the literary lounge

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  Kate London’s Gallowstree Lane is a tense, gritty procedural thriller set in the UK capital’s less salubrious streets. Opening with a funeral in November 2016 and panning back to the graphic death of teenager Spencer Cardoso, as witnessed by best mate 15-year-old Ryan, the novel is fast-paced and tautly written, filled with the kind … Continue readings

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  Published by the digital imprint Bookouture, Sarah Mitchell’s The Couple is a psychological thriller set in dual time. As the book opens, we find Claire, an immigration lawyer, and Angus, an entrepreneur, engaged after a whirlwind romance, although Claire still has residual feelings for her ex- and Angus seems almost too good to be … Continue readings

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  Liz Heron’s novel The Hourglass explores the themes of love and ever-lasting life against the majestic backdrop of Venice. The book is inspired by Leoš Janáček’s opera, The Makropulos Affair, about: ‘A beautiful woman, 300 years old – and forever young.’ The opening finds Paul Geddes travelling to Venice to meet wealthy widow Eva … Continue readings

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  There was a single homestead somewhere to the north of the fence, and another to the south. Next-door neighbours, three hours apart. The road to the east was invisible from the grave itself. And road was a generous description. The wide dirt track could sit silent for days without being troubled by a vehicle. … Continue readings

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  Slowly, she unravelled each word of the sentence. ‘“There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot.”’ ‘Oh,’  she said. ‘Oh.’ ‘You can read, Kya. There will never be a time when you can’t read.’ ‘It ain’t just that.’ She spoke almost in a whisper.’ I wadn’t aware that words … Continue readings

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  ‘My idea is to create a collection of fairy tales and folklore that works upon the model they initiated in the Household Tales. I want to go further than them, however. … What I will produce will be pure, the original language of the peasants, the true magic. That is why it’s vital that … Continue readings

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  Katharine Johnson’s The Secret is set in Santa Zita, Italy. Both a historical novel and thriller, it moves rather seamlessly between the past, the Second World War, and present, when the village is undergoing regeneration. As part of the latter, journalist Carlo returns to his birthplace to open a restaurant with wife Cass. His … Continue readings

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  In the early pages of James Flint’s Midland, Alex Wold receives news of two deaths, that of the bottlenose whale, whom he’d waded into the Thames, earlier that day, to help save, and then, moments later, that of Tony Nolan, his former step-father. As James and his estranged brother come together with other members … Continue readings

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  We were huge fans of Ausma Zehanat Khan’s The Language of Secrets; thus, it’s a pleasure that Among the Ruins, the third novel featuring Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty, measures up. It’s beautifully written, has tight characterisation and plot, a great evocation of place and, more to the point, it’s relevant. The book opens … Continue readings

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  Matt Wesolowski’s Changeling is like a masterclass in how to construct a good plot. It’s exacting, clever and chilling, while using themes and motifs of which we are all culturally aware, and of which we’re fearful, in ways that constantly challenge our perception, making us question what’s truth and what’s reality – and frankly … Continue readings

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    I’ve lived a life, several lives. I was the daughter of a violent father, the wife of a violent husband; oppressed by weak men who only knew how to express themselves with their fists. Now, at thirty-two years old, I’m living something close to the life I hoped for. I’ve got a successful … Continue readings

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  There was once an inn that sat peacefully on the bank of the Thames at Radcot, a long day’s walk from the source. There were a great many inns along the upper reaches of the Thames at the time of this story … but beyond the usual ale and cider, each one had some … Continue readings

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  West Camel, first of all what a great name … Now that’s out of my system, Attend, Camel’s debut novel, is yet another fine example of clever publishing by Karen Sullivan’s Orenda Books. Set in Deptford, south London, the book opens with a meeting between Anne, who’s recently returned to the area, and Deborah, … Continue readings

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    “The fat guy laid his suitcase down and popped the locks, then lifted out two green cylinders from the foam packing. He laid them carefully on the ground and slotted them together before twisting off the end to reveal a red cap. The other man had his suitcase open; he lifted a black … Continue readings

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  Madras has been his home for twenty years, since 1905 … He was comfortable here. … India had certainly changed since his arrival but, despite rising calls for political independence, Gandhi’s mass civil disobedience campaigns, British India’s obdurate response and his own allegiances being challenged by a growing sympathy for India’s cause, the place … Continue readings