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The Spectator Book of Wit, Humour and Mischief

By Marcus Berkmann
Authors:
Marcus Berkmann
Approaching its 200th birthday in the rudest of health, the Spectator is known for the quality of its writing and the deep eccentricity of some of its writers. Given the freedom to say what they want, they take that freedom and more, and the result is original, provocative, often very funny, sometimes plain wrong. From Jeffrey Bernard's reports from the Soho frontline and Auberon Waugh fulminating about hamburger gases in the early 1990s, we encounter in turn the wild stream of consciousness of Deborah Ross's restaurant reviews, the pinpoint etiquette advice of Mary Killen, Rod Liddle's frothing but elegantly sculpted outrage and the magazine's secret weapon, low life adventurer Jeremy Clarke. This bumper selection, which also includes eminent diarists, mad letter-writers and Boris Johnson, amounts to a masterclass in comic writing, lovingly compiled and edited by Marcus Berkmann, who still can't believe he wrote a monthly pop column for the magazine for twenty-eight years without being fired.
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Saving Britain

By Will Hutton, Andrew Adonis
Authors:
Will Hutton, Andrew Adonis
Britain's Brexit voters are right. They have been shamefully neglected. But the answer is to change Britain, not to leave Europe. This book sets out how we can radically improve the lives of people and communities shut out from prosperity.The EU, despite its frailties and strains, is a success story.The advantages of leaving are illusory: no gains in trade from deals with protectionist China and the United States can compensate for what is being lost in Europe. Britain is weakening a pillar of the world's diplomatic and trade order at the same time as weakening itself - an act of self-harm, especially when so many countries are retreating from democracy, free trade and progressive values.In Saving Britain Will Hutton and Andrew Adonis set out a bold plan to transform Britain and fight for Europe as a force for good at home and abroad.
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Since We Fell

By Dennis Lehane
Authors:
Dennis Lehane
'Complex, tense, compelling' Lee Child'Hitchcockian...with characteristically twisty action and crackling dialogue' Guardian Best Crime & Thriller Books of 2017On a Tuesday in May, in her thirty-fifth year, Rachel shot her husband dead. He stumbled backward with an odd look of confirmation on his face, as if some part of him had always known she'd do it.Rachel's husband adores her. When she hit rock bottom, he was there with her every step of the way as she slowly regained her confidence, and her sanity. But his mysterious behaviour forces her to probe for the truth about her beloved husband.How can she feel certain that she ever knew him?And was she right to ever trust him?Bringing together Dennis Lehane's trademark insightful and emphathetic characterisation, razor-sharp dialogue, stunning atmosphere and breakneck twists and turns, Since We Fell is a true masterpiece that will keep you in suspense until the very end.
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The Stars are Fire

By Anita Shreve
Authors:
Anita Shreve
'Long before Liane Moriarty was spinning her Big Little Lies, Shreve was spicing up domestic doings..She still is, as effectively as ever, this time with a narrative literally lit from within' New York TimesThe brilliantly gripping new novel from the New York Times best-selling author of The Pilot's Wife (an Oprah's Book Club selection).Hot breath on Grace's face. Claire is screaming, and Grace is on her feet. As she lifts her daughter, a wall of fire fills the window. Perhaps a quarter of a mile back, if even that. Where's Gene? Didn't he come home? 1947. Fires are racing along the coast of Maine after a summer-long drought, ravaging thousands of acres, causing unprecedented confusion and fear. Five months pregnant, Grace Holland is left alone to protect her two toddlers when her difficult and unpredictable husband Gene joins the volunteers fighting to bring the fire under control. Along with her best friend, Rosie, and Rosie's two young children, the women watch in horror as their houses go up in flames, then walk into the ocean as a last resort. They spend the night frantically trying to save their children. When dawn comes, they have miraculously survived, but their lives are forever changed: homeless, penniless, and left to face an uncertain future.As Grace awaits news of her husband's fate, she is thrust into a new world in which she must make a life on her own, beginning with absolutely nothing; she must find work, a home, a way to provide for her children. In the midst of devastating loss, Grace discovers glorious new freedoms - joys and triumphs she could never have expected her narrow life with Gene could contain - and her spirit soars. And then the unthinkable happens, and Grace's bravery is tested as never before.
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Siege Mentality

By Chris Brookmyre
Authors:
Chris Brookmyre
Dark deeds make for devilish reading in this short story from the multi-award-winning crime author of Black Widow, Want You Gone and Where the Bodies Are Buried.***Please note that this story was originally published as The Last Siege of Bothwell Castle in the Bloody Scotland anthology***A hostage crisis is developing at a castle on the outskirts of Glasgow, during what is supposed to be Superintendent Catherine McLeod's bank holiday relaxation time. Those trapped inside the castle are used to dealing with the volatile mix of light-fingered teens and obnoxious tourists; less so a truckload of explosives and a hidden agenda. For Catherine and her team, it's a recipe for a potentially deadly day off.Tense, twisted and laugh-out-loud funny, Siege Mentality is a day-trip you won't forget.For more from Catherine McLeod, read the Jasmine Sharp trilogy, beginning with Where the Bodies are Buried, a sample from which is included with this short story.
  • Summary Justice

    By John Fairfax
    Authors:
    John Fairfax
    The last time Tess de Vere saw William Benson she was a law student on work experience. He was a twenty-one year old, led from the dock of the Old Bailey to begin a life sentence for murder. He'd said he was innocent. She'd believed him.Sixteen years later Tess overhears a couple of hacks mocking a newcomer to the London Bar, a no-hoper with a murder conviction, running his own show from an old fishmonger's in Spitalfields. That night she walks back into Benson's life. The price of his rehabilitation - and access to the Bar - is an admission of guilt to the killing of Paul Harbeton, whose family have vowed revenge. He's an outcast. The government wants to shut him down and no solicitor will instruct him. But he's subsidised by a mystery benefactor and a desperate woman has turned to him for help: Sarah Collingstone, mother of a child with special needs, accused of slaying her wealthy lover. It's a hopeless case and the murder trial, Benson's first, starts in four days. The evidence is overwhelming but like Benson long ago, she swears she's innocent. Tess joins the defence team, determined to help Benson survive. But as Benson follows the twists and turns in the courtroom, Tess embarks upon a secret investigation of her own, determined to uncover the truth behind the death of Paul Harbeton on a lonely night in Soho.True to life, fast-paced and absolutely compelling, Summary Justice introduces a new series of courtroom dramas featuring two maverick lawyers driven to fight injustice at any cost.
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    Set Phasers to Stun

    By Marcus Berkmann
    Authors:
    Marcus Berkmann
    Forty-seven years after NBC killed it off, Star Trek celebrates its half-century in a state of rude health. Boldly going where several other people have been before, Marcus Berkmann tells the story of this sturdy science fiction vehicle from its first five-year mission (rudely curtailed to three), through the dark years of the 1970s, the triumphant film series and The Next Generation, to the current 'reboot' films, with a younger cast taking on the characters of Kirk, Spock, McCoy and co.With wit, insight and a huge pile of DVDs, he seeks to answer all the important questions. Why did Kirk's shirt always get torn when he had a fist fight? What's the most number of times Uhura said 'Hailing frequencies open, sir' in a single episode? (Seven.) And what's the worst imaginable insult in Klingon? (Your mother has a smooth forehead.)
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    The Slaves of Solitude

    By Patrick Hamilton
    Authors:
    Patrick Hamilton
    'All his novels are terrific, but this one is my favourite' Sarah WatersMeasuring out the wartime days in a small town on the Thames, Miss Roach is not unattractive but no longer quite young. The Rosamund Tea Rooms boarding house, where she lives with half a dozen others, is as grey and lonely as its residents. For Miss Roach, 'slave of her task-master, solitude', a shaft of not altogether welcome light is suddenly beamed upon her, with the appearance of a charismatic and emotional American Lieutenant. With him comes change - tipping the precariously balanced society of the house and presenting Miss Roach herself with a dilemma.
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    The Silo Effect

    By Gillian Tett
    Authors:
    Gillian Tett
    Ever since civilised society began, we have felt the need to classify, categorise and specialise. It can make things more efficient, and help give the leaders of any organisation a sense of confidence that they have the right people focusing on the right tasks. But it can also be catastrophic, leading to tunnel vision and tribalism. Most importantly it can create a structural fog, with the full picture of where an organisation is heading hidden from view. It is incredibly widespread: the chances are these 'silos' are rife in any organisation or profession, whether your business, or your local school or hospital.Across industries and cultures, as this brilliant and penetrating book shows, silos have the power to collapse companies and destabilise financial markets, yet they still dominate the workplace. They blind and confuse us, often making modern institutions act in risky, silly and damaging ways.Gillian Tett has spent years covering financial markets and business, but she's also a trained anthropologist, having completed a doctorate at Cambridge University and conducted field work in Tibet and Tajikistan. She's no stranger to questioning the assumptions and practices of a culture. Those in question - financial trading desks, urban police forces, surgical teams within medical clinics, software debuggers and consumer product engineers - have practices and rituals as ordered and intricate as those of any far-flung tribe.In The Silo Effect, she uses an anthropological lens to explore how individuals, teams and whole organisations often work in silos of thought, process and product. With examples drawn from a range of fascinating areas - the New York Fire Department and Facebook to the Bank of England and Sony - these narratives illustrate not just how foolishly people can behave when they are mastered by silos but also how the brightest institutions and individuals can master them. The Silo Effect is a sharp, visionary and inspiring work with the insight, prescriptions and power to remove our organisational blinders and transform the way we think for the better.
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    The Secret Chord

    By Geraldine Brooks
    Authors:
    Geraldine Brooks
    LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILEYS WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 20161000 BC. The Second Iron Age. The time of King David.Anointed as the chosen one when just a young shepherd boy, David will rise to be king, grasping the throne and establishing his empire. But his journey is a tumultuous one and the consequences of his choices will resound for generations. In a life that takes him from obscurity to fame, he is by turns hero and traitor, glamorous young tyrant and beloved king, murderous despot and remorseful, diminished patriarch. His wives love and fear him, his sons will betray him. It falls to Natan, the courtier and prophet who both counsels and castigates David, to tell the truth about the path he must take.Brooks has an uncanny ability to hear and transform characters from history, and this beautifully written, unvarnished saga of faith, desire, family, ambition, betrayal, and power will enthral her many fans.
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  • The Silent Ones

    By William Brodrick
    Authors:
    William Brodrick
    'All you have to do is find out why Harry is prepared to blame an innocent man. That's the thread. Follow it. You'll reach the Silent Ones. This is your way - our way - of making a difference.' With this challenge from Father Edmund Littlemore, Anselm returns to the Old Bailey. The man in the dock is Littlemore himself. He is charged with grave offences against Harry Brandwell who, it seems, is both a victim and a liar. But he's the only link to these others who've chosen silence over their right to justice. Unknown to Anselm, Robert Sambourne, a journalist, has been investigating Littlemore's background. And he's a man with a troubled past, always on the move, from Boston in the USA to Freetown in Sierra Leone, finally running from a London police station rather than explain himself. More disturbingly, Robert uncovers details of a carefully planned scheme to entice Anselm back into court, exploiting his reputation for honesty to secure a shock acquittal. Meanwhile Harry Brandwell - abused, abandoned and betrayed - has decided to take matters into his own hands. The Silent Ones examines the one crime that Church, State and Family thought they could hide in their own best interests; Anselm's return is a compelling novel about the anatomy of silence, the courage of victims and the redemptive power of public justice.
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    Sweet, Thoughtful Valentine

    By Alexander McCall Smith
    Authors:
    Alexander McCall Smith
    Edinburgh basks in glorious, but brief, summer sunshine, and Isabel Dalhousie - philosopher, philanthropist and mother - searches for the perfect birthday present for her husband Jamie. While carefully seeking out a gift, Isabel finds herself at a viewing for an auction, and happens upon an old friend in distress - a friend who decides to unburden herself of her secrets, and to reveal a clue within a painting hanging on the walls of the auction house.Soon Isabel discovers that this secret binds her not only to her friend, but also to another woman. Questions about morality and loyalty disturb Isabel's peaceful existence with her young son and precious family, but she must face up to them in order to ensure that no one is led astray. Sweet, Thoughtful Valentine is a charming and gentle novella featuring one of Alexander McCall Smith's most loved characters: Isabel Dalhousie.

    The Savage Wars Of Peace

    By Charles Allen
    Authors:
    Charles Allen
    Since the Second World War the British Army has been engaged in armed conflicts around the globe in every year except 1968. Some have been full-scale military campaigns, but most have been undeclared wars, fought out in such widely differing theatres as Malaya, Kenya, Cyprus, Brunei, Borneo, Aden, Oman and Northern Ireland.The Savage Wars of Peace is the fighting soldiers' view of these campaigns, recounted in their own words to oral historian Charles Allen, chronicler of such classics as Plain Tales from the Raj and Tales from the South China Seas. Drawing on the spoken recollections of over seventy military figures of all ranks, Charles Allen has assembled a rich kaleidoscope of images of warfare as experienced by those at the sharp end.Letting the soldiers speak for themselves, with extraordinary and sometimes very moving candour, these unique first-hand accounts give a rare insight into Britain's modern 'peacetime' army - the changes it has undergone since 1945, and the bonds that unite fighting men.

    The Stories

    By Jane Gardam
    Authors:
    Jane Gardam
    Throughout her career, prize-winning novelist Jane Gardam has been writing glorious short stories, each one hallmarked with all the originality, poignancy, wry comedy and narrative brilliance of her longer fiction. Passion and longing, metamorphosis and enchantment are Gardam's themes, and like a magician she plucks them from the quietest of corners: from Wimbledon gardens and cold churches, from London buses and industrial backstreets. A mother watching her children on the beach dreams of a long-lost lover, an abandoned army wife sees a ghost at a moorland gate, a translator adrift in Geneva is haunted by the unspeakable manifestation of her own fears, and a colonial servant wreaks a delicious revenge on her monstrous masters. Gardam's cast is wide and wonderful, saints and mystics, trollops and curmudgeons, yearning mothers and lost children, beloved figures such as Old Filth and less familiar - but equally unforgettable - characters like Signor Settimo, the sad-eyed provincial photographer marooned in Shipley or Florrie Ironside, the ferocious matron he seduces. With a mischievous ear for dialogue, a glittering eye for detail and a capacious understanding of the vagaries of the human heart, Jane Gardam's stories will captivate, sadden and delight.
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    Stonemouth

    By Iain Banks
    Authors:
    Iain Banks
    Stewart Gilmour is back in Stonemouth. After five years in exile his presence is required at the funeral of patriarch Joe Murston, and even though the last time Stu saw the Murstons he was running for his life, staying away might be even more dangerous than turning up.An estuary town north of Aberdeen, Stonemouth, with it's five mile beach, can be beautiful on a sunny day. On a bleak one it can seem to offer little more than seafog, gangsters, cheap drugs and a suspension bridge irresistible to suicides. And although there's supposed to be a temporary truce between Stewart and the town's biggest crime family, it's soon clear that only Stewart is taking this promise of peace seriously. Before long Stu steps back into the minefield of his past to confront his guilt and all that it has lost him, uncovering ever darker stories. Soon his homecoming takes a more lethal turn than even he had anticipated.Tough, funny, fast-paced and touching, Stonemouth cracks open adolescence, love, brotherhood and vengeance in a rite of passage novel like no other.
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    Secret Warriors

    By Taylor Downing
    Authors:
    Taylor Downing
    The First World War is often viewed as a war fought by armies of millions living and fighting in trenches, aided by brutal machinery that cost the lives of many. But behind all of this a scientific war was also being fought between engineers, chemists, physicists, doctors,mathematicians and intelligence gatherers. This hidden war was to make a positive and lasting contribution to how war was conducted on land, at sea and in the air, and most importantly life at home. Secret Warriors provides an invaluable and fresh history of the First World War, profiling a number of the key figures who made great leaps in science for the benefit of 20th Century Britain. Told in a lively, narrative style, Secret Warriors reveals the unknown side of the war.
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    The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

    By Gabrielle Zevin
    Authors:
    Gabrielle Zevin
    Originally published as The Collected Works of A. J. Fikry."Who the hell are you?" A.J. asks the baby. For no apparent reason, she stops crying and smiles at him. "Maya," she answers. That was easy, A.J. thinks. "How old are you?" he asks. Maya holds up two fingers. "You're two?" Maya smiles again and holds up her arms to him." A.J. Fikry, the grumpy owner of Island Books, is going through a hard time: his bookshop is failing, he has lost his beloved wife, and a prized rare first edition has been stolen. But one day A.J. finds two-year-old Maya sitting on the bookshop floor, with a note attached to her asking the owner to look after her. His life - and Maya's - is changed forever.
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    The Summit

    By Ed Conway
    Authors:
    Ed Conway
    The idea of world leaders gathering in the midst of economic crisis has become all-too familiar. But the summit at Bretton Woods in 1944 was the only time countries from around the world have agreed to overhaul the structure of the international monetary system. And, what's more, they were successful - it was the closest to perfection the world's economy has ever been, and arguably the demise of the Bretton Woods system is behind our present woes.This was no dry economic conference. The delegates spent half the time at each other's throats, and the other half drinking in the hotel bar. The Russians nearly capsized the entire project. The French threatened to walk out, repeatedly. John Maynard Keynes had a heart attack. His American counterpart was a KGB spy. But this summit could be instrumental in preventing World War Three.Drawing on a wealth of unpublished accounts, diaries and oral histories, this brilliant book describes the conference in stunning colour and clarity. Bringing to life the characters, events and economics and written with exceptional verve and narrative pace,this is an extraordinarily accomplished work of history from a talented new writer.
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    Steve Jobs

    By Walter Isaacson
    Authors:
    Walter Isaacson
    'This is a riveting book, with as much to say about the transformation of modern life in the information age as about its supernaturally gifted and driven subject' - Telegraph Based on more than forty interviews with Steve Jobs conducted over two years - as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues - this is the acclaimed, internationally bestselling biography of the ultimate icon of inventiveness. Walter Isaacson tells the story of the rollercoaster life and searingly intense personality of creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies,music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing. Although Jobs cooperated with this book, he asked for no control over what was written, nor even the right to read it before it was published. He put nothing off limits. He encouraged the people he knew to speak honestly. And Jobs speaks candidly, sometimes brutally so, about the people he worked with and competed against. His friends, foes, and colleagues provide an unvarnished view of the passions, perfectionism, obsessions, artistry, devilry, and compulsion for control that shaped his approach to business and the innovative products that resulted.
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    The Spring of Kasper Meier

    By Ben Fergusson
    Authors:
    Ben Fergusson
    Fergusson has already won two awards for this gripping and atmospheric debut, a thriller set amid the rubble of a defeated Berlin in 1945...Original and highly accomplished' Sunday TimesShortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award 2015Berlin, 1946. Everything is in short supply. Including the truth.The war is over, but Berlin is a desolate sea of rubble. There is a shortage of everything: food, clothing, tobacco. The local population is scrabbling to get by. Kasper Meier is one of these Germans, and his solution is to trade on the black market to feed himself and his elderly father. He can find anything that people need, for the right price. When a young woman, Eva, arrives at Kasper's door seeking the whereabouts of a British pilot, he feels a reluctant sympathy for her but won't interfere in military affairs. But Eva knows Kasper has secrets, and she'll use them to get what she wants. As a net of deceit, lies and betrayal falls around him, Kasper begins to understand that the seemingly random killings of members of the occupying forces are connected to his own situation. He must work out who is behind Eva's demands, and why...A gripping literary thriller that will captivate fans of Joseph Kanon and Hans Fallada. Readers are saying:'A remarkable, dark, deep and disturbing novel''Brilliantly realised both in the evocation of Berlin and in the story line. Both poignant and thrilling''What an amazing book - I was engrossed''A terrific novel. Thoughtful, powerful writing serving an original and compelling plot''Utterly enthralling'
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