Cover Stories: strong debuts on prize list; the Bhutto perspective; Linley deal; Doyle's farewell

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* Good to see that "sparkling new fiction" doesn't necessarily equal chicklit and beach reads. The shortlist for the first Desmond Elliott Prize, announced this week, highlights some strong debuts: there's Sunday at the Cross Bones by John Walsh of this parish (Fourth Estate); Gifted by Nikita Lalwani (Viking); and Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith (Simon & Schuster). The 1/2 favourite, it is set in Stalin's Russia, where a serial killer is on the loose. The novel has been published in 22 countries – Russia is not one of them. The £10,000 winner will be announced on 26 June at Fortnum & Mason, where Elliott used to do his grocery shopping.

* Fatima Bhutto, Benazir's niece and the granddaughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, executed in 1979, is at work on a book that will explain the complexities and contradictions of the Bhutto clan and Pakistan itself. Born under Kabul's curfew and educated in the west, Fatima – a journalist and writer who published a poetry collection at 15 – "challenges the con-ventional wisdom about Pakistan", examining the politics of family and the relationship between women and power. Cape will publish in two years.

* Who else but Caroline Michel of PFD would be agent to David Linley, son of the late Princess Margaret and thus the Queen's nephew? This week she sold his book Star Pieces: A Passion for Furniture, co-written with Christie's Charles Cator and journalist Helen Chislett, to Thames & Hudson. The book will examine how furniture is an integral part of a room's overall design, providing "visual excitement" and an outlet for designers to express themselves. Indeed, Linley describes it as "sculpture".

* Heavy hearts at Macmillan, where Deputy Publisher and Picador stalwart Ursula Doyle leaves today. Doyle, who acquired Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones, will be missed for her genuine literary nous.