The Crow Road
By Iain Banks
From its bravura opening onwards, THE CROW ROAD is justly regarded as an outstanding contemporary novel.'It was the day my grandmother exploded. I sat in the crematorium, listening to my Uncle Hamish quietly snoring in harmony to Bach's Mass in B Minor, and I reflected that it always seemed to be death that drew me back to Gallanach.'Prentice McHoan has returned to the bosom of his complex but enduring Scottish family. Full of questions about the McHoan past, present and future, he is also deeply preoccupied: mainly with death, sex, drink, God and illegal substances...
By Trevor Royle
The Battle of Culloden has gone down in history as the last major battle fought on British soil: a vicious confrontation between Scottish forces supporting the Stuart claim to the throne and the English Royal Army. But this wasn't just a conflict between the Scots and the English, the battle was also part of a much larger campaign to protect the British Isles from the growing threat of a French invasion. In Trevor Royle's vivid and evocative narrative, we are drawn into the ranks, on both sides, alongside doomed Jacobites fighting fellow Scots dressed in the red coats of the Duke of Cumberland's Royal Army. And we meet the Duke himself, a skilled warrior who would gain notoriety due to the reprisals on Highland clans in the battle's aftermath. Royle also takes us beyond the battle as the men of the Royal Army, galvanized by its success at Culloden, expand dramatically and start to fight campaigns overseas in America and India in order to secure British interests; we see the revolutionary use of fighting techniques first implemented at Culloden; and the creation of professional fighting forces. Culloden changed the course of British history by ending all hope of the Stuarts reclaiming the throne, cementing Hanoverian rule and forming the bedrock for the creation of the British Empire. Royle's lively and provocative history looks afresh at the period and unveils its true significance, not only as the end of a struggle for the throne but the beginning of a new global power.
By Patrick Hamilton
In Craven House, among the shifting, uncertain world of the English boarding house, with its sad population of the shabby genteel on the way down - and the eternal optimists who would never get up or on - the young Patrick Hamilton, with loving, horrified fascination, first mapped out the territory that he would make, uniquely, his own. Although many of Hamilton's lifelong interests are here, they are handled with a youthful brio and optimism conspicuously absent from his later work. The inmates of Craven House have their foibles, but most are indulgently treated by an author whose world view has yet to harden from scepticism into cynicism. The generational conflicts of Hamilton's own youth thread throughout the narrative, with hair bobbing and dancing as the battle lines. That perennial of the 1920s bourgeoisie, the 'servant problem', is never far from the surface, and tensions crescendo gradually to a resolution one climactic dinnertime.
Called to Account
By Margaret Hodge
In a recent study of 61 hospitals, it was found that they bought 21 different types of A4 paper, 652 different kinds of surgical gloves and 1751 different cannulas.Police forces could cut the cost of their uniforms by over 30 per cent if they all bought the same one. But they disagree on how many pockets they need.Having committed to buy two new aircraft carriers, the MOD realised it didn't have the funds to buy them. The delayed delivery cost an additional £1.6 billion.We've spent £500 million on an abandoned project to centralise 999 calls, £3.5 billion on privatising the Work Programme, £700 million on implementing Universal Credit (used by 18,000 people), £20 billion on medical negligence claims, £70 billion (and counting) dealing with nuclear waste at Sellafield, and countless millions on IT investments in the BBC, the Home Office, the NHS . . .Waste is everywhere.Fighting against this waste is the Public Accounts Committee, which oversees some £700 billion of public spending every year. As its chair from 2010-15, Margaret Hodge knows the excesses of government bodies better than anyone. Conversational, witty, engaging and packed with anecdotes and insights about the biggest political figures of our time, Called to Account shines a light on some of the most fascinating - and alarming - issues that face Britain today.
By Michael Bloch
Closet Queens is a fascinating study of gay men in twentieth century British politics, from Lord Rosebery and Lord Beauchamp in Edwardian times to Michael Portillo and Peter Mandelson in our own era. As all homosexual activity was illegal until 1967, and exposure meant ruin and disgrace, such men were obliged either to repress their sexual feelings or else lead double lives, indulging their tastes secretly while respectably married with children.The need to cover up their sexuality, while causing problems and disappointments, often sharpened their skills as politicians - they were masters of secrecy and subterfuge, and knew how to take calculated risks. An entertaining and insightful account of some extraordinary personalities, Closet Queens opens doors into a hidden world.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
By Wang Du Lu, Justin Hill
When master warrior Shulien learns of the death of her family's patron, she abandons retirement and returns to the capital to protect Green Legend, a sword renowned for its historic triumphs. But much has happened in the years she has been in seclusion, and she finds herself beset on all sides with hidden enemies, and the tragic past which she had hoped to forget returns to haunts her.In her hour of need arrives a beautiful young warrior, Snow Vase, who is seeking a master. But the new apprentice is not all that she seems. When she falls in love with the bandit Wei-fang, a secret is revealed that makes all of them question who is friend and who is foe. In an age of thwarted love, can these two youths find happiness? Based on the original novels by Wang Du Lu, this is a beautiful love story set in the fading years of nineteenth century Imperial China.
By Jonathan Smith
Nineteen-fifty-three is synonymous in the British memory with the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on 2 June. But less well known is what happened in 10 Downing Street on 23 June. With Anthony Eden vying for power, the elderly Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, must maintain the confidence of his government, the press and the public. But after a diplomatic dinner in which he is on typically sparkling form, Churchill's Italian dining companions are rushed out of the building and his doctor called. The Prime Minister has had a stroke.Churchill is bedbound throughout the summer, and while secrecy agreements have been struck with leading newspaper barons, the potential impact of his health on public life is never far from the minds of his inner circle. With the help of a devoted young nurse and his indomitable wife, Clementine, Churchill gradually recoups his health. But will he be fit enough to represent Britain on the world stage?
By Edan Lepucki
The sunshine state lies in darkness.Los Angeles is in ruins, left to the angels now.And the world Cal and Frida have always known is gone.Cal and Frida have left the crumbling city of Los Angeles far behind them. They now live in a shack in the wilderness, working side-by-side to make their days tolerable despite the isolation and hardships they face. Consumed by fear of the future and mourning for a past they can't reclaim, they seek comfort and solace in one other. But the tentative existence they've built for themselves is thrown into doubt when Frida finds out she's pregnant. Terrified of the unknown but unsure of their ability to raise a child alone, Cal and Frida set out for the nearest settlement, a guarded and paranoid community with dark secrets. These people can offer them security, but Cal and Frida soon realise this community poses its own dangers. In this unfamiliar world, where everything and everyone can be perceived as a threat, the couple must quickly decide whom to trust.A gripping and provocative debut novel by a stunning new talent,California imagines a frighteningly realistic near future, in which clashes between mankind's dark nature and irrepressible resilience force us to question how far we will go to protect the ones we love.
A Cruel and Shocking Act
By Philip Shenon
The questions have haunted our nation for half a century: Was the President killed by a single gunman? Was Lee Harvey Oswald part of a conspiracy? Did the Warren Commission discover the whole truth of what happened on November 22, 1963?Philip Shenon, a veteran investigative journalist who spent most of his career at The New York Times, finally provides many of the answers. Though A CRUEL AND SHOCKING ACT began as Shenon's attempt to write the first insider's history of the Warren Commission, it quickly became something much larger and more important when he discovered startling information that was withheld from the Warren Commission by the CIA, FBI and others in power in Washington. Shenon shows how the commission's ten-month investigation was doomed to fail because the man leading it - Chief Justice Earl Warren - was more committed to protecting the Kennedy family than getting to the full truth about what happened on that tragic day. A taut, page-turning narrative, Shenon's book features some of the most compelling figures of the twentieth century-Bobby Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, J. Edgar Hoover, Chief Justice Warren, CIA spymasters Allen Dulles and Richard Helms, as well as the CIA's treacherous 'molehunter,' James Jesus Angleton.Based on hundreds of interviews and unprecedented access to the surviving commission staffers and many other key players, Philip Shenon's authoritative, scrupulously researched book will forever change the way we think about the Kennedy assassination and about the deeply flawed investigation that followed.
By Maurizio de Giovanni
Transferred to Naples after a tangle with the Sicilian Mafia, Detective Inspector Giuseppe Lojacono feels that he's marking time, waiting out an awkward scandal.But when the bloodied bodies of teenagers start appearing around the city, victims of a strange and sinister killer whom police and locals take to calling The Crocodile, it soon becomes clear to Lojacono that the killings are more than simple Mafia hits, and that the labyrinthine streets of Naples are more deadly than he'd dared imagine.Can he catch the assassin in time to save the city's innocents?A bestseller in Italy, The Crocodile is a dark, bloody story of murder and revenge that will grip and thrill you.
The Collector of Lost Things
By Jeremy Page
I felt the worlds of ocean and ice were meeting in a frontier of rage, as if the Earth had torn in two along this line.This was a place if there ever was a place, where you could disappear.The year is 1845 and young researcher Eliot Saxby is paid to go on an expedition to the Arctic in the hope of finding remains of the by now extinct Great Auk. He joins a regular hunting ship, but the crew and the passengers are not what they seem. Caught in the web of relationships on board, Eliot struggles to understand the motivations of the sociopathic, embroidery-loving Captain Sykes, the silent First Mate French, the flamboyant laudanum-addicted Bletchley and, most importantly of all, Bletchley's beautiful but strange 'cousin' Clara. As the ship moves further and further into the wilds of the Arctic sea, Eliot clings to what he believes in, desperate to save Clara but drawn irrevocably back into the past that haunts him.The first historical novel from an author who has been critically acclaimed for his two contemporary novels (Salt and The Wake), The Collector of Lost Things is a compulsive, beautifully writtten read.
Cancel The Apocalypse
By Andrew Simms
Ever get the feeling that things are falling apart? You're not alone. From bad banks to global warming it can all look hopeless, but what if everything could turn out, well, even better than before? What if the only thing holding us back is a lack of imagination and a surplus of old orthodoxies? In fascinating and iconoclastic detail - on everything from the cash in your pocket to the food on your plate and the shape of our working lives - Cancel the Apocalypse describes how the relentless race for economic growth is not always one worth winning, how excessive materialism has come at a terrible cost to our environment, and hasn't even made us any happier in the process. Simms believes passionately in the human capacity for change, and shows how the good life remains in our grasp. While global warming and financial meltdown might feel like modern day horsemen of the apocalypse, Simms shows how such end of the world scenarios offer us the chance for a new beginning.
By James Owen
June 1940: As Britain's soldiers limped home from Dunkirk, a maverick Army officer was already devising a bold plan to hit back at the enemy. His idea was to revolutionise military thinking and change the face of warfare for ever. Relying as much on stealth and guile as on courage and stamina, the Commandos brought to the battlefield the skills of the guerrilla. Trained by an unconventional band of experts, and led by a big-game hunter, a film star, a Highland chief and an eccentric wielding a bow and arrow, they became the spearhead of the Allied drive for victory.Weaving together official documents, new research and veterans' own accounts, Commando reveals for the first time the exhilarating full story of WWII's most formidable fighting force.
By Iain Banks
Hisako Onoda, world famous cellist, refuses to fly. And so she travels to Europe as a passenger on a tanker bound through the Panama Canal. But Panama is a country whose politics are as volatile as the local freedom fighters. When Hisako's ship is captured, it is not long before the atmosphere is as flammable as an oxy-acetylene torch, and the tension as sharp as the spike on her cello...CANAL DREAMS is a novel of deceptive simplicity and dark, original power: stark psychological insights mesh with vividly realised scenarios in an ominous projection of global realpolitik. The result is yet another major landmark in the quite remarkable career of an outstanding modern novelist.
By Iain Banks
Readers say:'Tense, Compelling & Satisfying''A brilliant and disturbing book' 'This is the first novel I have read by Iain Banks but it won't be the last. I thoroughly enjoyed the plot & the way it was written'COMPLICITYn. 1. the fact of being an accomplice, esp. in a criminal actA few spliffs, a spot of mild S&M, phone through the copy for tomorrow's front page, catch up with the latest from your mystery source - could be big, could be very big - in fact, just a regular day at the office for free-wheeling, substance-abusing Cameron Colley, a fully paid-up Gonzo hack on an Edinburgh newspaper.The source is pretty thin, but Cameron senses a scoop and checks out a series of bizarre deaths from a few years ago - only to find that the police are checking out a series of bizarre deaths that are happening right now. And Cameron just might know more about it than he'd care to admit ...Complicity is a stunning exploration of the morality of greed, corruption and violence.
The Careful Use Of Compliments
By Alexander McCall Smith
For philosophically minded Isabel Dalhousie, editor of the Review of Applied Ethics, getting through life with a clear conscience requires careful thought. And with the arrival of baby Charlie, not to mention a passionate relationship with his father Jamie, fourteen years her junior, Isabel enters deeper and rougher waters. Late motherhood is not the only challenge facing Isabel. Even as she negotiates a truce with her furious niece Cat, and struggles for authority over her son with her formidable housekeeper Grace, Isabel finds herself drawn into the story of a painter's mysterious death off the island of Jura. Perhaps most seriously of all, Isabel's professional existence and that of her beloved Review come under attack from the machiavellian and suspiciously handsome Professor Dove. A master storyteller whether debating ethics in Edinburgh or pursuing lady detectives in Africa, here Alexander McCall Smith is as witty and wise as his irresistibly spirited heroine.
By Richard Grant
No-one travels like the renowned writer-adventurer Richard Grant and, really, no-one should. Having narrowly escaped death at the hands of Mexican drug barons in Bandit Roads, he now plunges with his trademark recklessness and curiosity into Africa. Setting out to make the first descent of a previously unexplored river in Tanzania, he gets waylaid by thieves, whores and a degenerate former golf pro in Zanzibar, then crosses the Indian Ocean in a cargo dhow before the real adventure begins on the Malagarasi river. Travelling by raft, dodging bullets, hippos, lions and crocodiles, hacking through swamps and succumbing to fevers, Grant's gripping, illuminating and often hilarious book will thrill his devoted readers and bring him to an even broader audience.
By John Brandon
When teenage Shelby Register moves to Citrus County, Florida, with her single father and little sister, she's expecting surfers instead of rednecks, but she decides to make the best of it. Things become complicated when Toby, a neglected, loveless boy living with his abusive uncle, becomes her twisted love interest. Toby finds trouble far more elaborate than ordinary delinquency when he enacts a strange, cruel plot on the Register clan. Then Toby realizes that he can't reverse the effects of his 'prank', and his and Shelby's fates hurtle towards tragedy...
A Conspiracy Of Friends
By Alexander McCall Smith
Corduroy Mansions, Pimlico is an oasis of old-fashioned civilisation, its inhabitants considerate and peace-loving. But beneath the polite exterior seismic change is stirring.Barbara Ragg makes an eye-popping discovery about her stolid Scottish suitor's past, while Oedipus Snark - newly appointed and tirelessly self-interested Government Minister - has a close encounter in Switzerland that leaves him a new man all together. Then plucky canine Freddie de la Hay goes missing, and his owner, widower William French, is so shaken by an unexpected declaration of love that he seriously considers making a disappearance himself.Goodhearted, well-intentioned but often to be found barking up the wrong tree, the residents of Corduroy Mansions remain a thoroughly entertaining example to us all.
By Mary S. Lovell
There never was a Churchill from John of Marlborough down who had either morals or principles', so said Gladstone. From the First Duke of Marlborough - soldier of genius, restless empire-builder and cuckolder of Charles II - onwards, the Churchills have been politicians, gamblers and profligates, heroes and womanisers.The Churchills is a richly layered portrait of an extraordinary set of men and women - grandly ambitious, regularly impecunious, impulsive, arrogant and brave. And towering above the Churchill clan is the figure of Winston - his failures and his triumphs shown in a new and revealing context - ultimately our 'greatest Briton'.