Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hottest Books for the Beach; Whether You Want to Relax with Some Crime Fiction or Tackle That Heavyweight History You've Been Meaning to Read All Year, Our Reviewers Recommend Their Favourite Titles to Take on Holiday

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hottest Books for the Beach; Whether You Want to Relax with Some Crime Fiction or Tackle That Heavyweight History You've Been Meaning to Read All Year, Our Reviewers Recommend Their Favourite Titles to Take on Holiday

Article excerpt

Michael Burleigh Mick Herron's Real Tigers (Murray, PS14.99) combines the spy thriller with farce in a manner befitting a country that puts Coco the Clown in charge of the Secret Intelligence Service. Another compelling satire is Stephen Glover's Splash (Constable, PS18.99). This is an updated Scoop for our age involving a mid-market tabloid with a sinister online operation in its bowels. The characters, Glover assures us, are entirely composite. Like hell!

Howard W French's Everything under the Heavens: How the Past Helps China's Push for Global Power (Scribe, PS20) brilliantly fuses history and reportage to explore China's relationships with its neighbours, including Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam, as well as the floating one represented by the US Pacific fleet.

Claire Harman For an engrossing under-the-trees read this summer you couldn't do much better than Francis Spufford's fabulous Golden Hill (Faber, PS8.99) a rollicking good yarn set in Manhattan in the 1740s, which wears its learning so lightly you hardly notice how much historical detail the author manages to pack in while delivering his thrilling set-pieces and plot twists right up to the last page.

At a different tempo, but just as skillful, is Tessa Hadley's Bad Dreams and Other Stories (Cape, PS16.99), a collection showing all her trademark qualities of pin-sharp observation and arresting expression. And if you aren't enjoying Club 18-30, why not find a quiet corner in which to read Olivia Laing's The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone (Canongate, PS9.99), which is brilliantly written and poignantly affecting.

Robert Fox A brilliant, though not exactly relaxing, summer read is Johnny Mercer's We Were Warriors (Sidgwick&Jackson, PS18.99), not only the best hand-to-hand combat account of a British soldier in Afghanistan, but a journey of the soul, from fighting soldier to MP for Plymouth the self-deprecating journal of a remarkable man.

Europe After Europe by Ivan Krastev (Pennsylvania University PS7.70/PS14.71) is an unlikely hit the best essay today on history and the world of Trump, Brexit, migrants and climate change. For pure selfindulgence the Italians do the best noir around. Maurizio de Giovanni's Commissario Ricciardi is top of the tree fighting fascism and the Camorra in 1920s Naples.

Jane Shilling The best summer reading combines a lightness of attack with a certain heft of intent. Ulrich Raulff 's Farewell to the Horse (Allen Lane, PS25) achieves the combination with verve. Exploring the separation of human and equine destinies, which took place from Napoleonic times to the First World War, Raulff's tender and witty history celebrates the role in human affairs of the most political of animals, and the most symbolic.

Birdcage Walk (Hutchinson, PS18.99), the final novel by the late Helen Dunmore, left, is a chilling drama enclosing a graceful and elegiac meditation on how to live well in turbulent political times, on the consequences of choice, the power of language, and the faint trace that individual lives leave on history.

Arifa Akbar Han Yujoo's novel, The Impossible Fairy Tale (Tilted Axis Press, PS8.99), about creepy goings-on in a Korean classroom that lead to a murderous act, has a sensational child voice innocent and monstrous by turns that makes it an edge-of-the-recliner read. Another excellent ghost story is Hari Kunzru's White Tears (Hamish Hamilton. PS14.99), about two blues 'n' jazz hipsters who devise a prank that misfires and unspools a mesmerising tale of white guilt and black oppression in America.

Sally Rooney's Conversations with Friends (Faber, PS14.99), has a beguiling lightness that takes us to unexpectedly melancholy places; its brilliance lies in observations of human frailty in matters of the heart.

Andrew Roberts Giles Udy's Labour and the Gulag: Russia and the Seduction of the British Left (Biteback, PS30) is about the Marxist infiltration of the Labour party in the 1920s and 1930s, which seems apposite reading today. …

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