Category Archives: Quercus Books
By Blood Divided by James Heneage
On the cover of James Heneage’s latest blockbuster By Blood Divided it says “Rivals in love will become rivals rivals for an empire” So there we have it. This is a sweeping historical epic of love and war and if you enjoy a gripping historical drama that crosses from East to West then you are going to enjoy this.
Set during the fifteenth century as this is a dramatic story of war, a family torn apart and a financial crisis as a banking empire moves ever closer to collapse then add a love rivalry and you have a compelling and dramatic standalone novel that will keep turning pages for days. This is nearly 500 pages as length so prepare for some epic reading.
As the world is undergoing dramatic change the time is for heroes, and here is a novel that has heroism and also great tragedy. The scene is set as the story moves from one part of the East and heads to the West for one of the most dramatic sieges in history that of Constantinople. From the old Roman Empire to the now burgeoning Ottoman Empire destiny and fortune await. Siward Margoris is commander of the Varangian Guard sworn to defend the Roman Empire to the last. Now entering the stage is Makkim, the Ottoman general seeks to destroy everything the Romans stands for. This is East v West and one last stand and with a fortune at stake there is everything to win and lose.
Add in a heart-breaking love story and you have a fantastic adventure that moves along at a steady pace and a story that has everything an historical epic requires. The real beauty here is that Heneage has well researched his facts which makes this such an intelligent read all round.
Thank you to Olivia Mead at Quercus Books for the advanced review copy.
By Blood Divided by James Heneage is published by Quercus and is released on 1st June and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
The Official By Blood Divided Blog Tour
A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison
This has been my first Corban Addison novel and it will not be the last. I have been struck by the outstanding quality of the writing of Addison in A Harvest of Thorns a novel about corporate greed at its worst within the fashion industry and how workers in Bangladesh are exploited for profit.
The story begins with a fire at a factory with tragic consequences as many people are killed trapped by the flames and acrid smoke. Among those killed is a young girl trying to escape the fire by climbing down a makeshift rope ladder sadly the rope that was tied together using the garments from the factory floor gives way and the girl falls to her death. A photographer later takes a photograph of the young girl and instantly the photograph becomes front page news around the world. But the image captures something else that will shake a large American clothing retailer ‘presto’ to the core. But one question remains why was this factory even producing their range of garments in the first place as this was not one of the factories on the list in fact it never met any of criteria in the first place.
Now it is damage limitation for Presto as they try to make sure that no damage to the company name comes from the fire. Some years later a chance for a former journalist Joshua Griswold to rebuild he shattered career when a chance tip off comes from an employee. What Griswold does with this information will be dramatic as he goes about building a court case that will if he wins have ramifications for the fashion industry on a world wide scale and would rock Presto from the shop floor to the boardroom.
This is a story rooted in fact as it is based on a true account of a factory fire in Bangladesh in 2010. At times this is a difficult read as it goes to the very core of the issue of forces labour and the appalling working conditions in the factories. It leaves many questions for the reader about certain areas of the fashion industry and their ethics. I found A Harvest of Thorns to be an important read and an important book that will open many eyes to just what does go on in this trade. If you enjoy a John Grisham style novel, then you would want to read this. Many will go with the style of writing that I found flowed from one chapter to the next. At times it can be a difficult read but at the same time it is really compelling.
Thank you to Olivia Mead for the advanced review copy.
A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison is published by Quercus Books and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
A Harvest of Thorns Official Blog Tour continues
Under a Pole Star – Stef Penney
From the author of the Costa Book award winning The Tenderness of Wolves comes the third novel from Stef Penney and a story set over two time frames and a land of frozen landscapes in Under a Pole Star.
It is 1948 and a group of scientists are heading to the North Pole and among the group is Flora Mackie. Flora is 77-years-old and a renowned scientist and explorer in her younger days. But this is no scientific trip for Flora this is more of a trip down memory lane and a time to recall memories of previous arctic explorations. While talking with a member of the press ‘The Snow Queen’ starts to explore her own memories and of one trip in 1892 to Greenland and this was with her father who was a Whaling Captain as well as other explorations that followed.
Flora born in Dundee and brought up by her father when her mother died but as time passes Flora becomes her own person and independently minded and fascinated by the land of ice and snow and the people who inhabit the frozen lands. She first explored Arctic Circle at the age of 12 and even at this tender age she wanted to be taken seriously.
In 1892 she led an expedition to Greenland and at the same time Jakob de Beyn from America was among a rival expedition and this is being led by Lester Armitage and it is no surprise that both expeditions meet and for Flora and Jakob this is moment that will shape their lives. Flora, Jakob and Lester all share one common theme they love and passion for these cold forbidden lands of perpetual endless days and nights that seemingly never end. You just know that something is coming in this mammoth book of 600 pages and it comes in the form of a tragedy that will haunt many of them and these lands for the rest of their days.
Flora is a determined character in this story in an age dominated by male explorers it is hard not to admire her courage in the face of not only the freezing lands but also the men of this time. Here in this story is not on exploration but also of a love story against a backdrop of the golden age of exploration.
The incredible beauty of the Arctic Ocean the colours of the ice and snow and the endless night skies full of stars. This is breath-taking story and a mystery that still requires resolving and for Flora returning to the land of ice and snow in 1948 returns for the last time to solve the long-standing mystery and lay this to rest.
Under a Pole Star is dramatic story that is the perfect read for cold winters nights.
Thank you to Hannah Robinson at Quercus Books for the advanced review copy.
Under a Pole Star by Stef Penney is published by Quercus and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
The Birdwatcher by William Shaw
The Last Word Review
Sometimes reading a crime novel that is set in a specific location it can help if you know the landscape, and the setting for William Shaw’s new crime novel The Birdwatcher is the desolate Kent coastline that is Dungeness an area I know only too well as I spent a lot of my younger days birdwatching along this part of the Kent coast and for a base to write a crime novel it works.
William South is the Police Sergeant for the local area he lives and works this part of Kent and a keen birder the autumn migration is now in full swing and William South would rather be out looking for birds, but when he is asked to attend murder, there is already a DS from London investigating and Alexandra Cupidi needs some support. William is somewhat nervous as we already know William himself is a murderer this by his own admission and through the story-line we move back and forth to William’s past as a 13-year old growing up during the troubles in Northern Ireland.
The brutally murdered man Bob Reyner is a neighbour and also a friend to South they used to go birding together so there is no way he will be able to leave this alone, as much as he would rather. So why was Bob so brutally murdered? So now the past memories of growing up in Northern Ireland start to come back we will learn later in the book as to why South calls himself a murderer.
Newly arrived Alexandra Cupidi from the Met this is her first case, and together will South they start to investigate the murder, but there is something that is causing a distraction to Alexandra and that is her daughter Zoe who is troubled in her own way and is struggling to settle into her new home and environment. For both South and Cupidi there is a connection of sorts between them. Now there is another murder and this one is belongs to the distant past of South, is there a connection between the two murders is South’s past slowly catching up with him. Suddenly Cupidi does not want South anywhere near the murder investigation.
South is a loner and grumpy by any standards and would prefer his company. At first you struggle to empathise with the leading character but as the story moves along at a blistering pace you start to understand William South and his troubled life.
The Birdwatcher is a gripping crime novel that is superbly written and delivers on a level that only the very best in crime writing can deliver. The story moves back and forth to the past and the present as we read of young Billy and then William in the present the characters have been so well brought together which makes the story more credible.
The cover to the hardback actually brings to life the wind swept moody Dungeness coastline this is a hardback to savour and enjoy. A must read.
My thanks to the publishers riverrun for an advanced review copy.
The Birdwatcher by William Shaw was published on 19 May by riverrun and is available through branches of Waterstones and all good book shops.
Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama
The Last Word Review
The epic crime novel that took Japan by storm, ambitious and addictive from the start.
There is a lot of expectation surrounding Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama, it sold a million copies in Japan in six days does a book consisting of over 600 pages survive the hype quite clearly yes.
Some readers may skip this crime novel because of its size and it is a hefty tome to carry around with you, but I can assure the reader that they really should give Six Four a go, this is a real slow burner of a novel but builds and you will become immersed into the story and you will forget the size of the book if you like to lose yourself in a gripping crime drama then this is very much a book you should read.
Six Four is wonderfully translated by Jonathan Lloyd-Davies and we learn of the abduction of a seven-year-old back in 1989 the anxious parents listened to the ransom demands, the young girl is murdered and the kidnapper makes off with the vast ransom. The crime is never solved.
We now fast forward 14 years later and the case has been reopened with Press director Yoshinobu Mikami taking centre stage being a former detective now transferred he has to deal daily with surly media representatives rather than the job he would rather be doing that is solving crimes for Mikami this case is somewhat personal as his own daughter has been missing for a number of weeks after suffering a mental breakdown.
What we have in Six Four is dramatic, and sinister plot that plays on the old themes of Japanese society and culture. The story goes delves into real detail and Mikami has to work through all the police politics and office machinations to try and solve the case, not helped by a press pack that is baying for blood as the police are refusing to name the driver in a traffic accident. Time is against Mikami and not only time as the drama unfolds and the reader becomes more and more involved in the story. Six Four makes for compulsive reading.
I found reading this enthralling crime drama that you need to concentrate on for most of the storyline, as you can easily get confused with the great detail, this may not be for everyone’s taste in reading but what it lacks in pure investigation technique it sure makes up in its richness as far as characters are concerned and incredible detail. This is not a pure and simple who done it crime novel there is so much more to Six Four. It is one of those incredible novels that the more you put in the more the reader will get out of it. This is not just any crime novel it is a seriously deep and thoughtful crime novel that rewards the reader.
Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama was released on 3 March by Riverrun (Quercus Books). Available through Waterstones and all good bookshops.