After being overwhelmed with the quality and quantity of paperback reading in store for UK readers in March, I now fear I have to bring some news of yet more joys of that month – in hardback. According to the 4 December issue of The Bookseller, we are due the pinnacle of the reading experience – a new novel by Ian McEwan. It's called Solar, and it tells the story of Michael Beard, "an overweight Nobel prize-winning nuclear physicist, whose career is fading and whose fifth marriage is on the rocks. He sees his chance to sort his life out, and just possibly save the world from environmental disaster." Can't wait.
Another piece of good news is that the excellent The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist, superbly translated by Marlaine Delargy, is due out (as a trade paperback) on 1 March at £10.99. I highly recommend this "futuristic tale set in a dystopian world".
Turning to the crime fiction scene, there are just so many brilliant novels on offer it is hard to know where to start. Nicci French has a new book out, called Complicit, which concerns a woman who discovers the body of her murdered lover and calls her best friend to help her get rid of the body. Or, how about The Snowman by Jo Nesbo? Harry Hole delves into the unsolved case files – and discovers that a worrying number of wives and mothers have gone missing over the years. The author is a Glass Key award winner and is translated by Don Bartlett, an admired favourite of mine and other Euro Crime readers/reviewers. Another exciting title is The Stone Cutter by Camilla Lackberg, translated by Steve Murray, who has done excellent work with favourite authors of mine Stieg Larsson, Karin Alvtegen and many others. In The Stone Cutter, Patrik Hedstrom has recently become a father, and is summoned to the wharf in the remote Fjallbacka where a young girl's body has been found, presumed drowned. But the post mortem reveals it was murder. Sophie Hannah, now billed as "the queen of psychological suspense" (!) has a new title out, A Room Swept White, in which Fliss Benson, working on a TV documentary about miscarriages of justice involving cot-death mothers, is sent a mysterious card with 16 numbers on it. Then one of the accused mothers is found dead, with a card in her pocket with 16 numbers on it. And so on. Hmm – how believable is this? But the Bookseller calls it "unputdownable".
More English-language originals will be tempting us. Robert Crais, with The First Rule, is the story of how armed men break into Frank Meyer's home and gun down everyone in sight. Joe Pike, his old friend and sidekick of PI Elvis Cole, swears revenge – no matter what. Lee Child (61 Hours), Alexander McCall Smith (the Double Comfort Safari Club, one of his Botswana series), Robert Harris (Lustrum), Jonathan Kellerman (Deception), Simon Brett (The Shooting in the Shop), Linda Fairstein (Hell Gate) and Robert B. Parker (Split Image) also have new titles coming out in March.
Other authors untried by me who have titles coming out in March are: Maggie Orford (Blood Rose), Jefferson Bass (The Bone Thief), Known to Evil (Walter Mosley), D. J. Taylor (At the Chime of the City Clock), Shona MacLean (A Game of Sorrows), S. J. Parris (Heresy), Andrew Williams (To Kill a Tsar), Carol Goodman (Arcadia Falls), Barbara Cleverly (Strange Images of Death), Louise Welsh (Naming the Bones) and June Hampson (Jail Bait). Plus a few other historical-mystery-code-style adventures, and Robert B. Parker (again) with Appaloosa, a Western adventure/mystery which I mention here because Viggo Mortensen was in the film (which for some unknown reason I have not yet seen).
Finally, a debut that looks interesting, This Perfect World by Suzanne Bugler. "Laura Hamley's past comes back to haunt her after she receives a phone call from the mother of a girl she bullied at school. The woman is now in a psychiatric ward – as a consequence of Laura's cruelty?" I wonder if this author will treat the subject as well as Inger Frimnansson in Good Night My Darling? (Translated by Laura Wideburg.)