First Thoughts

How The Trouble Started

First Thoughts

Robert Williams

Faber and Faber, £12.99

Review: Lauren Turner

Donald is eight when what he refers to as “the trouble” begins. There is an accident, then there are the police, with them coming a barrage of questions — meaning that Donald and his mum are uprooted from their community.

Eight years later and Donald is still a child in many ways, unable to move on from that fateful day. Something of a loner, he strikes up a friendship with a quiet, vulnerable schoolboy with a love of horror stories, not realising that anyone might not approve of him spending time with Jake.

Our view of Donald changes as we see more of his character and his life — slowly peeling away the label that society has burdened him with.

Robert Williams, award-winning writer of Luke And Jon, presents the reader with subtle questions on the issue of morality, loneliness and trying to do the right thing.

His sensitive portrayal of a childhood interrupted and tarnished with tragedy is deeply moving, a feeling amplified by the sense of place and detail he creates.

It may not be an easy read, but it is most definitely an engaging one.

The Labyrinth Of Osiris

Paul Sussman

Bantam Press, £12.99

Review: Robert Dex

Paul Sussman’s fourth novel arrived on the reviews desk only a few weeks after he died suddenly at the horribly early age of 45.

Like his previous books, it combines his passion for archaeology and the history of Ancient Egypt with well-drawn characters and a page-turning plot.

Its 500-plus pages travel across borders between Egypt, Israel and America and across generations, bringing to life a cast of believable characters the reader cares about.

But it is the central characters — an Egyptian policeman and his Israeli counterpart — that really pull the reader into the tale which takes on issues including cyber-crime, sex-trafficking and sectarian hatred.

It would be a fitting tribute to a fine writer if this classy mix of crime novel and historical saga found its way on to the best-seller lists this year.

The Last Man Standing

Davide Longo

MacLehose Press, £12.99

Review: Ben Major

Italian author Davide Longo, who teaches writing in Turin, northern Italy, enjoys writing novels for adults and children.

The Last Man Standing, translated by Silvester Mazzarella, is his third novel for adults, following a well-known academic and writer as he tries to survive social anarchy in a future Italy.

Having taken refuge in a remote village after a scandal that saw him lose his job, Leonardo lives as a recluse, but lawlessness and disorder begin to intrude upon his life.

When he is forced to look after his estranged daughter and her brother-in-law, he faces a decision that will determine whether they live or die in this new hostile world.

With mesmerising control of language, Longo weaves a tale that will leave readers with much to think about long after they have put it down.

The Heat Of The Sun

David Rain

Atlantic Books, £12.99

Review: Roddy Brooks

It must be the question asked by many opera fans — whatever happened to Madame Butterfly’s son?

If, like David Rain, you wondered the same, then The Heat Of The Sun is sure to be enlightening reading.

A university lecturer in literature and writing, Australian-born Rain has taken the tragic story of Cho Cho-San and developed it over the following decades.

Ben Pinkerton, the troubled illegitimate son of the geisha girl and an American naval lieutenant turned senator, comes to life once again in the pages of Rain’s novel, which also describes the major world events of the 1930s and 1940s.

Whisked away from his homeland and bounced around, ‘Trouble’, as Pinkerton becomes known, remains the centre of attention in every way imaginable.

The Heat Of The Sun will definitely not consign the talents of Rain to the shade.

More in this section

Puzzles logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.

great irish summer

From walking and hiking, to day trips and camping, your guide to holidays at home in 2021


The best food, health, entertainment and lifestyle content from the Irish Examiner, direct to your inbox.

Sign up