Six of the Best Reads

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Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson, is published in hardback by Doubleday, priced pounds 18.99. Available now.

Much like Ian Rankin's central character Inspector Rebus, Jackson Brodie in Kate Atkinson's latest work is a quasiintellectual rebel with a dark past. But unlike Rebus, Brodie is a rebel without a real cause - an ex-detective floating from one case to another. He spends this outing searching for a client's lost identity - unwittingly bumbling on to various tangled tales of fraud, kidnapping and corruption. Setting her story in 1970s Leeds and the present day, Atkinson uses the crime format to examine moral ambiguities of Britain's recent past. From the Yorkshire Ripper case to New Labour's failings and police corruption, very little escapes her keen eye. Enjoy a plot that is as intelligent as it is gripping. 7/10 SARAH WARWICK You're The One That I Don't Want by Alexandra Potter, is published as a paperback original by Hodder, priced pounds 6.99. Available now.

The latest offering from Alexandra Potter, who has written for Elle magazine, is a jolly tale about the perils of modern love. A wistful escapade set in Venice and New York, the book charts the story of Lucy - a young artist from Manchester who works in a small Manhattan gallery. Lucy soon realises that Nate - her American television producer lover - is not 'the one'. As she attempts to get rid of him the story descends into quality farce, a la Alan Ayckbourn.

The story moves along swiftly to a satisfying and predictable conclusion. A commendable holiday read. 6/10 DENISE BAILEY At Sea by Laurie Graham, is published as a paperback original by Quercus, priced pounds 12.99. Available now.

The acclaimed author of Life According To Lubka returns with a novel set on a cruise ship sailing from Istanbul to Venice. Lady Enid is the long-suffering wife of Professor Bernard Finch - a handsome, highly intelligent scholar of the Classics who gives lectures on board cruises. For 23 years, Enid has stood by him and been at his beck and call. Until they encounter American Frankie Glesson - who believes Bernard is his childhood neighbour. The professor denies all knowledge and holes up in his cabin to avoid Glesson. Out on her own, Enid discovers the internet and forms friendships with fellow travellers - much to her husband's chagrin.

At Sea is an often overly descriptive meander that has you championing Enid and her new-found independence. 5/10 JULIE CHENG Six: A History Of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service.

Part 1: Murder And Mayhem 1909-1939, by Michael Smith, is published in hardback by Dialogue, priced pounds 19.99. Available now.

At a time when the newspapers have been full of stories of sleeper cells and spy exchanges, the timing of the release of Six could not be better. …