A couple of enthralling new titles hot off the press!.jpg

A couple of enthralling new titles hot off the press!


by William Brodrick

William Brodrick’s first book, The Sixth Lamentation, introduced Father Anselm and was selected for the Richard and Judy book club. The Gardens of the Dead is set in London where the author worked as a barrister, which inspired this book. In an interview with the author, he states: “On the level of ideas, the novel is set within the adversarial trial system. As a barrister, I was always uncomfortable with how ‘the truth’ is ultimately determined in a courtroom. It is through a jury’s decision but that decision can be wrong. I wanted to examine how one trial radically affects six people.”

There are many thrillers set in courtrooms but this one definitely has a compelling twist. Elizabeth Glendinning QC has lost faith in the legal system to which she has given her life. In an attempt to restore it, she has set about bringing a guilty man back to court, Graham Riley, whom she had successfully defended some 10 years previously. As part of an elaborate contingency plan, Elizabeth leaves the unsuspecting Father Anselm with a key to a safety deposit box, to be opened in the event of her death.

Three weeks later, Elizabeth is found dead in the East End of London. Once the box has been opened, a chain of events is triggered as if from beyond the grave: letters from Elizabeth arrive for the main players in the original trial and each is compelled to participate in her bid for restitution. Father Anselm is led to find Riley’s former accuser, now a homeless man known as Blind George, and together they seek to fulfil Elizabeth’s great project.

As the second outing for Father Anselm, we learn a lot more about him: his interest in jazz; his views on the rough and tumble of monastic life; his understanding of the legal system. “Anselm doesn’t so much change as come to a better understanding of the questions that vex him. I took the opportunity to show aspects of his personality that can’t be presented comprehensively in a single novel,” says Brodrick.

In a career change that reverses Anselm’s, Brodrick was an Augustinian friar before leaving in order to become a practicing barrister. He had always wanted to write, however, and finally decided to try when he turned 40. “It was as though my past had been a school for what I wanted to do above all else.” This is apparent in his books and gives an added dimension to his storytelling. “The kinds of religious issues I touch upon spring more from my experience of life, my attempt to understand it, rather than any specific teaching. These are universal non-creedal questions. Perhaps that is why my stories present moral polarities, while the narrative lies in the middle ground.”

The Gardens of the Dead is a wonderful mystery novel, thrilling and compelling in all the right ways and, happily for his fans, Brodrick is already well underway on his third novel. In hardcover at 23.50 euros.


by Jane Harris

The Observations is a brilliantly original, funny and endlessly intriguing story of one woman’s journey from a difficult past into an even more disturbing present. It is set in Scotland in 1863, as Irish Bessy Buckley attempts to escape her not-so-innocent past in Glasgow, by taking a job as a maid in a big house.

She is intrigued by her new employer, the beautiful Arabella, but puzzled by her increasingly strange requests and her insistence that Bessy keep a journal of her most intimate thoughts. It seems that Arabella has a few secrets of her own, including her near-obsessive affection for Nora, a former maid who died in mysterious circumstances. When a childish prank has drastic consequences, all that Bessy has come to hold dear is thrown into jeopardy. Caught up in a tangle of madness, ghosts, sex and lies, she remains devoted to Arabella – but who is really responsible for what happened to her predecessor Nora?

The Observations is an exceptional work that will appeal to fans of historic fiction, especially to those who loved the novels of Michael Faber, Sarah Waters and Rose Tremain. Jane Harris’s dark and original debut is certain to establish her name as a writer of great talent. In hardcover at 20 euros.