The Institute, by Stephen King (Hodder & Stoughton, 2019)

A 12-year-old boy genius with latent telekinetic abilities is kidnapped and held at a secret research station. A knowing and occasionally satirical low-key novel; as usual, the ending is the issue, though there’s huge amounts of pleasure in this mix of folksy Americana, paranoid SF and character study. Fun for author fans.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris, by Georges Perec [trans. Marc Lowenthal] (Wakefield Press, 2010)

Three days of observations of the same Paris street. A mesmerising, poetic, futile and charming go at capturing everything that happens – more or less – in a single place over a short space of time. Makes you want to have a crack at the same thing yourself, which can only be a recommendation.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England. But if you like the idea of this book, then chances are that you’ll like Benches of Louth

With Child: Lee Child and the Readers of Jack Reacher, by Andy Martin (Polity Press, 2019)

A sequel/companion to Martin’s Reacher Said Nothing; a year with Lee Child in the aftermath of writing Make Me (documented in the first book). This time the emphasis is less on process than on the contexts of bestselling fiction: publicity, signings, readerships, filming, travel. As before (!), a unique insight into writing life, being funny, deft but erudite, and engaging throughout. Recommended.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

The Exphoria Code, by Antony Johnston (Lightning Books, 2017)

A troubled MI6 hacker finds evidence of a spy inside a top-secret military coding project. Zippy high-tech thriller with lots to recommend it – not least its protagonist, who has series potential – even if the third act wobbles a bit in comparison to earlier aspects of the book. Well worth the read though.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

The Possession, by Michael Rutger [AKA Michael Marshall Smith] (Zaffre, 2019)

A documentary crew investigating mysteries associated with a remote Californian town find their sanities threatened. Excellent horror/thriller hybrid, with returning characters from the same author’s The Anomaly. As ever, Rutger/Marshall Smith is expert not only at persuading you of the impossible but in keeping those same horrors in the shadows. Recommended.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Wanderers, by Chuck Wendig (Solaris/Rebellion, 2019)

As a flu-like plague sweeps the world, a small number of sleepwalkers congregate to cross America. Pacy and with some fine characterisations, and a neat eye for contemporary America, the central conceits of this King/Crichton hybrid don’t quite hold. Well-written enough to keep pages turning though; a cautious recommendation.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.