The Silent Daughter

Emma Christie

Welbeck, £8.99

When the normally sure-footed Maria Morrison falls down Edinburgh’s Fleshmarket Close steps and winds up comatose, her journalist husband Chris is devastated. But his worries only worsen when his attempts to contact their globetrotting daughter Ruth come to nothing. It dawns on him that, despite regular posts appearing on social media, Ruth has been missing for months without them realising. Fearing for his wife’s life, and regretting that his family could have drifted so far apart, Chris starts to look into both occurrences, wondering if they might be connected. He quickly finds reason to suspect that Maria’s fall was no accident, but investigating further will mean opening up a family history of painful memories and well-kept secrets. In her first novel, Christie shows that she’s already learned how to reel readers in from page one and keep them hooked, setting up an intriguing mystery with each new discovery deepening one’s sense of unease.

The Anarchy

William Dalrymple

Bloomsbury, £10.99

In a cautionary tale that feels more relevant now than ever before, William Dalrymple relates the disturbing story of how the rapacious, opportunistic East India Company transformed itself from a humble trading company into a monolithic political power with its own standing army. The period following the collapse of the Mughal Empire in the early 18th century was known as “the Anarchy”, and the East India Company, while enjoying the greatest success, was far from the only player. Dalrymple delivers an accessible, character-driven account of the rise of the EIC in the context of the situation in India at the time, highlighting the interests of the Mughal nobles and combing Indian archives for contemporary perspectives, while tearing down some schoolboy myths along the way. As well as being a broad overview of the British presence in India in the 18th century, it acts as a warning of the potential dangers posed by present-day multinationals.

Kremlin Winter

Robert Service

Picador, £10.99

Having previously written biographies of Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky and Tsar Nicholas II, Robert Service is well-versed in Russian politics, and this study of Vladimir Putin and how Russia has fared under his rule challenges some of the assumptions that have grown up around him, both domestically and internationally. Putin’s ability to make the Russian people feel proud again after a traumatic century sweetens a system based on a network of oligarchs, kleptocrats and old KGB buddies reliant on patronage, under which little in Russia has actually changed. In fact, Service presents Putin as being as much a prisoner of the system he presides over as its “jailer”. There are inevitable omissions and bones of contention that commentators will gnaw at for years, but Service’s understanding of Russia has allowed him to poke holes in Putin’s carefully constructed public persona, offering glimpses of the flaws and weaknesses of a rule that’s widely considered unassailable.

Alastair Mabbott