Rosemary’s Book Previews

MYSTERY
1. Inspired by Murder  | Audrey J. Cole

He’s a master of the human mind. But can he get away with murder?

Dr. Eric Leroy hungers for literary fame. Exhausted after years of listening to his rich clients wallowing in their worries, the psychiatrist intends to pursue his true passion of writing murder mysteries. And with his most obnoxious patient in mind, he crafts a killer plot to write exactly what he knows….

The nation is shocked when a famous Seattle resident and his wife are found dead in their upscale Madison Park neighborhood. It looks like murder-suicide, but Detective Blake Stephenson isn’t convinced.

As Stephenson investigates Dr. Leroy, he uncovers a dark past filled with secrets. Meanwhile, the headlines are reeling with a killer on the loose in Seattle. As the death toll rises, Stephenson struggles to find enough evidence to arrest the doctor – before he kills again.

2. The Warning | Kathryn Croft

My little boy’s room was empty, his bed neatly made. Alarm bells should have rung immediately. Then the knock on the door came. All I remember is a thick fog wrapping itself tightly around me. This couldn’t be happening to us.

Three years ago, nurse Zoe’s son Ethan was found drowned in a muddy river by their home, along with his best friend Josh. With no witnesses, their deaths were ruled a tragic accident.

Heartbroken, Zoe and her family, move away from her home. They’re just beginning to get back to some kind of normality, when, out of the blue, Zoe receives an anonymous email:

You need to find out the truth about what happened to your son. Don’t let this rest. Don’t believe the lie.

Shaken, Zoe starts an obsessive hunt for the truth. But why is her husband so reluctant to help?
And why is Josh’s mother so determined not to believe her?

3. Enemy at the Gates | Vince Flynn

America is reeling from the national blackout that swept the nation, continuing to dig out of the power outage. And the new president is unlike any Mitch has worked with in the past; he is extremely dictatorial and sees cracks in America’s democratic institutions that he believes can be exploited to put his family in power permanently.

As Mitch backs away from the new president, he, in turn, questions Rapp’s loyalty. Mitch decides to take a much needed break and moves to his house in Cape Town, where he gets pulled into a job with Nicholas Ward, the world’s first trillionaire. It has been discovered that there is a mole in the CIA who’s been digging through their systems for information on Ward so, after thwarting an attempt to kidnap him Uganda, Mitch makes it look like the abduction was successful. The hope is that this will give Rapp the freedom to track down the person who has been able to gain such deep access into the CIA’s mainframe.

Rapp, completely cut off from the agency, must uncover the identity of the mole and deal with him. But the situation is deeper and more complex than he ever could have imagined, involving the President of the United States himself.

4. Between the Crosses | Matthew Frank

No longer a trainee but a freshly-minted Detective Constable, Joseph Stark finds himself working a double homicide. Thomas and Mary Chase were shot dead in their London home, and first impressions are that this is a burglary-gone-bad.

But Stark is unconvinced. Burglary-murders are usually a tragic case of unfortunate timing, but this feels like something else entirely. And when evidence arises to link this murder to a twenty year old cold case the hunt is well and truly on.

5. The Killer Inside | Mathew Frank

Julian Sinclair is a serial killer – charming, manipulative, deadly. He hunted girls for sport, and it’s high time justice was served.

But when Sinclair’s conviction is thrown out in court, DC Joseph Stark and DS Fran Millhaven find themselves forced to protect the man they’re sure is guilty from those who would see him pay in blood.

Then another girl dies. And Sinclair can’t have killed her from his hospital bed.

Is a killer lurking inside someone they never suspected?
And have they had the wrong man all along?

6. the Unheard | Nicci French

‘He did kill. kill and kill and kill.’

Tess’s number one priority has always been her three-year-old daughter Poppy. But splitting up with Poppy’s father Jason means that she cannot always be there to keep her daughter safe.

When she finds a disturbing drawing, dark and menacing, among her daughter’s brightly coloured paintings, Tess is convinced that Poppy has witnessed something terrible. Something that her young mind is struggling to put into words.

But no one will listen. It’s only a child’s drawing, isn’t it?

Tess will protect Poppy, whatever the price. But when she doesn’t know what, or who, she is protecting her from, how can she possibly know who to trust . . . ?

7. Little Bones | Patricia Gibney

She lifted up her granddaughter from the cot, clutched her to her chest and, without looking at her beautiful daughter lying dead on the floor of her bedroom, ran from the house. Only when she was outside did she let a wail escape her lips, frightening the baby who joined in her screams.

 

When Isabel Gallagher is found murdered on the floor of her baby’s nursery by her mother, it’s a gruelling case for Detective Lottie Parker. Isabel’s pyjamas have been ripped, her throat cut and an old-fashioned razor blade placed in her hand. As Lottie looks at the round blue eyes and perfect chubby cheeks of Isabel’s baby daughter, she can’t understand who would want to hurt this innocent family.

 

That very same day she receives a call with devastating news. Another young mother, Joyce Breslin, has gone missing, and her four-year-old son Evan has been abducted from daycare. Lottie is sure that the missing mother and son are linked to Isabel’s death, and when she finds a bloody razor blade in their house, her worst fears are confirmed.

 

Desperate to find little Evan, Lottie leaves no stone unturned as she delves into Isabel and Joyce’s pasts and when she realises the two women have been meeting in secret, she knows she must find out why.

 

But when Joyce’s body is found in a murky pond and some little bones are found on a windy hillside, it feels as if this merciless killer will stop at nothing. The bones aren’t Evan’s but can they give Lottie the final clue to find the innocent child before more lives are taken?

8. Slow Fire Burning | Paula Hawkins

‘What is wrong with you?’

Laura has spent most of her life being judged. She’s seen as hot-tempered, troubled, a loner. Some even call her dangerous.

Miriam knows that just because Laura is witnessed leaving the scene of a horrific murder with blood on her clothes, that doesn’t mean she’s a killer. Bitter experience has taught her how easy it is to get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Carla is reeling from the brutal murder of her nephew. She trusts no one: good people are capable of terrible deeds. But how far will she go to find peace?

Innocent or guilty, everyone is damaged. Some are damaged enough to kill.

Look what you started.

9. A Narrow Door | Joanne Harris

Now I’m in charge, the gates are my gates. The rules are my rules.

It’s an incendiary moment for St Oswald’s school. For the first time in its history, a headmistress is in power, the gates opening to girls.

Rebecca Buckfast has spilled blood to reach this position. Barely forty, she is just starting to reap the harvest of her ambition. As the new regime takes on the old guard, the ground shifts. And with it, the remains of a body are discovered.

But Rebecca is here to make her mark. She’ll bury the past so deep it will evade even her own memory, just like she has done before. After all, you can’t keep a good woman down.

10. Savage Road | Chris Hauty

Running a double agent from inside the White House to spy on the Russians is not easy, but Hayley Chill has never backed down from a challenge.

Then suddenly her whole operation is at risk as a series of cyber-attacks are launched on Washington, D.C. Tasked by the covert organisation she works for to solve the situation, her hunt for the hacker takes her straight to the heart of the intelligence community.

SAVAGE ROAD – address
The location of Fort Meade, headquarters for the NSA and Cyber Command.

Hayley must stop the hacker quickly, before global politics is disrupted and World War III breaks out. But when she uncovers dark truths about her own past, her characteristic calm is threatened…

Nothing is as it seems.
Nobody can be trusted.

Hayley Chill is on her own.

11. Unholy Murder | Lynda La Plante

Detective Jane Tennison must lift the lid on the most chilling murder case of her career to date – in the brand new thriller from the Queen of Crime Drama, Lynda La Plante.

A coffin is dug up by builders in the grounds of an historic convent – inside is the body of a young nun.

In a city as old as London, the discovery is hardly surprising. But when scratch marks are found on the inside of the coffin lid, Detective Jane Tennison believes she has unearthed a mystery far darker than any she’s investigated before.

However, not everyone agrees. Tennison’s superiors dismiss it as an historic cold case, and the Church seems desperate to conceal the facts from the investigation. It’s clear that someone is hiding the truth, and perhaps even the killer. Tennison must pray she can find both – before they are buried forever .

12. Right Behind Her | Melinda Leigh

The discovery of human remains unearths another nightmare from Sheriff Bree Taggert&;s past in a bone-chilling thriller by #1 Amazon Charts and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Melinda Leigh.

Twenty-seven years ago, Sheriff Bree Taggert&;s father killed her mother, then himself. Now Bree and her younger brother, Adam, find human bones on the grounds of their abandoned family farm. The remains are those of a man and a woman, both murdered in the same horrible way.

When the investigation determines the murders occurred thirty years ago, Bree&;s dead father becomes a suspect, forcing Bree to revisit the brutal night she&;s spent most of her life trying to forget. The only other suspect is an unlikely squatter on the Taggert farm who claims to know secrets about Bree&;s past. When he mysteriously disappears and Bree&;s niece is kidnapped, the cold case heats up.

Bree has stoked the rage of a murderer who&;ll do anything to keep his identity&;and motives&;a secret. To protect everyone she loves, Bree must confront a killer.

13. The Joy and Light Bus Company | Alexander McCall Smith

Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni attends a course hosted by the local chamber of commerce entitled “Where Is Your Business Going?” But rather than feeling energized, he comes back in low spirits, unsure how to grow the already venerable and successful Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. Then an old friend from school approaches him about a new business venture that could be just the ticket. When it turns out he will need to mortgage his property in order to pursue this endeavor, Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi wonder what this will mean for his current business—as well as their own.

Even as she puzzles over mysteries on the domestic front, Mma Ramotswe’s professional duties must take precedence. When a concerned son learns that his aging father’s nurse now stands to inherit the family home, he begins to doubt her intentions and takes his case to Botswana’s premier detective agency. Fortunately, Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi are committed agents of justice and agree to investigate.

Tricky as these matters may be, Mma Ramotswe knows that the most creative solutions are often found with the support of loving friends and family. Working together over a cup of red bush tea, she and Mma Makutsi will rely on their tact, humor, and goodwill to ensure that all involved find the happiness that they deserve.

 

14. The Dark Remains | William McIlvanney/Ian Rankin

Lawyer Bobby Carter did a lot of work for the wrong type of people. Now he’s dead and it was no accident. Besides a distraught family and a heap of powerful friends, Carter’s left behind his share of enemies. So, who dealt the fatal blow?

DC Jack Laidlaw’s reputation precedes him. He’s not a team player, but he’s got a sixth sense for what’s happening on the streets. His boss chalks the violence up to the usual rivalries, but is it that simple? As two Glasgow gangs go to war, Laidlaw needs to find out who got Carter before the whole city explodes.

William McIlvanney’s Laidlaw books changed the face of crime fiction. When he died in 2015, he left half a handwritten manuscript of Laidlaw’s first case. Now, Ian Rankin is back to finish what McIlvanney started. In The Dark Remains, these two iconic authors bring to life the criminal world of 1970s Glasgow, and Laidlaw’s relentless quest for truth.

15. Hand for a Hand | Frank Muir

When DCI Andy Gilchrist is called to a crime scene to find an amputated hand clutching a note addressed to him, a note that contains only one word, murder, he is pulled into an investigation that will test him to the limit. Soon other single word clues are found along with amputated body parts and the murderer’s vengeful message becomes clear as the identity of the next intended victim is revealed. But when someone close to him disappears, Gilchrist knows he is too late. Together with Nance Wilson, the sexy DC with her own agenda, Gilchrist comes to see the answer to the present murders lies within the secrets of his past. Forced to confront his demons, Gilchrist must solve the cryptic clues and find the murderer before the next victim, a woman whose life means more to Gilchrist than his own, is served up to him piece by slaughtered piece.

16. The Man Who Died Twice | Richard Osman

Elizabeth has just had a visit from a man she thought was dead. It’s (one of) her ex-husbands, and he’s being hunted. His story involves some diamonds, some spies, and a very angry mobster.

Elizabeth puts it down to his normal grandstanding, but then the bodies start piling up. So she enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for the killer. If they find the diamonds – well, that’s just a bonus…

But this time the murderer isn’t some small-time criminal, and it soon becomes terrifying clear that they wouldn’t bat an eyelid at killing four septuagenarians. Can our team find the killer before the killer finds them?

17. The Shadow | James Patterson

Only two people know Lamont Cranston’s secret identity as the Shadow, a vigilante of justice: his greatest love, Margo Lane, and his fiercest enemy, Shiwan Khan. Then Khan ambushes the couple, who find the slimmest chance of survival . . . in the uncertain future.

A century and a half later, Lamont awakens in a world both unknown and strangely familiar. The first person he meets is Maddy Gomes, a teenager with her own mysterious secrets, including a more than passing awareness of the legend of the Shadow.

Most disturbing, Khan’s power continues to be felt over New York and its people. No one in this new world understands the dangers of stopping him better than Lamont Cranston. He also knows he’s the only one who stands a chance. Lamont must prove that the Shadow is more than just a legend.

18. The Madness of Crowds | Louise Penny

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache returns to Three Pines in #1 New York Times bestseller Louise Penny’s latest spellbinding novel.

You’re a coward.

Time and again, as the New Year approaches, that charge is leveled against Armand Gamache.

It starts innocently enough.

While the residents of the Québec village of Three Pines take advantage of the deep snow to ski and toboggan, to drink hot chocolate in the bistro and share meals together, the Chief Inspector finds his holiday with his family interrupted by a simple request.

He’s asked to provide security for what promises to be a non-event. A visiting professor of statistics will be giving a lecture at the nearby university.

While he is perplexed as to why the head of homicide for the Sûreté du Québec would be assigned this task, it sounds easy enough. That is, until Gamache starts looking into Professor Abigail Robinson and discovers an agenda so repulsive he begs the university to cancel the lecture.

They refuse, citing academic freedom, and accuse Gamache of censorship and intellectual cowardice. Before long, Professor Robinson’s views start seeping into conversations. Spreading and infecting. So that truth and fact, reality and delusion, are so confused it’s near impossible to tell them apart.

Discussions become debates, debates become arguments, which turn into fights. As sides are declared, a madness takes hold.

Abigail Robinson promises that if they follow her, ça va bien aller. All will be well. But not, Gamache and his team know, for everyone.

When a murder is committed, it falls to Armand Gamache, his second-in-command Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and their team to investigate the crime as well as this extraordinary popular delusion.

And the madness of crowds.

 

19. Faithless in Death | J.D. Robb

The scene in the West Village studio appears to be classic crime-of-passion: two wine glasses by the bed, music playing, and a young sculptor named Ariel Byrd with the back of her head bashed in. But when Dallas tracks down the wealthy Upper East Side woman who called 911, the details don’t add up. Gwen Huffman is wealthy, elegant, comforted by her handsome fiancé as she sheds tears over the trauma of finding the body–but why did it take an hour to report it? And why is she lying about little things?

As Eve and her team look into Gwen, her past, and the people around her, they find that the lies are about more than murder. As with sculpture, they need to chip away at the layers of deception to find the shape within–and soon they’re getting the FBI involved in a case that involves a sinister, fanatical group and a stunning criminal conspiracy.

NOVELS

20. The Women of Pearl Island | Polly Crosbie

Set on a secluded island off the British coast, The Women of Pearl Island is a moving and evocative story of family secrets, natural wonders and a mystery spanning decades.

When Tartelin answers an ad for a personal assistant, she doesn’t know what to expect from her new employer, Marianne, an eccentric elderly woman. Marianne lives on a remote island that her family has owned for generations, and for decades her only companions have been butterflies and tightly held memories of her family.

But there are some memories Marianne would rather forget, such as when the island was commandeered by the British government during WWII. Now, if Marianne can trust Tartelin with her family’s story, she might finally be able to face the long-buried secrets of her past that have kept her isolated for far too long.

21. Snow Country | Sebastian Faulks

1914: Young Anton Heideck has arrived in Vienna, eager to make his name as a journalist. While working part-time as a private tutor, he encounters Delphine, a woman who mixes startling candour with deep reserve. Entranced by the light of first love, Anton feels himself blessed. Until his country declares war on hers.

1927: For Lena, life with a drunken mother in a small town has been impoverished and cold. She is convinced she can amount to nothing until a young lawyer, Rudolf Plischke, spirits her away to Vienna. But the capital proves unforgiving. Lena leaves her metropolitan dream behind to take a menial job at the snow-bound sanatorium, the Schloss Seeblick.

1933: Still struggling to come terms with the loss of so many friends on the Eastern Front, Anton, now an established writer, is commissioned by a magazine to visit the mysterious Schloss Seeblick. In this place of healing, on the banks of a silvery lake, where the depths of human suffering and the chances of redemption are explored, two people will see each other as if for the first time.

22. Beautiful World Where Are You | Sally Rooney

Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and asks him if he’d like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend, Eileen, is getting over a break-up and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood. Alice, Felix, Eileen, and Simon are still young—but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. They have sex, they worry about sex, they worry about their friendships and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?

23. The Wish | Nicholas Sparks

1996 was the year that changed everything for Maggie Dawes – the year she turned 16 and was sent away to live with an aunt she barely knew in Ocracoke, a remote village on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Lonely and miserable, she can think only of the friends and family she’d left behind … until one day her aunt introduces her to Bryce Trickett, one of the few teenagers on the island. Despite her unhappy circumstances, Maggie recognizes right away that Bryce is extraordinary – as different from the boys she knew at home as a diamond from a rhinestone. Handsome, genuine, and exceptional enough to be admitted to West Point, Bryce gradually shows her how much there is to love about the isolated, wind-swept beach town, even in the off-season — and also introduces her to photography, a passion that will define the rest of her life … much like Bryce.

By 2019, Maggie is a renowned travel photographer living in New York City. At 37, she splits her time between running a successful gallery and photographing remote and iconic locations around the world. But this year she finds herself unexpectedly grounded in New York during the Christmas holidays, struggling to come to terms with a newly sobering medical diagnosis. Increasingly dependent on a young assistant to manage the gallery’s business, she finds herself becoming surprisingly close with the earnest young man; and as they count down the last days of the season together, she begins to tell him the story of another Christmas, decades earlier – and the love that set her on a course she never could have imagined for herself

AUSTRALIAN

24. The Inheritance | Gabriel Bergmoser

A young woman is hiding out in a sleepy North Queensland tourist town, trying to stay under the radar, when she stumbles across a dangerous drug cartel. Anyone else might back away shaking their head, pretend they hadn’t seen anything, keep quiet, even though people are getting hurt. But Maggie is no ordinary girl. She’s got skills, as well as plenty of secrets to keep, burdens to carry – and anger to burn.

When circumstances mean that she has to get out of town – fast – she heads towards Melbourne, where she just might find the answers that she needs – answers about her family and who she really is. With a bent cop for a dubious ally, the police tracking her and furious bikers on her trail, Maggie is in deep trouble. She’s only got her ingenuity and wits on her side – and a determination not to inherit the sins of her father.

A powerhouse, fast-paced, high adrenalin and tense thriller from Gabriel Bergmoser, author of the critically acclaimed bestselling outback noir The Hunted.

25. At the end of the Day  | Liz Byrski

When Mim Squires and Mathias Vander are stranded together on a disrupted flight home to Perth, they are surprised to find that they have much in common. Mim owns a bookshop, Mathias is a writer, and both are at turning points in their lives. Mim’s childhood polio is taking a toll on her life. Mathias is contemplating a cross-continent move to be nearer his daughter.

But life back in Perth is not smooth sailing, with their respective family members going through their own upheavals. As Mim and Mathias both struggle to adjust to the challenges of being in their late seventies, secrets from the past that neither wishes to face rise to the surface, challenging their long-held beliefs in their independence and singularity.

At the end of the day, can they muster the wisdom and the courage they need to change?

 

26. Corporal Hitler’s Pistol | Tom Keneally

How did Corporal Hitler’s Luger from the First World War end up being the weapon that killed an IRA turncoat in Kempsey, New South Wales, in 1933?

When an affluent Kempsey matron spots a young Aboriginal boy who bears an uncanny resemblance to her husband, not only does she scream for divorce, attempt to take control of the child’s future and upend her comfortable life, but the whole town seems drawn into chaos.

A hero of the First World War has a fit at the cinema and is taken to a psychiatric ward in Sydney, his Irish farmhand is murdered, and a gay piano-playing veteran, quietly a friend to many in town, is implicated.

27. Apples Never Fall | Liane Moriarty

From the outside, the Delaneys appear to be an enviably contented family. Even after all these years, former tennis coaches Joy and Stan are still winning tournaments, and now that they’ve sold the family business they have all the time in the world to learn how to ‘relax’. Their four adult children are busy living their own lives, and while it could be argued they never quite achieved their destinies, no-one ever says that out loud.

But now Joy Delaney has disappeared and her children are re-examining their parents’ marriage and their family history with fresh, frightened eyes. Is her disappearance related to their mysterious house guest from last year? Or were things never as rosy as they seemed in the Delaney household?

28. Showtime | Judy Nunn

So, Will, are you going to come with me and my team of merry performers to the sunny climes of Australia, where the crowds are already queuing and the streets are paved with gold?’

In the second half of the 19th century, Melbourne is a veritable boom town, as hopefuls from every corner of the globe flock to the gold fields of Victoria.

And where people crave gold, they also crave entertainment.

Enter stage right: brothers Will and Max Worthing and their wives Mabel and Gertie. The family arrives from England in the 1880s with little else but the masterful talents that will see them rise from simple travelling performers to sophisticated entrepreneurs.

Enter stage left: their rivals, Carlo and Rube. Childhood friends since meeting in a London orphanage, the two men have literally fought their way to the top and are now producers of the bawdy but hugely popular ‘Big Show Bonanza’. The fight for supremacy begins.

Waiting in the wings: Comedy, tragedy, passion and betrayal; economic depression, the Black Death and the horrors of World War One…

29. The Cuckoo’s Cry | Caroline Overington

On the eve of the global lockdown, Don Barlow opens the door of his old beachside cottage to find a pretty girl with pink-tipped hair, claiming to be his granddaughter. She needs help and has nowhere else to go.

He welcomes her in, and so begins a mystery set in unprecedented times: with the virus raging outside their home, the girl cannot be asked to leave, but what does he risk by having her stay?

As Don and the girl start to forge a bond, Don’s adult daughter has her own suspicions about what the newcomer is after. But, unable to travel, how can she protect Don and discover if the girl really is who she claims to be?

 

30. When you are Mine | Michael Robotham

Philomena McCarthy has defied the odds and become a promising young officer with the Metropolitan Police despite being the daughter of a notorious London gangster. Called to the scene of a domestic assault one day, she rescues a bloodied young woman, Tempe Brown , the mistress of a decorated detective. The incident is hushed up, but Phil has unwittingly made a dangerous enemy with powerful friends.

Determined to protect each other, the two women strike up a tentative friendship. Tempe is thoughtful and sweet and makes herself indispensable to Phil, but sinister things keep happening and something isn’t quite right about the stories Tempe tells. When a journalist with links to Phil’s father and to the detective is found floating in the Thames, Phil doesn’t know where to turn, who to blame or who she can trust.

31. Birds of a Feather | Tricia Stringer

When three women are thrown together by unusual circumstances, ruffled feelings are just the beginning. A wise, sharply observed celebration of the life-changing power of female friendships.

Eve has been a partner in a Wallaby Bay fishing fleet as long as she can remember. Now they want her to sell – but what would her life be without work? She lives alone, her role on the town committee has been spiked by malicious gossip and she is incapacitated after surgery. For the first time in her life she feels weak, vulnerable – old.

When her troubled god-daughter Julia arrives at Wallaby Bay, she seems to offer Eve a reprieve from her own concerns. But there is no such thing as plain sailing. Eve has another house guest, the abrasive Lucy, who is helping her recuperate and does not look kindly on Julia’s desire for Eve’s attention.

But Lucy, too, has demons to battle and as each woman struggles to overcome their loss of place in the world, they start to realise that there may be more that holds them together, than keeps them apart.

But will these birds of feather truly be able to reinvent what family means? Or will the secrets and hurts of the past shatter their precarious hold on their new lives … and each other?

LITERATURE

32. Cloud Cuckoo Land | Anthony Doerr

Thirteen-year-old Anna, an orphan, lives inside the formidable walls of Constantinople in a house of women who make their living embroidering the robes of priests. Restless, insatiably curious, Anna learns to read, and in this ancient city, famous for its libraries, she finds a book, the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky. This she reads to her ailing sister as the walls of the only place she has known are bombarded in the great siege of Constantinople. Outside the walls is Omeir, a village boy, miles from home, conscripted with his beloved oxen into the invading army. His path and Anna’s will cross.

Five hundred years later, in a library in Idaho, octogenarian Zeno, who learned Greek as a prisoner of war, rehearses five children in a play adaptation of Aethon’s story, preserved against all odds through centuries. Tucked among the library shelves is a bomb, planted by a troubled, idealistic teenager, Seymour. This is another siege. And in a not-so-distant future, on the interstellar ship Argos, Konstance is alone in a vault, copying on scraps of sacking the story of Aethon, told to her by her father. She has never set foot on our planet.

HISTORICAL

33. Echos of War | Tania Blanchard

Set in Mussolini’s Italy amid great upheaval, this is the story of one woman’s determination to find her place in a world that men are threatening to tear apart. Another heart-rending novel inspired by a true story from Australia’s bestselling author of The Girl from Munich.

Calabria, Italy, 1936

In a remote farming village nestled in the mountains that descend into the sparkling Ionian Sea, young and spirited Giulia Tallariti longs for something more. While she loves her home and her lively family, she would much rather follow in her nonna’s footsteps and pursue her dream of becoming a healer.

But as Mussolini’s focus shifts to the war in Europe, civil unrest looms. Whispers of war are at every corner and her beloved village, once safe from the fascist agenda of the North, is now in very real danger.

Caught between her desire to forge her own path and her duty to her family, Giulia must draw on the passion in her heart and the strength of her conviction.

Can she find a way to fulfil her dreams or will the echoes of war drown out her voice?

34. The Duchess | Wendy Holden

It was a love so strong, a king renounced his kingdom—all for that woman. Or was she just an escape route for a monarch who never wanted to rule? Bestselling author Wendy Holden takes an intimate look at one of the most notorious scandals of the 20th century.

1928. A middle-aged foreigner comes to London with average looks, no money and no connections. Wallis’s first months in the city are lonely, dull and depressing. With no friends of her own she follows the glamorous set in magazines and goes to watch society weddings. Her stuffy husband Ernest’s idea of fun, meanwhile, is touring historic monuments.

When an unexpected encounter leads to a house party with the Prince of Wales, Wallis’s star begins to rise. Her secret weapon is her American pep and honesty. For the prince she is a breath of fresh air. As her friendship with him grows, their relationship deepens into love. Wallis is plunged into a world of unimaginable luxury and privilege, enjoying weekends together at his private palace on the grounds of Windsor Castle.

Wallis knows the fun and excitement can’t last. The prince will have to marry and she will return to Ernest. The sudden death of George V seems to make this inevitable; the Prince of Wales is now King Edward VIII. When, to her shock and amazement, he refuses to give her up–or recognize that they are facing impossible odds–her fairy tale becomes a nightmare. The royal family close ranks to shut her out and Ernest gives an ultimatum.

Wallis finds herself trapped when Edward insists on abdicating his throne. She can’t escape the overwhelming public outrage and villainized, she becomes the woman everyone blames—the face of the most dramatic royal scandal of the twentieth century.

 

35. Daughters of War | Dinah Jefferies

Deep in the river valley of the Dordogne, in an old stone cottage on the edge of a beautiful village, three sisters long for the end of the war.

Hélène, the eldest, is trying her hardest to steer her family to safety, even as the Nazi occupation becomes more threatening.

Elise, the rebel, is determined to help the Resistance, whatever the cost.

And Florence, the dreamer, just yearns for a world where France is free.

Then, one dark night, the Allies come knocking for help. And Hélène knows that she cannot sit on the sidelines any longer. But secrets from their own mysterious past threaten to unravel everything they hold most dear…

The first in an epic new series from the No.1 Sunday Times bestseller, Daughters of War is a stunning tale of sisters, secrets and bravery in the darkness of war-torn France…

SCANDANAVIAN

36. The Jealousy Man | Jo Nesbo

We meet a Greek detective who has become an expert on jealousy thanks to some hard-earned lessons from his private life. Far away, in another country, a taxi driver finds his wife’s earring in a car belonging to his boss and sets out to discover how it ended up there. High in the skies above, a woman is on board a plane headed to London, about to end her own life in the wake of her husband’s affair with her best friend. But who is the man sitting next to her?

Nesbo also takes us to the near future, to a dystopian America, where the upper-class elite is waiting atop a skyscraper to be evacuated while the masses fight for survival in the streets below. We are introduced to two best friends on their way to the running of the bulls in Pamplona when they fall in love with the same girl and, in the epic and vicious finale, we meet a psychologist who also happens to be an assassin.

In his first ever collection of short stories, this master of crime writing skilfully draws in the reader as we watch the potentially fatal outcomes of humanity’s most powerful emotions play out on the page.

37. Snow Drift | Helene Tursten

One winter night, 28-year-old Detective Inspector Embla Nyström receives a phone call that sends her reeling. It’s been fifteen years since Embla’s best friend disappeared from a nightclub in Gothenburg, but Embla recognizes her voice immediately, though the call quickly disconnects. Lollo is still alive. But before Embla can dive into the case, she gets another phone call, this time from her cousin. A man has been found shot to death in one of the guest houses he and his wife manage in rural Sweden.

When Embla arrives on the scene, she receives another shock. The dead man is Milo Stavic, a well-known gang member and one of the men she saw with Lollo the night she disappeared. And, as Embla soon learns, the same night that Milo was shot in bed, his brother Luca was also killed. Why, after all these years, is someone targeting the Stavic brothers, and where is the third brother? With help from a handsome local detective and his poorly trained Belgian shepherd, Embla launches an investigation into the three Stavic brothers, hoping it will bring her closer to finally finding Lollo and putting an end to her terrible nightmares.

NON-FICTON

38. Daring to Fly | Lisa Millar

Lisa Millar has spent her whole life showing up, getting things done and making things happen. As a child growing up in country Queensland, she dreamed of a big life. Working as a foreign correspondent gave her that, but it also meant confronting the worst that humanity can bring. Three decades as a journalist witnessing tragedy had a cost. And an ever-escalating fear of flying threatened to rob her of her ability to work at all.

For that young girl from small-town Kilkivan, who had to push herself to keep going, push herself to conquer fear, push herself to tell important stories, finally came the realisation that sometimes all we really need is what we already have. And she shows us that we are all stronger and more resilient than we give ourselves credit for if we just dare to let ourselves fly.

39. The Nine | Gwen Strauss

The Nine follows the true story of the author’s great aunt Hélène Podliasky, who led a band of nine female resistance fighters as they escaped a German forced labor camp and made a ten-day journey across the front lines of WWII from Germany back to Paris.

The nine women were all under thirty when they joined the resistance. They smuggled arms through Europe, harbored parachuting agents, coordinated communications between regional sectors, trekked escape routes to Spain and hid Jewish children in scattered apartments. They were arrested by French police, interrogated and tortured by the Gestapo. They were subjected to a series of French prisons and deported to Germany. The group formed along the way, meeting at different points, in prison, in transit, and at Ravensbrück. By the time they were enslaved at the labor camp in Leipzig, they were a close-knit group of friends. During the final days of the war, forced onto a death march, the nine chose their moment and made a daring escape.

Drawing on incredible research, this powerful, heart-stopping narrative from Gwen Strauss is a moving tribute to the power of humanity and friendship in the darkest of times.

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