The Murder of My Aunt by Richard Hull

Reviewed by Harriet ‘From its first appearance in 1934, Richard Hull’s The Murder of my Aunt was recognised as something special in crime fiction’. So says Martin Edwards in his introduction to this recent reissue in the British Library Crime Classics series. The novel was highly praised when it first came out, and was much admired…

Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima

Translated by Geraldine Harcourt Reviewed by Annabel This latest addition to Penguin Classic’s expanding list of new translations in an upmarket paperback format is a beguiling novella following the story of a young mother and her young daughter after she has separated from her husband. It was originally published during the late 1970s in installments…

House of Beauty by Melba Escobar de Nogales

Translated by Elizabeth Bryer Reviewed by Basil Ransome Davies Each time I walk into town from my house I pass at least one nail/beauty salon/spa/bar/studio (the titles variously inflect the appeal). Spread around the town are up to a dozen. Such places are not for elderly geezers, but I do occasionally reflect on the roaring…

The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales by Kirsty Logan

One of a series of reviews republished from the Shiny Archive of Issue 1 to celebrate our 4th birthday Reviewed by David Hebblethwaite Open Kirsty Logan’s debut collection, and you’ll be met first with the title story, which broadly sets the tone for what is to come. The Rental Heart takes us to a version…

Blood on the Tracks: Railway Mysteries edited by Martin Edwards

Reviewed by Karen Langley Golden Age crime, which has had such a revival recently, is renowned for particular tropes and settings; the country house location or the locked room mystery are often featured, but another very popular backdrop is trains. So many famous mysteries are set on trains, Murder on the Orient Express being the…

Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik

One of a series of reviews republished from the Shiny Archive of Issue 1 to celebrate our 4th birthday Reviewed by Annabel Gaskell Good popular science books don’t come along that often, and when they do, they’re inevitably about four topics it seems: quantum physics, space, genetics or the periodic table.  Hooray for one that’s…

White Houses by Amy Bloom

Reviewed by Susan Osborne I’ve yet to read anything by Amy Bloom that I’ve not loved. Her writing is both deft and empathetic, pressing all my literary buttons. Spanning a weekend in April 1945, shortly after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, White Houses tells the story of his wife Eleanor and Lorena Hickok, the…

Zola: An Introduction to his books

By Victoria Best Penguin’s decision to publish some of the novels of Émile Zola that have not been in translation for more than a hundred years begs an introduction to this iconic writer of the working classes. When Zola came on the scene with his racy, sordid novels, he brought new life to the genre…

Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey

Reviewed by Harriet Four years after Emma Healey’s best selling Elizabeth is Missing (reviewed here) comes her second novel, Whistle in the Dark. It’s a psychological thriller of sorts, but don’t expect any murders. This is an exploration of the troubled mind of a mother who can’t solve the mystery of her teenage daughter’s disappearance.…

The Akeing Heart by Peter Haring Judd

Reviewed by Simon How you approach The Akeing Heart will depend largely on how familiar you are with the names Sylvia Townsend Warner, Valentine Ackland, and Elizabeth Wade White. These three are in the subtitle of the book, which declares itself to be their letters. If this is the first you’ve heard of them, or you’ve…

From the Archives: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport

The Lost Lives of the Romanov Grand Duchesses  One of a series of reviews republished from the Shiny Archive of Issue 1 to celebrate our 4th birthday Reviewed by Harriet Devine On 17 July 1918, four young women walked down twenty-three steps into the cellar of a house in Ekaterinburg. The eldest was twenty-two, the…

Edgar and Lucy by Victor Lodato

Reviewed by Alice Farrant For seven years, Florence, Lucy and Edgar have lived in the wake of Frank’s death. No one mentions Frank’s passing and so Grandmother, Daughter-in-law and Son live under the weight of the grief Frank left behind. When Florence dies Lucy is forced to face a reality she has been avoiding, and…

Interview with Jesmyn Ward, author of Sing, Unburied, Sing

Interview by Lucy Unwin Jesmyn Ward is certainly highly decorated. At a recent reading, the roll call of her awards felt like they’d fill the full hour; shortlisting for The Women’s Prize for Fiction tagged to the end of an already weighty list. But this Mississippi author was once rejected by book agents who thought her literary…

An Interview with Jill Dawson

One of a series of reviews republished from the Shiny Archive of Issue 1 to celebrate our 4th birthday Interview by Victoria Jill Dawson’s wonderful new novel, The Tell-Tale Heart,  recounts the story of Patrick, a womanising lecturer who has recently received a heart transplant. By chance he discovers the identity of his donor, and from that…

The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal

Reviewed by Alice Farrant Mona lives a quiet life as a dollmaker.  At face value she appears to be an ordinary woman, but in private she runs a side-service helping grieving mothers overcome the loss of a child. As she begins a new romance she is pulled back to her past in 70s Birmingham where…

Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday

Reviewed by Harriet Asymmetry is defined as ‘lack of equality or equivalence between parts’, a definition that applies both to a theme of this brilliant debut novel and to its structure. As anyone who’s read a review of the book will know, it’s divided into three parts, the first two of which appear to be…

From the Archives: Bedsit Disco Queen by Tracey Thorn

One of a series of reviews republished from the Shiny Archive of Issue 1 to celebrate our 4th birthday Reviewed by Annabel Gaskell I wish Tracey Thorn was my cousin, sister even. I can say that – for we share not only a maiden name, but a love of David Cassidy, a fascination with Morrissey,…

The Smiling Man by Joseph Knox

Reviewed by Annabel When Knox’s debut Sirens, which I reviewed here, was published in January 2017, it caused ripples. Here was a perfectly formed first novel, a crime thriller with a disgraced detective at its heart set in the nighttime economy of Manchester. I described it as ‘The Wire meets Line of Duty in Manchester’. It remained the…

Souvenir by Rolf Potts

Reviewed by Liz Dexter This book is part of the Object Lessons series, which exists to highlight the hidden lives of ordinary things. This one is about travel souvenirs brought home by fairly standard people; other volumes consider, for example, rust, dust, traffic and luggage. If they’re anything like Souvenir, they’re a series to rush…