Allan Martin

ThunderPoint, £9.99

When peat-cutters on Islay uncover five bodies, Inspector Angus Blue is sent to the island to determine whether their deaths are recent enough to interest the police. Found to have been killed execution-style between 1930 and 1950, the bodies look like evidence of a wartime atrocity, one so sensitive that there are still people around today who would kill to keep it covered up. As Blue and his small team discuss their progress over visitor-centre carrot cake with Islay’s retired amateur historians, ranged against them is an armed, trained and ruthless conspiracy, seemingly above the law. This novel from a retired teacher and University lecturer is a solid and diverting crime debut, which not only does its best faithfully to represent Islay but charmingly makes it the hub of important international events. Blue himself could have done with more development, his backstory being alluded to with very little actually revealed, so we can probably expect a sequel before long.


Rebecca O’Connor

Canongate, £8.99

When 15-year-old Lani Devine sees Leon Brady visiting his mother’s grave in the cemetery by her house, her heart goes out to the bereaved boy. O’Connor’s novel tells of the turbulent romance that ensues in a small town in rural Ireland in the early 1990s, and how, as their relationship deepens, the psychological scars left on Leon by a family tragedy become harder to ignore. Furthermore, Lani is obsessed with a fire at a convent in 1943 which claimed the lives of 35 children, who are also buried in the cemetery next door. Her chapters are interspersed with accounts from the children themselves, intensifying the atmosphere of secrecy, religious oppression and child cruelty gathering in the background. It’s a compassionate but somewhat formless novel, probably best suited for a Young Adult readership, in which O’Connor powerfully evokes the heightened reality of two people navigating their first romance at the most self-conscious and emotionally chaotic point of their lives.


Luke Tredget

Faber, £8.99

London-based journalist Anna is fast approaching her 30th birthday and isn’t happy with what she sees around her. She and her long-term boyfriend own a house together, but their relationship isn’t working for her. At work, her day is more about clickbait and sponsored content than journalism. Anna feels she was meant for more than this and decides to improve her situation by downloading the dating app Kismet, which trawls her entire Internet history to find her an ideal partner. Now, unknown to her boyfriend, Pete (only 70 on the compatibility scale), Anna has a chance with Geoff (an 81). Through this self-absorbed, dishonest and not always very likeable protagonist, Tredget’s romantic comedy perceptively explores what connects us and whether we can ever be truly happy with ourselves in the era of social media and left-swiping. He’s also careful to show Anna’s flaws being exacerbated by the pressures of millennial expectations, so even at her least sympathetic she’s always relatable.