Tomorrow marks the first day of a new month and London has gone Diamond Jubilee mad! At the moment, you can't move without falling over bunting or stumbling over some kitsch royal souvenir ("Ice Queen Scoop", anyone?) This blog is a Queen-free corner of the web, so thank goodness there are so many great books due to be published in June with which I can distract myself!
Here's five soon-to-be-released titles that have caught my attention. It's quite a mixed international bag, with books by Swedish, Danish, Australian, American and Peruvian-Spanish writers.
The books have been arranged in alphabetical order according to publication date.
The Black Path by Åsa Larsson
MacLehose Press, hardcover, 384 pages (June 7)
A woman's body is found on a frozen lake, bearing the marks of grisly torture. Inspector Anna-Maria Mella knows she needs help with the case — the woman was a key player in a mining company whose tentacles reach across the globe. Lawyer Rebecka Martinsson is desperate to get back to work, to feel alive again after a case that almost destroyed her both physically and emotionally. Soon she is delving into the affairs of the victim's boss, the founder of Kallis Mining, whose relationship with the dead woman was complex and obsessive. Martinsson and Mella are about to uncover a dark and tangled drama of family secrets, twisted sexuality, and corruption on a massive scale.Set against a haunting, icy backdrop and packed with suspense, The Black Path is a menacing and evocative psychological crime novel.
I love Scandinavian crime and Åsa Larsson's Until Thy Wrath Be Passed is one of the most haunting and memorable novels in the genre that I've come across. For that reason, I'm really looking forward to tucking into this new one!
Denmark's foremost literary author turns crime fiction on its head. Bess and Halland live in a small town, where everyone knows everyone else. When Halland is found murdered in the main square the police encounter only riddles. For Bess bereavement marks the start of a journey that leads her to a reassessment of first friends then family.
Here's some more Scandi crime for you. This is the eighth title to be published by Peirene Press, a small London-based independent publisher that specialises in novellas in translation. This one is a bit of a departure, in that it is being billed as "crime fiction" — as opposed to literary fiction. It sounds quite intriguing and I'm planning to to read it this coming weekend.
Little People by Jane Sullivan
Allen & Unwin, paperback; 432 pages (June 1)
When Mary Ann, an impoverished governess, rescues a child from the Yarra River, she sets in motion a train of events that she could never have foreseen. It is not a child she has saved but General Tom Thumb, star of a celebrated troupe of midgets on their 1870 tour of Australia. From the enchanting Queen of Beauty Lavinia Stratton to the brilliant pianist Franz Richardson, it seems that Mary Ann has fallen in among friends. She soon discovers, however, that relationships within the troupe and its entourage are far from harmonious. Jealousy is rife, and there are secrets aplenty: even Mary Ann has one of her own. Relief, however, gradually turns to fear as she realises that she may be a pawn in a more dangerous game than she imagined.
If you are Australian, you might know Jane Sullivan best as a journalist — she writes for The Age. This novel is her second. I love the magical, circus-themed sound of it. (What is it with circus-themed books at the moment, they seem to be everywhere?)
Dirt by David Vann
William Heinemann, hardcover, 272 pages (7 June)
The year is 1985 and twenty-two-year-old Galen lives with his emotionally dependent mother in a secluded old house with a walnut orchard in a suburb of Sacramento, California. He doesn't know who his father is, his abusive grandfather is dead, and his grandmother, losing her memory, has been shipped off to a nursing home. Galen and his mother survive on old family money — an inheritance that his Aunt Helen and seventeen-year-old cousin, Jennifer, are determined to get their hands on. A powerful and shocking account of a family imploding: a story of hatred, sex and violence, Dirt will cement David Vann's reputation as one of the most original and powerful writers of his generation.
David Vann exploded on the (British) literary scene with quite a bit of fanfare a few years ago. His debut novel Legend of a Suicide was a hugely memorable read, but I didn't quite get around to reading the follow up. He has now moved publishing houses and Dirt is his third novel.
It is the summer of 1916 and Roger Casement awaits the hangman in London's Pentonville Prison. Dublin lies in ruins after the disastrous Easter Rising led by his comrades of the Irish Volunteers. He has been caught after landing from a German submarine. For the past year he has attempted to raise an Irish brigade from prisoners of war to fight alongside the Germans against the British Empire that awarded him a knighthood only a few years before. And now his petition for clemency is threatened by the leaking of his private diary and his secret life as a gay man...
Vargas-Llosa, with his incomparable gift for powerful historical narrative, takes the reader on a journey back through a remarkable life dedicated to the exposure of barbaric treatment of indigenous peoples by European predators in the Congo and Amazonia. Casement was feted as one of the greatest humanitarians of the age. Now he is about to die ignominiously as a traitor.
This is Vargas Llosa's first book since winning the Nobel prize, and I have to admit I'm really intrigued by it because it features two of my favourite subjects — Dublin and the rainforest.
Please note that the release dates quoted are for the UK and are subject to change.
Are there any on this list that have piqued your interest? And do you find these monthly lists useful?