Books: Five new books to read this week
This week's bookcase includes reviews of The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman and Misfits by Michaela Coel. We're now well into September, meaning it's time to start sorting out your autumn reading list…
The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman is published in hardback by Viking, priced £18.99 (ebook £9.99).
Blockbuster alert... Richard Osman’s follow up to his debut sensation The Thursday Murder Club is set to be another bestseller. The same group of ageing sleuths are embroiled in murders, mysteries, stolen diamonds and a mugging, as they plot to take on a Columbian drug cartel and the mafia – all from their sleepy Kent retirement village. Osman’s trademark wit and humour are a joy to read, especially through the wonderful Joyce, who ranges from a forgetful elderly woman feeling awkward asking for tea in a coffee shop to a cunning clue-finder who can trap a criminal. The book is peppered with humorous asides – such as the MI6 canteen being called Would You Like Spies With That?. September is a big month for new books, and it won’t get much bigger than Osman’s latest offering.
The Second Woman by Louise Mey, translated by Louise Rogers Lalaurie, is published in paperback by Pushkin Vertigo, priced £12.99 (ebook £8.99)
When the lonely Sandrine sees a man sobbing on TV, appealing for his missing wife, she doesn’t know how dramatically her life is going to change. After meeting that man, she instantly falls in love – they start living together, and he tells Sandrine the heart he thought was broken has started beating again. But his wife is found, and despite losing her memory, police are suspicious about what happened and who was responsible for her violent disappearance. This psychological thriller throws up some painful, disturbing storylines about the manipulation of women, but also strong female characters to admire. The book is a difficult read at times, but the author skilfully examines the drama, heartache – and suspense – of how to deal with someone who changes from attracting sympathy after losing his wife, to being abusive, violent and dangerous.
Next Of Kin by Kia Abdullah is published in hardback by HQ, priced £14.99 (ebook £8.99)
This gripping courtroom drama centres on the death of three year-old Max, who was locked in a baking hot car on the hottest day of the year. As his family struggle to come to terms with the tragedy, his aunt Leila, a successful career woman, faces trial for manslaughter. Was it a tragic accident, an act of sheer forgetfulness – or was it a deliberate decision to stop off on the way to Max’s nursery to deal with a work crisis? Only Leila knows the truth. There are twists and turns aplenty, as lawyers for the prosecution and defence battle it out one witness at a time – culminating in a surprise bombshell. This is such a thoroughly enjoyable read, hopefully anyone in the legal profession will forgive speeding up the wheels of justice for dramatic effect. The author’s greatest strength lies in her sensitive and relatable description of the relationship between sisters Leila and Max’s mother Yasmin.
Misfits: A Personal Manifesto by Michaela Coel is published in hardback by Ebury Press, priced £9.99 (ebook £4.99)
Based on Michaela Coel’s 2018 MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival, the debut from the creator of acclaimed BBC series I May Destroy You is dedicated to those who look at life differently or are made into misfits because of who they are. Recounting shocking tales of racism and sexual harassment in the entertainment industry and the ways she tries to fix a broken system, Coel is honest about her own failings and the challenges she faces as a misfit now operating within that system. Unfortunately, the hugely talented writer doesn’t add much to what is, essentially, a transcript of the original 53-minute speech (the whole of which is available to watch for free online). The book is frustratingly short, some of the stories hastily told. If Coel had fleshed them out and offered more insight into her experiences, Misfits would have made for a more satisfying read.
CHILDREN’S BOOK OF THE WEEK
Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem by Amanda Gorman, illustrated by Loren Long, is published in hardback by Puffin, priced £12.99 (ebook £8.99). Available September 30
Amanda Gorman is the first person to become the US National Youth Poet Laureate, and was rocketed into the public eye after performing her stirring poem, The Hill We Climb, at President Joe Biden’s inauguration. Her first children’s book follows a young black girl and her guitar, walking through the city and picking up friends from all different backgrounds to play music and help the community. As a poet, Gorman’s rhymes flow off the page and manage to be rousing and inclusive without feeling too cheesy. Loren Long’s illustrations are beautiful and quite unlike anything else you might see in children’s books: they look like murals transferred onto the page. This is quite a serious children’s book – don’t expect many giggles along the way – but it thrives on being inspirational and rousing. While it’s a particularly relevant read for today, it will no doubt prove to be a timeless children’s book.
1. Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney
2. Empire Of The Vampire by Jay Kristoff
3. The Dark Remains by Ian Rankin & William McIlvanney
4. Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks
5. How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie
6. Magpie by Elizabeth Day
7. A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins
8. The Song Of Achilles by Madeline Miller
9. The Heron’s Cry by Ann Cleeves
10. The Women Of Troy by Pat Barker
(Compiled by Waterstones)