From Stuart MacBride’s latest comedy-horror to Villager by Tom Cox, a freewheeling sci-fi yarn from Emily St John Mandel and Michael Arditti’s latest, this week’s best new fiction
Sea Of Tranquility
Emily St John Mandel Picador £14.99
Readers will have to be on their toes to follow this freewheeling sci-fi yarn. At different points in the novel, we are in 1912, 2020, 2203 and 2401. A female character called Vincent takes some getting used to.
But Mandel is certainly an accomplished writer and, whether she is describing the adventures of a young English migrant to Canada or imagining a writer from a moon colony travelling to Earth for a book tour, she has plenty of fun along the way.
The Young Pretender
Michael Arditti Arcadia Books £12.99
William Betty was an acting prodigy who attained rock-star status in the early 19th Century, fawned on by aristocrats and politicians alike. Then, in his mid-teens, he fell spectacularly out of fashion. What went wrong?
Arditti’s well-wrought novel imagines him aged 20, trying to make a comeback; as he does so, he wrestles with the gaps that trauma has left in his memory. Above all it’s a vivid, highly detailed portrait of life in rumbustious Regency London.
Tom Cox Unbound £16.99
Cox’s wonderful first novel hopscotches through two centuries in a moorland village in the West Country.
From teenage shenanigans in the 1990s to the memories of a widower living in a doomy near-future, the book’s threads gather around the legacy of a Californian folk singer who visited after the Summer of Love
One chapter unfolds as dialogue with a search engine; others are narrated by the moor itself. A rich potpourri that keeps us busy enough not to worry about what it adds up to.
No Less The Devil
Stuart MacBride Bantam £20
MacBride’s Scottish crime novels pull the genre in two seemingly incompatible directions at once – bringing both comedy and horror into play. No Less The Devil is no exception.
His latest protagonist, a traumatised copper called Lucy McVeigh, is investigating a series of particularly ghastly serial murders. She manages to keep the nightmare at bay with the blackest of humour, until the case takes a quite extraordinary turn.
Certainly this year’s most bizarre thriller.
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