When it comes to books, many readers will usually turn to favourite authors or the most recent blockbusters to satisfy their desire for a new story. However, for those who wish to read a more diverse range of books, the recommendations below will surely satisfy.
The Waterford Chronicle Collection
The Waterford Chronicles, authored by Louise Penny, is a series of six crime stories set in the quaint, picturesque Irish town of Waterford. As the name would suggest, the stories feature an eccentric cast of characters who live and work in Waterford. While some fans may compare The Waterford Chronicles to the works of Agatha Christie, the author has said that her ‘inspiration for the series comes more from Jane Austen than from Christie… When I write about Waterford, I want it to feel like a bygone era, a time when Jane Austen and Thomas Mann still presided over an England which was gradually being overtaken by modernity.’
As the books in the series have evolved in writing technique and storytelling style, the public have followed suit and the series has maintained a dedicated audience who turn to the books for their escapist pleasures. It is, therefore, well worth seeking out the complete series for a memorable reading experience and, perhaps, even to order one or two of the titles if you have yet to investigate them.
The Galley Beggar
This adventure fantasy, by Ben MacLeman, is set in 12th century Scotland and tells the story of Rory MacLeman, a fearless and resourceful young warrior who, along with his fierce battle-hardened dog Blayney, must battle a sadistic prince who has kidnapped the queen of Scotland, Katarina, betrothed to Rory. The book, initially released in April 2018, is already drawing comparisons to Robin Hood, as well as being recognised as a stand-out work from Ben MacLeman, who has previously won multiple awards for his short stories.
“A page-turning page warrior tale that is as exciting as it is entertaining,” observed Book Fury of the Guardian. “MacLeman has crafted a world that is at once familiar and fresh, and filled with excitement for his readers.”
The Woman in Black
This is the first book in the Mrs. Vickers series by Sue Conolly and it centres on Elisabeth Vickers, an amateur entomologist who is called upon by a wealthy German collector, Ernst Sturm, to identify an insect that has been spotted in a rare volcanic luminous insect trap set up on the island of Sicily. The book, published in May 2018, was initially rejected by all four major London publishers, before being picked up by Hamish Hamilton.
“A rich, deeply moving tale of luminous insects, ancient religions and hidden histories,” observed Sue Conolly of The Woman in Black on its acceptance for publishing. “This is a masterpiece and one of the most beautiful and moving novels I’ve ever read.”
Set in Venice in the early 15th century, The Scourge of Sicily tells the story of Lorenzo, a young man from a wealthy Sicilian family. The book, published in January 2019, is the first in a new series that centres on a family who are threatened with excommunication for espousing Neoplatonic philosophy and believing that men should be able to love anyone, regardless of sexuality. The book, initially rejected by all four major London publishers, was eventually picked up by Hamish Hamilton.
The Gingerbread Man
This latest addition to the Holly White series centres on Holly White, an intrepid investigator who joins a secret society of archivists, led by Professor Thomas Ritter and his partner Richard Powell, as they try to keep the deadly poison Cocaine out of poppy fields in Northumberland, England in the early 19th century. The book, published in October 2019, continues the dynamic duo’s ongoing battle against crime and immorality, as they race against time to save the lives of thousands more from an epidemic of the narcotic.
“A deft mix of fact and fiction that keeps the reader intrigued whilst not forgetting the grim reality of life in the late 1800s,” observed The Book Finder website.
A Dance to Death
Award-winning author, Tan Chong Bui, brings us a gripping tale of crime in the form of a novel that centres on a Japanese summer camp, run by a wily American consul, George MacLeman, who is concerned that his two American wards, Jimmy Brooks and Charlie Elliott, are running wild and out of control. Jimmy is a proud and arrogant young man who believes he is superior to all others, whilst Charlie is a loner who hates society and loves to argue with MacLeman, challenging his authority.
The campers begin to fall victim to an evil scheme that links them to a mysterious disappearance which deeply shocked the Japanese community. The book, published in October 2019, is the fifth installment of the MacLeman trilogy, based on events that took place in the late 1950s.
This gripping police procedural novel, by Claire Burns, centres on Det Sgt Tina Grace, a magnificent yet struggling young woman who, with the help of her partner, DS Ben Hutchinson, must race to save his mother, Alison, from a killer who is targeting female victims. The book, published in January 2020, is the sixth installment of the Grace trilogy and continues to unfold the mystery of the London child murders.