Murder in the ashes of London - and three more recommended reads

The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor
The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor
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The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor. Harper Collins, £14.99. Review by Roddy brooks

The Great Fire of London is raging and James Marwood, the son of a traitor, is charged with solving a series of murders. Picking his way through the burning remnants, Marwood has to sift through the wrecked lives of those he encounters if he is to solve the complex mystery. With the life of his father and that of his own at the whim of a series of masters, including the recently restored King, Marwood must tread carefully. The Ashes Of London is a complex weave of history and mystery and the first of a new series from Andrew Taylor, who has already won a number of awards for historical crime writing and seen his work adapted for TV. Just as the fire of 1666 raged through London then, Taylor’s latest tale is sure to scale the heights of the bestseller charts.

The Path - A New Way to Think About Everything by Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh. Viking books, £14.99. Review by James Robinson

There is no shortage of pop-psychology. Not much of it, however, can claim the pedigree of The Path, a beginner’s guide to Chinese philosophy co-authored by a Harvard professor and a journalist from prestigious US magazine, The Atlantic. The Path’s aims is to offer a broad introduction to the teachings of philosophers like Confucius and Mencius and there is an emphasis on how small and feasible lifestyle changes can have a massive impact over the long term. It’s a very accessible work, although not one that offers any easy answers and, as such, its contents are unlikely to feature in motivational Facebook memes any time soon. Anyone willing to put the work in, however, might just find that this book really can change your life.

The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood. Headline, £12.99. Review by Anita Chaudhuri

Ona Vitkus is a 104-year-old Lithuanian immigrant who has, apart from three blazing months back in the summer of 1914 when she ran away to the circus, lived a staid suburban existence. But when an 11-year-old boy scout arrives on her doorstep to fulfil a season of community service, she gets more than she bargains for. When the boy dies suddenly, his father, hapless guitarist Quinn, feels obliged to show up in his place. The two strike up an unlikely friendship which impacts both their lives in unforeseen ways. This is a novel about many things: isolation, community, music, language and friendship. Wood’s prose sparkles with lyrical descriptions and sharp observations about people and their motivations. But the over-arching theme running through it all concerns second chances.

The Steel Kiss by Jeffrey Deaver. Hodder & Stoughton, £18.99. Review by Shereen Lowe

The king of suspense is back. For his 12th Lincoln Rhyme thriller, Jeffrey Deaver has reunited the grumpy but genius quadriplegic forensic detective with his crime-solving team: red-headed partner and detective Amelia Sachs, gifted evidence technician and analyst Mel Cooper and former rookie officer Ron Pulaski as they try to untangle their latest case of a man killed by an escalator, while Sachs pursued a serial killer in a shopping centre. Was it a freak accidental malfunction or was it the work of an evil murderer who knows how fatal machines can be? Fans will recognise and appreciate the fast-paced action of his newest work, as he keeps them on tenterhooks, jumping from one character viewpoint to another. Another riveting read.