California

Edan Lepucki

Reviewed by Alison Burns

‘Thanks to our cutting-edge workout facilities and well-maintained bike paths, our valued citizens live active and healthy lifestyles. Just wait until you try our Good for You! Diet Plan TM, offered in each of our six shopping districts… We want to maintain a small-town feel. Come home to us!’ No, this is not a new garden city, advertising its charms. Pines is a gated community somewhere in North America, after most of society has collapsed. In this, her debut novel, acclaimed US author Edan Lepucki, graduate of the famous Iowa Writers’ Workshop and acclaimed for her short stories, gives her take on the near future [Read more...] in Reviews

Summer House with Swimming Pool

Herman Koch

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

Marc’s vision offers a misanthropic view of his fatuous, self-deluding patients – artists, writers, filmmakers and the like – especially the ugly, hairy, obese ones. Marc is also quick to spot libidinous older men with leering but often hooded observations of attractive women. His own inclination to judge female flesh does not, of course, come up for critical comment [Read more...] in Reviews

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed

Bradley Greenburg

Reviewed by Shirley Whiteside

With its title taken from a Walt Whitman poem, Bradley Greenburg’s debut is a rich exploration of the relationships between fathers and sons set in an America where some people, no matter what President Lincoln might say, will never get used to the idea that humans cannot be owned, sold or traded [Read more...] in Reviews

Touched

Joanna Briscoe

Reviewed by Alison Coles

Joanna Briscoe’s early years were spent in Letchmore Heath in Hertfordshire – ‘the village of the damned’ as she calls it – and it is this surburban landscape that she uses to create the rural Crowsley Beck, ‘a shimmering, archetypal village’, the place where Rowena Crale believes life will be perfect. On this canvas, the author paints in the fears and events both disturbing and supernatural that haunted her own childhood [Read more...] in Reviews

July Crime Round-Up

N. J. Cooper

Reviewed by N.J. Cooper

Another writer using professional experience as the background to fiction is Roger Pearce, once Commander of the Metropolitan Police’s Special Branch. Here an undercover officer, Melanie Fleming, is put in an impossible position during an operation in which her husband is badly injured. How she acts and how the two of them deal with the experience provide the emotional spine of this thriller, in which the police have to foil the activities of a terrorist network of extreme ruthlessness, while fighting off the devious interference of their rivals in the security service [Read more...] in Reviews

Upstairs at the Party

Linda Grant

Reviewed by Alison Burns

This is the age of free education. Her university has no rules, but it also has no pastoral care. Students are the future: they must be allowed to question everything, try everything, and then sink or swim. For a while, chain-smoking, hard-faced Adele enjoys the carnival. Looking back, she knows that they were children living in a kind of Shangri-La [Read more...] in Reviews

The Vogue Factor

Kirstie Clements

Reviewed by Jessica Mann

Clearly a hero worshipper by nature, she writes with almost childlike reverence about the excitement of photography sessions with, for example, the Crown Princess of Denmark, formerly the Australian Mary Donaldson, or Karl Lagerfeld or Giorgio Armani. Famous names appear on nearly every page, Hollywood celebrities who in Kirstie’s experience are mostly greedy and grasping, and Australian celebrities, ‘who were always a pleasure to deal with, understood our budget constraints, and were fully prepared to take the fashion journey with Vogue.’ Clements never grew out of a naive enthusiasm for ‘all the wondrous events I was invited to be a part of’ [Read more...] in Reviews