First thoughts on books this week

Saints of the Shadow Bible

Ian Rankin Orion Books, £18.99;ebook, £8.11

Review: Roddy Brooks

John Rebus has always existed somewhere between the law and the shadowy backwaters of Edinburgh life. He has always done whatever it took to get a result, not caring how he put crooks behind bars and made the streets of the capital, in his mind, a better place.

In this 20th edition of the trials of Rebus, Rankin poses three questions long on the lips of Rebus fans the world over: Is Rebus good? Is he bad? Do we care?

Saints of the Shadow Bible sees Rebus back on the force, but he is fighting for his career. He has been demoted and he has something to prove. Pitted against old friends who once trusted him with their darkest secrets, Rebus must peel back the half-truths and lies of colleagues and criminals alike.

Just as Rebus looks like he might be about to pay for his own ‘crimes’, Rankin throws him a lifeline which forces him into a difficult choice. Another winning formula taps into this country’s love of crime writing.

Jeeves And The Wedding Bells

Sebastian Faulks Hutchinson, £16.99;ebook, £9.20

Review: Emma Herdman

The first point to note about this uproarious novel is that Faulks stresses this is an ‘homage’ to PG Wodehouse.

Indeed, throughout, Wodehouse’s much-loved Bertie Wooster takes new readers in hand, explaining the background behind mad aunts and old friends. The result is a novel that works as an introduction to the farcical world of Wooster and his devoted Jeeves, and a welcome revisit for the hordes of faithful fans.

This particular romp opens with Jeeves ensconced in the guest rooms of Sir Henry Hackwood’s estate, while Bertie sleeps in the uncomfortable servant’s quarters. The reason is, of course, woman-related. Bertie met charming Georgiana (charge of Sir Henry) on the Cote d’Azur, who happens to be cousin to his old friend Woody Beeching’s ex-fiance.

Jeeves and Woosters’s mission is to reunite the unhappy couple.

This charming and witty plot unfolds into a hilarious story.

Butterflies In November

Audur Ava Olafsdottir Pushkin Press, £12.99;ebook, £5.75

Review: Katie Archer

A soon-to-be divorced woman taking a small boy, whose only parent is in hospital, on a road trip to the darkest part of the Icelandic winter — it is certainly a bleak premise for a book.

There’s nothing depressing about this uplifting, funny tale of a woman who, dumped by her husband and her lover on the same day, manages to balance her universe by also winning the lottery twice. All set to head off into the sunset and start her life afresh, she has a drastic change of plan when her pregnant friend is admitted to hospital, leaving her deaf four-year-old son in the narrator’s care.

Despite thinking she dislikes children, she ends up forming a close bond with the boy as they head off on a strange journey to the east of Iceland in search of permanent night, accosted by the woman’s exes along the way.


Alice McDermott Bloomsbury Circus, £16.99;ebook, £10.04

Review: Sophie Herdman

Seven years since Alice McDermott wrote After This, the writer returns with Someone. It is testament to the author’s talent the novel, in which not all that much happens, is near impossible to put down.

The book, set in Brooklyn, follows the life of Marie, a short-sighted young girl. We first meet her in the 1920s when she is a youth sitting on the steps of her house, observing the assortment of characters that make up her neighbourhood, while waiting for her beloved father to come home. Marie’s Irish-American mother is a devout Catholic and her brother, set to enter the clergy, is the apple of her eye. Meanwhile Marie has a special bond with her father.

From Marie’s childhood we progress through her life, via lost love, death, jobs, child birth and mental illness.

This beautiful, non-sensationalist portrait of someone’s life is one that will stay with you for a long time.

* Purchase these books at


Kate Tempest’s Vicar Street show began with the mother of all selfie moments. The 33 year-old poet and rapper disapproves of mid-concert photography and instructed the audience to get their snap-happy impulses out of the way at the outset. What was to follow would, she promised, be intense. We should give ourselves to the here and now and leave our phones in our pockets.Kate Tempest dives deep and dark in Dublin gig

Des O'Sullivan examines the lots up for auction in Bray.A Week in Antiques: Dirty tricks and past political campaigns

Following South Africa’s deserved Rugby World Cup victory I felt it was about time that I featured some of their wines.Wine with Leslie Williams

All your food news.The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

More From The Irish Examiner