Jilly Cooper, British queen of the bonkbuster and national treasure, is back with her latest novel, Mount!, which sees the highly- anticipated return of her most popular character, the horsey heartbreaker Rupert Campbell-Black. Mount! is quintessential Cooper, with horses and dogs having as big a role in the action as the people. Fans will be thrilled with the return of many of Cooper’s best-loved characters, culminating in a huge party which reads like a who’s who of her best novels. Cooper’s writing is so ineffably joyful and uplifting, one hopes that, given her huge readership, Mount! will jolly well cheer the nation up.
The Fat Artist and Other Stories by Benjamin Hale. Picador, £12.99 (ebook £11.48). Review by Sophie Herdman
After a successful debut novel, The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore, which told the story of a chimpanzee who develops a romantic relationship with a woman, Hale is back with a selection of short stories, but the surreal element that featured in his first novel remains a key theme. From an artist who nearly eats himself to death to a woman who accidentally feeds her baby hallucinogenics during a flight, these are stories about people amid, or on the brink of, panic. Despite being a slightly unsettling collection, they’re fascinating tales that cover a huge range of characters who will linger in your mind long after you’ve put down the book.
Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge. Guardian Faber, £16.99 (ebook £8.96). Review by Dan Brotzel
On an average day in the US, around seven under-19s will be shot dead. To bring home the horror, Guardian journalist Gary Younge takes a single American day – November 13, 2013 – and digs into the stories of the 10 young people who lost their lives in that time frame. Two were killed as a result of kids messing around with firearms. One nine-year-old was shot dead by his dad. Some were involved with gangs, others were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Younge speaks to victims’ friends and families, but also widens out his account into an examination of the underlying issues – gun control, poverty, segregation. It’s a work of careful research and measured rage.
Precious and Grace by Alexander McCall Smith. Little, Brown, £18.99 (ebook £9.99). Review by Bridie Pritchard
The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency stories couldn’t be further from the current fashion for Scandi Noir if they tried. Set under sunny African skies in Botswana, there are no dead bodies – the main mystery is a Canadian woman wanting to trace her childhood home. Instead of forensic detail and chills, you get a gentle study of changing times in Botswana as traditions and the old way of life weaken. If you love the series, you’ll be happy to take another wander with Mma Ramotswe taking pleasure in the joys of fat cakes with a cup of tea, as befitting a traditionally built lady. Though by the end, you may feel as though you wanted a little more plot and action.