Janice Hallett’s crime thriller to The Sentence from Louise Erdrich is this week’s most exciting fiction. This haunting elegy comes from Faysal Khartash’s and Tessa Hadley’s latest.

Get Free Love

Tessa Hadley                                                                            Jonathan Cape £16.99

Hadley’s resplendent eighth novel opens as the comfortable, suburban world of 40-year-old homemaker Phyllis collides with that of Nicky, a young rake out to make the most of Swinging Sixties London.

With one tipsy kiss, an affair begins, and the domestic shenanigans that ensue are part Grecian drama, part (to quote a bystander) ‘cosmic comedy’.

It all is based on some profoundly insightful observations about class, fate and the false promises made by the sexual revolution.

Hephzibah Anderson 


The Sentence

Louise Erdrich                                                                                                Corsair £20

Erdrich masterfully mixes together a novel that straddles magical and realist reality, including Covid and Black Lives Matter as well as the historical injustices sustained by Native Americans.

Tookie, a maverick, is centre stage. After being convicted for transporting a body over state boundaries, she gets a job as a bookshop clerk, and is then pestered by an evil ghost. While the plot may seem bizarre, the writing is elegant.

Max Davidson


Roundabout of Death

Faysal Khartash                                                                                         Apollo £14.99

Syrian author Khartash appears in English for the first time thanks to Max Weiss’s punchy translation of this powerful short novel, which unfolds as a shattered sequence of vignettes from the bombardment of Aleppo early in Syria’s ongoing civil war.

Mostly they’re narrated by Jumaa, a teacher whose spirited account of trying to take care of his frail mother and get on with daily life amid spiralling bloodshed makes for a haunting elegy to a devastated city.

Anthony Cummins


The Twyford Code

Janice Hallett                                                                                                Viper £14.99

Hallett’s hit debut, The Appeal, updated the Agatha Christie format for the age of email. The Twyford Code is an identical mix of classic crime mysteries and new technology.

Apparently deciphered from audio files on an iPhone, it’s the story of an ex-con’s obsession with the hidden codes in an old children’s book. They could have formed a treasure map or something more sinister.

It is an unusual story.

John Williams