Barbara Ehrenreich

(Granta, £10.99)

Academic, activist, journalist … Barbara Ehrenreich has packed a lot into her 79 years, and this essay collection is the perfect introduction to her writings. Spanning four decades, it kicks off with arguably her greatest hit – Nickel and Dimed, recounting her exploration of the low-wage economy – but these insightful pieces cover a wide range of subjects, including health, religion, science, class, employment, New Men, her own experience of breast cancer and her thoughts on #MeToo. Raised by Democrat, atheist parents, Ehrenreich has always been fearless and forthright in her views, and any subject she’s tackling is informed by her awareness of social injustice, her concern for the poor and disenfranchised always close to the surface. Polemical and passionate, acerbic but introspective, these essays are unsettlingly prescient. Ehrenreich has always been able to see which way the wind is blowing, foreseeing much of the world we see today, so even the oldest feels relevant.


Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

(Faber, £7.99)

Hitchcock’s second Young Adult book takes the form of a novel composed of interlinked stories set in 1995 concerning nine teenagers spread across several states, from the author’s home state of Alaska to Colorado. Sharing some characters and locations, these stories have varied themes, but they all lead back, in some way, to two current events: a raging forest fire and the disappearance of a young girl. It’s a book about small towns, and what it’s like for the young people who live in them. At that phase in their lives when experiences are felt most intensely, and the need for validation is at its height, Hitchcock’s characters live in small communities where everyone supposedly knows each other’s business but in truth they’re having to struggle secretly with troubling, often traumatic problems. Each of these keenly observed vignettes sows the seeds of a resolution which ties them all together.


Ace Atkins

(No Exit, £9.99)

An author with 27 books to his name, Atkins was chosen by Robert B Parker’s estate to continue Parker’s series about Boston-based private detective Spenser. To say that this instalment was inspired by the Jeffrey Epstein case would be a considerable understatement. It brings back a character from a previous novel, Mattie Sullivan, who is given a central role as Spenser’s protégé when she is approached by a 15-year-old girl who was lured to a private club and offered $500 to massage a rich and powerful older man. Spenser finds dozens more girls with similar tales to tell, pointing to the existence of an international sex-trafficking ring. Pacey, engrossing, with a palpable sense of danger and flurries of action, even taking into account a plot ripped from the headlines, this long-running series (48 books in, with this being Atkins’s ninth) seems to have an astonishing amount of life left in it.