First thoughts

The Soldier’s Wife

Joanna Trollope

Doubleday;

£18.99

Review: Sandra Mangan

Countless authors have documented the trials and tribulations of men fighting in war zones across the world — and, indeed, across the centuries.

But what about the women they left behind?

Thankfully, best-selling author Joanna Trollope has volunteered to fight their corner — and she acquits herself admirably in The Soldier’s Wife.

Major Dan Riley has returned from a six-month tour of Afghanistan, but he soon realises that life on home soil can be a battlefield too.

He needs time and space after a tough tour of duty — but it is in short supply.

Wife Alexa has found it hard to bring up their family on her own, but now Dan is back she finds it even harder to do the job as part of a team.

Can the Rileys become a unit again after so long apart? A fascinating story of a family in crisis.

The Pleasures Of Men

Kate Williams

Michael Joseph;

£12.99

Review: James Fry

For her debut novel, journalist, broadcaster and non-fiction author Kate Williams delves into the depths of the sordid and violent past of London.

In the vein of The Crimson Petal And The White comes a terrifying descent into the seamy underbelly of Victorian society, as the East End is once again haunted by a horrific killer of young ladies — The Man of Crows.

Catherine Sorgeiul lives a mundane life with her uncle and is prone to frequent retreats into her own colourful imagination by a lack of companionship.

She becomes captivated by the killings and is drawn into a deadly web of betrayal, madness and murder from which she may never escape.

As the murders continue, and believing she is hearing voices from beyond the grave, Catherine has no choice but to confront a horrible truth.

Elegantly told, this is a dark and perverse tale with wonderful accuracy and startling attention to detail.

A Short History Of Western Thought

Stephen Trombley

Atlantic Books,

£14.99, Kindle £0.96

Review: Daniel Bentley

Distilling every major thinker from the pre-Socratics of Ancient Greece to late 20th century post-structuralists, A Short History Of Western Thought is a perfect introduction to philosophy for the lay reader.

While covering little new for anyone with much more than a passing interest in the subject, American Stephen Trombley surveys the history of philosophy in an accessible, readable way.

It is comprehensive insofar as it touches on every development of significance — including substantial accounts of the spread of Christianity and Islam during the Middle Ages, and the scientific advances that informed early modern thinking.

Trombley does not attempt to deal with anything in fine detail or shed new light on the subject.

But he is authoritative and lively, and, for the most part, does a remarkable job of summarising even the most fiendishly complicated philosophy, often into the space of just a few lines.

Gang Of One

Gary Mulgrew

Hodder & Stoughton;

£16.99

Review: Roddy Brooks

Gary Mulgrew shot to notoriety when he was indicted by the United States government over the collapse of energy giant Enron.

Mulgrew, born and brought up on a tough Glasgow housing estate, had clawed his way up to become a top banker at NatWest.

But when he was thrust into the limelight along with two colleagues, he had no idea what was in store for him.

Gang Of One tells of his battle to survive in a Texas prison, clinging to the hope that he would be able to return home to his son and also continue the search for his missing daughter.

Through his gripping story, his character shines through in a compelling tale of one man’s determination to go his own way, shunning the approaches of prison gangs who tried to recruit him and decided to ’run’ in his ’Gang Of One’.

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