To our delight, there is a ‘new’ author to enthuse about for fans of intelligent crime and spy thriller writing! John Lawton is a British writer who has received favourable, and entirely justified, comparisons to both John le Carré and Philip Kerr. His current series takes place in the early days of the Cold War, […]
The Curator by Jacques Strauss
It’s not possible to undo what happened in 1976.
In rural South Africa a family massacre takes place; a bloodbath whose only witness is the family’s black maid. Hendrik Deyer is the principal of a state-run school camp who lives nearby with his wife and their two sons, Werner and Marius. As Hendrik becomes obsessed with uncovering what happened, his wife worries about her neighbours, a poor white family whose malign influence on her son Werner is – she believes – making his behaviour inexplicably strange and hostile. One night another tragedy changes each of their lives, irrevocably.
Two decades later, Werner is living with his mother and invalid father in a small Pretoria flat. South Africa is a changed place. Werner holds a tedious job in the administration department of the local university and dreams of owning his own gallery. His father is bedridden, hovering on the edge of death, and furious, as he has been for twenty years. As Werner feels his own life slip away, his thoughts turn to murder as a means to correct the course of all their futures. He can’t undo the past, but Werner’s desperation to change his own his fate will threaten not only his own family but also those still living in the aftermath of what happened all those years ago.
“With its forcefully characterised anti-hero Werner, this is a book that will conjure favourable comparisons with other South African literary masters.” Barry Forshaw, Independent
“Murder is everywhere you look in this dark and gripping novel, but it’s often achingly funny.” Kate Saunders, The Times
“Strauss mixes two narratives together with ease, and comes up with a novel that sparkles.” Book Munch
“The Curator is a very interesting and compelling read.” Savidge Reads
The Stopped Heart by Julie Myerson
Some memories are too powerful to live only in the past.
During a ferocious storm, a red-haired stranger appears in the garden of a small farming cottage. Eliza and her parents take him in. But very soon, it’s clear he has no intention of leaving.
A century later, Mary and Graham have experienced every parent’s worst nightmare. Now, escaping the memories and the headlines, they have found an idyllic new home in rural Suffolk. A cottage, a beautiful garden. The perfect place to forget. To move on. But life doesn’t always work that way.
A devastating depiction of profound loss, sexual longing, love and true evil, The Stopped Heart is the finest novel to date from this most fearless and original of writers.
“This is a book that you will turn through the night to reach its conclusion ― Myerson has you dying for the end and even surer that you will do just that when you get there. Spoiler alert: don’t expect roses around the door.” The Times
“It’s the sort of book you cannot put down, partly because it is so addictive and partly because if you do put it down, you know you will spend the next few hours startling at every creaking door… It really is unremittingly, heart-stoppingly dark.” Viv Groskop, Observer
“Filled with darkness… An unsettling and disturbing tale.” Beth Jones, Sunday Telegraph
“Myerson evokes mystery and madness, with glimpses into devastating events, the full extent of which are slowly and skilfully uncovered.” Vogue
Vanishing Man: In Pursuit of Velazquez by Laura Cumming
In 1845, a Reading bookseller named John Snare came across the dirt-blackened portrait of a prince at a country house auction. Suspecting that it might be a long-lost Velázquez, he bought the picture and set out to discover its strange history. When Laura Cumming stumbled on a startling trial involving John Snare, it sent her on a search of her own. At first she was pursuing the picture, and the life and work of the elusive painter, but then she found herself following the bookseller’s fortunes too – from London to Edinburgh to nineteenth-century New York, from fame to ruin and exile.
An innovative fusion of detection and biography, this book shows how and why great works of art can affect us, even to the point of mania. And on the trail of John Snare, Cumming makes a surprising discovery of her own. But most movingly, The Vanishing Man is an eloquent and passionate homage to the Spanish master Velázquez, bringing us closer to the creation and appreciation of his works than ever before.
“The Vanishing Man is a riveting detective story and a brilliant reconstruction of an art controversy, but it is also a homage to the art of Velázquez, written by a critic who remains spellbound by his genius, as readers will be spellbound by this book.” Colm Tóibín
“An extraordinary story … This terrific book is many things, a study in obsession, a paean of praise to an artist of genius, a detective story and, for the author, an exorcism of grief. Writing like Helen Macdonald in H is for Hawk, in the wake of the death of her father, Cumming pours heart and soul in The Vanishing Man and she has produced something of which her artist father, James Cumming, would be more than proud.” The Spectator
“Having persuasively sustained the connection between Snare and Velázquez, Cumming constructs a narrative that plays on their startling contrasts … It seems extraordinary that these two worlds should ever have touched. But Cumming brings them together with exactly the kind of ease that made Velázquez the subject of such envy in his own time, indeed in all times … In the same way, you put down The Vanishing Man not quite sure how Cumming has been able to bring off this particular magic trick, but happy and grateful that she has.” Kathryn Hughes, Guardian
“In this superb and original book, Cumming interweaves the gripping […] story of Snare with that of Diego Velázquez himself, painting at the court in Madrid in the 17th century. Sometimes, dual biographies can be a contrivance, but here the two stories enhance each other. Like Donna Tartt’s novel The Goldfinch, this is about the particular forms of obsession that only art can generate. Cumming uses Snare’s story as a way to explore the extraordinary personal connection Velázquez’s art creates with its audience … This enthralling book is about what it means to create art so luminous that others would fight just to get close to it.” Bee Wilson, The Sunday Times
“A real-life detective story involving an Old Master portrait of an ill-fated English king and an art obsession that would lead to the ruin of one of the book’s two mysterious protagonists: one a humble 19th-century printer and bookseller from Reading, John Snare; the other the great 17th-century Spanish court painter named in the title … Interwoven into the narrative of Snare’s tribulations, and of beautifully compelling accounts of Velázquez’s paintings, are moving snippets of biography that reveal Cumming’s own relationship to the great Spanish master.” Independent
“Ingenious … intriguing … [Cumming] subtly interweaves the two narratives – that of Snare and that of Velázquez – so that they illuminate each other in surprising ways.” Mark Hudson, Daily Telegraph
“This is an absorbing dual biography inspired by the author’s passion for Velázquez … Cumming brings her subject alive and writes with empathy and insight.” Tatler
“The painter, writes Cumming, allowed every sitter ‘his privacy, his secrecy, his full mystery’ even when revealing them for all to see and in this accomplished and touching book she allows her two subjects theirs” Michael Prodger, Evening Standard
“The book is so carefully made that each part seems to reflect and light up the rest … This is a cultural whodunnit, and the skill is in making the pursuit as engaging as the dénouement.” The Oldie