Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee is published in hardback by William Heinemann, priced £18.99 (ebook £7.47). Available now

How to approach an author's only other novel, when the first one is a literary icon? And when the details surrounding the book's publication appear murky at best...

To Kill A Mockingbird, which won Harper Lee the Pulitzer Prize, is a near-perfect tale of childhood set in the American Deep South. Go Set A Watchman, published almost exactly 55 years later, was a first draft of Mockingbird, rejected by Lee's editor, which has languished in her archives until its recent 'discovery'. For some, the book should never have been published.

Mockingbird is so beloved in huge part for its depiction of young Jean Louise 'Scout' Finch, as described in the first-person by an adult narrator Scout. In Watchman, we're in the third person, hearing about Scout as a 20-something New Yorker, who's returned to Maycomb, Alabama to see her father Atticus and her sweetheart Hank. And that separation hurts - we don't feel so much for her.

It's impossible to read Watchman, which Lee calls the 'parent' novel to Mockingbird, without continually cross-referencing. Where's Boo Radley, a silent presence throughout Mockingbird? And if Hank's so important now, why didn't he make it into Mockingbird? Scout's brother Jem, who was her constant companion and conscience in the first book, is also absent.

The Finch house, the setting for summer-long flights of imaginative play, has been knocked down and replaced by an ice cream parlour, symbolic because Lee has somehow demolished our halcyon memories of Mockingbird, even though Watchman was written first. And most cruelly, through Scout's discovery of her father as fallible human being, who's not the bastion of moral propriety she or we thought he was. Now in his seventies, he's attending a citizen's council of white folk determined to keep segregation in place.

What we have is a disjointed series of flashbacks to Scout's Judy Blume-esque coming of age, complete with periods and padded bras, culminating in one incredibly long hate-filled rant at Atticus.

The central case of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of rape, which Atticus heroically defended in Mockingbird, is dismissed in just four paragraphs in Watchman, as Scout begins to see the cracks appearing in her idealised image of her father. But we the reader are like Scout and we see Watchman for a poor, cynical shadow of its published predecessor.

Just as Scout revisits Maycomb, to discover all is not as it used to be, it's painful to revisit Mockingbird through its parent novel and realise we too have been naive. But then that may have been Lee's intention all along.


(Review by Kate Whiting)


Taking Pity by David Mark is published in hardback by Quercus, priced £18.99 (ebook £9.49). Available now

In Taking Pity, the fourth novel of the series, former journalist David Mark continues to follow the tortured souls that are DS Aector McAvoy and DS Trish Pharoah. Grieving for the loss of his family, his home and his job, McAvoy is missing his wife, who has been hidden away for her safety, and after being caught in a blast he is currently off sick. Pharoah tasks him with an investigation on behalf of the Home Office looking into a 50-year-old case, which isn't as straightforward as they first thought. As the Headhunters raise their heads again, DCI Colin Ray is on suspension and wanting revenge. Unlike many murder mysteries of late, Mark takes you on an emotional journey as the words leap off the page to create a vivid picture worthy of a TV drama. Perfect for lovers of Scandi-thrillers, with noir elements spread throughout, which only a cultural melting pot like Hull can offer.


(Review by Rachel Howdle)

The Girls by Lisa Jewell is published by Century, priced £12.99 (ebook £6.02). Available now

You can't pick your neighbours, so can you trust them? Community, teenage secrets and hidden pasts are explored in this engaging novel from Lisa Jewell, the bestselling author of The House We Grew Up In. Within the communal gardens of Virginia Crescent, life seems eternally peaceful until the comatose body of a new 13-year-old resident is discovered in the darkness following a neighbourhood party. Suddenly everyone seems to be a suspect, and the residents question who they can really trust. Jewell has crafted a community filled with complex personalities, and as the dark histories of the garden and its residents come to light, you come to trust everyone and no one all at once, leaving you as unsettled as the characters. However, it is in the narration of young adults where Jewell exceeds, as their attention to detail, which is so often overlooked by adults, assists to unravel a tight web of secrets. Captivating, entertaining and rich with emotion, this is a perfect holiday read for the summer.


(Review by Holly McKenzie)

Signs For Lost Children by Sarah Moss is published in paperback by Granta, priced £12.99 (ebook £8.54). Available now

Sarah Moss' latest novel picks up where her successful Bodies Of Light breaks off. Set in the 1880s, newly married Ally is about to begin a six-month period of separation from her husband, Tom. While he builds lighthouses in Tokyo, she will take up work at the Truro Asylum. Alternating chapters between Tom and Ally's new experiences, Moss guides us through their individual professional trials, while the basis of their marriage starts to unravel. Both characters experience deep loneliness; Tom thrown into a culture of which he knows nothing about, while Ally constantly dwells on her sister's death. At the same time, she strives to prove sceptical nurses wrong, who cannot comprehend the idea of trusting a female doctor. Moss expertly illustrates the disappearance of identity in this touching novel, however I couldn't help but feel more drawn into Ally's story. Tom's narrative seemed more of a distraction from his wife's inner turmoil as she struggles to deal with personal grief and professional pressures as an independent woman in Victorian England.


(Review by Heather Doughty)

The Looking Glass House by Vanessa Tait is published by Corvus, priced £14.99 (ebook £3.99). Available now

Vanessa Tait, the great granddaughter of Alice Liddell brings to light the imaginings of Carroll's famous tale. Condensed into the short time frame of one year, Tait explores the struggle between childhood and womanhood in the face of romance and adventure. Alice, the grotesque outspoken 10-year-old, is in competition with Mary Prickett, her surly jealous governess, for the love of Charles Dodgson. Tait captures the turning of Victorian society and childhood literature, raising questions of religion, Darwin and more overtly, morality and etiquette. Alice's stubbornness towards chastisement, reproach and manners clearly mark the path for adventure in a topsy-turvy world where the idiom is play and adult rules are made to be broken. Prickett however, is a tragic tale of broken hopes and heart but one that is enticing and relatable for woman today. Overall, it's a stimulating observation of the beginnings of Alice's Adventure and the underworld of Oxford's elite.


(Review by Abi Turner)


Genghis Khan: The Man Who Conquered The World by Frank McLynn is published in hardback by Bodley Head, priced £25 (ebook £9.51). Available now

The whole world knows the name Genghis Khan, but for most people that is all they know - historian Frank McLynn digs deep to try and bring the man behind the name to life. This hefty hardback, covering almost 700 pages, goes to great lengths to show how an illiterate nomad built an empire stretching from Asia to Europe. He spares no detail with the Mongolian weather and even its flora and fauna examined to help explain how the Mongols became one of the most feared armies the world has ever seen. McLynn praises his subject's military genius but does not shy away from the horrific death toll that accompanies his rise to power - estimating he was responsible for the deaths of more than 30 million people. Even someone who writes as well as McLynn could not make a mass murderer likeable, but he does make you realise just how remarkable he must have been.


(Review by Rob Dex)

A Place Of Refuge: An Experiment In Communal Living - The Story Of Windsor Hill Wood by Tobias Jones is published in hardback by Quercus, priced £20 (ebook £6.99). Available now

There's something intriguing about communal living, maybe because the idea of sharing intimate space with strangers is so different from the nuclear family set-up most of us have. A Place Of Refuge offers a window on a community - Windsor Hill Wood in Somerset - founded by writer Tobias Jones and his wife as a sanctuary for people going through a crisis in their lives. Their guests include people with addictions, eating disorders and mental health problems, as well as those just having difficulty fitting into society. We follow the journey as Windsor Hill Wood evolves from an idealistic venture into something more focused and aware of its limitations. Like the community itself, this book unfolds gradually and despite the guests' emotional storms, there's no great drama here. Rather, it's a gentle meditation on a brave venture that leaves the reader uplifted and even a little enlightened.


(Review by Jackie Kingsley)


Crowns And Codebreakers (Marsh Road Mysteries 2) by Elen Caldecott is published in paperback by Bloomsbury Childrens, priced £5.99 (ebook £4.31). Available now

Mystery-loving author Elen Caldecott is back with the second book in her Marsh Road series. Crowns And Codebreakers sees the return of friends Minnie, Andrew, Piotr, Flora and Sylvie in another intriguing adventure. Minnie's Gran has come all the way from Nigeria to visit. Minnie loves her Gran and is over the moon when she arrives, but then disaster strikes! Gran picks up the wrong suitcase at the airport. The case that she now has is full of a young boy's clothes. Minnie sees that her Gran is anxious, but then their house is robbed and the only thing taken is the mysterious case. This puts Gran in a very bad way and tears Minnie's family and friends apart. Will Minnie and the gang solve the mystery of who stole the case and why? This book is perfect for all fans of Enid Blyton, as it is like a modern version of her mystery tales. I did enjoy the story. However the language was quite basic in parts, so maybe not for anyone who likes more descriptive writing. Although some of the characters' personalities showed through and you could really grasp what kind of a person they were. If you like mystery stories or love crime-solving children like The Secret Seven then buy this book!


(Review by Noah Sanders, aged 10)