Monday, 26 December 2011

Books to look forward to by John Murray

The Elizabethan navy has a secret weapon: an optical instrument so powerful it gives England unassailable superiority at sea. Spain will stop at nothing to steal it and seize the two men who understand its secrets - its operative William Ivory, known as the 'Queen's Eye', and its inventor, the maverick magician Dr Dee. With a second Armada threatened, intelligencer John Shakespeare is sent north to escort Dr Dee to safety. But his mission is far from straightforward. Dee's host, the Earl of Derby, cousin to Elizabeth, is dying in agony, apparently poisoned. Who wants him dead and why? What lies behind the lynching of the recusant priest Father Matthew Lamb? And what exactly is the connection between these events and the mysterious and beautiful Lady Eliska? While Shakespeare attempts to untangle a plot that points to treachery at the very highest reaches of government, he also faces serious accusations far closer to home. With so much at stake, must he choose between family and his duty to Queen and country? Traitors moves from the Catholic heartlands of Lancashire to a vagabond camp in the heart of England, and from the deck of Admiral Frobisher's flagship off the Brittany coast to the secret meetings of Elizabeth's closest associates. Traitors is by Rory Clements and is due to be published in April 2012.

The Poison Tide is by Andrew Williams and is due to be published in June 2012. It is 1915. German guns are on their way to Ireland. The British government faces its worst nightmare; insurrection at home while it struggles with bloody stalemate on the Western Front. A British spy, Sebastian Wolff of the new Secret Service Bureau, is given the task of hunting down its enemies: one a traitor reviled by the society that honoured him as a national hero; the other a German-American doctor who, instead of healing the sick, is developing a terrifying new weapon that he will use in the country of his birth. Wolff's mission will take him undercover into the corridors of power in Berlin, then across the Atlantic in a race against time to prevent the destruction of the ships and supplies Britain so desperately needs to stave off defeat.

Jane Logan is six months pregnant and has moved to Berlin to live with her long-term lover, rich banker, Petra. The women's chic new apartment is in a trendy part of the city but Jane finds herself increasingly uneasy there. She conceives a dread of the derelict backhouse across the courtyard and begins to suspect something sinister is happening in the flat next door, where gynaecologist Alban Mann lives with his teenage daughter Anna. Petra believes her lover's pregnancy is affecting her judgement, but Jane is increasingly convinced that all is not well. Her decision to turn detective has devastating results when her own past collides with the past of the building and its inhabitants. The Girl on the Stairs is by Louise Welsh and is due to be published in August 2012.

It is 1897, Dieppe, Oscar Wilde, poet, playwright, novelist, raconteur and ex-convict, has fled the country after his release from Reading Goal. Tonight he is sharing a drink and the story of his cruel imprisonment with a mysterious stranger. He has endured a harsh regime: the treadmill, solitary confinement, censored letters, no writing materials. Yet even in the midst of depravation, Oscar's astonishing detective powers remain undiminished - and when first a brutal warder and then the prison chaplain are found murdered, who else should the prison governor turn to for help other than Reading Goal's most celebrated inmate! Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Goal is by Gyles Brandreth and is due to be published in September 2012.

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