Good news, book fans: another productive London Book Fair is in our rear-view mirror. Now, as we spring forward (see what we did there?) into the warmer months, our focus returns to some of the hottest fiction our publishers have to offer. Read on for just a few of the fantastic titles we have coming up this month:
The Distant Dead by Heather Young
(Verve Books, 9780857308146, p/b, £9.99)
When a burnt body is identified as local math teacher Adam Merkel, a small Nevada town is rocked to its core. In the seven months he worked at Lovelock’s middle school, the quiet and seemingly unremarkable Adam Merkel had formed a bond with just one of his students: Sal Prentiss, a lonely sixth grader who lives with his uncles on a desolate ranch in the hills. It is Sal who finds Adam’s body, charred almost beyond recognition, half a mile from his uncles compound. Nora Wheaton, the school’s social studies teacher, sensed a kindred spirit in Adam. After his death, she delves into his past for clues to who killed him. Yet, the truth about Adam’s murder may lie closer to home.
Nettles by Adam Scovell
(Influx Press, 9781910312735 p/b, £9.99)
It is the first day of term at a secondary school. A boy cowers in an alleyway, surrounded by a group clad in black. They whip his bare legs with nettles. This is only the start. As term unfolds, their bullying campaign intensifies. Soon the boy finds solace hiding in marshland under the nearby motorway. Voices there urge council with Grannies Rock, a strange stone that sits on derelict land known as The Breck. There, the whispers in the breeze promise a terrible revenge. Twenty years later, the boy has grown. He is back home from London to pack his away his childhood. Armed with a Polaroid camera, he aims to exorcise those painful memories. But is his memory of what happened reliable?
Polluted Sex by Lauren Foley
(Influx Press, 9781910312919, p/b, £7.99)
A pregnant woman takes the ferry to the UK. A fractious intimate relationship develops between an Irish woman, an English man, and her girlfriend. Two ungendered characters contest the same female body. A deserted wife takes a lover but remains unsatisfied. Lauren Foley’s debut collection of dramatic short stories is fearless in its depiction of women’s bodies and sexuality, offering an unflinching window into Irish girl and womanhood.
Pollak’s Arm by Hans Von Trotha
(New Vessel Press, 9781954404007, p/b, £12.99)
16th October 1943, inside the Vatican as darkness descends upon Rome. Having been alerted to the Nazi plan to round up the city’s Jewish population the next day, Monsignor M dispatches to bring Ludwig Pollak and his family to safety. But Pollak shows no sign of leaving his home; instead, he recounts his spell-binding life story: how he studied archaeology in Prague, his passion for Italy and Goethe, how he became a renowned antiquities dealer and advisor to great collectors, and his spectacular discovery of the missing arm from the ancient sculpture of Laocoön and his sons.
Song for the Missing by Pierre Jarawan
(World Editions, 9781912987290, p/b, £14.99)
It’s 2011 and the Arab Spring is in full bloom when the discovery of two bodies in Beirut sows the first seeds of unrest in Lebanon. With houses already burning, Amin sets out to write down his memories of the country: Of the year 1994, when he returned as a teenager with his grandmother, twelve years after his parents’ deaths. In this novel full of mystery and suspense, friendship and loss, searches and secrets, Jarawan skillfully interweaves a deeply personal story with the tumultuous history of the Middle East.