Richard Powers

Vintage, £8.99

It’s all about trees, essentially, Richard Powers drawing several disparate characters together to try to avert an ecological catastrophe. They include, in an epic novel that spans generations: an artist who inherits an archive of photographs, all of the same tree: an airman in the Vietnam War whose fall from a plane is broken by a banyan; a student in the ‘80s who dies of electrocution but is inexplicably brought back to life; and a scientist whose career is destroyed by the discovery that trees communicate with one another. A sense of wonder pervades the pages as the characters’ fleeting lives are contrasted with the age-old trees they’re trying to save and Powers bemoans our inability to see them for the intelligent and social organisms he believes they are. The strain of turning polemic into art shows sometimes, but Powers ultimately triumphs, grounding his novel in a genuine and profound love of nature and crafting it into a spellbinding and transformative work.


Oliver Bullough

Profile, £9.99

Having long been fascinated by the former USSR, Oliver Bullough was well aware of the effect that oligarchs were having on the countries they exploited. That led him to investigate the trillions of pounds estimated to be hidden and laundered by the ultra-rich in a place he calls “Moneyland”, a secret realm of tax havens, trusts and shell companies “tunnelled into” by the world’s wealthiest people, where national borders and laws cease to exist. Extensively researched, this is a guidebook to help laymen find their way through a complex financial tangle with simple metaphors. Bullough, who has been a guide on London “kleptocracy tours”, explains how City bankers replaced the old Bretton Woods system in the 1960s, introducing the concept of “offshore”, which the ultra-rich have exploited ever since, assisted by pliable politicians, bankers, lawyers and publicists. It’s a book which brings focus to an issue shrouded in obfuscation, and which is having a detrimental effect on economies across the world.


William Boyle

No Exit, £12.99

Fleeing Brooklyn after smashing an ashtray over the head of her amorous 80-year-old neighbour, mob widow Rena Ruggerio seeks refuge with her estranged daughter, Adrienne, only to be turned away. Adrienne’s neighbour, retired porn star Lacey Wolfstein, takes her in, but then a man Lacey swindled in Florida turns up demanding his money back, and the two old ladies decide their best bet is to get out of town. Meanwhile, trouble is brewing for Adrienne too, as gangster Richie has appeared on her doorstep, also with a desperate need to leave town, and he intends taking Adrienne and her 15-year-old daughter Lucia with him. Boyle has a great fondness for the faded mobster culture of New York, and this enjoyable intergenerational road-trip caper is a perfect opportunity for him to indulge his love of its colour and vibrancy, with sharp, zinging dialogue, a mounting body count and, with all the action condensed into two days, no time to get bored.