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Seven Signs of Life by Aoife Abbey

Grief. Anger. Joy. Fear. Distraction. Disgust. Hope.

All emotions we expect to encounter over our lifetime. But what if this was every day? And what if your ability to manage them was the difference between life and death? 

For Aoife Abbey, a doctor in intensive care, these experiences are part of the job - from grief when you make a potentially fatal mistake to joy when the ward unexpectedly breaks into song. Seven Signs of Life is Abbey's extraordinary account of what it means to be alive and how it feels to care for a living.

Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene

Wormold is a vacuum cleaner salesman in a city of power cuts. His adolescent daughter spends his money with a skill that amazes him, so when a mysterious Englishman offers him an extra income he's tempted.

In return all he has to do is carry out a little espionage and file a few reports. But when his fake reports start coming true, things suddenly get more complicated and Havana becomes a threatening place.

The Various Haunts of Men by Susan Hill 

A woman vanishes in the fog up on the Hill in Lafferton. The police have one lead – a pair of expensive cuff-links found in her flat, with a mysterious note attached to them.

Then a young girl, an old man and even a dog disappear in quick succession in exactly the same place.

Young policewoman Freya Graffham and Chief Inspector Simon Serrailler are given the task of unravelling the mystery. But can they find the Hill killer before he strikes again?

The Bell by Iris Murdoch

In this holy community she would play the witch.

Imber Court is a quiet haven for lost souls, a utopia for those who can neither live in the world, nor out of it. But beneath the gentle daily routines of this community run currents of supressed desire, religious yearning and a legend of disastrous love.

Charming, indolent Dora arrives in their midst, and half-unwittingly conjures these submerged things to the surface.

 

Appeasing Hitler by Tim Bouverie

On a wet afternoon in September 1938, Neville Chamberlain stepped off an aeroplane and announced that his visit to Hitler had averted the greatest crisis in recent memory. It was, he later assured the crowd in Downing Street, ‘peace for our time’. Less than a year later, Germany invaded Poland and the Second World War began.

This is a vital new history of the disastrous years of indecision, failed diplomacy and parliamentary infighting that enabled Nazi domination of Europe. Drawing on previously unseen sources, it sweeps from the advent of Hitler in 1933 to the beaches of Dunkirk, and presents an unforgettable portrait of the ministers, aristocrats and amateur diplomats whose actions and inaction had devastating consequences.

The Knowledge by Lewis Dartnell 

Human evolution in East Africa was driven by geological forces. Ancient Greece developed democracy because of its mountainous terrain. Voting behaviour in the United States today follows the bed of an ancient sea.

Professor Lewis Dartnell takes us on an astonishing journey into our planet’s past to tell the ultimate origin story. Blending science and history, Origins reveals the Earth’s awesome impact on the shape of human civilisations – and helps us to see the challenges and opportunities of the future.

The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

How does a man addicted to routine - a man who flosses his teeth before love-making - cope with the chaos of everyday life? 

With the loss of his son, the departure of his wife and the arrival of Muriel, a dog trainer from the Meow-Bow dog clinic, Macon's attempts at ordinary life are tragically and comically undone.

 

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro

In these stories the past, as Alice Munro's characters discover, is made up not only of what is remembered, but also what isn't. The past is there, just out of the picture, but if memories haven't been savoured, recalled in the mind and boxed away, it's as if they have never been - until a moment when the pieces of the jigsaw re-form suddenly, sometimes pleasurably but more often painfully. Women look back at their young selves, at first marriages made when they were naive and trusting, at husbands and their difficult, demanding little ways. 

There is hope, there are second chances - here are people who reinvent themselves, seize life by the throat, who have moved on and can dare to conjure up the hidden memories, daring to go beyond what is remembered.

Final Demand by Deborah Moggach 

Natalie is a girl who should be going somewhere. Beautiful, bright and ambitious, she’s stuck in a dead-end job in the accounts department of Nu-Line Telecommunications, living her life through wild weekends and yearning for something more.

When she sees a chance to change her life, she takes it. After all, it’s only a minor crime. Nobody’s going to get hurt. But other people do get hurt, because Natalie’s actions do have consequences – tragic consequences. Poignant and beautifully written, Final Demand is a cautionary tale about the battle between greed and love, about human hopes and our own frailty in the face of temptation.

 

Safe House by Jo Jakeman

The morning after a terrible storm, a woman turns up in a remote Cornish village. She calls herself Charlie, but it's a name she's only had for a few days. She keeps herself to herself, reluctant to integrate with the locals. Because Charlie has a secret.

Charlie was in prison for providing a false alibi for a murderer. But Lee Fisher wasn't a murderer to her; he was the man she loved. Convinced of his innocence, Charlie said she was with him the night a young woman was killed. This sacrifice cost her everything. 

And now she has a chance to start again. But someone is watching her, waiting for her, wondering if she's really paid the price for what she did.

The Pure in Heart by Susan Hill

A little boy is snatched at the gate of his home while he waits for his lift to school.

An ex-con struggling to go straight finds himself drawn back into a criminal ring.

A young woman hovers between life and death.

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Serrailler is called in to investigate. But with dead-ends mounting up and time running out, has he taken on a case so complex it threatens to defeat him?

Jar City by Arnaldur Indridason

An old man is found murdered in his Reykjavik flat. A cryptic note and a photograph of a young girl's grave are left behind. Inspector Erlendur discovers that several decades ago the victim was accused, but not convicted, of an unsolved crime.

As he follows a fascinating trail of strange forensic evidence, Inspector Erlendur uncovers secrets that are much larger than the murder of one man — dark secrets that have been carefully guarded for many, many years…

Be Careful What You Wish For by Simon Jordan

Simon Jordan made his fortune building a mobile phone company from scratch. When he sold it for £75 million, he bought Crystal Palace FC, the club he'd supported as a boy, and led them into the Premier League. 

Ten years later Palace was in administration and Jordan had lost nigh on everything. Be Careful What You Wish For lifts the lid on being the owner of a football club and how the game really works. Hopes and dreams sit alongside greed, self-interest, dodgy transfers, boardroom fights and dressing room dressing downs. Throughout no one is spared, least of all Jordan himself.

American Adulterer by Jed Mercurio

John Fitzgerald Kennedy is the 35th President of the United States, and a serial womaniser. An American man for the modern age: Kennedy is handsome, charming, a beaming paragon of worldly virtue. But beneath the slick veneer of a confident statesman he harbours a vice that will threaten his family, his fortune and even his country. 

Empathetic, darkly witty and deft, Jed Mercurio’s American Adulterer shines a novelist’s spotlight on the world’s most powerful, and corrupting institution: the American Presidency.

If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch

Everyone believes Alex is in a coma, unlikely to ever wake up. As his family debate withdrawing life support, he can only listen.

But he soon begins to suspect that his accident wasn’t really an accident. Even worse, the perpetrator is still out there and Alex is not the only one in danger.

Alex must use a series of clues from his past to solve the mystery of who tried to kill him. He needs to protect those he loves – before they decide to let him go…

Close Relations by Deborah Moggach

Gordon Hammond, sixty-five, a builder who has built up his own, modestly successful business, has a heart attack. Whilst recovering in hospital he falls in love with April, a young black nurse, and leaves Dorothy, his wife of 45 years to set up home with her. 

Dorothy is released like a loose cannon into the lives of her three daughters and chaos ensues. More relationships break up, passions run high and dramatic developments ensue that will change the Hammond family forever.

The Chalk Circle Man by Fred Vargas

Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg is not like other policemen. His methods appear unorthodox in the extreme: he doesn't search for clues; he ignores obvious suspects and arrests people with cast-iron alibis; he appears permanently distracted. In spite of all this his colleagues are forced to admit that he is a born cop.

When strange blue chalk circles start appearing overnight on the pavements of Paris, only Adamsberg takes them - and the increasingly bizarre objects found within them - seriously. And when the body of a woman with her throat savagely cut is found in one, only Adamsberg realises that other murders will soon follow…

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