived there a century ago. All long dead but very much alive in spirit-visible to the Gregorys and no one else.
“Within these enchanted rooms, it is at once 1917 and a century later. Have the Gregorys been given a perfect gift: beloved friends, a chance to relive the past and the wisdom and grace to shape the future?”
“Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway has excavated a body from the grounds of Norwich Castle, a forbidding edifice that was once a prison. She believes the body may be that of infamous Victorian murderess Jemima Green. Called Mother Hook for her claw-like hand, Jemima was hanged in 1867 for the murder of five children in her care.
“DCI Harry Nelson has no time for long-dead killers. Immersed in the case of three infants found dead, one after the other, in their King’s Lynn home, he’s convinced that a family member is responsible, though others on his team think differently. Then a child goes missing. Could the abduction be linked to the long-dead Mother Hook? Ruth is pulled into the case, and back towards Nelson.”
“Boiled human bones have been found in Norwich’s web of underground tunnels. When Dr Ruth Galloway discovers they were recently buried, DCI Nelson has a murder enquiry on his hands. The boiling might have been just a medieval curiosity - now it suggests a much more sinister purpose.
“Meanwhile, DS Judy Johnson is investigating the disappearance of a local rough sleeper. The only trace of her is the rumour that she’s gone ‘underground’. This might be a figure of speech, but with the discovery of the bones and the rumours both Ruth and the police have heard that the network of old chalk-mining tunnels under Norwich is home to a vast community of rough sleepers, the clues point in only one direction.
“Local academic Martin Kellerman knows all about the tunnels and their history - but can his assertions of cannibalism and ritual killing possibly be true? As the weather gets hotter, tensions rise.”
“When Detective Constable Connie Childs is dragged from her bed to the fire-wrecked property on Cross Farm Lane she knows as she steps from the car that this house contains death. Three bodies discovered - a family obliterated - their deaths all seem to point to one conclusion: One mother, one murderer.
“But D.C. Childs, determined as ever to discover the truth behind the tragedy, realises it is the fourth body - the one they cannot find - that holds the key to the mystery at Cross Farm Lane. What she fails to spot is that her determination to unmask the real murderer might cost her more than her health - this time she could lose the thing she cares about most: her career.”
“Britain, 1944. In the sleepy English village where Annabel and her son Daniel reside, the war seems both omnipresent and very far away. With her husband in France, Annabel withdraws deeper into long-ago memories of happier times.
“When mother and son befriend Hans, a German prisoner of war consigned to the village, their lives are suddenly filled with secrets and betrayals. To Annabel, Hans is an awakening from the darkness that has engulfed her since Daniel’s birth. To her son, a solitary boy caught up in the mythical world of fairy tales, he is perhaps a prince in disguise, one whose secret only he knows. But Hans has plans of his own and will soon put them into motion with devastating consequences.”
The Anatomy of a Traitor: a history of espionage and betrayal, by Michael Smith, read by Richard Attlee
“At the heart of every spy story lies one question - ‘why?’.
“Here, espionage insider Michael Smith delves into the minds of the men and women throughout history who have risked disgrace - even death - and betrayed their countries, to answer this question.”
Queen Victoria’s Matchmaking: the royal marriages that shaped Europe, by Deborah Cadbury, read by Charlotte Strevens
“By the 1890s, Queen Victoria had over 30 grandchildren and to maintain and increase royal power in Europe, she knew she had to manoeuvre them into a series of dynastic marriages. In her sights was royalty from across the world.
“Yet for all their seeming obedience, her grandchildren often had plans of their own, plans fuelled by strong wills and romantic hearts. Her matchmaking plans were only further complicated by their coinciding with tumultuous international upheavals; revolution and war were in the air and after her death, her most carefully laid plans fell to ruin. This book travels through the most glittering, decadent palaces of Russia and Europe, weaving in scandals, political machinations and family tensions, to enthralling effect.”
“In this warm and engaging book, the late, great Sir Roger Moore reflects on life and aging. Delivered, along with his own hand-drawn sketches, to his publisher mere days before he passed away, in this book, Roger looks back on his life - and gives it his trademark sideways glance, too.”
A Secret Sisterhood: the hidden friendships of Austen, Brontë, Eliot and Woolf, by Emily Midorikawa & Emma Claire Sweeney, read by Maggie Mash
“Drawing on letters and diaries, some of which have never been published before, and new documents uncovered during the authors’ research, the creative connections explored here reveal: Jane Austen’s bond with a family servant, the amateur playwright Anne Sharp; how Charlotte Brontë was inspired by the daring feminist Mary Taylor; the transatlantic relationship between George Eliot and the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe; and the underlying erotic charge that lit the friendship of Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield - a pair too often dismissed as bitter foes.”
“Ken Clarke charts his remarkable progress from working-class scholarship boy in Nottinghamshire to high political office and the upper echelons of both his party and of government. But he is not a straightforward Conservative politician. His position on the left of the party often led Margaret Thatcher to question his true blue credentials and his passionate commitment to the European project has led many fellow Conservatives to regard him with suspicion - and cost him the leadership on no less than three occasions.”
“Once one of the country’s most respected forensics experts, Dr David Hunter is facing an uncertain future. So when he gets a call from Essex police, he’s eager for the chance to assist them. A badly decomposed body has been found in a desolate area called the Backwaters. It’s thought the remains are those of Leo Villiers, the son of a prominent businessman who vanished weeks ago.
“To complicate matters, it was rumoured that Villiers was having an affair with a local woman. And she too is missing. But Hunter has his doubts about the identity. Then more remains are discovered - and these remote wetlands begin to give up their secrets.”
“Life is about to get complicated for Donal Lynch. When a young woman is kidnapped, Donal is brought in to deliver the ransom money. But the tightly-planned drop off goes wrong, Julie Draper is discovered dead, and Donal finds his job on the line - a scapegoat for the officers in charge.
“But when Donal is delivered a cryptic message in the night, he learns that Julie was killed long before the botched rescue mission. As he digs further into the murder in a bid to clear his own name, dark revelations make one thing certain: the police are chasing the wrong man, and the killer has far more blood on his hands. Can Donal crack the case before he strikes again?”
“Rotherweird stands alone - there are no maps and no guidebooks, despite the tangled architecture, avant garde science and offbeat rituals. Cast adrift from the rest of England by Elizabeth I, its independence is subject to one disturbing condition: nobody, but nobody, studies Rotherweird or its history.”
“Set in 1943, this novel follows Polly, Verity and Bet - our three canal girls - as they learn how to run a canal narrow boat from London to Manchester, transporting goods and navigating an unknown world.”
“Across the millennia, philosophers have thought long and hard about happiness. They have defined it in many different ways and come up with myriad strategies for living the good life.
“Drawing on this vast body of work, in Happy, Derren Brown explores changing concepts of happiness - from the surprisingly modern wisdom of the Stoics and Epicureans in classical times right up until today, when the self-help industry has attempted to claim happiness as its own. He shows how many of self-help’s suggested routes to happiness and success – such as positive thinking, self-belief and setting goals – can be disastrous to follow and, indeed, actually cause anxiety.
“This brilliant, candid and deeply entertaining book exposes the flaws in these ways of thinking, and in return poses challenging but stimulating questions about how we choose to live and the way we think about death.”
“Citadel is set in the far south of France during World War II. While war blazes in the trenches at the front, back at home a different battle is waged, full of clandestine bravery, treachery and secrets. And as a cell of resistance fighters, codenamed Citadel, fight for everything they hold dear, their struggle will reveal an older, darker combat being fought in the shadows.”
“A serial rapist is leaving a string of tortured women behind him, but while DS Logan McRae’s girlfriend, PC Jackie ‘Ball Breaker’ Watson, is out acting as bait, he’s trying to identify a blood-drenched body dumped outside Accident and Emergency. Logan’s investigations suggest someone in the local bondage community has developed a taste for violent death, and he soon finds himself dragged into the twilight world of pornographers, sex shops and S&M.
“Meanwhile, the prime suspect in the rape case turns out to be Aberdeen Football Club’s star striker. Logan thinks they’ve got it horribly wrong, but Jackie is convinced the footballer’s guilty and she’s hell-bent on a conviction at any cost…”
“For generations, Perry James’ family, staunch unionists, has lived under the shadow of the Cumberland range and worked in the coal mines. To escape from the cycle of poverty, Perry signs up with the Jobs Corps, where they begin to teach him a skilled trade and how to read and write. But Perry is torn between family honour and the lure of seedy beer joints where he can drink and escape…”
“Tracy Eadie’s decomposed body washes up on a beach near Glasgow. Junkie. Prostitute. Fourteen years old.
“Rosie Gilmour, tabloid journalist, receives evidence linking police officials with Tracy’s disappearance. It seems Tracy, and the secret that was supposed to die with her, are not content to rest. Rosie uncovers a network of corruption and abuse, tracing back to the top of the establishment. And to powerful figures who want their secrets kept hidden.”
“Eva is walking by the river one afternoon when a body floats to the surface of the icy water. She tells her daughter to wait patiently while she calls the police, but when she reaches the phone box Eva dials another number altogether.
“The dead man, Egil, has been missing for months, and it doesn’t take long for Inspector Sejer and his team to establish that he was the victim of a very violent killer. But the trail has gone cold. It’s as puzzling as another unsolved case on Sejer’s desk: the murder of a prostitute who was found dead just before Egil went missing.
“While Sejer is trying to piece together the fragments of a seemingly impossible case, Eva gets a phone call late one night. A stranger speaks and then swiftly hangs up. Eva looks out into the darkness and listens. All is quiet.”
“In the twenty-fifth century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy, monitored by the watchful eye of the U.N. While divisions in race, religion, and class still exist, advances in technology have redefined life itself. Now, assuming one can afford the expensive procedure, a person’s consciousness can be stored in a cortical stack at the base of the brain and easily downloaded into a new body (or “sleeve”) making death nothing more than a minor blip on a screen.”
“London, 1960. The lives of teenage twins Maisy and Duncan change for ever the night their sick mother is taken to an asylum. Sent to live in the New Forest with their cold-hearted grandmother, Mrs Mitcham, they feel unloved and abandoned. At least they have each other.
“But one day Duncan doesn’t come home from exploring in the forest and no one – least of all his grandmother – appears to care about his disappearance. The police, who’ve found the bodies of other missing boys, offer little hope of finding Duncan alive.
“Yet Maisy refuses to give up. Though she doesn’t know the woods well, she knows someone who does. The strange old woman who lives at their heart. Dare Maisy enlist the help of the woman in the wood?”
“The Wideacre estate is bankrupt, the villagers are living in poverty and Wideacre Hall is a smoke-blackened ruin.
“But in the Dower House two children are being raised in protected innocence. Equal claimants to the inheritance of Wideacre, rivals for the love of the village, they are tied by a secret childhood betrothal but forbidden to marry.
“Only one can be the favoured child. Only one can inherit the magical understanding between the land and the Lacey family that can make the Sussex village grow green again. Only one can be Beatrice Lacey’s true heir.”
“For Jack Reacher being invisible has become a habit.
“He spends his days digging swimming pools by hand and his nights as the bouncer in the local strip club in the Florida Keys. He doesn’t want to be found.
“But someone has sent a private detective to seek him out. Then Reacher finds the guy beaten to death with his fingertips sliced off. It’s time to head north and work out who is trying to find him and why.”
“When Zoe meets Dan, he’s everything she is looking for in a man – intelligent, charming, supportive. It’s only after they’re married that she realises that he’s controlling, aggressive, paranoid. Zoe knows she has to escape, but Dan’s found her once before, and she knows he can find her again.
“But Dan has plans of his own. Plans that don’t necessarily include Zoe.”
“Russian counterintelligence chief Colonel Dominika Egorova has been a recruited asset of the CIA – stealing Kremlin secrets for her handler Nate Nash – for over seven years. In the dazzling finale of the Red Sparrow trilogy, their forbidden and tumultuous love affair continues, mortally dangerous for them both, but irresistible.
“In Washington, a newly-installed administration is selecting its cabinet members. Dominika hears whispers of a closely-held Kremlin operation to place a mole in a high intelligence position. If the Kremlin’s candidate is confirmed, the Russians will have access to all the names of assets spying for the CIA in Moscow, including Dominika’s.
“Dominika recklessly immerses herself in the palace intrigues of the Kremlin, searching for the mole’s identity, and stealing as many of President Putin’s secrets for her CIA handlers as she can before her time runs out.”
“In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis.
“Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men — bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?”
“Seventeen years ago, something happened to Jess’s daughter Beth. The memory of it still makes her blood run cold. Jess has tried everything to make peace with that day, and the part she played in what happened. It was only a brief moment of desire, but she’ll pay for it with a lifetime of guilt.
“To distance herself from the mistakes of the past, Jess has moved away and started over with her family. But when terrifying things begin happening in her new home, seemingly connected to what happened to Beth, Jess knows that her past has finally caught up with her. Somebody feels Jess hasn’t paid enough, and is determined to make her suffer for the secrets she’s kept all these years.”