Ink and Sigil

Kevin Hearne

Orbit, £8.99

Arizona-born fantasy author Hearne has a soft spot for the Scots, and having made his name with the Iron Druid chronicles has set the first of his new series in Glasgow, dedicating it to “Weegies”. Its hero is Aloysius MacBharrais, a sigil agent who monitors “extraplanar” entities who come to Earth and keeps them apart from humans. In his sixties, sporting a waxed white moustache and a cane, he has had seven apprentices, all of whom have perished. The latest to die, Gordie, choked on a scone, and MacBharrias finds out to his dismay that Gordie has been trafficking goblins, pixies and the like on the black market. He teams up with a hobgoblin named Buck to get to the bottom of the plot and thwart the traffickers. Hearne’s blending of the magical with the mundane is consistently entertaining, and done with such a good-natured wit that one can’t help being swept along.

People Like Us

Hashi Mohamed

Profile, £9.99

Having arrived in Britain as an unaccompanied nine-year-old Somalian refugee unable to speak English, Hashi Mohamed lived in Brent before becoming homeless at 18, but got into Oxford and ended up a barrister. His reason for writing this book is not to spread the word that anyone could do it just because he has. He fully understands what an exceptional case he is, and this book details the “poisonous vortex” of obstacles to social mobility in Britain: the stranglehold race, class origins and educational background have on advancement. Advocating greater investment in education and mentoring, Mohamed dispenses some advice which may not go down well with everyone, such as his recommendation that people adopt RP speech patterns to get a foot in the door; his point being that the system will change only after there is sufficient diversity in positions of power. This book is about getting them there in the first place.

Fifty Fifty

Steve Cavanagh

Orion, £8.99

Dublin-based lawyer Cavanagh has earned a reputation as an author whose legal thrillers crackle with energy and authenticity, and the fifth of his Eddie Flynn series raises the bar yet again. Sisters Alexandra and Sofia are charged with the brutal murder of their father, Frank Avellino, a former mayor of New York, each claiming the other was the killer. Flynn is representing Sofia, the more mentally fragile and less favoured of the sisters. The more confident and accomplished Alexandra is represented by a new character, Kate, a worthy adversary for Flynn who under different circumstances would make a great ally. Dropping in flashbacks that illuminate the murder without revealing the culprit, Cavanagh revels in twists, reversals, suspense and keeping his readers on their toes, directing suspicion first towards one then the other while the killer tries to snuff out witnesses against her. It’s all highly compelling, a courtroom drama cranked up to 11.