Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Books to Look Forward to from Bitter Lemon Press

January 2020
On a stormy summer day the Aosawas, owners of a prominent local hospital, host a large birthday party. The occasion turns into tragedy when 17 people die from cyanide in their drinks. The only surviving links to what might have happened are a cryptic verse that could be the killer's, and the physician's bewitching blind daughter, Hisako, the only person spared injury. But the youth who emerges as the prime suspect commits suicide that October, effectively sealing his guilt while consigning his motives to mystery. The police are convinced that Hisako had a role in the crime, as are many in the town, including the author of a bestselling book about the murders written a decade after the incident, who was herself a childhood friend of Hisako' and witness to the discovery of the murders. The truth is revealed through a skilful juggling of testimony by different voices: family members, witnesses and neighbours, police investigators and of course the mesmerizing Hisako herself.  The Aosawa Murders is by Riku Onda. 

March 2020
The story takes place in the suffocating atmosphere of a social housing estate in the south of France. Sixteen-year-old Celine and her sister Jo, fifteen, dream of escaping to somewhere far from their daily routine, far from their surly, alcoholic father and uncaring mother, both struggling to make ends meet. That summer Celine falls pregnant, devastating news that reopens deep family wounds. Those of the mother Severine whose adolescence was destroyed by her early pregnancy and subsequent marriage with Manuel. Those of Manuel, grandson of Spanish immigrants, who takes refuge in alcoholism to escape the open disdain of his in-laws. Faced with Celine's refusal to name the father, Manuel needs a guilty party and Said, a childhood friend of the girls and conveniently Arab, seems to fit the role perfectly. In the suffocating heat of summer Manuel embarks on a drunken mission of revenge. A dark and upsetting account of an ailing society, filled with silent and murderous rage.  The Summer of Reckoning is by  Marion Brunet

June 2020
Deep as Death is by Katja Ivar.  Helsinki, March 1953. An unusually long and cold winter, everywhere frozen sea, ice-covered lakes and rivers. In a port city flooded with refugees, who cares if a young woman goes missing? An up-and-coming inspector who views this as an opportunity to advance his career. A heartbroken PI with a score to settle. They have yet to discover one thing: the most dangerous lies are those we tell ourselves. It all begins when Nellie, a prostitute working in a high-end brothel is found floating upside down in Helsinki Harbour. Not exactly a high priority case for the Helsinki police, so homicide chief Jokela passes the job to his former colleague Hella. It's beginning to look like a serial killer is at work when Elena, another lady of the night, narrowly escapes being driven into the harbour by her 19-year-old john. Problem was he had handcuffed her in the car. And to add further excitement to Hella's life, the madam is soon found dead in the garden outside the brothel.

July 2020

The Night of The Shooting Stars is by Ben Pastor.  It is just the beginning of a convulsed week, where danger lurks behind army headquarters, down sordid streets, and in the frightening Presidium of the Criminal Police. Bora is unexpectedly ordered by SS General Arthur Nebe, head of Kripo, to investigate the murder of a dazzling showman and clairvoyant, a major star since the days of the Weimar Republic. Bora's inquiry, supported by police inspector and former S.A member Florian Grimm, resurrects memories of the excessive and brilliant world of Jazz Age cabarets and locales. Around them, in the oppressive summer heat, constant allied bombing, war-weary Berlin teems with refugees and nearly a million foreign labourers. Soon enough the perceptive Bora realizes to his dismay that there is much more at stake than murder in a paranoid city where everyone suspects everyone, and where insistent rumours whisper about a conspiracy aimed at the very heart of the Nazi hierarchy. And then there is charming Emmy Pletsch, who works for Stauffenberg: could she be a key to understanding? Trying to solve the murder of the Weimar Prophet takes Martin Bora into the deadly whirlwind of an anguishing moral dilemma, as a German soldier and as a man. The 20 July plot and its dramatic implications as never told before.

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