Bookshelf: Four great summer reads

Falling by Jane Green
Falling by Jane Green
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Falling by Jane Green. Macmillan, £14.99 (ebook £7.59). Review by Shereen Low

Green’s 18th book has once again been inspired by her own life. It touches on the familiar themes of class wars, love and family: the protagonist Emma Montague swaps her upper-crust English life and dull boyfriend Rufus for a financial career in New York, before switching up from the Big Apple to a beach cottage in Westport, Connecticut like the author herself. Emma immediately falls in love with her landlord (just as Jane did), who is also a father to six-year-old son Jesse. Together, the new couple have to learn to deal with the curveballs life throws at them if they are to make their relationship work. Falling is the perfect summer escapist read.

The Secrets Of Wishtide by Kate Saunders. Bloomsbury, £14.99 (ebook £3.99). Review by Gill Oliver

Meet Laetitia Rodd, a widow in “reduced circumstances” who also happens to be an ace undercover private detective. The first novel in a new series by award-winning author and journalist Kate Saunders, this is a breath of fresh air. Set in the Victorian era, there are charming nods to history such as when Mrs Rodd makes rabbit pie or dons black silk for mourning. This case involves travelling to Wishtide in Lincolnshire, disguised as a governess, to investigate the background of a so-called “unsuitable” woman set to marry a rich man’s heir. A deceptively gentle read, it’s packed with pithy observations about human nature.

Blackwater by James Henry. Riverrun, £12.99 (ebook £6.49). Review by Phil Robinson

Author James Henry has taken what he learned from writing three prequels to R.D. Wingfield’s popular DI Jack Frost series and created this police procedural novel set in Essex, featuring DI Nick Lowry, a hard-bitten cop with a talent for boxing. Set in the 1980s, this plot line is bolstered by the typical army top brass, and army boxing organiser, which cause Nick no end of trouble during his investigation into an incident involving two soldiers, when what started as a drunken accident escalates into murder. It’s well-paced read, that serves its purpose to introduce us to Lowry and his colleagues, yet it leaves some loose ends for future development.

Turner: The Extraordinary Life And Momentous Times of JMW Turner by Franny Moyle. Viking, priced £25 (ebook £5.49). Review by Bridie Pritchard

Franny Moyle starts her biography of Turner at his death. His living arrangements are scandalous and irregular – potentially reputation ruining. Even worse, how will this affect the value of his work for his dealers and patrons? For an artist with a controversial career and mixed standing among critics, his fame had been hard won. Moyle then looks at how he got to where he ended up. While he always had a sense of his own value as an artist – from setting high price tags to bequeathing his work to the nation, critics found his later, more impressionistic work difficult. He was the Damien Hirst of his day, but Turner always went his own way.