Friday book review – Four last-minute book suggestions

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Friday 23rd December 2011

With two days to go till Christmas Day I’m still rushing around buying food, looking for stuffing recipes and trying to remember where I hid half the presents. So if you’re like me and need a few last-minute Christmas treats, I’ve come up with four great books that might just do the trick.

For thriller fans
Fans of legal thriller supremo John Grisham will love The Litigators (Hodder & Stoughton, £19.99), a courtroom drama about three Chicago lawyers who team up to take on one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the US. The unlikely trio – a street cop turned lawyer, a hustler with a drink problem, four ex-wives and a penchant for chasing ambulances and a smart Harvard graduate who’s just quit his high-flying law firm – show Grisham at the height of his powers. A riveting and at times very comic read.

For romance readers
I reckon The Language of Flowers (Macmillan, £12.99) is one of the most charming and original books of the year. Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s first novel tells the bitter-sweet story of Victoria Jones, who after years of being in foster care, strikes out on her own in San Francisco on her 18th birthday. Broke, friendless and homeless, her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings – honeysuckle is a sign of devotion, for instance, while snowdrops represent consolation and hope. But Victoria’s life changes when a florist offers her a job and she meets a mysterious flower vendor who could unlock the secrets of her troubled past.

For crime addicts
Equally absorbing is The House of Silk (Orion, £18.99) by Anthony Horowitz. I’ve long been a fan of Horowitz’s Alex Rider stories for younger readers, but this new Sherlock Holmes mystery shows he can write for any age group. Endorsed by the Conan Doyle estate, it relates the events of a “missing” Sherlock Holmes case. As the iconic detective and his trusty sidekick Dr Watson investigate the death of a teenage street urchin, they’re determined to find out why the boy had a white ribbon tied round his wrist and the significance of the mysterious House of Silk. In his acknowledgements Horowitz says writing the book was a “joy” and hopes he’s done justice to Conan Doyle’s creation. He certainly has.

For aesthetes
With its striking black and white cover, black-edged pages and end papers covered in magicians’ hats, The Night Circus (Harvill Secker, £12.99) is one of the best-looking books of the year. US writer Erin Morgenstern’s novel is by no means flawless but her story of two young 19th century magicians forced to pit their skills against each other is enchanting nonetheless. The descriptions of the mysterious night circus, which opens at nightfall and closes at dawn, are so vivid that you can almost see the twirling acrobats and smell the popcorn, caramel and bonfire smoke.

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