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Bromsgrove Advertiser: Bookcase Bookcase

look at the latest releases, plus what's new in paperback.

By Sarah O'Meara

New fiction

A Sentimental Traitor by Michael Dobbs is published in hardback by Simon and Schuster, priced £17.99. Available February 16.

The latest novel by thriller writer Michael Dobbs - now Lord Dobbs - draws heavily on contemporary events and again features his series character, Harry Jones MP.

Harry, a swashbuckling bloke, is a millionaire and former military man. In this book he suffers appalling financial misfortunes, violence and terrible false accusations.

The novel starts grimly, when a guided missile causes a large passenger jet to crash into the Thames, east of Tower Bridge. The passengers - all of whom are killed - include 37 children of American diplomatic staff in London.

When Harry starts trying to find out who caused the tragedy, he gets drawn into a complex web involving an oil pipe line from the Caspian Sea, the Russians, and a highly-placed British EU official who is not all she seems to be.

This thriller will undoubtedly please Dobbs's fans but it requires extra concentration as the plot resembles a cryptic crossword puzzle.

6/10

(Review by Anthony Looch)

Catch Me by Lisa Gardner is published in hardback by Headline, priced £12.99. Available now.

The Sunday Times top ten best-selling author Lisa Gardner releases another tense thriller following the cases of Detective DD Warren.

The seventh tale in the series tells the story of 28-year-old Charlie Grant, a woman who is terrified that she is going to be murdered on January 21.

Charlie seeks out the Boston-based detective at her latest crime scene, telling the new mother that her two childhood friends were murdered leaving her the only one still alive. This fear has led her to train to fight for her life when the moment comes.

DD takes the case and as she looks further into Grant's past, she starts to doubt the young woman's story. Stories begin to stack against her and the authorities start to think maybe she has committed these murders herself.

One thing is for certain: Charlie Grant isn't going down without a fight.

8/10

(Review by Rachel Howdle)

The Glass Room by Ann Cleeves is published in hardback by Macmillan, priced £16.99. Available now.

This is the fifth novel featuring the formidable Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope, portrayed by Brenda Blethyn in ITV's drama series Vera.

Vera is friends with hippy neighbours Jack Devanney and Joanna Tobin. When Joanna disappears and Jack is desperately worried, she feels obliged to help.

She tracks her down to The Writers' House, a country retreat on the Northumberland coast that offers courses for writers and aspiring authors.

She has barely arrived when the body of tutor Professor Tony Ferdinand is discovered stabbed to death in The Glass Room, a first-floor conservatory.

Complications occur when Joanna is found in a corridor holding a knife.

As she investigates, Vera is pulled into the world of publishing with its aspiring writers, once-famous authors, cynical critics and academics. Then a second body is found, and everyone's a suspect.

This novel has all the Ann Cleeves trademarks - great timing, strong characters, lots of tension, and plenty of red herrings to keep the reader hooked.

The setting of the murder in a isolated house with its mysterious guests also gives it a distinct and satisfying Agatha Christie-esque feel.

9/10

(Review by Laura Wurzal)

This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman is published as a trade paperback by Atlantic Books, priced £12.99. Available now.

In this day and age, lives can impulsively be ruined with just the click of one button, as highly-publicised cases such as that of Carolyn Bourne, the nightmare mother-in-law, have shown.

It's a subject that American novelist Helen Schulman focuses on in her fifth novel, This Beautiful Life. The Bergamots - husband and wife Richard and Liz, their teenage son Jake and adopted Chinese six-year-old daughter Coco - are the average middle-class family, who have moved to New York City from Ithaca. As Richard throws himself into his new job, Liz, having given up her career, has manoeuvred herself into the top tier of queen bee mums.

Their life changes when 15-year-old Jake unthinkingly forwards a sexually explicit video clip sent to him by a fellow student. Within hours, the attachment hits the web and the consequences are life-changing.

This gripping cautionary tale, centring on the path the Bergamots choose to pursue and the emotional turmoil from all angles, promises more drama than it delivers, but is still an enjoyable read.

6/10

(Review by Shereen Low)

New non-fiction

All The King's Men by Saul David is published in hardback by Penguin, priced £25. Available now.

The English Civil War was won by the fierce professionalism of the New Model Army. Upon the Restoration of King Charles II, men from the New Model Army were brought together with royalist soldiers in the Coldstream Guards.

The story of the British Army from that point to the plain of Waterloo is a truly epic tale. British military historian Saul David has been consistently excellent with his investigations into the British Army of Queen Victoria's period, and now he turns his attention to how it all started. His writing is clear, crisp and entertaining. His research is exemplary and his books are a delight to read.

Scoundrels and rogues, mad captains and staunch generals march across the pages and are fittingly described by a writer skilled in relating this history.

A must-read book.

10/10

(Review by David McLoughlin)

Up Pohnpei by Paul Watson is published in hardback by Profile Books, priced £12.99. Available now.

Two 20-somethings, obsessed by football but disillusioned by the Premier League gloss that dominates UK media sensibilities, set out to reignite their love of the sport.

Through discovering the 'worst international team in the world', the Pacific island of Pohnpei, they set out to coach the side to a modicum of success. What could possibly go wrong?

From a ridiculous idea, Watson has conjured a well-paced story that goes far beyond sport - part human interest, part-travelogue. It is an uplifting, humorous and emotional ride, with non-football lovers able to extract enough enjoyment from it as those who don't have to be informed of the relevance of a 'Play Up Pohnpei' chant at Fratton Park.

However, the proliferation of similar 'against all odds' books, which see a ridiculous idea coming to fruition (think Dave Gorman or Tony Hawks), does mean there's a tinge of 'seen it all before' to the 'journey' - despite its obvious charm.

7/10

(Review by James Cleary)

Crap Dates: Disastrous Encounters From Single Life by Rhodri Marsden is published in hardback by Simon & Schuster, priced £6.99. Available now.

This is the third book by Rhodri Marsden, who's a musician, writer, newspaper columnist (he's written for The Guardian, Time Out and has a weekly column in the Independent) and social networking maestro.

Crap Dates started when he posted on Twitter about a rubbish date from 2002 on the social networking site, and got thousands of responses. This book is a collection of the best responses he got to his crap date tweet, and they're hilarious, sad, weird and slightly strange.

Some of the best are: "We played that game, 'I've never...' I asked him if he'd ever been arrested. 'Yes, seven times actually, twice for attempted murder.'"; and "A date once took me to HMV in Reading where, unbeknownst to me, he shoplifted 'Oh, Carolina' by Shaggy and then gave it to me as a gift."

This book is hilarious, and I lost count of how many times I laughed uncontrollably. It's definitely a must-have for those who are single and need cheering up, or just for those who are up for a good laugh. Brilliant.

10/10

(Review by Emma Everingham)

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