This week's bookcase includes reviews of Heather, The Totality by Matt Weiner, The Midnight Line by Lee Child and The Dreams Of Bethany Mellmoth by William Boyd


The Midnight Line by Lee Child is published in hardback by Bantam Press, priced £20 (ebook £9.99). Available now

Jack Reacher, giant, righteous avenger, seeker of the truth - book number 22 and Lee Child shows no sign of flagging. Reacher sees a West Point class ring from 2005 in a pawn shop window in a small Midwestern town. The ring is tiny and must have belonged to a woman. He pledges to track her down, wanting to know who she was. Curiosity sends him on a quest involving human damage, stolen prescription drugs, a beautiful sister, a private eye, a drug operator who wants Reacher dead, and a man who died in the wilds of Wyoming, eaten by a bear. Only no one believes that story. Some Reacher mathematics: one plus seven equals one prime bruiser, and seven middle-aged bikers stand in his way as he sets off. Those seven bikers emerge minus their dignity, plus bruises. Too many details here would spoil the plot, and Reacher is all about plot, as well as character - a character hewn from rock, as this ex-military cop rights wrongs and seeks answers. The writing is typically good, the scenarios swiftly executed and the pyrotechnics subdued. Reacher is back to his beginnings and Lee Child does him compelling justice.


(Review by Julian Cole)

The Dreams Of Bethany Mellmoth by William Boyd is published in hardback by Viking, priced £14.99 (ebook £9.99). Available now

William Boyd's first novel A Good Man In Africa was published in 1981 and his fourteenth Sweet Caress was published in 2015. In between he has written numerous screenplays, some of his own novels and three collections of short stories. A chance encounter leads a protagonist to rewind through the years of a past relationship, an art dealer called Ludo learns that a kiss is not enough, and a young German soldier fails to learn anything from his misguided attempts to save a chimpanzee in Africa. Bethany Mellmoth is a 24-year-old who stumbles from one relationship to the next, stopping only to try out her lover's surname with her first name, before hurrying on to the next encounter. This collection ends with a slow burning, tongue-in-cheek, thriller. An actor, whose speciality is roles where his character dies early in a film, uses knowledge gleaned on film sets to solve a murder mystery. William Boyd has said he enjoys the variety of writing short stories, and there is certainly variety in this collection. He has played around with different forms, such as a collection of unsent letters and a series of diary entries. He is a skilled and humorous storyteller, and his pleasure in exploring life's uncertainties is apparent.


(Review by Sue Barraclough)

Broken Mirror by Jonathon Coe is published in hardback by Unbound, priced £9.99. Available now

Following a child's point of view has always been a popular method of dramatising the way we make sense of a confusing world. Jonathan Coe's best-known novel, The Rotters' Club, in fact, told the story of children growing up in 1970s Britain. The Broken Mirror also employs this device but, for the first time, Coe's intended audience is children, as well as adults. In keeping with this switch, the book features a number of hyper-real illustrations by Italian artist Chiara Coccorese, which reproduce scenes from the story. When the book begins, we meet eight-year-old Claire, living - surviving - awkwardly in a world seething with social tension. (Strong intimations of 'Brexit Britain' here.) But when Claire finds a broken mirror that allows her glimpses into a magical world, will it allow her to change things? The book would certainly be a good way of engaging your child in a discussion about how - and whether - we can change the world. The characters, however, are slightly flat and unexciting. The style is clear and does not condescend its readers, but you are unlikely to find many passages that you or your children will want to reread: The book is characterised by a rather sombre tone.


(Review by Rachel Farrow)

Heather, The Totality by Matt Weiner is published in hardback by Canon Gate, priced £14.99 (ebook £11.99). Available now

Heather, The Totality is the first novel by Matthew Weiner, creator of hit series Mad Men and writer on The Sopranos, and tracks a wealthy Manhattan family and a loner from a poor area in New Jersey, detailing how their lives cross with brutal consequences. The titular Heather is the beloved daughter of the Manhattanites, the centre of her parents' world, who is praised for both her beauty and empathy - illustrated by faux-profound statements she makes on the subway as a toddler - but who creates fractures in her family as they compete for her attention. Heather, The Totality is written in a mannered, distant style that tends to make the characters feel like archetypes, intensified by them being referred to at times as Father, Mother and Worker, making it difficult to become emotionally involved in the story, despite what should be gripping and shocking events taking place. Weiner displays an impressive turn of phrase, particularly in capturing the animal nature underlying the niceties of society, and deftly crafts tension in this brief, thought-provoking novel, which skewers class assumptions, and questions how well anyone really knows those closest to them.


(Review by Laura Paterson)


Paddington's London: The Movie Pop-up Book is published in hardback by HarperCollins Children's Books priced £25. Available now

Created to coincide with the release of Paddington 2 in cinemas, this pop-up book is light on words and story - Aunt Lucy visits from Peru, Paddington shows her around London's top attractions, he eats a marmalade sandwich, they go home, the end - but the paper engineering is pretty impressive. Charming illustrations of London Bridge, Piccadilly Circus, St Paul's Cathedral and the Houses of Parliament, by Joanna Bill and Olga Baumert, have been intricately transformed into 3D card constructions that do threaten to tangle, but end up folding rather neatly. Little ones will enjoy spotting interesting characters - look out for the chimney sweep outside St Paul's, the bathers on boats in the Thames and the ice-cream truck at Piccadilly - but it comes nowhere close to the joy of reading an actual Paddington story by Michael Bond.


(Review by Ella Walker)



1. Bad Dad by David Walliams

2. La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

3. Origin by Dan Brown

4. 5 Ingredients - Quick & Easy Food by Jamie Oliver

5. Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

6. The Secret Life Of Cows by Rosamund Young

7. Guinness World Records 2018 by Guinness World Records

8. The Invisible Child and The Fir Tree:The Moomins Special Collectors' Edition

9. Tom Gates: Epic Adventure (kind of) by Liz Pichon

10. Mythos: A Retelling Of The Myths Of Ancient Greece by Stephen Fry

(Compiled by Waterstones)


1. The Crow Girl by Erik Axl Sund

2. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

3. The Polar Bear Explorers' Club by Alex Bell

4. Autumn by Ali Smith

5. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

6. The Sun And Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

7. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

8. Need You Dead by Peter James

9. Zog and the Flying Doctors by Julia Donaldson

10. Amelia Fang And The Barbaric Ball by Laura Ellen Anderson

(Compiled by Waterstones)


1. The Midnight Line by Lee Child

2. Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear

3. Dark Skies by LJ Ross

4. The Good Samaritan by John Marrs

5. Broken Bones by Angela Marsons

6. Follow You Home by Mark Edwards

7. The Woman At 72 Derry Lane by Carmel Harrington

8. The Mistake by K.L. Slater

9. Why Mummy Drinks by Gill Sims

10. Friend Request by Laura Marshall

(Compiled by Kindle)