Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

Reviewed by Gill Davies This is Attica Locke’s fourth novel and a stunning follow-up. Black Water Rising was set in 1981; Pleasantville in 1996 and both used the crime genre with deep political insight to explore crime and corruption in Houston. Bluebird, Bluebird is right up to date, infused with anger at the growing visibility…

Sugar Money by Jane Harris

Reviewed by Harriet Jane Harris is not exactly a prolific novelist. Five years passed between the publication of her debut novel The Observations (2006) and her second outing Gillespie and I (2011). Now her many fans will be breathing a sigh of relief that the waiting is over for her third, Sugar Money, just published.…

Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi pbk

Reviewed by Lucy Unwin There is no question, this book is stunning: in its scope, its ambition, in what it can teach us and in the skill on display. In Homegoing, a portrait of a West African family in 1754 feels as true to life as dialogue between kids at a California pool party today.…

Return to the Dark Valley by Santiago Gamboa

Translated by Howard Curtis Reviewed by Basil Ransome-Davies I found a molten quality in this novel (if it is a novel). It burns off the page, as they say. It is very much a demonstration of the melting-down and intermingling of styles, genres, discourses, fact and fiction, dream and distanced analysis etc., that in South…

The Squeeze by Lesley Glaister

Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth Admitted, to say that the world has shrunk into a village has shrunk into a cliché itself. But the cliché is painfully accurate, and Lesley Glaister’s The Squeeze plays out the global village in its most brutal sense. Glaister squeezes Europe into an Edinburgh brothel, where global human rights violations and…

Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak (pbk)

Reviewed by Eric Karl Anderson It’s deeply frightening and upsetting how politically divided society is at the moment. When different factions are so convinced about the certitude of their own ideas and beliefs conflict is inevitable. Religion continues to be at the centre of many battles, yet in her new novel Elif Shafak creates the…

Roffey Tryst

The Tryst by Monique Roffey

Reviewed by Harriet This is a remarkable book by any standard. It’s marketed by the publisher, Dodo Ink, as a literary erotic novella, which sounds about right, as long as you remember the emphasis on the literary bit. There is certainly a huge amount of vivid, sometimes violent, sex here, but it’s about as far…

Autumn by Ali Smith (pbk)

Reviewed by Clare Rowland Autumn is the first of four books in a planned series of novels by Ali Smith named after the seasons and which focus on how we experience time. Set during the fallout of the Brexit referendum result in 2016, it follows the friendship between Elisabeth Demand, a 32-year-old history-of-art lecturer, and her eccentric…

The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley

Reviewed by Annabel Natasha Pulley’s debut novel, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street (which I reviewed here in 2015), was a wonderful discovery. A period thriller with hints of steampunk fantasy, and a matching beautiful cover design complete with cutout watch dial, it became an instant favourite of the year. Now Bloomsbury have done it again,…

Rosie Millard Brazilian

The Brazilian by Rosie Millard

Reviewed by Laura Marriott The Brazilian opens in a London beauty salon where the middle class and nearly middle aged (although she would be furious if you suggested so!) Jane is getting a Brazilian and discussing her upcoming holiday to Ibiza with the beauty technician. Jane is annoyed and perhaps slightly scandalised when she hears…

The Readymade Thief by Augustus Rose

Reviewed by Harriet A kickass debut from start to finish’ screams the cover of this highly readable, somewhat bizarre, debut novel. It’s a book that defies categorisation – perhaps best described as a picaresque coming-of-age novel, it manages to combine urban exploration, the Darknet, secret societies, the exploitation of teenagers, and the life and works…

The Easy Way Out by Steven Amsterdam (pbk)

Reviewed by Susan Osborne This novel is unlikely to appeal to everyone although we should all read it. It’s about assisted suicide, one of the great moral dilemmas of the twenty-first century Western world where medicine has advanced in leaps and bounds but not the ethical framework for dealing with its unintended consequences. Steven Amsterdam’s…

Testimony by Scott Turow

Reviewed by Basil Ransome Davies The ‘international theme’ – Old World/New World – was a foreground concern of Henry James. It typically featured the experience in Europe of an American innocent abroad, tasting the established, superior culture but also confronting the worldlier, more devious mindset of the host nationality. Posh transatlantic marriages could be made…

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, by Theodora Goss

Reviewed by Helen Parry I’m very fond of Theodora Goss’s short stories, so when I saw that she was publishing a novel I was excited and ordered a copy straight away. Goss’s stories are often formally quite experimental and fantastical; if you like Lud-in-the-Mist or Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, her work will appeal to…

Elmet by Fiona Mozley

Reviewed by David Hebblethwaite When the 2017 Man Booker Prize longlist was announced last month, it included a number of familiar names (including Jon McGregor’s Reservoir 13, which I’ve reviewed for Shiny previously). But there was also one entirely unknown quantity: a debut novel that, at the time, had yet to be published. Fiona Mozley’s…