The Pitards by Georges Simenon

Translated by David Bellos Reviewed by Annabel By 1934, Georges Simenon had published the first 19 Maigret books, and he temporarily shelved the series, resuming ten years later. He went travelling around the world but didn’t stop writing, trying out a different form. These standalone books would come to be known as his romans durs…

Theft by finding david sedaris

Theft by Finding by David Sedaris

Reviewed by Rebecca Foster I’ve read six of David Sedaris’s humorous collections of personal essays. A college friend first recommended him to me in 2011, and I started with When You Are Engulfed in Flames – which I still think is his best book, though Me Talk Pretty One Day is also very good. Sedaris…

The Sixteen Trees of the Somme by Lars Mytting

Translated by Paul Russell Garrett Reviewed by Harriet For me my mother was a scent, she was a warmth. A leg I clung to. A breath of something blue; a dress I remember her wearing. She fired me into the world with a bowstring, I told myself, and when I shaped my memories of her,…

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

Reviewed by Annabel   This certainly is the year for novels about popular music, particularly on vinyl, and also the power of picking just the right song. Of those I’ve come across, there is Magnus Mills’ droll and geeky The Forensic Record Society, Laura Barnett’s soundtrack of a life in Greatest Hits and the first…

The Bestseller Code by Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jocker

Reviewed by Annabel Imagine that you train a computer to read and analyse books, input a mix of hundreds and ask it to predict which books are most likely to be bestsellers, and amongst the results, it gives one book a 100% score. Well in essence, that’s what this book is about and, no, I’m…

What it Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah

Reviewed by Rebecca Foster Born in the UK, raised largely in Nigeria, and now resident in Minneapolis, USA – Africa and the West are blended in debut author Lesley Nneka Arimah’s heritage just as they are in her vibrant short fiction. “Light,” one of the stories in What It Means when a Man Falls from…

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Reviewed by Gill Davies Pachinko is a very different novel from Min Jin Lee’s earlier Free Food (reviewed here). It is a historical novel covering nearly 100 years of the experiences of a Korean family, touching on the momentous events that shape their destinies as well as their everyday lives and relationships. The opening sequences…

Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee

Reviewed by Gill Davies I am going to review two novels by Min Jin Lee (the other one is Patchinko, reviewed here). This one was her first; it was successful and quite well reviewed and is now reprinted in paperback to coincide with the publication of her second novel. I can’t wholeheartedly say I enjoyed it…

The End of the Web by George Sims

Reviewed by Harriet No, the title doesn’t refer to a predicted end of the internet. This is a 1976 novel, written before such things were even invented. It’s taken from a quotation about death, which is apt because death does crop up a bit in this excellent novel, a British Library Classic Thriller. At the…

The Children of Jocasta by Natalie Haynes

Reviewed by Annabel Natalie Haynes may be most familiar to you as a journalist and broadcaster, popping up on various shows and with her own series Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics on BBC Radio 4, which takes an irreverent look at ancient Greek and Roman life. Her first novel, The Amber Fury, (published…

The Zoo by Christopher Wilson

Reviewed by Basil Ransome Davies Christopher Wilson’s new novel takes us back in time while signalling contemporary concerns. It recalls the Cold War epoch, focusing on the ‘court’ of Josef Stalin, iron man of the Soviet Union and bogeyman of the capitalist powers, at a time in the early 1950s when he was ailing and…

Secret Sisterhood Midorikawa Sweeney

A Secret Sisterhood by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney

Reviewed by Harriet The subtitle of this book is ‘The hidden friendships of Austen, Brontë, Eliot and Woolf’, which sounds very promising. I’ll start by saying that I found some of the sections worked better than others, but that might have been a matter of how well-informed I was to start with. Overall, though, this…

The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books by Martin Edwards

Reviewed by Harriet Here at Shiny we love our classic crime, and we have been delighted to review a number of excellent novels that have recently made available through the British Library’s Crime Classics series. The editor of the series is of course the indefatigable Martin Edwards, who also manages to be a bestselling author,…

Can You Hear Me? by Elena Varvello

Translated by Alex Valente Reviewed by Annabel Can you hear me? is no ordinary psychological thriller – to pigeonhole it into that sub-genre would be to ignore large parts of this atmospheric and intense novel. Alongside the central mystery is a coming of age story and the two themes mesh together seamlessly. It is also…

Separation Sally Emerson

Separation by Sally Emerson

Reviewed by Harriet I have to admit I’d never heard of Sally Emerson before the publishers offered me a couple of their recent reprints. Though she’s till around and still writing, her six novels were published between 1980 and 2001; since then she has concentrated on travel writing, journalism and anthologising. Separation was published in…