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7:00am Saturday 30th June 2012 in NewsXtra
A look at the latest releases, plus what's new in paperback.
By Kate Whiting.
The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter is published in hardback by Doubleday, priced £18.99. Available June 21.
Before making his name with Discworld, the grand work of comic fantasy, Terry Pratchett wrote two science fiction novels.
The long-gestating idea for another now finally comes to fruition with the help of Stephen Baxter.
The Long Earth is a seemingly endless series of parallel Earths to which, using a cheap homemade device, almost any human can easily 'step'.
In the tradition of science fiction's golden age, the ramifications of this one simple 'what if?' provide a wealth of material, as some seek to profit from the new frontier, and others see an opportunity for escape.
Mainly, though, we follow Joshua Valiente, one of the first steppers, on an airship odyssey out into the endless Earths, in part to find out whether any of them are home to indigenous intelligent life.
Satisfying in itself, the novel nonetheless leaves a compelling setting ready for sequels which may prove even more intriguing.
8/10 (Review by Alex Sarll) The New Republic by Lionel Shriver is published in hardback by HarperCollins, priced £14.99. Available now.
Pushing 40 and a self-confessed "runner-up" in life, the protagonist of Lionel Shriver's novel, the disillusioned corporate lawyer Edgar Kellogg, makes the decision to chase after a job in journalism, leaving behind a promising but unfulfilling career.
The allure of the ego-boosting byline and his memory of his childhood peer Toby Falconer - one of life's winners - leads Edgar on a path that he had not anticipated, as he is sent to replace a charismatic, and infamous, journalist named Barrington Saddler, who has gone missing in the fictional isthmus of Barba, Portugal.
The Portuguese terrorist cell, SOB, had been making headlines until Barrington's unexplained disappearance, and as Edgar finds it predictably difficult to fill Barrington's boots, he becomes entangled in an increasingly complicated situation...
The New Republic explores notions of popularity and the nature of charisma, but is more a lively novel about the practice of hack journalism and arrogance than a satiric exploration of terrorism.
It's a timely but by no means flawless novel from the Orange Prize-winning creator of We Need To Talk About Kevin.
7/10 (Natsayi Sithole) I, Michael Bennett by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge is published in hardback by Century, priced £18.99. Available now.
Michael Bennett is a seat-of-his-pants New York cop whose style puts himself and all he loves in harm's way.
When New York, and everyone he cares for, is in peril, Bennett has to face the most bloodthirsty and ruthless drug lord on the planet.
What happens when they go up against each other is a crescendo of violence and a heart-stopping thriller.
James Patterson is one of the world's most popular crime authors and with collaborator Michael Ledwidge, he once again delivers everything the reader expects and more.
Keeping you on edge to the very last moment, I, Michael Bennett is another sure-fire hit.
8/10 (Review by Roddy Brooks) Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple is published in hardback by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, priced £12.99. Available now.
This second offering from novelist and screenwriter Maria Semple follows mum Bernadette Fox, her brainy daughter Bee and husband Elgie.
Once a notorious architect, Bernadette now lives a life of near solitude in Seattle.
Her social anxiety and dislike for pretty much everyone outside of her own family sees her using the services of a virtual assistant to perform even simple tasks such as making dinner reservations.
When Bee asks for a trip to Antarctica as a reward for her good grades, her wish is granted, only for Bernadette to go missing before the big trip.
Bee must then piece together the evidence to track down her mother.
Written largely as a mixture of diary entries, emails and correspondence, this is a light, enjoyable and often comic novel that constantly catches the reader by surprise.
8/10 (Review by Lyndsey Cartwright) In Her Blood by Annie Hauxwell is published in paperback by William Heinemann, priced £12.99. Available now.
After a career as a screenwriter, In Her Blood is Annie Hauxwell's first novel and the beginning of a series of crime thrillers based on the protagonist Catherine Berlin.
Berlin is a Financial Services Agency investigator who finds the dead body of an informant in the midst of a loan shark inquiry.
After her unorthodox GP is killed, and her boss soon after, she finds herself at the centre of a murder investigation.
With a secret heroin addiction, no doctor to prescribe her maintenance dose and a team of crooked policemen watching, Berlin has seven days to prove her innocence.
London-born Hauxwell uses the grimy East End as a setting for this story of corruption, drugs and murder, and tackles an intricate story by moving between characters to arrange a matrix of subplots.
With meticulous detail and great character depth, In Her Blood is an assured start to Hauxwell's career as a novelist.
8/10 (Review by Ellie de Rose)
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