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7:00am Saturday 2nd June 2012 in Books
A look at the latest releases, plus what's new in paperback.
By Kate Whiting.
The Family Corleone by Ed Falco is published in hardback by William Heinemann, priced £18.99. Available now.
To many the mafia is just a myth - be it Sicily or Chicago, Naples or New York.
Say the word mafia - no, whisper it quietly for fear of upsetting the neighbourhood don - and many think of The Godfather.
When Ed Falco took on the monumental task of writing The Family Corleone - based on a screenplay by Godfather author Mario Puzo and billed as a prequel to the trilogy on the 'family' - the award-winning author and professor of English at Virginia Tech knew what he was taking on.
To the mafia everything is honour, everything is business and what Falco has crafted is a fitting and well-written scene-setter for Don Vito Corleone and his family, in both senses of the word.
It evokes images of the world, both the old in Sicily and the new in America, bathed in the blood of both the gangsters and the innocents.
For anyone fascinated by America's criminal underworld, this latest instalment of one of its most infamous fictional families is compelling.
8/10 (Review by Roddy Brooks) The Killing by David Hewson is published in hardback by Macmillan, priced £12.99. Available May 24.
Former Sunday Times columnist and award-winning novelist David Hewson has sunk his teeth into the hit series The Killing, and given us an epic crime novel, which is a tie-in to the TV show.
The plot of the book stays very similar to the plot of the original Danish series. It opens with the discovery of a young girl's body - Nanna Birk Larsen - on the outskirts of Copenhagen, and the case is taken by Detective Sarah Lund (you'll have to picture her in her infamous jumper as you read). She works on the case alongside Jan Meyer, and the two soon become embroiled in political scandal at Oslo City Hall, police in-fighting, and above all, the hunt for Nanna Birk Larsen's killer.
Hewson follows the series pretty much word for word. However, he adds a real depth to the characters, as they are allowed to develop more with his words than on the TV screen. The best bit of the whole book is his alternative ending, which is a refreshing twist. It's a fast-paced crime novel that's five-star from start to finish.
9/10 (Review by Emma Everingham) The Other Half Of Me by Morgan McCarthy is published in hardback by Headline Review, priced £14.99. Available May 24.
The Other Half Of Me is the debut novel by Berkshire writer Morgan McCarthy.
Brother and sister Jonathan and Theo Anthony have a privileged upbringing in Wales, but are somewhat neglected by their family. That is, until their hotel magnate and philanthropist grandmother comes to live with them.
She helps to fill in the details of their family's enigmatic past as the siblings grow up, go to university and start out in their first jobs. But as they grow older and more curious, they discover a darker side to their history that threatens to damage their relationship irreparably.
This is an accomplished debut novel, which captures every tear and smile of the two enthralling main characters as they grapple with life, and McCarthy's exquisite storytelling points to a promising literary career. I will certainly be keeping an eye out for her next book.
8/10 (Review by Ben Major) The Watch by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya is published in hardback by Hogarth, priced £16.99. Available now.
In The Watch, we see Indian-born author Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya transporting the Greek myth of Antigone into present day Afghanistan.
Following a brutal overnight attack on a remote American base on the outskirts of Kandahar, a solitary woman appears. Her only apparent demand is the return of her brother's body so that she can bury him in accordance with their custom. But is she all that she seems? For the beleaguered and jaded soldiers, she poses a quandary that threatens discord between the ranks as they decide on her fate.
The Watch brings home with excruciating clarity the futility of the war in Afghanistan. From one chapter to the next, the reader finds their allegiance switching, highlighting the sad reality that there are no winners in this pointless battle of our times.
The lack of speech marks and the sudden switch to flashbacks of the soldiers' pre-war lives can be confusing, but this won't stop the novel being seared into the reader's mind for a long time to come.
7/10 (Review by Zahra Saeed) The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cooke is published in paperback by Piatkus, priced £7.99. Available now.
The Boy Who Could See Demons is the second book by Belfast-born author Carolyn Jess-Cooke following her debut novel, The Guardian Angel's Journal, and highly acclaimed poetry collection.
Ten-year-old Alex Broccoli has come under the scrutiny of social care after his single mother Cindy attempted to commit suicide. Anya Molokova, a consultant at MacNeice House Child and Adolescent Mental Health Inpatient Unit in Belfast, has come on board the case alongside the family's social worker.
At first, Anya is bemused and entertains Alex when the child claims to see demons, with one called Ruen being a particularly regular visitor, but she is left confused and unsure of what to think when some of her dark secrets are gradually revealed by the unwelcome caller.
Seen through the alternate viewpoints of Alex and Anya, The Boy Who Could See Demons is a riveting read, which will keep you hooked until the very last page.
8/10 (Review by Shereen Low) Non-fiction Elizabeth: Her Life, Our Times: A Diamond Jubilee Celebration, by Alan Titchmarsh, is published in hardback by BBC Books, priced £18.99. Available now.
National treasure, TV presenter and author Alan Titchmarsh OBE celebrates the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
Using his own personal experiences of meeting the Queen and the royal family, Titchmarsh observes the Queen as woman, mother and monarch while exploring key moments in her reign.
He looks at the good times such as her coronation, world tours, her children and grandchildren's weddings and her Silver and Golden Jubilees, as well as the bad, including her "annus horribilis" of 1992, which saw the end of the marriages of her three eldest children and the Windsor Castle fire, and the death of her daughter-in-law Diana, in 1997.
The ever-changing relationship between the country and its royal family is also analysed and Titchmarsh asks why, in this Diamond Jubilee year, it is stronger than ever.
This book has been meticulously researched, beautifully produced and is packed with photos and wonderful memorabilia. It is the perfect companion to the Queen's Jubilee year.
9/10 (Review by Laura Wurzal)