5 new books to read in lockdown

This week’s bookcase includes reviews of The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson and The Panic Years by Nell Frizzell.

Prudence Wade
Wednesday 03 March 2021 13:50 GMT

Pick up a gripping thriller, or discover the story behind one of literature’s most mysterious characters…


1. The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson is published in hardback by HQ, priced £12.99 (ebook £5.99). Available now

Detective Inspector Anjelica Henley is searching for a killer who has left a grisly trail of body parts in their wake. The case is strikingly similar to that of Peter Olivier, the notorious Jigsaw Killer she helped put behind bars – and now Henley is forced back into his disturbing orbit. Nadine Matheson’s debut takes you on a tour of south east London’s lesser known landmarks. And as a criminal solicitor, she brings pleasing authenticity to DI Henley’s investigation, from the intricacies of cell site and CCTV analysis, down to the tagging of evidence exhibits. The Deptford-born writer also draws on the capital’s rich multicultural heritage to breathe life into a fresh and engaging set of characters. For lovers of modern crime fiction, Matheson’s macabre novel will hit the spot.7/10(Review by Emily Pennink)

2. Kololo Hill by Neema Shah is published in hardback by Picador, priced £14.99 (ebook £8.49). Available now

Kololo Hill is the story of a family uprooted, when thousands of Asians were ordered to leave Uganda in 1972. The shadow of British colonialism sets the book in its historical context, as many Indians were brought as indentured labourers to build railways in the previous century. Given just 90 days to flee by brutal dictator Idi Amin debut author Neema Shah’s characters – from newlyweds Asha and Pran, to elderly Jaya – are confronted with the loss of their home, business, and entire community, and face being scattered across the world. Shah explores the chaos and fear of ordinary people’s lives during Amin’s rule, weaving personal stories of love and betrayal into heightening tension and violence. A nail-biting airport dash encapsulates the vulnerability of women during conflict, while vivid descriptions invoke the heat and noise of the landscape.7/10(Review by Jessica Frank-Keyes)

3. Nick by Michael Farris Smith is published in hardback by No Exit Press, priced £12.99 (ebook £6.99). Available now

For lovers of The Great Gatsby comes an ambitious reimagining of one of literature’s most elusive narrators. Michael Farris Smith finally gives readers a chance to unlock the true identity of Nick Carraway, and understand how he came to be an outsider in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic tale. From the trenches of WWI right up to Nick’s arrival in West Egg, Smith takes us on an emotional journey defined by trauma, heartbreak, love and loss, that will eventually leave us with a damaged narrator who, until now, has only ever existed in the background. While the writing is vivid, the book holds none of Gatsby’s glamour or allure. Covering themes of war, mental illness and childhood neglect, there are a number of sections that are difficult to get through. Perhaps there is a reason Fitzgerald left Nick in the dark?6/10(Review by Scarlett Sangster)


4. The Panic Years by Nell Frizzell is published in hardback by Bantam Press, priced £14.99 (ebook £7.99). Available now

Nell Frizzell’s debut examines the lesser-talked about ‘panic years’ – the crunch time in a woman’s life where she’s faced with the overwhelming decision of whether to have children, with the unavoidable deadline of fertility looming. Frizzell considers how it is often during this time that women’s lives are in flux; changing their careers, partners and homes – all of which makes the choice around having babies all the more chaotic. This book is incredibly relatable and comforting, addressing the constant comparison and confusion women at this life stage often face. Frizzell writes beautifully and poetically on the subject, making the tricky balance between acknowledging the stark reality of a biological deadline, while reassuring and validating the reader’s concerns with hilarious and comforting anecdotes from her own panic years. This is an important read for all women in their late twenties and early thirties who are wondering what should come next, and when.8/10(Review by Liz Connor)

Children’s book of the week

5. Show Us Who You Are by Elle McNicoll is published in paperback by Knights Of, priced £6.99. Available March 4

Show Us Who You Are puts 12-year-old Cora, who has autism, front and centre. Cora – who struggles to fit in and sees herself as an outsider – finds a friend in Adrien, who has ADHD, and then things get a bit sci-fi… Cora gets caught up in the weird goings-on at the Pomegranate Institute, the company Adrien’s dad set up that uses AI to create scarily realistic holograms of people who have passed away. Similar to her debut, A Kind Of Spark, McNicoll gives a voice to the neurodivergent – sharing with readers what it can be like to be autistic, while emphasising all experiences are unique. The most moving sections focus on the relationship between Cora and Adrien, showing how their ‘different’ brains make them special. However, you can’t help but feel McNicoll bit off more than she could chew – new developments and traumas come thick and fast, leaving less space for the personal relationships to flourish.7/10(Review by Prudence Wade)


HARDBACK (FICTION)1. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell2. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman3. Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart4. A Court Of Silver Flames by Sarah J Maas5. Daughters Of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson6. The Galaxy, And The Ground Within by Becky Chambers7. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett8. Slough House by Mick Herron9. Insatiable by Daisy Buchanan10. Luster by Raven Leilani(Compiled by Waterstones)

HARDBACK (NON-FICTION)1. How To Avoid A Climate Disaster by Bill Gates2. All Dogs Great And Small by Graeme Hall3. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse by Charlie Mackesy4. Clanlands by Sam Heughan & Graham McTavish5. Empireland by Sathnam Sanghera6. Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given7. A Promised Land by Barack Obama8. One Of The Family by Nicky Campbell9. Guinness World Records 2021 by Guinness World Records10. Jews Don’t Count by David Baddiel(Compiled by Waterstones)

AUDIOBOOKS (FICTION AND NON-FICTION)1. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman2. A Promised Land by Barack Obama3. Orwell Collection: Animal Farm & 1984 by George Orwell4. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig5. Silent Child by Sarah A Denzil6. How To Avoid A Climate Disaster by Bill Gates7. Atomic Habits by James Clear8. The Remains Of The Day by Kazuo Ishiguro9. Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey10. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban by JK Rowling(Compiled by Audible)

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