Rendezvous At The Russian Tea Rooms: The Spy Hunter, The Fashion Designer And The Man From Moscow

Paul Willetts

Take a deep breath before you open this book, as from the first page it plunges into the fevered atmosphere of 1939 and the eve of London's Blitz.

This gripping tale is based on true events which made headlines around the world and were described by one American newspaper as "the greatest spy story of the war".

Packed with spies, secret assignations, surveillance and kidnapping, it's an impressive portrait that lays bare the sinister truth behind spy networks of the Second World War.

This is Paul Willetts' fourth non-fiction book - his previous works include Members Only, a study of strip-show boss Paul Raymond, which inspired 2013 film The Look Of Love starring Steve Coogan and Anna Friel.

He began researching Rendezvous At The Russian Tea Rooms more than 20 years ago and spent more than five years trawling through hundreds of personal and public documents including letters, photographs, MI5 reports, a summary of a phone tap from the National Archives and photographs.

His diligence has certainly paid off, in that he has created a powerful and hugely entertaining record of a bygone era.

The Crossing

Michael Connelly

The bestselling and award-winning author returns with his 28th book, the 20th featuring Harry Bosch. Bosch has now retired from his detective role at the LAPD, and finds himself at a loose end. It's not long until his half-brother, The Lincoln Lawyer Mickey Haller calls on him for help with a murder case. The little reputation he has left within his old police department is threatened when, against his better judgement, he decides to investigate the story behind a murder conviction Mickey is convinced is a set-up. Suspicious that there is something is awry with the original police investigation, he starts to look closely at the case, following his own leads and discovers, with help from his former LAPD partner Lucia Soto, things are not as they should be within the police department. As the truth reveals itself, Bosch becomes the next target. For a book with so many interlinking tales, it is a slow burn, but it's worth the persistence as the drama builds - and you don't need to have read the full Bosch back-catalogue either.

High Dive

Jonathan Lee

In September 1984, a bomb planted by the IRA exploded at the Grand Hotel in Brighton with the main aim of killing then prime minister Margaret Thatcher. This audacious assassination attempt forms the background to High Dive, Jonathan Lee's third novel. Opening with a startling initiation into the IRA and ending with the bombing, Lee has crafted an absorbing character piece which feels startlingly real. My initial concerns that the story would be suffocated by the real-life drama were quickly put aside. Even though the dread of the looming disaster is always there, the main characters' stories are given plenty of room to breathe and their mundane struggles with everyday life are extremely relatable and familiar. After tasting success with his last book, Joy, Lee has been called one of Britain's brightest new literary stars. High Dive is funny, troublesome and poignant, and will cement his reputation even further.


Philip Reeve

Scope and potential fizz and pop in Carnegie medal winner Philip Reeve's latest novel, Railhead. And you'd hope so - a decade of work has gone into the epic tale that sees teenaged thief, Zen, explore a galaxy of planets connected by sentient trains that race along the tracks, spewing feelings, opinions and bullets. As train-loving 'railhead' Zen gets caught up in a game between the Guardians (who invented the interplanetary rail network) and Raven, a pale, semi-supernatural being whose motives are more than murky, he must decide where to draw his own lines and who to trust. The world itself is magnetic, the idea of trains zigzagging between clusters of humanity quite beautiful - all achieved without being bogged down in sci-fi silliness - but all that promise flounders when it comes to the relationships between characters, they just don't have the same power and zing as the locomotives. The supporting cast are flimsy at best, and our 'hero' Zen races around all over the place, but lacks the history and personality to keep it punchy. The Motoriks - conscious robots - have more heart. But, Hollywood is already on board, so a slew of glitzier, brasher sequels is definitely on the horizon.