A look at the latest releases, plus what's new in paperback.

By Kate Whiting

New fiction

The Bat by Jo Nesbo is published by in hardback Harvill Secker, priced £18.99. Available October 11.

Harry Hole has never been comfortable in his own skin and it is good to finally find out where it all started for the dysfunctional police detective.

Jo Nesbo, who has sold 14 million books worldwide and lists musician, songwriter and economist along with novelist on his CV, began his popular Harry Hole series with The Bat, but it has only just been translated into English.

The Bat fills in the early blanks for Hole fans who must have wondered how he came to be such a tortured soul.

With an unerring ability to attract death, Hole takes his first blundering steps towards becoming the sort of character that thriller fans find irresistible.

Whether a hardened Hole addict or a first-time imbiber, The Bat is sure to snare your interest with its tale of this booze-fuelled policeman.


(Review by Roddy Brooks)

The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M Banks is published in hardback by Orbit, priced £20. Available now.

Having already published one novel set on contemporary Earth this year, the prolific Iain M Banks now returns to his multi-species galactic utopia, the Culture, where, despite good intentions, the people always somehow end up involved in devious behaviour and doses of hi-tech ultraviolence.

This time, the Gzilt, a friendly species who were involved in the preliminary negotiations of setting up the Culture, are going to Sublime, ascending themselves to a kind of 11-dimensional civilisational godhood.

Unless, that is, a secret from the dawn of their race derails everything.

So it's up to the Culture's impossibly powerful yet irredeemably catty Minds to uncover what exactly that secret is, and decide whether it's worth revealing, with one confused human musician tagging along for the ride.

In truth, the plot is largely a MacGuffin on which to hang the usual dizzying array of Banks's settings, wonders and meditations - the big themes this time include sound, identity and faith.

The result is, as ever, a warm-hearted, action-packed delight.


(Review by Alex Sarll)

Murder At Wrotham Hill by Diana Souhami is published in hardback by Quercus, priced £18.99. Available now.

Diana Souhami takes the true crime genre to a new level with this examination into the murder, and subsequent police investigation, of Dagmar Petrzywalski in 1946.

Only 18 months after the bloodshed of the Second World War, this crime could have almost gone unsolved had it not been for the dedication of Chief Inspector Fabian and forensic scientist Dr Keith Simpson. This was to be a turning point in the way murders would be investigated.

Spinster Petrzywalski was the model post-war citizen, and with rationing still in place, she embraced the thrifty lifestyle.

It wasn't uncommon for her to hitch lifts with lorry drivers to save money and that fateful October morning was no different.

So what was going through the mind of her killer, delivery driver Harold Hagger, when he picked her up on the A20?

This is a gripping portrait of post-war Britain that raises questions about murder and punishment.

Rating: 7/10

(Review by Philip Robinson)

Peace, Love & Potatoes by John Hegley is published by Serpent's Tail, priced £9.99 hardback/ebook. Available now.

Radio 4 favourite John Hegley is well established as the UK's comic poet laureate, having riffed on dogs, potatoes and his specs for nigh-on 35 years.

In this, his 19th anthology, he turns his attention to his anglo-French ancestry.

In poems such as 'Verse inspired by Dad's painting of La Rue de la Providence' and 'French Grandma visits English Bungalow', he addresses issues of identity and life choice, displaying his characteristic well-observed wit.

As with any performance poet, the joy of reading his verses for yourself is far less uproarious than the real riffing Hegley - seek him out if you can - but as a quirky take on the family memoir (so tempting for writers of his age, and rarely done as enjoyably), this is a jolly read.


(Review by Sarah Warwick)

Children's book of the week:

Ghost Knight by Cornelia Funke is published in hardback by Orion, priced £9.99 (£5.99 ebook) Available now.

From the award-winning German author of the Inkheart trilogy comes a very English ghost story.

Fatherless Jon Whitcroft is sent to boarding school in Salisbury by his mum, when her new partner, who 11-year-old Jon calls The Beard, moves in.

He's only just met his new roommates Stu and Angus, when a trio of ghostly horsemen appear outside his bedroom window. The next day, they chase him across the Cathedral Close with their leader Lord Stourton, calling him by his mother's maiden name Hartgill.

Jon is befriended by Ella, whose grandmother Zelda leads ghost tours around the old city. Zelda reveals that Jon's ancestor William Hartgill and his son John were killed by Lord Stourton and four of his servants, who were all hanged for their crimes in 1556.

They're now out to take revenge on all Hartgills and the only person who can possibly save Jon is dead - the knight William Longespee, who Jon and Ella summon from his stony tomb.

It's a thrilling adventure, carefully illustrated by the author, which is steeped in ancient history and full of ghosts and myths. It will appeal to Harry Potter fans and kids who like a scary story.


(Review by Kate Whiting)


The John Lennon Letters edited and with an introduction by Hunter Davies is published in hardback by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, priced £25 (£12.99 ebook). Available now.

From his thank you cards as a boy to the lists he compiled in his final years, the letters of John Lennon paint a vivid portrait of the enigmatic Beatle.

Lennon's scribbles tell the story of a boy blessed with genius; his emotional, and cultural, and political awakenings are captured in his writing.

As a young man, his letters were pseudo-Shakespearean, littered with wordplay and ambiguous references. His stream of consciousness indicated his emerging artistic sophistication. His famed absurdist wit can be found on almost every page

Later in life, post-Beatles and crazy in love with Yoko Ono, Lennon's drawings had become art; his ideas had become philosophy.

Editor Hunter Davies, the authorised biographer of the Beatles, provides necessary context. He effectively shapes the narrative and abstains from interrupting or becoming overly involved.

The collection also includes the exploits of the band and Lennon's infamous rivalry with Paul McCartney. It's an absorbing read and provides a real insight into the British icon.


(Review by Zachary Boren)

Bond On Bond by Roger Moore is published in hardback by Michael O'Mara Books, priced £25. Available now.

Celebrating 50 years since James Bond hit the silver screen, this 2012 look back at the franchise, by none other than Sir Roger Moore himself, is a unique tribute to the legacy of 007.

Packed with previously unseen glossy photos and a witty narrative throughout, this hefty volume is the perfect coffee table read for avid fans and casual viewers alike.

Moore's humour is so sharp, you can visualise that infamous raised eyebrow and wry smile fixed to his face as he penned the words.

Eleven comprehensive chapters, including Bond's Villains, Gadgets, Cars and, of course, Girls, offer an exclusive behind-the-scenes look into the longest running film series that makes one proud to be British.

Snippets of fascinating Bond trivia in easily digestible chunks make for an enjoyable read to dip into at leisure.

So, pour yourself a "shaken, not stirred" vodka martini, and delve into this definitive volume on the secret agent that continues to captivate the world.


(Review by Angela Johnson)

The Art Book is published in hardback by Phaidon, priced £39.95. Available now.

At 592 pages, The Art Book is an ambitious and weighty, but extremely valuable, addition to the bookshelves of gallery-goers.

Organised alphabetically, it's a case of 'one artist - one page', with beautiful reproductions of one of their works together with a short biography and discussion of their output.

There are undoubtedly times when this is limiting in the case of artists such as Manet or Dali who had a prodigious output.

However, what is lost in covering artists in any depth, The Art Book more than makes up for in breadth in this revised Second Edition after it was first published in 1994.

The A to Z presentation means different styles and periods crash together in a heady way and there is real pleasure to be found simply by leafing through the pages to find yourself facing the leering and bejewelled skull created by Damien Hirst or being introduced to an artist of whom you were totally unaware.

It's a bookcase essential for anyone who enjoys art.


(Review by Kate Whiting)

You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney is published in paperback by Oneworld Publications, priced £7.99. Available now.

Award-winning journalist David McRaney has interests in many areas; technology, psychology, and the internet being chief among them.

In his latest best-selling book, he explores all these and more in a comprehensive and revelatory look at human delusion. Why do we procrastinate? How often do we lie to ourselves?

Providing us with a humorous, informative and sometimes uncomfortable insight into the workings of the human mind, You Are Not So Smart dissects our habits and perceptions, good and bad, and gives explanations for the processes our minds perform every day.

A bite-size course in human rationality, the book presents anecdotes and examples we can all relate to, illustrating some of the most pressing enigmas of human behaviour.

Suffused with a hefty measure of wit, some erudite charm and a lot of heart, the book is never afraid to gently inform you of exactly where you're going wrong.


(Review by James Fry)

Jim Clark To Jackie Stewart: Motor Racing In The 1960s by Bryan Apps is published in hardback by Halsgrove, priced £19.99. Available now.

Bryan Apps is a retired Anglican priest with a strong affinity to motor racing.

He started painting famous drivers and their cars in the 1950s and has painted more than 200 pictures to date.

A lot of these pictures now adorn the pages of his new book, which aims to breathe life into the motor racing scene of the 1960s.

Apps recalls every race of the Formula One season with a brilliant clarity that brings the races to life.

Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart are the title's stars but other drivers including Graham Hill, Jack Brabham and Stirling Moss are mentioned.

Apps also includes the Monte Carlo rally and the famous Le Mans 24-hour race. For anyone with an interest in motor racing in the 1960s, this is a fascinating book, with the author's paintings offering a wonderful personal touch.


(Reviewed by Chris Gray)

Best-sellers for the week ending October 6


1 The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared, Jonas Jonasson

2 The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year, Sue Townsend

3 Thinking, Fast And Slow, Daniel Kahneman

4 A Street Cat Named Bob, James Bowen

5 Fifty Shades of Grey, EL James

6 The Hairy Dieters: How To Love Food And Lose Weight

7 The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky

8 Fifty Shades Darker, EL James

9 The House Of Silk: The New Sherlock Holmes Novel, Anthony Horowitz

10 Fifty Shades Freed, EL James


1 The Casual Vacancy, JK Rowling

2 Heroes Of Olympus: The Mark Of Athena, Rick Riordan

3 Jamie's 15-Minute Meals, Jamie Oliver

4 1356, Bernard Cornwell

5 Ratburger, David Walliams

6 Dodger, Terry Pratchett

7 The Hydrogen Sonata, Iain M Banks

8 Emerald Star, Jacqueline Wilson

9 Guinness World Records 2013

10 Nigellissima: Instant Italian Inspiration, Nigella Lawson

:: Note to editors: This is a resend of Book Reviews column transmitted Wednesday, October 10, adding the latest book chart from Waterstone's