Thursday 23 May 2019

Coming to a book shop near you: tales of secrets and lies, hope, tragedy and murder

Last year saw some fine debut novels and great works from old masters. Anne Cunningham previews the fiction highlights of early 2019

Sequel: Lynda La Plante's follow-up to Widows is out next month. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Sequel: Lynda La Plante's follow-up to Widows is out next month. Photo: Gerry Mooney

January: Jacqueline O'Mahoney's debut A River in the Trees (riverrun) uses the dual settings of 1919 and 2019 in a story about family secrets and lies regarding the War of Independence and one mysterious woman's involvement. Music Love Drugs War (Penguin) by Geraldine Quigley is set in Derry in the 1980s at the height of the Troubles. Friends take revenge when one of them is killed. Anne Griffin's When All Is Said (Sceptre) sees 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan raise a toast to the five people who formed his life. Curiously, there are also five people listed in The Six Loves of Billy Binns (Tinder Press) by Richard Lumsden. The oldest man in Europe, Billy wants to remember what love feels like one last time. Claire Allan's Apple of My Eye (Avon) is a psychological thriller already getting rave previews, as is Lucy Foley's Agatha Christie-esque The Hunting Party (Harper Collins).

Billy O'Callaghan's My Coney Island Baby (Jonathan Cape) is set in a single day, but spans 25 years of an affair. Endorsed heartily by Bernard McLaverty and John Banville.

February: Lynda La Plante's much-anticipated sequel to Widows comes out this month, titled Widows' Revenge (Zaffre) and promises more skulduggery, while there's a different sort of skulduggery promised in Stacey Hall's debut, The Familiars (MIRA), set against the backdrop of the Pendle Witch Hunt in 17th Century England.

Colm O'Regan's Ann Devine: Ready for her Close-Up (Transworld) bears the irresistible description: "Meet Ann Devine, a riddle, wrapped up in a fleece, inside a Skoda Octavia." Kristen Roupenian's debut short story collection You Know You Want This (Jonathan Cape) is already creating a stir. Susan Lewis fans will welcome her latest, One Minute Later (Harper Collins), a story about long-held family secrets being finally exposed and Catherine Simpson's When I Had A Little Sister (4th Estate) explores a farming childhood spent in a loving but silent family. When Simpson's sister commits suicide, the author looks back at what she thought was a happy childhood.

March: Sadie Jones, winner of the Costa First Novel Award and shortlisted for the Orange prize, publishes The Snakes (Chatto & Windus) this month, a tense tale set in France about where an excess of greed can lead us. Fern Britton's The Newcomer (Harper Collins) focuses on a mysterious visitor in a Cornish coastal village. C. L. Taylor's latest psychological thriller Sleep (Avon) is also set in a coastal village, this time on a remote Scottish island.

Charlie Savage (Jonathan Cape) by Roddy Doyle, is a compilation of Doyle's Irish Independent columns about a middle-aged Dubliner, and Belfast is the location for Jenny McCartney's The Ghost Factory (Harper Collins), set in the height of the Troubles. Her protagonist Jacky moves to London to escape the violence of Belfast, but he remains haunted by calls for retribution and justice. The Night Olivia Fell (HQ) by Christina McDonald opens with every parent's nightmare; a phone call in the middle of the night informing her of a terrible accident.

April: Nell Freudenberger's Lost and Wanted (Viking) has physics professor Helen taking a phone call from her friend Charlie. But Charlie died two days previously. Jess Kidd's third novel, Things in Jars (Canongate), is set in 1863 and involves detective Bridie Devine's investigation of a rather ghostly kidnapping. Jan Carson's second novel The Fire Starters (Doubleday)involves two fathers' attempts to save their children while Belfast is in flames all around them.

Two of Jane Casey's previous books have won major crime fiction awards and this month sees the publication of her latest Maeve Kerrigan detective novel, Cruel Acts, (Harper Collins) with Kerrigan suspecting that the wrong man has been locked up for a string of murders.

A new Ian McEwan novel is always an occasion. Machines Like Me (Jonathan Cape) occurs in an alternative London where Charlie buys a synthetic human. A novel about what happens when we invent things we can't control. Another Jonathan Cape publication, The Parisian by Isabella Hammad, traces a young Palestinian's journey to a defiant Paris in the throes of World War I.

May: Mark Haddon's latest, The Porpoise (Chatto & Windus), is about a wealthy, overprotective father who must shield his daughter from a suitor who appears to know too much. The Beekeeper of Aleppo (Zaffre) by Christy Lefteri, is arguably the most talked-about novel of 2019. It's a haunting story of two Syrian refugees and their hopes of rebuilding their lives in the UK.

Hugo Hamilton's Dublin Palms (4th Estate) involves Sean's attempts to settle in Ireland. Arriving back in Dublin from Berlin and submerged within three languages (Irish, English and German), Sean struggles to create his own version of home.

Jeffery Deaver's The Never Game (Harper Collins) introduces enigmatic investigator Colter Shaw in the first novel of a new series where the killer is making the rules.

June: Joseph O'Connor's Shadowplay (Harvill Secker) is set in 1878, and is about theatre manager Bram Stoker and his inspiration for the creation of Dracula. Joanna Glen's The Other Half of Augusta Hope (Borough Press) introduces Hope from Hedley Green and Parfait from Burundi and is a novel about home and belonging. Lost You by Haylen Beck (Harvill Secker) is about a young boy who goes missing and two women's struggle to track him down. Finally, Heather Morris's much anticipated sequel to The Tattooist of Auschwitz is titled Cilka's Story (Bonnier) and follows her Auschwitz character Cilka after her liberation.

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