June Crime Round-Up

N. J. Cooper

Reviewed by N.J. Cooper

Chris Morgan Jones’s experience in international financial investigations has been put to good use in his first two novels, featuring Ben Webster. Now, in The Searcher, he has sent Webster off into the unknown, soon to be followed by his usually office-bound boss, Isaac Hammer. Hammer is an interesting man, enormously successful in business but not at all in his personal life, and used to paying his way out of trouble. As he hunts through the wilds of Georgia and the Russian border country for his erstwhile friend and employee, Ike finds himself subject to dangers of many kinds, only some of which can be softened with cash. Like many other travellers in literature, he has to learn as much about himself as about the lands through which he voyages before he can return to safety. As well as the corruption and violence, of which he is a stoic victim, he finds a remote mountain civilization in peril, where he encounters real goodness and great heroism. This is a highly intelligent, grown-up, exciting and moving novel [Read more...] in Reviews

Conrad and Eleanor

Jane Rogers

Reviewed by Alison Burns

Throughout this fast-paced, thriller-like narrative, dialogue both external and internal crackles with authenticity. The honesty on both sides is completely disarming. And the issues they tackle – questions on the one hand of parental responsibility, of gender equality, of commitment versus lust, of truth and lies, and, on the other, of ethical science – give the story terrific momentum [Read more...] in Reviews

In the Steps of Exceptional Women

Jane W. Grant

Reviewed by Zoë Fairbairns

Jane W. Grant pays close attention to the day-to-day practicalities of feminist campaigning, from the Victorian era to the present day. She shows what many radical organizations have discovered, sometimes to their cost – that just because you are against the establishment, it doesn’t mean you can afford not to know how the establishment works [Read more...] in Reviews

The Woman Next Door

Yewande Omotoso

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

Hortensia and Marion, neighbours in an upscale South African residential community, have existed side by side in enmity for many years. Hortensia is black and prickly. Marion is white and bigoted. Both have led unusually significant professional lives, the former as a fabric designer, the latter as an architect. Both are elderly and have endured challenging marriages. Marion is a widow; Hortensia – whose husband has been fading for some while – will shortly be one too. And now, towards the end, they find themselves having to deal with each other [Read more...] in Reviews

Fen

Daisy Johnson

Reviewed by Alison Burns

There is blood here aplenty, in a story of cannibalistic sisters and another about men and culling. There is the theme of escape – or, rather, of exchange – as a woman chooses to live with fish, or to make a child out of earth, or to make a bargain with a fox. Always, there is the water and the place, and the horribly familiar prospect of dead-ends [Read more...] in Reviews

Scent: The Collected Works

Dinesh Allirajah

Reviewed by Sara Maitland

The range of subject matter and mood in these twenty-five short stories is extraordinary – there is a kind of joyful flamboyance undergirded with a serious love of the business of being human or, more precisely, of being a Scouser! (I am prejudiced here – my son is a self-adopted Liverpudlian and now, reading these stories, for the first time I fully understand why.) It is very rare, I admit, for me to read something and wish that I had written it, but a couple of these stories made me feel that – ‘A Memory of Sap’ brought on a heady mixture of envy, admiration, delight and ambition [Read more...] in Reviews

Sweetbitter

Stephanie Danler

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

Labeled one of those ‘books to watch’ in 2016, Sweetbitter clearly needs to make quite an impression, to live up to the hype that precedes it. And as a portrait of the personnel behind a successful Manhattan restaurant (easily recognizable as the beloved Union Square Café where Danler worked for a while), the novel does successfully conjure up a world. Thankfully, it delivers no horror stories of behind the scenes activity, although there are some nasty flies and a repulsive drain [Read more...] in Reviews