Gerard Woodward is probably best known for his trilogy of stories about the Jones family – August, I’ll Go To Bed At Noon and A Curious Earth. But his latest offering, Legoland, sees him once again return to writing short stories. There’s the beautifully observed story of Williamina who leaves her husband only to find herself receiving regular visits from suitors. Then there’s the man who creates an exact replica of his sitting room with everything upside down, and the writer who ends up on the run after a bloody revolution. A strong sense of black humour runs throughout these beautifully written stories which will stay with you for a very long time.
The Narrow Bed by Sophie Hannah. Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99 (ebook £7.49). Review by Gill Oliver
This is the latest outing for what must be the most off-beat but likeable characters in crime fiction – DC Simon Waterhouse and his wife Sergeant Charlie Zailer. They and the rest of the Culver Valley police team must track down a murderer, code-named Billy Dead Mates because of his habit of killing pairs of friends. Central to the investigation are spiky, stand-up comedian Kim Tribbeck and strident feminist Sondra Halliday, who fires off vitriolic blogs and wages battle with all and sundry on social media. Deeply satisfying and somehow life-affirming, it leaves you longing for your next fix of Waterhouse and Zailer.
The Maker Of Swans by Paraic O’Donnell. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £12.99 (ebook £8.99). Review by Heather Doughty
The Maker of Swans is the intriguing tale of Mr. Crowe, his mute ward Clara, his authoritative adversaries and his ever-loyal servant, Eustace. A delightful mix of paranormal and gothic, the story opens at an eerie manor house and gunshots are heard all around. Eustace is tasked with clearing up the mess his mysterious master Mr. Crowe has left behind and we soon learn that the events of this night will have serious consequences for everyone on the estate. Despite the text being a little dense and confusing at times, this novel deserves to be given time to appreciate the poetry of Paraic O’Donnell’s language. The Maker of Swans is captivating and an impressive debut novel.
You Could Do Something Amazing With Your Life [You Are Raoul Moat] by Andrew Hankinson, Scribe, £12.99 (ebook £6.83). Review by Keeley Bolger
It’s a skilful writer who can weave together the last days of an infamous murderer without resorting to shock tactics. But in his short novel, Andrew Hankinson pulls it off. Using media and police reports, interviews and Moat’s own testimonies, Hankinson challenges us to look beyond what we know of the 2010 manhunt, which saw Moat shoot and injure his ex-partner Samantha Stobbart, kill her new boyfriend Christopher Brown, and blind police officer PC David Rathband, who later killed himself. Although there is no re-writing the horror of Moat’s crimes, Hankinson’s deft storytelling injects some humanity into a sad, sad story.