Friday, 10 July 2015

Books to look forward to from Bloomsbury

Under the heartless vault of the Greenland's arctic sky the body of a girl is discovered. Half naked and tied up, buried hundreds of miles from any signs of life, she has lain alone, hidden in the ice cap, for twenty-five years. Now an ice melt has revealed her. When Detective Chief Superintendent Konrad Simonsen is flown in to investigate this horrific murder and he sees how she was attacked, it triggers a dark memory and he realises this was not the killer's only victim. As Simonsen's team work to discover evidence that has long since been buried, they unearth truths that certain people would rather stayed forgotten. But the pressure is on as it becomes clear that the killer chooses victims, who all look unsettlingly similar, a similarity that may be used to the investigators' advantage, just so long as they can keep the suspect in their sights...  The Girl in the Ice is by Lotte and Søren Hammer and is due to be published in July 2015.

As Good as Dead is by Elizabeth Evans and is due to be published in November 2015. Endearingly flawed and battered-around-the-edges, Charlotte has managed to fashion herself a life that balances marriage and a writing career, but now Esme, the charming friend Charlotte betrayed at university, stands at Charlotte's door: Surprise! Charlotte yearns to make amends, but she's wary. Esme makes no mention of Charlotte's old betrayal and the two resume their friendship, but soon enough a request from Esme will upend Charlotte's careful world. Suspenseful, witty, with spot-on evocations of university life in the late 1980s, As Good As Dead performs an exquisite psychological high-wire act, exploring loves and friendships poisoned by secrets and fears.

When he had finished writing Casino Royale, the first in the James Bond series, Ian Fleming treated himself to a gold-plated typewriter.  It was on this glittering machine that he typed not only his bestselling novels, but also his letters.  Readers immediately engaged with Secret Agent 007 and wrote to Fleming with all sorts of quibbles, corrections and opinions; Fleming’s replies were considered and often charming, full of wry remarks and original turns of phrase.  This entertaining correspondence relating to the Bond novels shows a fascinating and little-known side of Ian Fleming and sheds light on the development of his legendary creation, and on the era in which he first operated.  The Man with the Golden Typewriter: Ian Fleming’s Bond Letters is edited by Fergus Fleming and is due to be published in September 2015.

John Le Carré is still at the top, more than half a century after The Spy Who Came in from the Cold became a worldwide bestseller. From his bleak childhood - the departure of his mother when he was five was followed by 'sixteen hugless years' in the dubious care of his father, a serial-seducer and con-man - through recruitment by both MI5 and MI6, to his emergence as the master of
the espionage novel, Le Carré has repeatedly quarried his life for his fiction. Millions of readers are hungry to know the truth about him. Written with exclusive access to Le Carré himself, to his private archive and to many of the people closest to him, this is a major biography of one of the most important novelists alive today.  John Le Carré is by Adam Sisman and is due to be published in October 2015.

The Governor’s Wife is by Michael Harvey and is due to be published in July 2015. It's been two years since disgraced Illinois governor Ray Perry disappeared from a federal courthouse in Chicago moments after being sentenced to thirty-eight years in prison on corruption charges. PI Michael Kelly is sitting in his office when he gets an anonymous email offering to pay him nearly a quarter million dollars if he will find Perry, no questions asked. Kelly's investigation begins with the woman Ray Perry left behind - his wife, Marie. Ostracized by her former friends and hounded by the feds, Marie tells Kelly she has no idea where her husband is. Like everyone else, Kelly doesn't believe her. As he hunts for her husband, Kelly begins to unwind Marie Perry's past. What he finds is a woman who turns out to be even more intriguing than her husband; with her own deeply complicated reasons for standing by him. Everyone in Chicago has secrets, including the governor's wife. Some of them she shared with her husband. Some of them she kept to herself. And some of them could get Michael Kelly killed. The Governor's Wife is a hard-eyed look at the intersection of the political and the personal, at the perils of trusting even those closest to us and the collateral damage of our highest aspirations.

The Lost Detective: Becoming Dashiell Hammett is by Nathan Ward and is due to be published in November 2015. Before he became a household name in America as perhaps our greatest hard-boiled crime writer, before his attachment to Lillian Hellman and blacklisting during the McCarthy era, and his subsequent downward spiral, Dashiell Hammett led a life of action. Born in 1894 into a poor Maryland family, Hammett left school at fourteen and held several jobs before joining the Pinkerton National Detective Agency as an operative in 1915 and, with time off in 1918 to serve at the end of World War I, he remained with the agency until 1922, participating alike in the banal and dramatic action of an operative. The tuberculosis he contracted during the war forced him to leave the Pinkertons--but it may well have prompted one of America's most acclaimed writing careers. While Hammett's life on centre stage has been well-documented, the question of how he got there has not. That largely overlooked phase is the subject of Nathan Ward's enthralling The Lost Detective. Hammett's childhood, his life in San Francisco, and especially his experience as a detective deeply informed his writing and his characters, from the nameless Continental Op, hero of his stories and early novels, to Sam Spade and Nick Charles. The success of his many stories in the pulp magazine Black Mask following his departure from the Pinkertons led him to novels; he would write five between 1929 and 1934, two of them (The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man) now American classics. Though he inspired generations of writers, from Chandler to Connelly and all in between, after The Thin Man he never finished another book, a painful silence for his devoted readers; and his popular image has long been shaped by the remembrance of Hellman, who knew him after his literary reputation had been made. Based on original research across the country, The Lost Detective is the first book to illuminate Hammett's transformation from real detective to great American detective writer, throwing brilliant new light on one of America's most celebrated and remembered novelists and his world.

Agatha Christie's detailed plotting is what makes her books so compelling. Christie used poison to kill her characters more often than any other murder method, with the poison itself being a central part of the novel, and her choice of deadly substances was far from random; the chemical and physiological characteristics of each poison provide vital clues to discovery of the murderer. With gunshots or stabbings the cause of death is obvious, but not so with poisons. How is it that some compounds prove so deadly, and in such tiny amounts? Christie demonstrated her extensive chemical knowledge (much of it gleaned from her working in a chemists during both world wars) in many of her novels, but this is rarely appreciated by the reader. A is for Arsenic celebrates the use of science in Christie's work. Written by Christie fan and research chemist Kathryn Harkup, each chapter takes a different novel and investigates the poison (or poisons) the murderer used. A is for Arsenic looks at why certain chemicals kill, how they interact with the body, and the feasibility of obtaining, administering and detecting these poisons, both at the time the novel was written and today. This book is published as part of the 125th anniversary celebration of Christie's birth. Fourteen novels. Fourteen poisons. Just because its fiction doesn't mean it’s all made-up ...  A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie is due to be published in September 2015.

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