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

The Rise and Fall of Great Powers

Tom Rachman

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

Paul, Venn and Humphrey all take their bizarre turns sheltering Tooly in strange, sometimes decrepit accommodation, displaying different forms of dubious parenting. They also all tell lies and all eventually deliver revelations that force Tooly to recalibrate herself and her emotional investments. That’s the essence of this quirky triple-decker novel stuffed with literary reference, peculiar relationships, pronouncements and place names [Read more...] in Reviews

The Book of Rio – a City in Short Fiction edited

Toni Marques and Katie Slade

Reviewed by Zoë Fairbairns

Stories in The Book of Rio pulsate with music and sex, ache with fatigue and yearning, flicker with the occult, crackle with danger. In ‘I Love You’ by Patricia Melo, a female student working as an escort is much more interested in texting her friends who have gone clubbing without her than in paying attention to her client, who has his own plans for what he wants her to do for him this evening [Read more...] in Reviews