By Herman Koch
Dutch author Herman Koch has always been able to add a hint of the macabre to his tales and this particular novel benefits greatly from his more grisly leanings. Not that this slick family orientated novel is all uncomfortable. Centred on the actions of two very, very badly behaved young men and the response of their families, this tale is as amusing as it is horrific. A real page turner, Koch proves himself to be one of Europe’s most accessible and enjoyable contemporary novelists.
Batman: Earth One
By Geoff Johns
This dark series of comics sends us to an alternative world where our beloved Batman is much less assured in his crime fighting abilities. Guided by a more cynical Alfred, Bruce Wayne awkwardly attempts to find and avenge his parent’s killers. His vulnerability and lack of serious support make this a much more tense than usual outing for the DC hero. The atmospheric artwork from Gary Frank also adds nicely to the gothic aura surrounding this particular tale.
Forge of Darkness
By Steven Erikson
Few fantasy writers manage to combine mainstream success with literary credibility, but Steven Erikson has certainly achieved both. Breaking away from his celebrated Gardens of the Moon series, Forge of Darkness is the start of a new trilogy. Brutal and unflinching, Erikson gives us a world where treachery rules, magic causes mayhem and forces beyond human control and comprehension destroy the last few threads of order. Not one for non-fantasy fans maybe, but a definite treat for converts.
Ghosts of Empire: Britain’s Legacies in the Modern World
By Kwasi Kwarteng
With the Jubilee and London Olympics dominating much of 2012 already, there probably hasn’t been a better time to examine Britain’s mark on the world. Well detailed with plenty of references to the good and bad of The Empire, Kwasi Kwarteng portrays the always single-minded, occasionally shady and often shambolic nature of how Britain came to be so powerful. Objective and balanced, it’s a fascinating account.
The Idle Traveller: The Art of Slow Travel
By Dan Kieran
Dan Kiernan is a smart and cultured writer who has plenty to say about how we go about holidays today. This book argues we spend too much time ignoring the more unpredictable elements of travel and should, rather than go by the guide books, just get lost and have fun even if it means getting out of our comfort zone. Drawing on his own experiences, disastrous ones included, Dan gives plenty of ideas for future trips.