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New fiction for June 2017

Written by · Published May 30, 2017

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Prague Nights, The Lying Game

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, by Arundhati Roy

This is one of the most eagerly awaited novels of the year. Arundhati Roy announced herself with the Booker Prize winner and instant classic The God of Small Things in 1997 but has not published a novel since.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness transports us across a subcontinent on a journey of many years. It takes us deep into the lives of its gloriously rendered characters, each of them in search of a place of safety - in search of meaning, and of love.

Love Like Blood, by Mark Billingham

Love Like Blood is the latest thrilling instalment in the story of Tom Thorne, as he battles to uncover the sinister motives surrounding the death of a colleague’s partner.

Surrounded by a conspiracy of silence, Thorne will have to make some of the most dangerous decisions of his career as he battles to help the grieving woman and to pursue a pair of ruthless killers and the broker handing out deadly contracts.

Prague Nights, by Benjamin Black

Benjamin Black will be familiar to many readers as the pseudonym of John Banville, or as the author of the BBC TV series Quirke starring Gabriel Byrne. Prague Nights is a standalone title which takes the reader back to Prague in 1599.

Christian Stern, a young doctor, has just arrived in the city. On his first evening, he finds a young woman’s body half-buried in the snow. The dead woman is none other than the emperor’s mistress, and there’s no shortage of suspects. Stern is employed by the emperor himself to investigate the murder. In the search to find the culprit, Stern finds himself drawn into the shadowy world of the emperor’s court - unspoken affairs, letters written in code, and bitter rivalries.

The Lying Game, by Ruth Ware

The reader meets four friends, Isa (the narrator), Kate, Fatima, and Thea. Years ago, the girls all attended the same boarding school and became best friends. While they were there they played a game they called “The Lying Game”, a game of lying to others and earning points for how convincingly you lied.

But those lies are not without consequence. Years later, in the present day, a body is found buried in marshland near the boarding school and the biggest lie the four friends told threatens to come to light.

The Circus Train Conspiracy, by Edward Marston

“Following a string of successful performances along the west coast, the Moscardi Circus is travelling by train to Hexham on the Newcastle to Carlisle Railway for their next show. Yet a collision on the track with a couple of sleepers causes pandemonium: passengers thrown about and animals escaping into the night.

“When the headless body of a woman is discovered in nearby woodland, Inspector Colbeck is desperate to lend assistance, believing the two incidents to be connected. However, a reluctant Superintendent Tallis forbids him from doing so.”

Phone, by Will Self

“Meet Jonathan De’Ath, aka ‘the Butcher’. The curious thing about the Butcher is that everyone who knows him - his washed-up old university lecturer father, his jumbling-bumbling mother, his hippy-dippy brothers, his so-called friends, his spooky colleagues and his multitudinous lovers - they all apply this epithet to him quite independently, each in ignorance of the others.

“He knows everyone calls him ‘the Butcher’ behind his back, but he also knows that they don’t know the only real secret he maintains, encrypted in the databanks of his steely mind: Colonel Gawain Thomas, husband, father, highly-trained tank commander - is Jonathan De’Ath’s longtime lover.”

Aurore, by Graham Hurley

“Aurore connects Billy Angel, an RAF wireless operator selected for a covert mission to occupied France, with Helene Lafosse, a French woman keeping unusual company in her small family chateau in the depths of the Touraine. Helene has begun an affair with a senior Abwehr Intelligence officer and in return he has turned a blind eye to the succession of Jews, refugees, resistance fighters and downed Allied airmen to whom she offers shelter. MI6 want to exploit their relationship and plant a false lead about the D-Day landings.

“It falls to Billy Angel to find his way to the Chateau de Neune where he must win Helene’s confidence and share the tiny piece of the intelligence jigsaw that will only make sense to her German lover.”

Camino Island, by John Grisham

A gang of thieves stage a daring heist from a secure vault deep below Princeton University’s Firestone Library. Their loot is priceless, but Princeton has insured it for twenty-five million dollars.

Bruce Cable owns a popular bookstore in the sleepy resort town of Santa Rosa on Camino Island in Florida. He makes his real money, though, as a prominent dealer in rare books. Very few people know that he occasionally dabbles in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts.

Mercer Mann is a young novelist with a severe case of writer’s block who has recently been laid off from her teaching position. She is approached by an elegant, mysterious woman working for an even more mysterious company. A generous offer of money convinces Mercer to go undercover and infiltrate Bruce Cable’s circle of literary friends, ideally getting close enough to him to learn his secrets.

But eventually Mercer learns far too much and things start to spiral out of control.

Brandon King

I work in the Suffolk Libraries Stock Team