Melissa Ginsburg

(Faber, £12.99)

When her mother dies, 14-year-old Ava is forced to move across the country to live with her grandmother in New Orleans. But Lane, her grandmother, is a pot-smoking artist who virtually ignores her to concentrate on her painting. The fact that Ava reminds Lane of her late, estranged daughter causes her to withdraw into herself. But she’s also in the early stages of dementia, and in her confused state long-buried secrets start to come out. What happened in 1997, the night Lane’s lover, a local politician, turned up at her door with his blood-smeared son in tow? Under these conditions, Ava has to grow up quickly. Loosely speaking, The House Uptown is a crime novel, but one shaped by Ginsburg to foreground the emotional journeys of the grief-stricken Ava and Lane, and written in lyrical prose which is suffused with the author’s lifelong fascination with New Orleans, its dark mysteries and its ghosts.


Donald S Murray

(Saraband, £9.99)

Lewis-born Murray follows up his highly-praised debut, As the Women Lay Dreaming, with another novel based on a historical incident, Operation Cauldron. In 1952, as the Cold War is ramping up, germ warfare experiments are being conducted on monkeys and guinea pigs in a floating laboratory off the coast of Lewis. Locals Jessie and Duncan find dead animals washed up on the shore, a government scientist is having doubts about the morality of his work and a cloud of bacteria is released into the path of a trawler, raising fears that a pandemic might ensue. Where the book really scores is in Murray’s familiarity with and understanding of the Western Isles’ people and their culture. The threat posed by the laboratory in their midst is placed firmly in the context of a living community of varied characters with generations of history behind them, giving his story depth and solidity.


Laura Bates

(Simon & Schuster, £9.99)

After being increasingly confronted, in her frequent visits to schools, with complaints that men are the real victims of persecution, Bates, the founder of Everyday Sexism, spent a year trawling through the forums of incels, pickup artists and Men’s Rights Activists. She learned that the various groups share a broadly similar misogynistic ideology, describing here the cesspit of hatred she found. Her purpose, though, is not just to expose a morass of ugly online subcultures but to trace how their influence has led to such attitudes becoming normalised in the media, the workplace, schools and state institutions. Furthermore, she notes that, despite being radical extremists spreading a doctrine of hatred and violence, their acts aren’t recorded as hate crimes and they’re barely on the radar of the police and counter-terrorism forces. While disturbing, her book calls for urgent action and proposes steps which can be taken to counter their influence.