OUR pick of the latest book releases

In A House Of Lies by Ian Rankin (Orion Fiction, £20; ebook £10.99) ****

JOHN Rebus clings on, lungs rattling, body raddled. Spinning another Edinburgh tale with the ex-cop as lynch-pin isn't easy, but Rankin succeeds. His latest isn't his best (Set In Darkness gets my vote), but the familiar elements line up: sidekicks Siobhan Clarke and Malcolm Fox, arch nemesis Cafferty, a sort of grizzled, villainous half-brother to Rebus, and Brillo the dog. A skeleton in an abandoned Polo turns out to belong to a missing gay private investigator. Drugs and cheap exploitation films are involved. A different case sees Rebus sniffing out a young man jailed for inexplicably murdering his girlfriend. A good rattling read, let down only by too many unnecessary dialogue modifiers. Still, it's always cheering to meet Rebus again, and a hint from Cafferty that Brexit is going to be a crime goldmine suggests more to come.

Julian Cole

Enigma Variations by Andre Aciman (Faber & Faber, £12.99; ebook £7.99) ****

HEARTBREAK, desire and loss are at the core of this novel, which charts a man's great loves and affairs in five stories. After reading the first of those stories - about a young boy's obsession with an older man he meets in an Italian village - I was slightly worried Enigma Variations would simply revisit the ground Aciman already covered in his hugely successful debut, Call Me By Your Name. However, the novel then takes the reader on a journey to New York, where the protagonist pursues relationships with both men and women that take a few rather unexpected turns. Aciman's great strength is the precision with which he writes about the complexities of love and longing - his stories are all tinged with sadness, but also enormous beauty. Protagonist Paul may not always be the most likeable character, but in the end you cannot help but be moved by how his heart rules him in everything he does.

Verena Vogt

Melmoth by Sarah Perry i(Serpent's Tail, £16.99; ebook £16.99) ****

GOTHIC and full of uneasiness, Melmoth by Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Serpent, combines many stories in the form of letters, manuscripts, diary entries and testimonies. They take in myth, legend and children's fairy tale: You're transported to wartime Czechoslovakia, sweltering Manila in the 1980s, and Cairo hot and filthy in the 1930s - all anchored by Helen, a translator, whose life is deliberately small and full of self-imposed restrictions and privations. Then a friend gives her a sheaf of papers that tells of Melmoth, a wandering woman in black, who appears at your lowest ebb, to remind you of your worst and most ethically questionable moments. The terror of Melmoth is a little hammy - and a little repetitive at times; the brightest moments come between Helen and her collection of friends, each one accidentally acquired. There's forthright Thea; Albina, Helen's malicious but amusing landlady; and the precise, polite Karel, who give the narrative life and body. An atmospheric tale that will have you examining your own morality, but not having too many nightmares, hopefully...

Ella Walker

The School at the Top of the Dale by Gervase Phinn (Hodder and Stoughton £7.99) ***

WHEN a young, male and sporty teacher joins the staff at Risingdale School he soon realises that there is more to country life than meets the eye.

Finding the school is hard enough in the first place for Tom Dwyer and a farmer’s son has to come to the rescue when he ends up in a ditch.

Already a subject of gossip and speculation, he rapidly learns that as the new boy he is bound to be an object of earnest examination in every aspect of his life.

But determined to remain bright-eyed and bushy-tailed he lends all of his intelligence and enthusiasm to the cause when he learns the school is on the closure list.

This slice of rural life comes thickly cut, well buttered and smothered in charm and humour.

Bon appetit!

Steve Craggs


The Flame by Leonard Cohen (Canongate, £20; ebook £15.99) ***

IT may seem strange that Leonard Cohen's got a new book out, considering he died in November 2016, but here comes The Flame - a final collection of his poems and sketches. He's most famous as a musician, but his poetry is equally powerful. This posthumous anthology was conceived by the man himself and includes work he created in the run-up to his death. The introduction is written by Cohen's son, Adam. Although I'm not sure this book is his greatest legacy, it documents his creativity to the end in a fascinating way.

Frances Wright


Islandborn by Junot Diaz (Oneworld, £10.99; ebook £4.74) *****

WITH recent reports that only four per cent of children's books feature a black or ethnic minority character, this book explores the idea of identity and belonging head on. Written by Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times bestseller adult author Junot Diaz, this is his first foray into the world of children's books. When her teacher asks the class to draw a picture of where they came from, Lola can't remember the island she was born on. So she asks her friends and family what they remember. The recollections are beautiful and joyous, but also frightening and heartbreaking. All the community's memories of the island are also gloriously illustrated.

Bridie Pritchard



1. In A House Of Lies by Ian Rankin

2. War Of The Wolf by Bernard Cornwell

3. Life On Earth by David Attenborough

4. Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

5. Cordially Invited by Zoe Sugg

6. What Monster by Liz Pichon

7. Erebus by Michael Palin

8. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography by Eric Idle

9. My Life In Football by Kevin Keegan

10. Guinness World Records