Books to Look Out For Out for in July 2024: Part Two

Cover image for True Love by Paddy CreweThis second instalment of July’s fiction is a very mixed bag beginning with the second novel from an author whose debut couldn’t be more different. As the title suggests Paddy Crewe’s True Love is a love story but far from what you might call a romance. Keely and Finn are two damaged young people who fall deeply in love, opening themselves to each other in a way they’ve never done with anyone else, each seeing the other as their salvation until the first euphoric months are over and reality sinks in. Crewe takes time to develop his characters so that I came to care about what happened to them. A tender story, beautifully told, it’s a world away from Crewe’s first novel, My Name is Yip, a modern Western. Review shortly…
Cover image for Cross by Austin Duffy

I’ve read and enjoyed all three of oncologist Austin Duffy’s eloquent novels, each of which explores a medical theme in one way or another. Cross sounds very different. Opening in 1994, the year of the ceasefire, it’s set in the eponymous Northern Irish border town where many have blood on their hands, and others are mourning their losses. ‘From its dramatic first chapter, Cross is an extraordinary evocation of the loyalties and divisions within a town governed by its own variety of law, where violence is rewarded and complicity is second nature. It is a complex tale of betrayal and brutality at the height of the Troubles, a moving, powerful and empathetic lament for a community that has lost its way in its battle for the nation’ says the blurb. I’m expecting great things of this one.

Cover image for Someone Like Us by Dinaw MengestuIt’s a long time since I read Dinaw Mengestu’s All Our Names but it’s stayed with me as did Children of the Revolution. His new novel, Someone Like Us, follows Mamush who returns to his Ethiopian community in Washington DC from Paris when his marriage comes close to collapse after five years. The day of his arrival, his father is found dead in his garage sending Mamush off on a journey across the States seeking answers to questions he never felt able to ask. ‘Breath-taking, commanding, unforgettable work from one of America’s most prodigiously gifted novelists’ says the blurb which might sound like hyperbole but given Mengestu’s previous novels I’m prepared to believe it.Cover image for Test Kitchen by Neil Stewart

Just one thing puts me off Neil D. A. Stewart’s Test Kitchen – that eyeball on the cover – otherwise it sounds right up my street. Much praised by the likes of Paul Murray and Marina O’Loughlin, it’s set over a single night in a London restaurant where everyone has an agenda, from the anonymous influential food critic to the patisserie chef stalked by an ex-lover, not to mention the maître d’ caught up in a conspiracy, all watched by the restaurant’s newest recruit as mayhem unfolds. ‘Tense and moreish, Test Kitchen is a darkly funny and often macabre story about the culture of food, of dining and eating, about feeding and nourishing, about mothers, mortality and magic’ says the blurb which sounds irresistible.

Cover image for How Can I Help You by Laura SimsSet in a library, Laura Sims’ How Can I Help You follows Margo, who’s not at all who her colleagues think she is, and Patricia, a frustrated writer, new to the small town where she’s taken up the post of reference librarian. Once an ICU nurse, Margo has worked as a circulation assistant for two years, accepted by her colleagues who see her as a good sport. When Patricia arrives, Margo’s slightly rattled but determined to make friends, uncharacteristically letting slip a detail about her past that fans Patricia’s writerly curiosity already ignited by her discovery of Margo apparently trying to save an elderly patron, collapsed in the toilet. There’s lots of dark humour to enjoy in this thoroughly enjoyable piece of bookish crime fiction which reminded me of Alice Slater’s excellent Death of a Bookseller. Review soon…

July’s short story collection is Eley Williams’s Moderate to Poor, Occasionally Good which I’d want to read for that title alone even if I hadn’t loved The Liar’s Dictionary. Williams explores relationships – both intimate and transient – in stories which range from a teenager’s crush on a saint to an essayist annotating thoughts on Keats using internet sex-tips. ‘Moderate to Poor, Occasionally Good hums with fossicking language and ingenious experiments in form and considers notions of playfulness, authenticity and care as it holds relationships to account: their sweet misunderstandings, soured reflections, queer wish fulfilments and shared, held breaths’ says the blurb, whetting my appetite further. I’m sure it will be brilliant.

That’s it for July’s new fiction. As ever, a click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis should you want to know more, and if you’d like to catch up with part one it’s here. Paperbacks soon…

31 thoughts on “Books to Look Out For Out for in July 2024: Part Two”

    1. I’m keen to read Cross. Interesting that Duffy’s stepped outside the medical sphere. The Stewart sounds great, doesn’t it, and the Sims is a lot of dark fun.

  1. Well, I’ve already reseerved the first two. They’re both destined for Scarborough Library, who may not be best pleased to relinquish their copies to me before their own citizens get their hands on them. The others all look worth investigating too. You always seem to hunt down the good ‘uns!

  2. Thanks Susan for diverse list. Crewe and Mengestu appeal to me. Having recently read Louise Kennedy’s excellent book Trespasses set during the Northern Ireland troubles I think I will take a break from the theme and pass on Duffy

      1. I am not really into medical literature, although I loved the tv adaptation of Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt.

  3. These all sound great to me, perfect matches for my current reading mood.
    I’m actually reading what I’ve missed of Mengestu to prep for a review of his July realease: ohhhh, he’s just SO good.

  4. I hadn’t heard of any of these until reading your post. I really like the sound of Cross, I don’t really know why I am so drawn to books set in Ireland, particularly Northern Ireland but I am. Thanks for highlighting it.

    1. You’re welcome, Austin Duffy’s such a good writer. I’ve enjoyed his medical-themed books and will be interested to see where this new direction takes him.

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