The Emperor of the Eight Islands by Liane Hearn
It begins, as many of these things often do, with a series of seemingly unrelated events. An ambitious nobleman attempts to murder his nephew in order to seize the boy’s birthright. Another noble orders his son to abandon his wife in order that she may marry his older brother. Deep in the mountains a sorcerer of uncertain power and ability crafts an enchanted mask which he will give away to an orphaned youth. Two powerful noble families struggle for influence in a political cold war that will soon grow very warm indeed. And behind it all, the abbot of an influential temple will begin to exercise his spiritual and political power to influence the succession to the highest position in all the land, the Lotus Throne itself. It is these disparate threads that will come together to weave a story, the first story of the Tale of Shikanoko.
The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Christo by Tom Reiss
1789 to 1799, a turbulent decade in the history of France and a period that would bring great social changes and political upheaval that would be felt far beyond that country’s borders. It was a time when it seemed like anything could be possible and anyone could achieve anything, just ask one of the junior officers of the La Fère Artillery Regiment.
Indeed it was possible for even Thomas-Alexandre Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie, the mixed race son of a French aristocrat and a slave woman of African descent to rise as high as general-in-chief (a feat that would not be repeated until the late 20th Century).
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Ex-con Shadow Moon has nowhere to go and nothing to look forward to. The wife, the job, and the quiet life that were supposed to be waiting for him have all been ripped away in a single tragic car accident.
On his way to his wife’s funeral he encounters Mr. Wednesday, a mysterious grifter with a job offer and more knowledge about Shadow than it should be possible for a stranger to know.
There’s a storm coming, a physical and metaphysical tempest that will change everything Shadow knows about America and the wider world. Mr. Wednesday might just be the one to help Shadow ride out the storm or he could be the one who will let him drown.
Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell
An “evil” corporation wants to build a superstore in the remote English village of Lychford. As you would expect the village is split between those in favor and those against the store and the conflict has created deep divides between the normally amiable villagers. On the whole, pretty average narrative and plot…but not really. Lychford was founded on a very special location, it stands on the nexus where a variety of worlds intersect with this one and any change in the local scenery could prove disastrous.
Only one person, local character Judith Mawson knows the danger the construction of the superstore would cause but with no one to help (and no one who would believe her even if they were inclined to) this may be a battle she has no way of winning.
Bertie and the Seven Bodies by Peter Lovesey
Monday’s corpse is fair of face,
Tuesday’s corpse is full of grace,
Wednesday’s corpse is full of woe,
Thursday’s corpse has far to go,
Friday’s corpse is loving and giving,
Saturday’s corpse works hard for a living,
The corpse that dies on the Sabbath day
Is bonnie and blithe and good and gay.
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Picture the scene: a train stuck in the snow in the middle of rural Yugoslavia. In one of the first class compartments, a man lies dead stabbed multiple times. Who was this Mr. Ratchett, a wealthy man with the air of a benevolent philanthropist and the eyes of a cunning animal and why would someone hate him enough to stab him twelve times?
With no way for the murderer to leave the train undiscovered, the culprit must be one of the passengers on the train. But who among this seemingly random collection of people of various social backgrounds hailing from several different countries could have done it? Each has an alibi, but each alibi is reliant upon the testimony of another subject. Who did it, why did they do it, where is the murder weapon?
Hercule Poirot must make use of all the deductive powers of his “little grey cells” to answer all of these questions and solve the Murder on the Orient Express!
The Builders by Daniel Polansky
The last job they had did not end like they hoped it would. Betrayed and bloodied, the animals of Captain’s company (those that survived at any rate), scattered and have spent the time since then trying to stay hidden, build new lives, and forget.
But the time is right for evening the score. It is time to stop hiding. It is time to gather the survivors for one last desperate plan. This time it’s not for fame, it’s not for riches, this time it is personal. This time it’s for revenge.