The Wolf Den
Apollo, £16.99, 454pp
A Pompeii brothel in first century AD might not be the obvious setting for a novel about female empowerment, but Harper’s vibrant and thrilling story is steeped in historical detail while remaining contemporary in its concerns. The book follows the fortunes of Amara, a reluctant “she-wolf” – a woman sold into sex work – who aims to escape from this degrading world while taking comfort from the solidarity of her colleagues. Harper tells her gripping tale with conviction and wit.
In Love With Hell
Robinson, £20, 262pp
Drinking has traditionally been the writer’s vice and Palmer’s pen portraits of 11 alcoholic authors, from Patrick Hamilton to Elizabeth Bishop, place their work in the context of their bibulous activities. Palmer’s vignettes are engaging and highly readable, despite some sloppy copy-editing and sweeping generalisations. There are some questionable omissions, too, and the book may have benefited from exploring more writers’ lives.
Corsair, £8.99, 288pp (paperback)
Moggach’s former partner is Chris Atkins, author of the prison memoir A Bit of a Stretch. She draws on her experiences of visiting Atkins in jail to considerable effect in this gripping thriller with a social conscience. Her protagonist, Rob, is a convict who leaves Brixton on day release to work in a local charity shop and forms a bond with Steph, a businesswoman whom he literally bumps into. Steph’s agenda, and how it relates to Rob’s incarceration, is teasingly revealed over the course of a twist-laden novel.
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