Prose That Grows; Take Time out over Easter to Read One of These Exciting New Novels

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Publishers, like sheep, tend to follow each other, and more novels will be coming out this week than at any other period this year. To celebrate, right in time for the Easter break, here are the brightest bunnies.

SANCTUS by Simon Toyne (HarperCollins pounds 12.99) ***

High concept, debut conspiracy thrillers don't come with higher expectations than this. Hard to think of it as a debut, better to think of it as the beginning of a massive new adventure, and a so-long to Dan Brown.

The ancient (fictional) Turkish city of Ruin hosts a very secretive citadel. When a man throws himself to death, in front of the world's hi-tech media, some low-tech fanaticism begins to make itself felt. On hand to decipher the codes and with plenty of personal identity issues is sassy New York crime reporter Liv Adamsen. A fresh new take on an old conundrum.

RESCUE by Anita Shreve (Little, Brown pounds 12.99) ****

The thing about Shreve is the way she can combine such an emotional punch with a light touch. Her ch. Her stories almost effortlessly unravel. Yet between the prose you'll find an acuity of observation and a canny intelligence as to what really makes a domestic story tick.

Paramedic and single dad Peter Webster is suddenly struggling to control his teenage daughter Rowan. She's taken to drinking too much and staying out too late. The only way to reconnect, he realises, is to seek out her mother and return to some seismic questions which were never answered when she left.

THE VISITING ANGEL by Paul Wilson (Tindal Street Press pounds 12.99) ***

Vampires have had their day. Angels are where it's now at. Paul Wilson's stunning, shattering, and ultimately moving tale is not for the faint-hearted. However, it certainly moves the genre along, bringing it right up to gritty, Midlands date. The product of a grim orphanage, Patrick is a care worker, seemingly carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. Suddenly, on a window ledge is a man claiming to be an angel. He also bears an uncanny resemblance to Patrick's late older brother Liam. The angel's mission - to help a group of troubled people before the week is out. And that includes Patrick, who hasn't yet addressed his own very serious problems.

WHAT WOMEN WANT by Fanny Blake (Blue Door pounds 7.99) ****

It's amazing to think this is a debut. The prose is wonderfully bright and crisp, the characterisation brims with life, and the plotting is full of suspense and pace.

On top of all this, the novel seems remarkably on-message for that milieu of smart yet disgruntled women struggling with betrayal, mediocrity and middle-age.

Bea's lost her husband (to divorce) and now fears she's about to lose her job to someone younger and prettier. What's more, her son has a big strop on.

Meanwhile, Kate's kids have left the nest as has, emotionally at least, her husband. …