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An occasional preview of some forthcoming books of interest.

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

Knopf Canada
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Romans have long since departed, and Britain is steadily declining into ruin. But at least the wars that once ravaged the country have ceased.

The Buried Giant begins as a couple, Axl and Beatrice, set off across a troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen for years. They expect to face many hazards—some strange and other-worldly—but they cannot yet foresee how their journey will reveal to them dark and forgotten corners of their love for one another.

Sometimes savage, often intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel in a decade is about lost memories, love, revenge, and war.

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Dead Wake by Erik Larson

Crown
Dead Wake by Erik Larson

On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds”—the fastest liner then in service—and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack.

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger’s U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small—hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more—all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.

It is a story that many of us think we know but don’t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour and suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love.

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Lamentation by C.J. Sansom

Random House Canada
Lamentation by C.J. Sansom

Summer, 1546. King Henry VIII is slowly, painfully dying. His Protestant and Catholic councillors are engaged in a final and decisive power struggle; whoever wins will control the government of Henry's successor, 8-year-old Prince Edward. As heretics are hunted across London, and the radical Protestant Anne Askew is burned at the stake, the Catholic party focus their attack on Henry's 6th wife, Matthew Shardlake's old mentor, Queen Catherine Parr.

Shardlake, still haunted by events aboard the warship Mary Rose the year before, is working on the Cotterstoke Will case, a savage dispute between rival siblings. Then, unexpectedly, he is summoned to Whitehall Palace and asked for help by his old patron, the now beleaguered and desperate Queen.

For Catherine Parr has a secret. She has written a confessional book, Lamentation of a Sinner, so radically Protestant that if it came to the King's attention it could bring both her and her sympathizers crashing down. But, although the book was kept secret and hidden inside a locked chest in the Queen's private chamber, it has--inexplicably--vanished. Only one page has been found, clutched in the hand of a murdered London printer.

Shardlake's investigations take him on a trail that begins among the backstreet printshops of London but leads him and Jack Barak into the dark and labyrinthine world of the politics of the royal court; a world he had sworn never to enter again. Loyalty to the Queen will drive him into a swirl of intrigue inside Whitehall Palace, where Catholic enemies and Protestant friends can be equally dangerous, and the political opportunists, who will follow the wind wherever it blows, more dangerous than either.

The theft of Queen Catherine's book proves to be connected to the terrible death of Anne Askew, while his involvement with the Cotterstoke litigants threatens to bring Shardlake himself to the stake.

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I Am Radar by Reif Larsen

Hamish Hamilton
I Am Radar by Reif Larsen

At the birth of Radar Radmanovic, all of the hospital electricity mysteriously fails. When the lights are turned on again, the staff is startled to see the healthy baby boy--with unusually black skin--born to the two stunned Caucasian parents. Despite the father’s joy at the successful delivery, it is the mother, Charlene, who bears the brunt of the gossip and speculation, and who becomes overwhelmed with her need to ‘fix’ the skin color of her beloved Radar. Though Charlene has her own problems following the birth--including a newly heightened but crippling sense of smell--she receives no help from the hospital staff. “A childbirth is an explosion,” the ancient physician says by way of explanation. “Some shrapnel is inevitable, isn’t it?”

Just what was born in the long explosion of the Twentieth Century? In the shrapnel of propaganda and colonialism, genocide and racism, the characters of I Am Radar hunt in the rubble for what life can still be salvaged. Following a secret society of puppeteers and scientists who perform experimental art in the midst of violent conflict, I Am Radar is a triumph of pure storytelling, a testament to the liberating powers of the imagination.

Written by acclaimed novelist Reif Larsen--the author of The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet, soon to be a major motion picture--I Am Radar displays the same measures of charm and empathy, tragic circumstance and original dialogue for which Larsen’s last work was praised. A sophisticated but addictive reading experience that draws on the farthest reaches of quantum physics, forgotten history, and performance art, I Am Radar is a novel somehow greater than all of its parts, a breath-taking and unparalleled joyride through the worst that humanity has to offer only to arrive at a place of shocking wonder and redemption.

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