HOLIDAYS will feel slightly different this year with foreign jaunts looking unlikely (at least at present). Whether you are heading off to explore Scotland at large – or relaxing in your own back garden – our round-up of recent fiction and non-fiction releases is designed to help you while away a lazy afternoon (or two).


Hostage by Clare Mackintosh (Sphere, £14.99)

Fasten your seatbelts. Hostage is a white-knuckle ride that takes the classic locked-room thriller airborne. This gripping read by police officer-turned-author Clare Mackintosh is set on board the inaugural non-stop flight from London to Sydney. If all goes to plan, the 20-hour service will make history. But when a flight attendant receives a note with a chilling ultimatum from an anonymous passenger, the intent is clear: the plane will never reach its destination.

The Beresford by Will Carver (Orenda Books, £8.99, published July 22)

Welcome to The Beresford, a charming old pile with echoes of the Eagles song Hotel California: "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave." Its ageing landlady Mrs May follows the same dreary routine every day. Abe Schwartz also resides at The Beresford. His neighbour no longer does – Schwartz just killed him. He has only 60 seconds to move the body before the doorbell rings and a new tenant arrives. Then it all begins again.

The Herald: Hostage by Clare MackintoshHostage by Clare Mackintosh

I Know What I Saw by Imran Mahmood (Raven Books, £12.99)

A formerly affluent banker now living on the streets takes shelter for the night in an empty Mayfair flat. While there, he witnesses a murder. When Xander Shute comes forward to share what he saw, the police cast doubt on his account, insisting that events couldn't have unfolded as he claims. I Know What I Saw is not only a deftly written and nerve-jangling thriller, but also a multi-layered and unflinching portrait of life for those marginalised on the fringes of society.


Animal by Lisa Taddeo (Bloomsbury Circus, £16.99)

Visceral. That's perhaps the best word to describe what unfolds within Animal. It is the much-anticipated debut novel by Lisa Taddeo whose non-fiction bestseller Three Women, acclaimed for its candour in discussing sex, saw her hailed as a literary star. Animal is jarring. It opens with a story of unrequited love and a self-inflicted gunshot, then segues into a road trip with the book's anti-heroine, defined by the trauma and sexual violence of her past, at the wheel.

Grown Ups by Marie Aubert (Pushkin Press, £12.99)

Although a slender volume at a mere 154 pages, Grown Ups tackles big themes with aplomb, weaving together blistering comedy, searing disappointment and close-to-the-bone commentary on family dysfunction, sibling rivalry and modern motherhood. It is told from the perspective of 40-year-old architect Ida, a woman who is navigating the dating app Tinder, contemplating freezing her eggs and bracing herself for a trip to celebrate her mother's 65th birthday.

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Godspeed by Nickolas Butler (Faber, £14.99, published July 29)

A trio of childhood friends set up a small-town construction company with the hope of providing a comfortable life for their families. When they are approached by a millionaire lawyer who wants to commission an ambitious project in the nearby mountains, it appears their luck is in. However, some things don't add up. Not least the impossibly tight deadline and an unsettling feeling that there is more to the client's demands than it seems. A slow-burning and mesmerising read.


The Island Home by Libby Page (Orion, £12.99)

A visit to Eigg provided the loose inspiration for the fictional Isle of Kip in Libby Page's sweet novel about a woman leaving behind city life to return to her roots with a teenage daughter in tow. Will this prodigal homecoming heal or rub salt in old wounds? The sweeping and unforgettable Hebridean landscapes – jagged hills, black lochs, sunburnt heather, big skies, windswept shores, sandy coves and teal water – leap off the pages. A love letter to community, family ties, friendship and the pull of home.

The Herald: The Island Home by Libby PageThe Island Home by Libby Page

Of Stone and Sky by Merryn Glover (Polygon, £16.99)

When shepherd Colvin Munro disappears, he leaves a curious trail of possessions – a knife, a hip flask, a handkerchief and nine other items – leading into the Cairngorm mountains. His foster sister Mo and younger brother Sorley attempt to piece together the clues and make sense of why their sibling vanished. Set on a farming estate in Badenoch and Strathspey, Of Stone and Sky is an enthralling mystery, family saga and Sunset Song-esque ode to the land.


Girl, 11 by Amy Suiter Clarke (Pushkin Vertigo, £12.99)

True crime podcasts have enjoyed soaring popularity and spawned a legion of cold case amateur detectives. Amy Suiter Clarke taps into that trend with a twisting thriller. A series of kidnappings and ritualistic murders took place 20 years earlier, each victim a year younger than the one before. Abruptly, the spree stopped. Podcaster Elle Castillo is determined to unmask The Countdown Killer, but do her sleuthing efforts risk rousing a slumbering monster?

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Voyeur by Francesca Reece (Tinder Press, £16.99)

Leah is hopelessly adrift in Paris, stuck in a rut of unfulfilling odd jobs and a soul-destroying gig teaching English to a narcissistic social media influencer. She responds to an ad for a writer seeking an assistant. Travelling to the south of France, Leah begins transcribing diaries that chronicle Michael's debauchery in 1960s Soho, soon realising there is more to this seemingly burnt-out author than she first envisaged.

The Herald: Voyeur by Francesca ReeceVoyeur by Francesca Reece

The Day I Fell Off My Island by Yvonne Bailey-Smith (Myriad, £12.99)

Yvonne Bailey-Smith is the mother of acclaimed White Teeth author Zadie Smith and being a dab hand at writing evidently runs in the family. The Day I Fell Off My Island is an absorbing coming-of-age novel about a Jamaican teenager uprooted by the death of her grandmother. Erna Mullings is packed off to England, where a new life in a strange country awaits with a mother she hardly knows. A beautiful read guaranteed to make you smile and equally bring a lump to the throat with its astute observation.


Where The Missing Gather by Helen Sedgwick (Point Blank, £12.99, published July 8)

Those who loved When The Dead Come Calling – the first instalment in Helen Sedgwick's Burrowhead Mysteries series – will enjoy getting reacquainted with DI Georgie Strachan. There's no rest for the wicked as a historic murder is reported and an archaeological excavation threatens to expose a long-buried past. When human remains surface in a field and a ritualistic killing is discovered at an altar in the woods, DI Strachan has her work cut out.

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Knock Knock by Anders Roslund (Harvill Secker, £12.99)

Scandi-noir fans are in for a treat. Knock Knock is a dark read – not for the lily-livered. It begins with a crime scene: a family executed in their home. A five-year-old girl is the only one left alive. She is placed under witness protection and adopted. The trail of the killer goes cold. That was 17 years ago. Now someone is hellbent on silencing the sole surviving witness. Detective Superintendent Ewert Grens worked on the original case and faces a heart-pounding race against time.

In Dark Water by Lynne McEwan (Canelo, £8.99)

Newspaper photographer-turned-crime author Lynne McEwan has penned a fast-paced debut detective novel set on the shores of the Solway Firth. DI Shona Oliver has newly moved to Dumfries, upping sticks from London after her teenage daughter got in with the wrong crowd. Any hopes for a quiet life evaporate when a body recovered from the sea indicates foul play, coupled with reports of human trafficking and a major drug bust on her doorstep.


Come Fly The World by Julia Cooke (Icon Books, £16.99)

The disparaging term "trolley dolly" is given short shrift in this eye-opening book about the legion of stewardesses serving on Pan American Airways between 1966 and 1975. It was a jet-setting life that brought freedom, liberation and sisterhood. However, alongside the glitz and glamour there was a serious side to their role as they flew soldiers to Vietnam and staffed Operation Babylift, the evacuation of 2,000 children during the fall of Saigon – a far cry from the "coffee, tea or me?" trope.

The Herald: Come Fly The World by Julia CookeCome Fly The World by Julia Cooke

The Spitfire Kids by Alasdair Cross (Headline, £20)

There are few aircraft that capture the imagination quite like the Spitfire. Woven into its history are tales of scrappy underdogs and derring-do. The Spitfire Kids centres on those who built, designed and flew the much-beloved fighter. It is a story of heroism that goes beyond the spiffy moustaches and aerial acrobatics we have all seen in old movies, tapping into the verve and tenacity shown by a young workforce – men and women – during the Second World War.

Midnight In Cairo: The Female Stars of Egypt's Roaring '20s by Raphael Cormack (Saqi Books, £20)

If you could jump in a time machine and land anywhere, it would be tempting to set the dial for 1920s Cairo. Raphael Cormack, who has a PhD in Egyptian theatre from the University of Edinburgh, drew from memoirs, newspapers and archive reports to shine a spotlight on this fascinating period. Midnight In Cairo is a captivating journey through the city's bars, cafes, cabaret clubs and music halls during a magical era when some of its biggest stars were women.

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Down By The Water by Elle Connel (Wildfire, £16.99, published July 8)

Old university friends converge on a remote castle in the Scottish Borders for a reunion/hen weekend. They were once a close-knit bunch, but their joviality hides brooding resentment bubbling beneath the surface. A walk by the loch sees something spine-tingling and unexplained show up in their photographs. Then a blocked road traps them on the estate. Old secrets bind the group, but what if one of their number has been quietly biding her time for revenge?

The Herald: Down By The Water by Elle ConnelDown By The Water by Elle Connel

The Imposter by Anna Wharton (Mantle, £16.99)

Archivist Chloe is content to live vicariously through the lives of others, enjoying a fleeting glimpse into their stories as she files away newspaper cuttings. Outside of work, evenings are spent looking after her ailing grandmother. One unsolved case lingers with her: the disappearance of a girl some years previously. When her grandmother is moved into a nursing home, fate leads Chloe to an advert seeking a lodger – placed by the parents of the missing youngster. Buckle up.

The Pact by Sharon Bolton (Trapeze, £12.99)

The tricky dynamics of guilt and loyalty are laid bare as six friends, their lives steeped in privilege and wealth, enjoy one last carefree and hedonistic summer before heading off to pursue bright futures. When a daredevil game goes awry and ends in death, someone has to step up to take the blame. In return, the remaining quintet must each agree to a favour, payable on their scapegoat's release from prison. Two decades later, it is time to make good on that promise.


The View Was Exhausting by Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta (Headline Review, £18.99, published July 6)

The old-school romance of a movie star and a millionaire playboy makes headlines around the world with every twist and turn. Except it's not real. Rather, there's been a mutually beneficial agreement to help boost Whitman "Win" Tagore's Hollywood career and distract from Leo Milanowski's complicated family life. They control the narrative. Until things become unexpectedly messy. Whip-smart contemporary love story-meets-sultry globe-hopping escapism.

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Three Weddings and a Proposal by Sheila O'Flanagan (Headline Review, £20)

Delphie Mertens is living her best life: a new promotion, no-strings relationships and a swanky pad. When a telephone call at a wedding turns her world upside down, the age-old battle of single and career-driven versus romance and work-life balance suddenly looms large. With her previously independent and carefree lifestyle hitting the skids, an old flame makes a timely reappearance, and Delphie finds herself at a crossroads.


Rememberings by Sinead O'Connor (Sandycove, £20)

Everyone knows Sinead O'Connor. With her shaved head, distinctive voice and hit song Nothing Compares 2 U – penned by the late Prince – the Irish powerhouse became a global star in the early 1990s. O'Connor later outraged millions when she tore up a photograph of the Pope on television. But who is the woman behind the headlines? Rememberings is written with no-nonsense honesty, be it chronicling adventures in sex, drugs and rock'n'roll or O'Connor's ongoing spiritual odyssey.

The Herald: Rememberings by Sinead O'ConnorRememberings by Sinead O'Connor

Jacinda Ardern: Leading With Empathy by Supriya Vani and Carl A Harte (Oneworld, £20)

In 2017, New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern swept into office on a wave of popularity dubbed "Jacindamania". She led the country as it faced its worst-ever terror attack and a global pandemic. Ardern, who was re-elected last October with a landslide victory, has since been hailed as a leader who embodies compassion and courage. This biography, which interestingly Ardern has distanced herself from in recent weeks, examines her early life and the events that have shaped her.

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The Accidental Footballer: A Memoir by Pat Nevin (Monoray, £20)

The story of Pat Nevin is one that goes against the grain. He never set out to be a professional footballer. The charismatic Glasgow-born winger planned to follow the same path as his older siblings by becoming a teacher. When Nevin did embark upon a footballing career, he stood out for everything from his left-field musical tastes and love of "weirdo" bands to a penchant for reading Anton Chekhov on the match-day coach. An engrossing, wry and delightful memoir.