Stan Parish

(Faber, £12.99)

After an audacious motorbike-based jewel robbery in Las Vegas, Alex Cassidy decides it’s time to retire, but his criminal buddies have one more job in mind before they’ll allow that. Lying low after the heist, he attends a party in a New Jersey suburb where he feels an instant connection with caterer Diane Alison. Both feel that they’ve met before, and Alex eventually twigs that one of his old partners-in-crime was once in a relationship with Diane and had a son with her, who is now about the same age as Alex’s daughter. When both their children are kidnapped by the gang to force Alex to carry out a job in Spain, he puts together a team for one last daring throw of the dice. Without neglecting elaborate schemes and high-tension action sequences, Parish centres his fast-paced, hard-boiled caper on Alex and Diane’s blossoming relationship, resulting in a consistently engaging and entertaining thriller.


The Secret Barrister

(Picador, £9.99)

The Secret Barrister has been blogging for several years about this government’s unenviable record on justice, and, in this excoriating book, charts how ideology and authoritarianism have been scoring points off the rule of law for the past decade, with greater numbers of people being denied the means to seek justice by politicians who misrepresent human rights legislation and attack the very concept of an independent judiciary. The Secret Barrister picks apart the “deliberate smokescreen” of falsehoods with which the UK government justifies its policies and the methods employed by a compliant press to amplify and embellish them. Unashamedly polemical but legally watertight, Fake Law is a disturbing indictment of a time when such a state of affairs can be shrugged off as the new normal; but it offers suggestions for reform, such as tougher press self-regulation and the return of the Lord Chancellor to the role of “non-partisan defender of the legal system”.


Raymond Kennedy

(Daunt, £9.99)

The 1987 financial crisis was rather more modest than the one that rolled around in 2008, but it felt like a big deal at the time. Three years later, it provided the backdrop to this satirical novel by Raymond Kennedy, which chronicles the sudden and extraordinary transformation of 45-year-old widow Frances Fitzgibbons, a housing loan officer at a bank in the American north-east. Gripped by a sudden surge of self-belief, she seduces a teenage drum major before talking her way into a series of promotions at the bank and proclaiming that she will crush all her competitors and dominate banking in the region, assembling a group of true believers to enforce her reign of terror. Revelling in the indomitably charismatic Frances’s outrageousness, Kennedy’s prescient satire on totalitarianism and demagoguery is bold and funny, but as events have caught up with it the comedy now hits uncomfortably close to home.