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Cahokia Jazz by Francis Spufford

Described as “hothouse jazz noir” by Joe Hill, this complex and fascinating speculative historic mystery is a compelling read that will be difficult to put down. Plenty of meat here, plus an amusement-park ride through alternative culture.

The Curse of Pietro Houdini by Derek B. Miller

The battle of Montecassino is the backdrop for this tale of art theft, wartime violence and human connections, even of kindness and justice. A true page-turner for lovers of historical fiction spiced with details of art, architecture and culture.

Once Upon a Tome by Oliver Darkshire

An unlooked-for career in antiquarian and rare bookselling brings all sorts of adventures and misadventures in the dusty, musty world of old books and the eccentric types who populate the bookselling trade. Fully engaging and enchanting, highly literary in tone and subject.

The Waters by Bonnie Jo Campbell

Set in the Great Massasuaga Swamp of northern Michigan this tale of five women who are both at odds with each other and inextricably bonded by family blood is a compelling read that will satisfy readers of literary fiction and women’s issues as well as contemporary social problems.

Two by Patrick Rothfuss

I’m going to do something I never (very, very rarely, anyway) do. I’ll talk about books that are already published, sometimes years ago.

The Second Sight of Zachary Cloudesley

A boy, who, having lost an eye fulfills his infant promise as one who can see inside others’ minds, has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and an adventurous spirit that propels him on a quest to rescue a father unjustly imprisoned in 18th century Constantinople.

The Future by Naomi Alderman

In the best tradition of predictive science fiction this frightening tale about the unintended consequences of real-time world-wide electronic media coupled with the selfish motives of filthy rich electronics executives hoping to survive the apocalypse with surely keep any reader pinned to their seat.

Man, Underground by Mark Hummel

A damaged recluse and a feisty teenager join forces to find meaning in a world beset by banality and indifference. Both have reasons for failing to connect with society but come to the understanding that even the darkness within ourselves may be the source of light.

A Leopard-Skin Hat by Anne Serre

This beautifully rendered story of a profound friendship pursued through good times and bad is a literary treasure. Populated by only two characters it is a joy to read and food for the soul. This translation is pure pleasure.

Not Russian by Mikhail Shevelev

The complex and sometimes confusing state of Russian politics and culture is at the heart of this tale of desire, idealism and reality on a collision course. Profoundly revelatory narrative limns the dark aspects of life in this volatile nation.