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7:00am Saturday 8th September 2012 in AdXtra
A look at the latest releases, plus what's new in paperback.
By Kate Whiting
Umbrella by Will Self is published in hardback by Bloomsbury, priced £18.99. Available now.
Though he's perhaps best known and appreciated as a wry, angular TV personality and journalist, this is Will Self's ninth novel and his first to be longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
In 1918, Audrey Death, a feminist, socialist and munitions worker, falls ill and enters a catatonic state. More than 50 years later, Dr Zack Busner gives her a drug which wakes her from her condition.
In 2010, the same, now retired, doctor journeys across London to the institution where it all took place, in search of answers.
A work of modernist fiction, Umbrella can be hard work for the reader as the narrative voice shifts from character to character and from era to era with no warning and at times mid-sentence.
With no chapters to stem the flow, the text reads like a vivid account of a brilliantly poetic lucid dream. All the more rewarding for being so structurally challenging, it's an exhilarating experience.
(Review by Dean Haigh)
Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan is published in hardback by Jonathan Cape, priced £18.99 Available now.
A new Ian McEwan novel is always the cause of much fevered anticipation - and here he has turned his attention to the dual arts of reading and writing themselves.
Choosing the setting of MI5 in the early Seventies allows him scope for layers of subterfuge and mistrust, placing the reader in a precarious position of doubting the words set in front of them, with a concluding twist that changes everything that went before.
Serena Frome, a beautiful Cambridge graduate with a fierce love of books, is recruited into the service by her older lover, an English tutor at the university with secrets lurking in his past.
She is frustrated by the fact she and her female colleagues appear little more than secretaries until she is granted an assignment that takes her to up-and-coming author Tony Hale - and into his bed.
However, there is more to Hale than initially meets the eye. Like a young McEwan, he works at Sussex University. And his short stories are remarkably similar to the author's early works, us seeing them through Serena's eyes as she carefully studies the text.
The blurring of the character and creator is one that has an unsettling effect - but McEwan has a way of making this largely successful.
While somewhere lurking in here is a traditional love story, of the type Serena herself furtively enjoys, the main thrust of Sweet Tooth is about trust, language and words. An eye-opening read.
(Review by Lauren Turner)
Cold Grave by Kathryn Fox is published in paperback by Hodder & Stoughton, priced £6.99. Available August 30.
Kathryn Fox's sixth novel is set to blow other crime thrillers out of the water.
Forensic physician Anya Crichton is looking forward to a luxury cruise with her son Ben, even the fact her estranged husband is joining them doesn't put her off.
In fact, everything is perfect... that's until the body of a teenage girl turns up in a storage cupboard.
Anya is compelled to investigate further and uncovers layers of crime and corruption which extends further than the ship's boundaries.
With little help from the crew, she delves into a world that could cost her everything she holds dear. Unable to trust anyone and with obstacles placed at every turn, she must uncover the truth that will ultimately expose the darker, seedier side of life on a cruise ship and put her own family at risk.
It's a fast-paced thriller that makes you hold your breath at times.
(Review by Philip Robinson)
Sleepwalkers by Tom Grieves is published in hardback by Quercus, priced £16.99. Available now.
Writer, producer and script editor Tom Grieves has worked on television staples such as The Bill and Hornblower.
In this debut novel, Grieves explores the disturbing power of dreams as two seemingly ordinary lives - a man with a loving family and a steady job, a scarred boy on the brink of manhood - become inextricably intertwined.
The only common thread that binds them is the vivid, horrifying nature of their nightmares - visions of darkness and violence from which there is no solace. As these dreams grow in intensity, their search for the truth will have painful consequences.
A riveting thriller that echoes with shades of Philip K Dick, Sleepwalkers is a pulse-pounding debut.
It's a thoughtful, moving, shocking and graphic tale, and this twisting account will keep you gripped until the last revelations leave you stunned.
(Review by James Fry)
The Vanishing Act by Mette Jakobsen is published in paperback by Vintage, priced £7.99. Available August 30.
Copenhagen-born Sydney resident Mette Jakobsen draws inspiration from her philosophy degree in her debut novel, The Vanishing Act.
Jakobsen transports the reader to an unnamed icy island, population six - if you include No Name the dog.
The narrator is Minou, a young girl who is trying to find her missing mother. While the rest of the island, including Minou's father, believes her dead, Minou is determined that, by using reason, she can prove that she still lives.
Fans of philosophic fables such as Le Petit Prince will find The Vanishing Act a real treat.
There is a sense of magical realism - a dead boy who smells of Minou's mother's orange cake to name but one example.
Not much happens and many questions are left unanswered, but it is abundant in terms of atmosphere and the beautiful innocence of childhood.
(Review by Zahra Saeed)
The Wrath Of Angels by John Connolly is published in hardback Hodder & Stoughton, priced £17.99. Available August 30.
This is the 11th Charlie Parker thriller from award-winning author John Connolly.
During a hunting expedition in the Maine woods, a pair of locals find an empty plane wreck with a large bag of money on the seat.
There is also a list of names. A list that, until now, has been looked for by many people but without success.
This list is a powerful record of people who have made a deal with the Devil.
Private investigator Charlie Parker is alerted to this list and his place upon it.
Now a battle is about to be waged between the dark side's faithful who want the list to remain secret and those who believe that it represents a weapon in the continued fight against the forces of darkness.
A number of people are in hot pursuit, including a serial killer known only as The Collector.
As the action closes in on the plane, did someone or something survive and is it still lurking in the woods?
(Review by Rachel Howdle)
The Map Of Lost Memories by Kim Fay is published in paperback by Hodder & Stoughton, priced £13.99. Available now.
The Map Of Lost Memories is the debut novel by Kim Fay, a former bookseller and author of Communion: A Culinary Journey Through Vietnam.
In 1925, an American museum curator receives bad news about a potential promotion, which spurs her on a treasure hunt to find alleged copper scrolls containing the written history of Cambodia's ancient Khmer civilisation.
If she could find them, she could establish her reputation and set up her own museum.
However, the Orient is a dangerous place, and she must gather new allies in Shanghai to make the expedition possible - but her new friendships and experiences make her question her motivations as she becomes submersed in these exotic cultures.
Fay has written an evocative and compelling story, creating a rich environment from which the characters come to life, whether it is in the cosmopolitan Shanghai streets or the Cambodian jungles.
(Review by Ben Major)
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