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The Wager by David Grann

A sea disaster story of the first order, this is a tale of courage, cowardice, loyalty and treachery, of unwavering dedication to duty and desperate preservation of life in spite of commitments to an imperial military power. It is a “cracking good tale”.

Lone Women by Victor LaValle

A multifaceted horror/western/feminist/gender identification story this is a disturbingly potent narrative of a woman fleeing a curse and seeking peace. Along the way she finds purpose and fulfillment.

This Other Eden by Paul Harding

Based in fact, this novel tells the tragic story of a group of mixed-race islanders evicted from their rightful homes in the name of preservation of racial purity. Compelling and appalling in equal measure, the tale is nonetheless captivating and richly told.

The London Séance Society by Sarah Penner

Seances, spiritualism, murder and Victorian London: how could it get better? Add a young woman who is skeptical of all of this and yet becomes embroiled in sinister paranormal plots with a touch of romance and it all comes together nicely.

Murder Your Employer by Rupert Holmes

An academic institution dedicated to the education of sufferers of oppression and cruelty in the arts of “deletion”. Overbearing and vicious employers who make life miserable for their charges are the targets of these erudite schemes to succeed in murder and avoid retribution for the same. Dark fun.

My Father’s House by Joseph O’Connor

A scheme to smuggle escaped prisoners of war out of wartime Rome by a member of the Vatican clergy, helped by a variety of sympathizers is constantly imperiled by the scrutiny of the Nazi occupiers, the sanctity of the Vatican City’s neutral status notwithstanding. It is a nonstop thrill ride with plenty of Italian flavor, spiced with a touch of the Irish.

Galatea by Madeline Miller

A retelling of the classic story of Pygmalion and his unearthly creation, this is a potent bit of literature with the extra benefit of being a beautiful package that would work as a stocking stuffer for any book lover.

Properties of Thirst by Marianne Wiggins

A complex and consuming story of personal struggle, history and socio-political strife written with an astonishingly deft sense of language, both written and spoken. One of the finest books of recent memory.