From Alison Moore’s darkly comic mystery to The City Of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, a revenge tale from Julia Dahl and Hilma Wolitzer’s latest, this week’s best new fiction

The Retreat

Alison Moore                                                                                                       Salt £9.99

Moore was previously nominated for the Booker Prize. His short stories are about lonely shut-ins. 

Her new book follows Sandra, a middle-aged receptionist and would-be painter who visits an artists’ retreat only for her ambitions to wilt under the backbiting of fellow residents.

While narrative tension comes mainly from her social discomfort, there’s mystery, too, thanks to a secondary thread about an aspiring novelist in search of creative solitude. Darkly funny and poignant.

Anthony Cummins

The City of Mist

Carlos Ruiz Zafón                                                                                        W&N £14.99

Ruiz Zafón will always be remembered for his magnificent The Cemetery Of Forgotten Books tetralogy.

This collection of eleven stories, published posthumously by the author, revisits some of those concerns and features many of these same characters.

Inevitably, it lacks the imaginative heft of his longer works, but two standout stories – about a visit by Gaudí to New York and a reimagining of Cervantes’s creative life – make it worth the price of admission alone.

Simon Humphreys 


Missing Hours

Julia Dahl                                                                                                         Faber £12.99

Claudia Castro is the modern It-girl. Claudia Castro barely graduated from school and has good looks, well-known parents, lots of money, and the unavoidable horde Instagram followers.

One night, she drinks in Manhattan and discovers all of that does not protect her against sexual violence. She is also subject to social media shame. 

What follows is a compulsively readable, morally complex tale in which our modern concerns with consent and justice are trumped by Claudia’s primal need for revenge.

John Williams 


Today, a woman went mad in the supermarket

Hilma Wolitzer                                                                               Bloomsbury £14.99

These 13 stories, which were written over more than 50 years, explore themes like love, insomnia, and motherhood. 

Many feature the same New York couple, among them The Great Escape, set in 2020 and anchored in 91-year-old Wolitzer’s experience of losing her husband to Covid. 

It’s a powerful close to a collection that’s beady-eyed and often humorous, its pages packed with details that reveal as much as entire novels.

Hephzibah Anderson