“A book is a gift you can open again and again.”
Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield
A haunting Victorian ghost story of love, loss and the mystery of death.
As a boy, William Bellman commits one small cruel act that appears to have unforeseen and terrible consequences. The killing of a rook with his catapult is soon forgotten amidst the riot of boyhood games.
By the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, he seems indeed, to be a man blessed by fortune, but then tragedy strikes, and the stranger in black comes. William Bellman starts to wonder if all his happiness is about to be eclipsed. Desperate to save the one precious thing he has left, he enters into a bargain to found a decidedly macabre business. Thus Bellman & Black is born. Paperback, Orion, £9.99.
“Dark, atmospheric … utterly riveting”. Daily Mail
The Restless Kings by Nick Barratt
In The Restless Kings Nick Barratt presents the tumultuous struggle for supremacy between the first Plantagenet king, Henry II, and his four sons – a drama that tore apart the most powerful family in western Europe and shaped the future of two nations. As well as exploring the personalities and crises facing these extraordinary people as a family, The Restless Kings follows them as they raced around western Europe, struggling to hold together a vast conglomeration of lands – often through force of arms – whilst constantly harried by the their nominal overlord and arch rival, Philip Augustus, king of France. Although the key events took place over 800 years ago, their significance still resonates today.
Whether you’re looking for the root causes of Brexit or tension in the Middle East, their origins can be found in the actions of the Angevin kings of England. The Restless Kings will challenge everything you assumed you knew about the medieval world. Above all, it brings to life some of the most remarkable, complex, flawed and brilliant monarchs ever to have sat on the English throne. Hardcover, Faber & Faber, 2018
A Patient Fury by Sarah Ward
This is the third book featuring Detective Constable Connie Childs, a CID officer in Bampton, a small town surrounded by the dark peaks of Derbyshire.
When three bodies are discovered in a fire-wrecked property on Cross Farm Lane, their deaths all seem to point to one conclusion: two murders and a suicide. However, despite the forensic evidence pointing to the mother, Francesca, as the murderer, Connie can’t accept this and when her boss, Sadler won’t listen, Connie sets out to prove Francesca’s innocence, digging into the history of the surviving family, brother and sister George and Julia, and uncovering more about their tragic past. This isn’t the first member of their family to be declared dead under mysterious circumstances. Almost 40 years before, George and Julia’s mother went missing, leaving a note on the door saying she’d be back in two minutes, and never returned.
On one level this is typical crime fiction with a story line following solid police procedure, but there are other layers to the story. Family loyalties weave an intricate plot in the novel and we jump back and forth in time, and between perspectives, as the details of the past mystery and present murders become clearer, following an ingenious series of twists and turns before building to the brilliantly chilling ending. An excellent read, not just for crime enthusiasts.
Paperback, Faber & Faber, £7.99