Stocking the shelves for the bookworms in your life this Christmas

 With over 50m copies of his books sold, crime author Michael Connelly is one of the most successful writers working today. 'The Gods of Guilt' is his latest offering.

Thrillers

Alex by Pierre Lamaitre, €11.50

The first English translation from French author Lamaitre, Alex (MacLehose Press) opens with an apparently conventional story of an abducted young woman and a bloodthirsty serial killer before turning the genre on its head and subverting the reader’s expectations.

Black Bearby Aly Monroe, €11.50

The fourth novel to feature British spy Peter Cotton, Black Bear (Faber and Faber) finds Cotton in post-WWII Washington DC, where he has been abducted and injected with a truth serum. Monroe’s elegant prose is a bonus in this terrific spy novel/character study.

Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen, €10.99

The poet laureate of American absurd, Carl Hiaasen’s Bad Monkey (Sphere) marks a real return to form. Former police detective Andrew Yancy, now a restaurant inspector, takes it upon himself to investigate a missing arm hauled aboard a marlin fishing boat, with blackly hilarious consequences.

Graveland by Alan Glynn, €18.75

The third in Irish author Alan Glynn’s globe-trotting trilogy, Graveland (Faber and Faber) investigates the consequences of apparently random murders of Wall Street’s movers and shakers. The pacy momentum belies a cleverly crafted exploration of the clash between the powerful and the powerless.

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith, €18.75

The publishing sensation of the year, when ‘Robert Galbraith’ was revealed to be a pseudonym for JK Rowling, The Cuckoo’s Calling (Sphere) finds London private eye Cormoran Strike investigating the suspicious death of a famous model. A hugely enjoyable tale of old-fashioned sleuthing.

A Delicate Truth by John le Carré, €27.50

Le Carré’s 23rd spy thriller opens with a botched attempt to snare a weapons dealer on Gibraltar, the cover-up of which drags young London-based diplomat Toby Bell into a murky world of extraordinary renditions and the public-private enterprise of national security.

The Deal by Michael Clifford, €18.75

The Deal (Hachette Books Ireland) builds on the considerable promise of Clifford’s 2001 debut, Ghost Town, with a taut tale about successful saleswoman Karen Riney and her doomed venture into the underworld of recession-proof grow houses.

Tampa by Alissa Nutting, €18.75

Tampa (Faber & Faber) is a first-person account of a sexual predator who targets impressionable teenagers. The twist? Celeste Price is an ostensibly respectable English teacher, a woman who will stop at nothing to fulfil her grotesquely perverse ambitions.

Light of the World by James Lee Burke, €20.50

Burke’s 32nd novel (Simon & Schuster) takes his series hero Dave Robicheaux into the Montana mountains, where he confronts serial killer Asa Surrette. The prose takes on a Biblical quality as Burke pits good versus evil in a contemporary tale with strong overtones of the classic Western.

Angel City by Jon Steele, €20.50

The sequel to Steele’s 2011 debut The Watchers, Angel City (Bantam Press) is the second in a proposed trilogy that finds the deadpan private eye Jay Harper battling in a timeless war against demonic forces. Paradise Lost with atomic weaponry, basically. Thrilling.

Police by Jo Nesbo, €20.50

The tenth outing for Oslo-based police detective Harry Hole, Police (Harvill Secker) finds Harry battling his own demons as a serial killer targets his former colleagues. A powerful psychological thriller that features one of the most fascinatingly complex heroes in contemporary crime fiction.

Cross of Vengeance by Cora Harrison, €28.99

Cross of Vengeance (Severn House) is the 10th novel from Clare-based author Harrison to feature her series heroine Mara, a 15th century Brehon judge. Mara investigates the murder of a German pilgrim, who appears to have been struck down by God. The Burren landscape shines.
Cross and Burn by Val McDermid, €20.50

Cross and Burn (Little, Brown) finds clinical psychologist Tony Hill dealing with the fall-out from his latest confrontation with serial killer Jacko Vance. Meanwhile, a killer appears to be targeting women who resemble Tony’s former partner. A propulsive tale underpinned with sharp insight.

The Convictions of John Delahunt by Andrew Hughes, €18.85

Opening in 1842, The Convictions of John Delahunt (Doubleday) is a compelling tale of informants, police corruption and murder in Victorian Dublin. A very promising debut novel from historian Hughes, it’s a beautifully written historical crime drama based on true events.

Holy Orders by Benjamin Black, €20.50

The sixth novel from Benjamin Black — aka John Banville — to feature the investigative pathologist Quirke, Holy Orders (Mantle) is an elegantly written exploration of the darker corners of 1950’s Dublin, when the Catholic Church wielded its power mercilessly. A masterclass in mood, tone and atmosphere.

Never Go Back by Lee Child, €21.50

The 18th Jack Reacher novel, Never Go Back (Bantam Press) finds Reacher in Washington DC, where he is accused of a murder he didn’t — he’s almost certain — commit. For once Reacher finds himself vulnerable to his emotions, and the twists and turns that follow are all the more resonant for it.

The Outsider by Arlene Hunt, €11.50

Why would anyone want to attack the harmless and possibly autistic teenager Emma Byrne? Set in Wicklow, The Outsider (Portnoy Publishing) is a slow-burning psychological thriller that gradually excavates the murderous rage that lies beneath the apparently placid setting of a rural village.

The Red Road by Denise Mina, €18.75

The fourth police procedural from Denise Mina to feature her hardboiled heroine Inspector Alex Morrow, and set in Glasgow, The Red Road (Orion) switches from past to present as Morrow investigates the reasons why a young girl might knife two men to death in a single night. The chief delight here is Morrow, a character of real substance.

The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly, €20.50

Lincoln lawyer Mickey Haller faces down The Gods of Guilt (Orion), aka the jury, in Michael Connelly’s latest offering, although Mickey also has his own private guilt, and his own demons, to answer to.

Here Mickey is as much an investigator as he is a lawyer as he tries to discover why a former friend has been murdered.

An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris, €18.75

As much a historical account of the Dreyfus Affair as it is a thrilling spy novel, An Officer and a Spy (Hutchinson) puts Major Georges Picquart of the French War Department centre stage as he picks apart the cover-up and corruption that led to Dreyfus becoming a scapegoat for the infamous spy scandal that rocked 1890’s France.

Honourable Mentions

* The Carrier (Hodder & Stoughton) by Sophie Hannah is her latest thriller to feature Simon Waterhouse.

* Set in Moscow in the 1930’s, William Ryan’s The Twelfth Department (Mantle) is a Kafkaesque murder investigation.

* Jeffrey Deaver’s The Kill Room (Hodder & Stoughton) finds paraplegic investigator Lincoln Rhymes digging into extra-judicial killings.

* A private eye tale set in contemporary Greece, The Black Life (Severn House) by Paul Johnston harks back to the Nazi occupation and the Holocaust.

* Louise Penny’s The Beautiful Mystery (Sphere) featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, is set in a remote Canadian monastery.

* Eoin Colfer’s second adult crime novel, Screwed (Headline), is an hilarious screwball caper set in New Jersey.

Cookbooks

Stocking the shelves for the bookworms in your life this Christmas

Chef Ross Lewis, author of the stylish Chapter One: An Irish Food Story

FOR some a cookbook is all about the photographs, while others are happy to get to know the cook through evocative words. With a lot of new titles coming from Ireland this year, we look at the best of the bunch which provide interesting choices for both keen and less experienced cooks.

Chapter One: An Irish Food Story by Ross Lewis

In hardback by Gill & Macmillan €39.99. Easily the most glamorous book of the year, with the best photographs (by Barry McCall), Ross Lewis has transposed his flair for food and appreciation of those who produce ingredients for him in the best possible way. The recipes are stylish and complex but side dishes are easy (his red cabbage recipe is ideal for the festive season), but overall it’s a book to drool over and for competent cooks to enjoy a challenge. A terrific promotion of modern Irish food.

Master It: How to Cook Today by Rory O’Connell

In hardback from 4th Estate. €30. A treat to watch cooking, Rory O’Connell is an excellent communicator and writes in a style that manages to be lyrical while practical. Not a book for those who insist on photographs of every dish, this is more for those who enjoy learning how to appreciate all the stages of food preparation from shopping to serving. Delicious recipes, too, even for those with lots of cookbooks.

The Paris Gourmet by Trish Deseine

In paperback from Flammarion, €25 For anyone planning to visit Paris or attempting to get into the French psyche, this book has plenty of humourous tips as well as easy, imaginative recipes to whet the appetite. I used it on a recent trip to find new cafés and restaurants and the descriptions were spot-on. Recipes include easy bites, soups and a delicious fruit crumble.

Dream Deli by Lilly Higgins

In hardback from Gill & McMillan €22.99. Easy, tasty recipes are the key to this book which has plenty to entice young cooks into the kitchen. Recipes are varied from granolas (one with peanut butter) to goats’ cheese with radish and sea salt, baked kale chips to Sicilian wedding cake. Not surprisingly for this writer and broadcaster, the introductions are amusing. Greaat for younger readers who need encouragement.

The Irish Beef Book by Pat Whelan and Katy McGuinness

In hardback from Gill & Macmillan €24.99. From corned beef with parsley sauce to bone marrow pizza, getting the best from beef is the message is this book for committed carnivores. Slow cooking makes the best of inexpensive cuts, while a good steak is celebrated with a guide to choosing and cooking each cut. Lots to learn in this one.

Mary Berry’s Cookery Course

In hardback from DK, £25. Loved by those of us who have cooked for many years, Mary Berry’s popularity has further increased with her contribution to the BBC’s Great British Bakeoff.

This clear guide to many basic recipes has tips for making a decent omelette, herby meatballs and easy sultana flapjacks. My eight-year-old niece made the flapjacks and they worked perfectly. A good book for beginners.

Pie by Angela Boggiano

In hardback from Mitchell Beazley €19.

Plenty of light recipes using bought puff pastry take us away from traditional weighty versions more popular in England than Ireland in this collection of easy recipes. Fennel and gruyere puffs, sausage rolls, chocolate and pecan pie, peach and apricot pie all work well. Paul Hollywood’s book – Pies and Puds (Bloomsbury €24) is another good pie book, more suited to beginners, but I like the flavours in Pie best.

The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson

In hardback from Mitchell Beazley €40. This seventh edition of an easy to navigate wine book is the perfect pairing with a cookbook for a luxurious gift. The basics of winemaking and growing grapes are covered, along with what grapes are most common in various regions, how to recognise them, how they taste, with lots of enticement to visit the areas.

Essential reading for foodies.

The Nation’s Favourite Food by Neven Maguire

In hardback from Gill & Macmillan €22.99.

Popular in his Co Cavan-based restaurant and on television, Neven Maguire shares easy recipes in this book aimed at those who like variations on classics.

Caramelised pork belly with honey and ginger sauce, lasagne enriched with anchovies, strawberry and lemon curd sponge cake are typical.

Kevin Dundon’s Modern Irish Food

In hardback from Mitchell Beazley €22.

In a slightly confusing layout where recipe titles are in the middle of the page, dishes for basics such as roast, sautéed garlic potatoes and Dauphinoise potatoes are useful to find in one place. His rhubarb and grape jam, red pepper jelly, red onion marmalade, are delicious.


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