What’s new on the bookshelves

New books from Katie Fforde, Mark Sperring and Juliet Macur
New books from Katie Fforde, Mark Sperring and Juliet Macur

If you’re looking for a literary gift for Mother’s Day, you could do much worse than one of these new titles.

The Perfect Match by Katie Fforde (£16.99, ebook £8.49).

Sunday Times bestselling author Katie Fforde returns with a new romantic novel, The Perfect Match.

Heartbroken Bella Castle left her home town when she fell in love with married man Dominic Thane.

Three years on, Bella has carved out a new life in the country and is now working as an estate agent alongside her often pretentious but dependable boyfriend Nevil and living in a beautiful house with her godmother Alice.

But when Dominic unexpectedly turns up, Bella realises she still has feelings for him.

When Nevil starts acting suspiciously, including buying an ostentatious house and digging up gardens in the middle of the night, Bella seeks Dominic’s help to find out what he is up to.

And as Bella witnesses Alice falling passionately in love with a younger man, she begins to doubt her love for and future with Nevil.

Will Bella find out the truth about her boyfriend and would Dominic love her back if she ended her lacklustre relationship?

As with Fforde’s previous novels, The Perfect Match is another delightful read.

Unlucky 13 by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (£18.99, ebook £8.55).

James Patterson and Maxine Paetro explode on to the page in the latest Women’s Murder Club novel, Unlucky 13.

As the title suggests, this is the 13th novel in the series and there are no signs of it slowing down.

Detective Lindsay Boxer is called to a traffic incident which has closed off the Golden Gate Bridge.

However, as she is soon to discover, this is no ordinary accident, no accident at all.

Someone is planting bombs in fast food burgers, but who and why?

The case becomes complicated when Boxer’s former colleague-turned-killer, Mackie Morales, is sighted in the area after escaping custody and Cindy, ace reporter and Lindsay’s friend, is soon on her trail.

But Mackie is clear that she isn’t going to let anything stop her seeking a bloody revenge on the detective who placed her behind bars.

There is no let-up in the action throughout this novel and it’s very difficult to put down.

Another winning addition to an already popular series.

Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler (£12.99, ebook £7.07).

Set in the Wisconsin town of Little Wing, Shotgun Lovesongs tells of the lives of four friends, Hank, Leland, Kip and Ronny.

Some, like famous rock star Leland, and rodeo star Ronny, left town long ago; but Hank, our protagonist, has stayed with wife Beth, living the calm, rural life all four grew up with.

Ronny, who has suffered brain damage from his career and drinking, returns to the familiar surrounds of his childhood; Leland finds life on the road hard and retreats back to Little Wing and friends; and Kip, endlessly chasing money, attempts to better the town he grew up in.

Against this background emerges a story of friendship and brotherhood, of loyalty and family.

Loosely based on the life of Bon Iver, the singer, this novel is worth savouring on a sunny day.

Trouble In Mind by Jeffery Deaver (£18.99, ebook £9.49).

The prolific crime writer is back with his third collection of short stories, Trouble In Mind.

This time around, there are 12 tales – six of them new – including two featuring Jeffery Deaver’s celebrated character, quadriplegic forensic consultant Lincoln Rhyme (A Textbook Case and The Obit), and one with beloved kinesics expert Kathryn Dance (Fast).

As fans have come to expect from the king of twists and misdirection, things are never as they seem and part of the fun for the reader is trying to guess the outcome before it is unveiled.

Die-hard fans will recognise Game from a short piece the thriller author wrote in US Esquire and Paradice, featuring John Pellam, is based in his previous story Switchback.

Some of these stories have previously been published in ebook format, while others have appeared in other books.

Despite this, some of the highlights include Fast, Game and The Competitors.

Devour at your own leisure, be it in bite-size chunks or together in a giant slab.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler (£12.99, ebook £3.99).

This is a very different novel from The Jane Austen Book Club, Karen Joy Fowler’s best-known work.

It’s a book that self-consciously tells us that it starts in the middle.

As Rosemary Cooke, the narrator, explains, she’s learned to skip the beginning and start in the middle.

So we meet Rosemary at college, where she’s finding it hard to make friends, and her story is told in flashbacks.

Her father is a psychology professor at Indiana University. It’s clear that Rosemary has adopted some of his habits of observing behaviour and of being observed.

Where most children have nursery school and baby sitters, Rosemary has exercises and students testing her.

In her early years, she was a talker but she’s much quieter now.

Something happened when she was five and there is a schism in the family, with loss, grief and change in the household.

It changes everyone and everything. And Rosemary tries to forget.

When she meets wilful drama student Harlow, she starts remembering and filling in the blanks.

With praise from Ann Patchett, Alice Sebold and Khaled Hosseini and humour and clever language throughout, you get carried along with the story, only realising the serious scientific and moral background to the novel when you later reflect upon it.

The Letter Bearer by Robert Allison (£12.99, ebook £6.69).

Somewhere in the acrid North African desert, a badly injured soldier awakens with no memory after riding his motorbike over a landmine.

Stripped of his ID and valuables by German looters, he is left for dead with nothing but a bag of letters addressed to relatives.

That is until a ragtag group of British deserters find him.

What follows is his daunting search to discover his identity, facing the deadly terrors of war, nature and the worst facets of human nature as his rescuers flee from both sides of the conflict.

Allison’s first novel is full of gorgeous metaphors contrasted with a cool dissection of cowardice, shading his band of character sketches with arrogance, incompetence, selfishness, cruelty and greed.

The book’s brevity checks his poetic style from becoming too abstract and increases the impact of this bleak subversion of the military camaraderie tale.

The Illusionists by Rosie Thomas (£14.99, ebook £4.72).

It’s 1885 in London. Hector Crumhall, aka Devil Wix, is making his way through the city’s squalid backstreets when he finds himself outside Old Cinque Ports, a large but rowdy public house.

He meets Carlo Boldoni, a pickpocketing dwarf attempting to escape a bar brawl.

Devil, a self-styled illusionist himself, discovers Carlo to be a talented magician, and convinces him to combine resources and form their own act at the rundown Palmyra Theatre.

There, they meet automaton maker Heinrich Bayer; Jasper Button, an artist who works at a wax museum; and beautiful Eliza Dunlop, a life model at an art school, with ambitions to be on the stage.

An uneasy partnership is formed between these characters but the bond is fragile, filled with distrust and anger.

When life and livelihood are at stake, it’s up to Eliza to bring them together.

From the author of The Kashmir Shawl, we see a novel filled with strange characters and bizarre events, taking us through dark, murky alleys of Victorian London with its raucous public houses and squalid lodgings, to the sinister world of Palmyra Theatre.

Do No Harm: Stories Of Life, Death And Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh (£16.99, ebook £5.69).

Do No Harm is a charmingly candid look back at a remarkable career by one of the country’s top neurosurgeons, Henry Marsh.

Through detailed and beautifully reproduced accounts of patient histories and evolving medical practice during his illustrious career, Marsh provides a rare and invaluable insight into an evolving profession where agonising decisions are everyday and life lies at his fingertips.

From the young mother who undergoes sight-saving surgery moments before delivering her baby, to the crash victim who cannot be saved but proves an organ donor for others, this account is arresting.

Marsh imbues his writing with a candour that instantly immerses the reader in the fierce personal pride of his successes, the harrowing results of failures and the unavoidable fallibility of medicine.

The endless medical complexity and personal emotions related to neurosurgery are made personable and relatable in this continually gripping account. A brave and compelling read that will stay with you.

Cycle Of Lies: The Fall Of Lance Armstrong, by Juliet Macur (£16.99, ebook £6.99).

The name Lance Armstrong once stood for everything good – sporting prowess and man’s ability to overcome adversity.

Armstrong had it all – world fame, a vast fortune, adoring kids and a string of glamorous lovers.

But beneath the highly-polished veneer of respectability was a web of lies kept intact by Armstrong’s bullying and controlling personality.

New York Times award-winning journalist Juliet Macur became one of a growing group whose work eventually helped to bring down Armstrong, the supreme athlete finally forced to confess his success was fuelled by a medicine cabinet full of performance-enhancing drugs.

Her well-researched book pays testimony to the determination of a large group of people, those used and cast aside by Armstrong, who found the courage to stand up to the bully.

Feted for his recovery from cancer and his unprecedented seven Tour de France victories, Armstrong still regarded himself as invincible right to the closing chapters of Macur’s tale of a fallen hero.

That he was still arrogant enough to try to get her to change the title of Cycle Of Lies speaks volumes for his self-centred nature and Macur’s determination as a journalist to stick with what she believed to be the truth.

Dino-Mummy by Mark Sperring, illustrated by Sam Lloyd (£6.99, ebook £1.71).

Dino-Baby author Mark Sperring is back with cute new title Dino-Mummy.

Dino-Mummy is a “sing-song superstar”, a “kiss it better doctor” and the “best bubble popper ever” who keeps her two dino-babies filled with joy throughout the day.

If there’s washing that needs to be hung up, or babies to be lifted into the air, Dino-Mummy is on hand to perform each task with seemingly effortless grace.

With pretty pastel pictures to look at and a pleasing rhyming style, this book would make a cute Mother’s Day present.