Newest General Fiction Reviews

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Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? by Paul Cornell

4.5star.jpg Fantasy

The Great Detecitve's ghost has walked London's streets for an age, given shape by people's memories. Now someone's put a ceremonial dagger throug his chest. But what's the motive? And who - or what - could kill a ghost? When policing London's supernatural underworld, eliminating the impossible is not an option. DI James Quill and his detectives have learnt this the hard way. Gifted with the Sight, they'll pursue a criminial genius - who'll lure them into a Sherlockian maze of clues and evidence. The team also have thier own demons to fight. They've been to Hell and back (literally) but now the unit is falling apart... Full review...

How to Find Love in a Book Shop by Veronica Henry

4star.jpg General Fiction

It is with a heavy heart that Emilia Nightingale returns home to the pretty Cotswold town of Peasebrook. Her beloved father Julius has just passed away; his legacy, a well-loved bookshop that serves as a beating heart to the community. Julius was loved by all: he always had time to listen to his customers and share a recuperative cuppa in times of need. However, his finances were another matter entirely and Emilia wonders how she can keep the bookshop open with an ever-mounting pile of debt. Greedy property developer Ian Mendip would be only too happy to help out, but can Emilia really give up on her father's dream? Full review...

When I Was Invisible by Dorothy Koomson

4.5star.jpg General Fiction

Veronika Harper met Veronica Harper aged 8, form the start both deciding they'd stay firm friends. Nika and Roni did everything together including their beloved ballet… until something goes terribly wrong. This leads to a series of events that don't just tear their friendship but also the lives they would otherwise lead. They wish for invisibility and choose different ways to accomplish it for the sake of their survival; physical as well as emotional. Full review...

My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith

4.5star.jpg General Fiction

I do love to sit down with a new book by AMS, and the excitement was doubled on this occasion since a new standalone story meant lots of brand new characters to meet, and also the book has a very intriguingly bizarre title! In this story we get to meet Paul, a food writer who, after a rather upsetting break-up with his girlfriend, heads to Tuscany to finish writing his book. So far, so normal, but of course things soon get a little unusual, beginning with Paul’s arrest on his arrival in Italy and moving swiftly on to the point where instead of a hire car he finds himself with a hired bulldozer… Full review...

My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

5star.jpg Horror

1988, Charleston, South Carolina. High school sophomores Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fourth grade. But after an evening of skinny-dipping goes disatrously wrong, Gretchen begins to act...different. She's moody. She's irritable. And bizarre incidents keep happening whenever she's nearby. Abby's investigation leads her to some startling discoveries - and by the time their story reaches its terrifying conclusion, the fate of Abby and Gretchen will be determined by a single question: Is their friendship enough to beat the devil? Full review...

Bird in a Cage by Frederic Dard and David Bellos (translator)

5star.jpg Crime

A man returns to the flat he grew up in and where his mother died without his knowledge, and finds it too desolate for the time of year it is – Christmas Eve. Bursting for more life, despite being a solitary character, he goes to a restaurant, and finds a connection with a mother with her daughter. They dine, then go to the cinema, and sit together, and things happen from there – in a gentle, no-pressure, no-names-no-packdrill way. If this isn't a reasonable start to a novella, consider the tag it has as a noir classic. And consider the fact the strange woman is the spitting image of the man's dead wife… Full review...

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

3.5star.jpg Crime (Historical)

Jennifer Donnelly wrote one of my all-time favourite books, A Gathering Light, so I was very excited to read her latest novel and see how it compared. Like A Gathering Light, These Shallow Graves is a historical novel with a murder mystery at its heart and a feisty heroine who challenges the standards of the day. Full review...

No, Thanks! I'm Quite Happy Standing!: Marie Sharp 4 by Virginia Ironside

4star.jpg General Fiction

Retired art teacher Marie Sharp is wondering whether it's time to move house to be nearer her son Jack and grandson Gene. The wondering doesn't take up all her time though. For a start there's the new, new-age lodger Robin and, talking about men, Marie is getting on really well with her ex-husband David. This single life in which they dib into each other's worlds on a regular basis seems the perfect way forward. However not all is rosy: friend Penny's drinking too much plus a holiday in India has unexpected conclusion. Oh and there's the burglaries too. Who says that retirement is relaxing and uneventful? Full review...

Lingua Franca by William Thacker

2.5star.jpg General Fiction

Clichéd as it may sound, language finds itself at the very core of human existence and experience. On the one hand, it defines individual cognition and thoughts and serves as a way of communicating these thoughts to others; on the other, it defines the social sphere, giving social values to things, reflecting history, and constructing a common identity. It is also what William Thacker's second novel, Lingua Franca, revolves around. Full review...

Invincible Summer by Alice Adams

3.5star.jpg Literary Fiction

As Alice Adams's debut novel opens in the summer of 1995, four university friends are lounging on Bristol's Brandon Hill, drinking and contemplating what the future holds. There's Eva Andrews, raised in Sussex by a single father; siblings Sylvie and Lucien Marchant, neglected by their alcoholic mother; and Benedict Waverley, a rich kid whose parents have a holiday home on Corfu. Eva has a crush on Lucien, while Benedict is besotted with Eva. Full review...

The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner

5star.jpg General Fiction

The House at the Edge of Night is an epic family saga, spanning some 95 years and several generations. The story begins when Amedeo Esposito arrives at the isolated Sicilian island of Castellamare to serve as the first doctor in the island's history. He is immediately captivated by this strange little community; a heady mix of tradition, superstition and ritual. An island so small is naturally a hotbed of gossip, with 'overheard' confessions being dutifully relayed across the five-mile island within minutes of being heard. The benevolent Saint Agata watches over her people and bestows the odd miracle upon the fortunate. This is the place that Amedeo chooses to make his home and together with his resourceful wife Pina, they slowly restore the 'cursed' House at the Edge of Night to its former glory as a bar and meeting place for the locals. Full review...

Make Something Up by Chuck Palahniuk

5star.jpg Short Stories

What are we to make of that subtitle-seeming writing on the front cover – stories you can't unread? Does that not apply to all good fiction? Clearly it is here due to the reputation of the author, and the baggage his name brings to the page. We'd expect a dramatic approach from anything Palahniuk writes, and an added frisson, an extra layer, from which we might be forced to shrink back. But a lot of the contents don't quite go that far. Yes, things are dramatic, when society starts attaching defibrillators to itself, to create the perfect, simple, care- (The Price is Right-, and Kardashian-) free happiness. A man buys a horse for his daughter – but boy is it the wrong horse to buy. A man falls in love – yes, sometimes the plot summaries of these stories really are better off for being short (speaking of which, don't turn to the three-page entrant here as a taster, it'll put you off by dint of being, almost uniquely here, a nothing story). A call centre worker can't convince people he's on the level and even in their country – until someone starts riffing back to him. A housing estate report conveys bad regulation violations, but not as bad as the happenings at a 'Burning Man'-styled festival, in a very clever couple of tales. But many too are the instances where that extra step has been taken. Full review...

Griffin and Sabine 25th Anniversary Edition: An Extraordinary Correspondence by Nick Bantock

4star.jpg General Fiction

Oh Griffin and Sabine, where have you been all my life? I've loved epistolary novels and ones that take the narrative two-and-fro of letters and bring us closer to the sender than any omniscient narrator can hope to do. I've still got the childlike love of picking at an envelope stuck in a book to pull out a sheet of something else – not only is there the wonder at the handmade construction of something so bluntly and undeservedly called 'a book', but there is the frisson of being the first person to see this artefact ever. So how have I never seen this book before, and its cycle of sequels, concerning the correspondence between two completely different people? Full review...

The Girls by Lisa Jewell

4star.jpg General Fiction

When Clare takes her two tween daughters Pip and Grace to live in leafy Virginia Terrace, she is hoping for anonymity, a blank slate and a fresh start. Not so long ago, her story was in all of the newspapers when her paranoid-schizophrenic husband burned down the family home. Her new house seems a world away from her previous life. The crescent has a communal garden at its heart, where friendly neighbours socialise and children can run free. But does this new freedom come with a price? Full review...

Cold Calling by Russell Mardell

4star.jpg General Fiction

Five years on, Ray still can't get over the loss of his girlfriend. Five years is a long, long time to pine and mourn but Ray just doesn't seem to be able to get off the treadmill of it all. The only meaningful relationships he has are with his therapist and best friend Danny. And it's not as though his job provides much in the way of escape - Ray works for an insurance company as a cold caller. This is how, one day, he comes to speak to Anya. Full review...

The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan

4.5star.jpg General Fiction

Dylan walks away from this family's small London indie cinema in 2020 to live on a Scottish caravan site. His new neighbours Constance and her transgender 12 year old Stella have troubles of their own, but the odd British winter isn't helping. As the country faces true Arctic temperatures life goes on… or at least it tries to. Full review...

The Birds by Tarjei Vesaas, Torbjorn Stoverud and Michael Barnes (translators)

4.5star.jpg General Fiction

We're somewhere in rural Scandinavia, on the shores of a large lake, but in a community relying on the farmland that is scattered in amongst the woods. Our chief concerns are brother and sister – Mattis and Hege. He, Mattis, is what the other villagers call 'simple' – sure, he knows a few things about life, and what makes a clever person and what makes a well-turned phrase, and how to talk to girls and when to not stare at them, but he is definitely not quite as the others would wish. Those others include his sister, who is seeing her life waste away in listening to his chatter, knitting jumpers to make ends meet, and regretting in her own small way what has got her to middle-age in this situation. But from this galling introduction, you should take away the bigger picture – even if there is no way out, the life in this countryside is brilliantly conveyed, full of sun as well as shade, of labour and of idleness, and wit and charm as much as hardship. I defy you to read this and think this corner of Scandinavia bleak. Full review...

The Girl With No Name by Diney Costeloe

4star.jpg General Fiction

Thirteen year old Lisa escapes from Nazi Germany on the Kindertransport and arrives in England in August 1939. She can't speak a word of English and her only belongings are crammed into a small suitcase. Among them is one precious photograph of the family she has left behind in Germany. Lonely and homesick, not knowing if she will ever see her family again, Lisa is adopted by a childless couple, and then bullied at school for being German. But worse is to come when the Blitz blows her new home apart, and she wakes up in hospital with no memory of who she is, or where she came from. The authorities give her a new name and despatch her to a children's home. With the war in full swing, what will become of Lisa now? Full review...

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

4star.jpg General Fiction

On the first anniversary of his wife Miriam's death, Arthur Pepper feels he might finally be up to the task of clearing out her wardrobe. He hasn't got far when he stumbles across a gold charm bracelet he doesn't recognise. If he hadn't been feeling so out of sorts because of the anniversary he would never have rung the phone number he found engraved on the golden elephant. That would have been a shame, because then he would never have set out on his peculiar quest to find out who his wife used to be before she met him. From York to London, Paris and beyond, Arthur pursues Miriam's past and learns things about his wife, his children and himself that he never imagined. Full review...

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All by Jonas Jonasson and Rachel Willson-Broyles (translator)

3star.jpg General Fiction

There's feeling on edge, and there's feeling on edge. Per is a hotel receptionist partly because his father and grandfather didn't give him a better destiny, and partly because he was working there when it was a shoddy knocking joint. He's feeling on edge because someone has decided to live there, in room seven, and proudly announced that it's about the first place he's had as an adult to live in that isn't a prison – the man, Hitman Anders, has killed three people in separate fits of rage. And now Per is feeling even more on edge because Johanna, a woman in a dog-collar has turned up, tried to blag twenty kronor for a badly-worded prayer in Per's favour (even though she's been sacked as a priest and is in fact a rampant atheist), and has now colluded to jointly with Per become Hitman Anders' criminal hit-job agents. But could anything make a newly rich Per – and Johanna – feel more on edge, than Hitman Anders gaining a conscience…? Full review...

Roxy by Esther Gerritsen and Michele Hutchison (translator)

3star.jpg General Fiction

I liked the premise for this novel: a young wife (Roxy) is told at the beginning of the book that her much older husband has been killed in a car accident. To add to the shock of this, the revelation that he died in the arms of his (naked) lover in the car, on the hard shoulder, is a further blow to Roxy. I found this an interesting set-up for a story, and wondered how this was going to go. As the blurb on the back of the novel tells us, she is looking for revenge, I thought the book would be a development of the character of Roxy into a self-motivating, strong character. But this wasn't the case. Full review...

The Daughter's Secret by Eva Holland

3.5star.jpg General Fiction

Six years ago, Stephanie and Nate ran away together. She was 15, and he was her geography teacher. Awkward. We pick up the story with Ros, Steph's mother, as she learns that Nate is about to be released from prison, earlier than planned in just 11 days for now. The book takes place over those 11 days leading up to Mr Temperley's release as Ros struggles to break the news to her daughter. She's bound to be devastated by it…isn't she? Full review...

Inside of Me by Hazel McHaffie

4star.jpg General Fiction

It's never specifically said that India Grayson losing her father when she was eight was the cause of her anorexia when she was fifteen, but you see, losing is the best description of what happened. He was a strong swimmer, but even he might have got into difficulties and what other explanation was there for the pile of his clothes on the beach? Only India never quite believed that he was dead and his body had never been found. Had it been something about her that forced him away? Full review...

The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

4.5star.jpg General Fiction

I do love it when I read a book that stays with me after I've finished reading. This was one of those books, rootling its way a little more into my heart each time I picked it up to read. It's the story, mostly of Miss Ona Vitkus, a one hundred and four year old lady who has a young boy scout come over to help her with jobs and how he ultimately ends up changing her life, and not at all in the way you might imagine since before we even begin the story the boy is dead. Full review...

I Am Radar by Reif Larsen

4star.jpg General Fiction

Racial tensions, identity, parental responsibility, a child's best interest, love, science, war – Reif Larsen's I Am Radar falls nothing short of having rich thematic content. Its cornucopia of thematic explorations is interwoven into a complex web of stories, taking the reader on a journey, both literal and figurative, from suburban New Jersey to an Arctic no man's land to Congo and the Bosnian warzone. Full review...

Ace of Spiders by Stefan Mohamed

5star.jpg General Fiction

Stanly is frustrated. Having set himself up as London's protector, he's finding that the everyday practicalities of superheroism are challenging at best, and downright tedious at worst. So it's almost a relief when an attempt is made on his life and Stanly finds himself rushing headlong into a twisted adventure, with enemies new and old coming out of the woodwork. However, even with his friends and his ever-increasing power behind him, he may have bitten off more than he can chew this time. The monsters are coming… and nothing will ever be the same! Full review...