Welcome to the latest issue of Books Monthly – another fantastic selection of brilliant books for you this month, with a huge nuber of terrific new Pen and Sword books. Please let me know what you think by using the comments box or like/share buttons on each page or via email at paulenorman1@gmail.com

Christian White: The Nowhere Child

 Published by Harper Collins 21st March 2019

904eA little girl went missing years ago. That child is you.

A dark and gripping debut psychological thriller that won the 2017 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, previously won by THE DRY and THE ROSIE PROJECT.

‘Nervy, soulful, genuinely surprising’ A. J. Finn, bestselling author THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW

A child was stolen twenty years ago
Little Sammy Went vanishes from her home in Manson, Kentucky – an event that devastates her family and tears apart the town’s deeply religious community.

And somehow that missing girl is you
Kim Leamy, an Australian photographer, is approached by a stranger who turns her world upside down – he claims she is the kidnapped Sammy and that everything she knows about herself is based on a lie.

How far will you go to uncover the truth?
In search of answers, Kim returns to the remote town of Sammy’s childhood to face up to the ghosts of her early life. But the deeper she digs into her family background the more secrets she uncovers… And the closer she gets to confronting the trauma of her dark and twisted past.

Christian White’s stunning debut thriller is a must-read! Set alternately in the USA and Australia, it will lure you into a false sense of security and have you believing that the mystery is solved around a third of the way through – and then the shocks begin and the cracks begin to show – You might have been tempted to ask yourself what on Earth else can there be to this intriguing tale – and Christian has plenty of surprises up his sleeves. The revelations come thick and fast and still the resolution is nowhere in sight. This is a genuine old-fashioned page turner that will have you hooked right from the start – and the final revelations and resolutions are as mind-blowing as they could possibly be! I was immersed from page one and loved every twist and turn of this brilliant debut from a born storyteller.

Rob Bredow: Industrial Light and Magic Presents Making Solo, A Star Wars Story

 Published by Abrams 16th April 2019

904aaIndustrial Light & Magic Presents: Making Solo: A Star Wars Story is an eyewitness account of the film’s production from visual effects supervisor and coproducer Rob Bredow. The book gives readers an intimate glimpse into the journey that Solo took from pre-production, production, and post-production, fully documenting how this film came to the big screen. Making Solo gives a chronological overview of how this multiple-Academy-Award-winning visual effects company created new worlds, aliens, droids, and vehicles for a galaxy far, far away, including insights into how the train heist on Vandor, L3-37, the Kessel Run, and the reimagined Millennium Falcon were brought to life. A must-have for Star Wars fans, this authorized, all-access book will be an indispensable work for all movie fans and devotees of popular culture.

Abrams have published “making of” books about Star Wars films in the past, but this one is subtly different, because it has been written by the film’s Visual Effects Supervisor, Rob Bredow. I am a Star Wars fan – I have all of the films on Blu Ray with the exception of the first three “prequels”, which star Ewan McGregor, and which I don’t much like because they’re not very good. The critics didn’t like Solo much, but I thought that of all the movies made after the first three Prequels, Solo is the best and captures much of the fun and humour of the original trilogy whereas the last two featuring Luke Skywalker are much darker and more serious. Rob Bredow carried a camera around with him all the time he was involved in Solo, and the result is a set of intimate and revealing personal photographs that take you behind the scenes in a way that previous Making of books have not achieved. This is a superlative, exhilarating record of the making of one of the very best recent Star Wars films – it is a triumph in every sense, and a book to treasure as possibly the best documentary books of the whole Star Wars literary canon.

Michael J Benton: Dinosaurs Redicovered

 Published by Thames & Hudson 25th April 2019

904abOver the past twenty years, the study of dinosaurs has changed from natural history to a true scientific discipline. New technologies have revealed secrets locked in the prehistoric bones in ways that nobody predicted – we can now work out the colour of dinosaurs, their bite forces, top speeds, and even how they cared for their young. Remarkable new fossil finds, such as giant sauropod dinosaur skeletons from Patagonia, dinosaurs with feathers from China, and even a tiny dinosaur tail in Burmese amber – complete down to every detail of its filament-like feathers, skin, bones, and mummified tail muscles – have caused media sensations. New fossils are the lifeblood of modern palaeobiology of course, but it is the advances in technologies and methods that have allowed the revolution in the scope and confidence of the field.

Dinosaurs Rediscovered gathers together all the latest palaeontological evidence and takes us behind the scenes on the expeditions and in museum laboratories, tracing the transformation of dinosaur study from its roots in antiquated natural history to a highly technical, computational, and indisputably scientific field today. Benton explores what we know of the world of the dinosaurs, how dinosaur remains are found and excavated, and especially how palaeontologists read the details of the life of the dinosaurs from the fossils – their colours, their growth, feeding and locomotion, how they grew from egg to adult, how they sensed the world, and even whether we will ever be able to bring them back to life. Dinosaurs are still very much a part of our world.

I don’t recall ever being that interested in dinosaurs when I was a child in the 1950s – my interest in dinosaurs came much later in life, probably when my children were growing up, and when I started getting books to review, many of which would have been about them. Neither was I that interested in science, having elected to study classical languages at grammar school and failing iserably at my first and only year of sciences. Michael’s superb book manages to be scientific without being beyond my comprehension, and grabs your interest from page one. The illustrations are brilliant, and the way the book launches into facts about specific dinosaurs almost immediately. interspersed with information about how the latest theories about dinosaurs and their fate, is excellent. There are plenty of magnificent picture books about dinosaurs around, this book is like a BBC2 Horizon programme in book form, and is probably the best book on dinosaurs I have ever read!

Courtney Watson McCarthy: Leonardo Pop-Ups

 Published by Thames & Hudson May 2019

904aLeonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) was a painter, architect, inventor and student of all things scientific. His natural genius crossed so many disciplines that he epitomized the term ‘Renaissance man’. Today he remains best known for his art, including two paintings that remain among the world’s most famous and admired, Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. This book features six meticulously crafted pop-ups of his most famous works: Self portrait; Annunciation; Ornithopter; Virgin & Child; Architecture – an overview of his drawings and designs; and Vitruvian Man.

Table of Contents

1. Self portrait
2. Annunciation
3. Ornithopter
4. Virgin & Child
5. Architecture – an overview of his drawings and designs
6. Vitruvian Man

I was never any good at origami – I can make a decent paper aeroplane but that’s about it. But then this magnificent book isn’t really origami at all – it’s paper engineering on a grand scale. Just a handful of pages but each turn of the page reveals an engineered paper version of one of Leonardo’s most fantastic creations. Staggeringly beautiful and complex.

 

Ngaio Marsh & Stella Duffy: Money in the Morgue

 Published by Harper Collins 9th March 2019

904fRoderick Alleyn is back in this unique crime novel begun by Ngaio Marsh during the Second World War and now completed by Stella Duffy in a way that has delighted reviewers and critics alike.

Shortlisted for the CWA Historical Dagger Award 2018.

It’s business as usual for Mr Glossop as he does his regular round delivering wages to government buildings scattered across New Zealand’s lonely Canterbury plains. But when his car breaks down he is stranded for the night at the isolated Mount Seager Hospital, with the telephone lines down, a storm on its way and the nearby river about to burst its banks.

Trapped with him at Mount Seager are a group of quarantined soldiers with a serious case of cabin fever, three young employees embroiled in a tense love triangle, a dying elderly man, an elusive patient whose origins remain a mystery … and a potential killer.

When the payroll disappears from a locked safe and the hospital’s death toll starts to rise faster than normal, can the appearance of an English detective working in counterespionage be just a lucky coincidence – or is something more sinister afoot?

I reviewed this a year or so ago when it was first published – a fitting tribute to one of the best golden age crime writers. Now it’s out in paperbac and will undoubtedly reach a much wider audience, and rightly so.

Helen Fields: Perfect Crime

 Published by Avon 18th April 2019

904gYour darkest moment is your most vulnerable…

Stephen Berry is about to jump off a bridge until a suicide prevention counsellor stops him. A week later, Stephen is dead. Found at the bottom of a cliff, DI Luc Callanach and DCI Ava Turner are drafted in to investigate whether he jumped or whether he was pushed…

As they dig deeper, more would-be suicides roll in: a woman found dead in a bath; a man violently electrocuted. But these are carefully curated deaths – nothing like the impulsive suicide attempts they’ve been made out to be.

Little do Callanach and Turner know how close their perpetrator is as, across Edinburgh, a violent and psychopathic killer gains more confidence with every life he takes…

An unstoppable crime thriller from the #1 bestseller. The perfect read for fans of Karin Slaughter and M. J. Arlidge.

The unique bond between Callanach and Turner – they’re back in a mesmerising thriller set I Edinburgh – can’t fault it. There should be a TV series featuring these two brilliant sleuths!

Paul Cleave: A Killer Harvest

 Published by Mulholland Books 21st March 2019

904hA family curse has taken his loved ones, robbed him of his eyesight, and now his father has been killed chasing down a murderer.

His dad’s last wish seems like a blessing: the chance for Joshua to see. But as Joshua navigates the world of sight, he realises he is seeing things through his father’s eyes. Dark things; things he never knew.

His father was living a secret life. And there are consequences coming for Joshua – along with a killer drawing closer and closer…

This is a superb and thought-provoking thriller – very different from anything I’ve ever read before. I coldn’t put it down…

 

 

M J Ford: Keep Her Close

 Published by Avon 7th March 2019

904iWhen a young woman goes missing from Jesus College, Oxford, DS Josie Masters is plunged into a world of panic as fear grips the city. Along with Thames Valley Police’s newest recruit, the handsome DS Pryce, Josie must act fast – and when two more students disappear from Oriel and Somerville colleges, she realises the killer is sending her a deadly message in a cruel game of cat and mouse. This time, the case is personal – but who is the perpetrator?

In a desperate race against the clock, Josie hunts for the kidnapper, and soon discovers he could be a lot closer to home than she’d ever thought…

M.J. Ford is back with a gripping new thriller, perfect for fans of Cara Hunter and T.M. Logan.

Oxford is, of course, the setting for Endeavour, Morse and Lewis, so author M J Ford has big shoes to fill – the result is more than satisfactory! The characters are hugely successful, and the plot is exemplary.

 

Fran Dorricott: After The Eclipse

 Published by Titan Books 5th March 2019

904jA stunning psychological thriller about loss, sisterhood, and the evil that men do, for readers of Ruth Ware and S.K. Tremeyne

Two solar eclipses. Two missing girls.

Sixteen years ago a little girl was abducted during the darkness of a solar eclipse while her older sister Cassie was supposed to be watching her. She was never seen again. When a local girl goes missing just before the next big eclipse, Cassie – who has returned to her home town to care for her ailing grandmother – suspects the disappearance is connected to her sister: that whoever took Olive is still out there. But she needs to find a way to prove it, and time is running out.

Another brilliant, modern, psychological thriller that will set you thinking and wanting to work out for yourself the connections that seem, at first sight, to be quite random. This is my kind of thriller…

 

Lucie Whitehouse: Critical Incidents

 Published by 4th Estate 18th April 2019

904kDetective Inspector Robin Lyons is going home. Dismissed for misconduct from the Met’s Homicide Command after refusing to follow orders, unable to pay her bills (or hold down a relationship), she has no choice but to take her teenage daughter Lennie and move back in with her parents in the city she thought she’d escaped forever at 18. In Birmingham, sharing a bunkbed with Lennie and navigating the stormy relationship with her mother, Robin works as a benefit-fraud investigator – to the delight of those wanting to see her cut down to size. Only Corinna, her best friend of 20 years seems happy to have Robin back. But when Corinna’s family is engulfed by violence and her missing husband becomes a murder suspect, Robin can’t bear to stand idly by as the police investigate. Can she trust them to find the truth of what happened? And why does it bother her so much that the officer in charge is her ex-boyfriend – the love of her teenage life? As Robin launches her own unofficial investigation and realises there may be a link to the disappearance of a young woman, she starts to wonder how well we can really know the people we love – and how far any of us will go to protect our own.

One of the best detective-turned-private investigator stories I’ve read since the great Cormoran Strike…

Francois Rabelais: Pantagruel & Gargantua

 Published by Alma Books Septeber 2018

902oWith his birth itself a monumental exploit in itself, it is clear that the giant Pantagruel is destined to great things, and the novel that bears his name chronicles the remarkable life of the exuberant youth: from his voracious reading habits to his escapades with the knave Panurge and his prowess in battle. The second work in this volume deals with the history of his father Gargantua, whose biography is equally if not more outlandish and larger than life. But these bawdy and boisterous tales, with their fixation on food and faeces, are not just entertaining yarns, as Francois Rabelais, one of the foremost humanists of the sixteenth century, parodies medieval learning, lambasts the established church authority and develops his own ideal visions for the ordering of society. Translated by critically-acclaimed translator Andrew Brown, this edition contains a wealth of material which will make this edition ideal for students

Larger than life ribald and saucy fantasy from the days of the Renaissance. I first read this when I was in my teens, and have rediscovered it courtesy of the brilliant Alma books.

 

Richard Wagner: Parsifal

 Published by Overture Opera Guides May 2017

902pFrom its conception in 1857 to its first performances in 1882, Parsifal represented the culmination of the themes that preoccupied Wagner during the latter part of his life. This guide includes a series of articles on Wagner’s profound and complex opera, which the composer preferred to call a Bühnenweihfestspiel, a Stage Consecration Festival Play . Dieter Borchmeyer discusses the mythological foundations of Parsifal and its relation to Wagner s earlier works. Barry Emslie’s thought-provoking piece explores the virtues of sin in Wagner’s last opera. Robin Holloway provides a study of Parsifal’s musical motifs, followed by Carolyn Abbate’s article, which examines the relation between music and drama in the opera. Gerd Rienäcker contributes an essay on the dramaturgy, and analyses some of the major scenes. Finally, Mike Ashman writes about Parsifal on the stage. The present edition contains a literal translation of the libretto opposite the original German text, a number of photographs covering a wide chronology to the present day, a comprehensive thematic guide, a bibliography and discography, as well as DVD and website guides. It will prove an essential companion for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of Wagner’s final masterpiece. Contains: Recapitulation of a Lifetime, Dieter Borchmeyer; Parsifal: The Profanity of the Sacred; Barry Emslie: Experiencing Music and Imagery in Parsifal; Robin Holloway: Parsifal: Words and Music; Carolyn Abbate: Discursions into the Dramaturgy of Parsifal; Gerd Rienäcker: Parsifal on the Stage; Mike Ashman: Parsifal: Poem by Richard Wagner and Parsifal: English Translation by Lionel Salter.

I discovered Parsifal when the great Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra conductor Herbert Von arajanj recorded it in 1980, I believe. We sat and listened to it whilst our second son was waiting to be born, and fell in love with it. More subtle and introspective than the Ring Cycle, and Wagner’s last opera and greatest triumph, in my opinion. Now comes this brilliant series of articles on the music and what lies behind it, again from Alma Books. Wonderful!

 

 

 

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