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Long before Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel wrote her excellent black comedy Every Day is Mother's Day and its sequel, Vacant Possession , which unleash the horrific Muriel Axon upon the world. The two time Booker Prize winner succeeds in delivering a creepy and satirical domestic saga that is precise, frightening and entertaining, and we can see exactly how well she cut her narrative teeth.
The "Melrosian" - or five short novels centered on the life of Patrick Melrose - is a powerful and ambitious novel cycle based loosely on the author's own life. Elegantly written and powerfully controlled, it is serious, and sometimes heartbreaking, yet also laugh out loud funny in its pithy observations of the lives of privilege and wealth. The sort of read that remains with you once the book is done.
Listed as one of the best crime novels of the year by The Guardian (UK), this is historical fiction at its best. So thoroughly researched and evocatively written you can feel and smell London - in particular the Marshalsea debtors' prison - of 1727. This rip roaring tale does not give us the sentimental Marshalsea of Dickens' Little Dorit but something entirely more brutal, corrupt and festering in its insidious detail. Any fans of David Liss' Benjamin Weaver series will love this.
THE book for anyone who has ever loved a dog who loved a toy. Ball! or ball? thinks the obsessive pooch and his world is complete while his young owner is there to throw it for him. But when she leaves for school he has to amuse himself until she returns - to mixed success. The drawings of the dog, overweight, highly expressive and drooling, are a masterpiece in the power of a few cleverly placed lines to illustrate emotion and the love in the three way relationship of dog-girl-ball is touching.
Starting with Midnight Riot, Aaronovitch has created his own genre of supernatural crime novel, sort of grown up Harry Potter meets CSI: London, and it's really funny and really well done. Whispers Underground is the third in the series and begins with the death of an American exchange student in the London Underground system. Quintessentially British in its self-deprecating humor and flamboyant one-liners, the narrative voice is fresh but cynical, and the recurring characters both magical and very human. I for one, want more.