Michael Joseph

You wouldn’t envy any writer releasing a novel at the moment, due to the difficulties getting books in front of readers, yet recent UK statistics indicate a surge in crime fiction sales following the relaxing of lockdown restrictions and the reopening of bookshops. It’s hard to say whether the same optimistic reading of the crime fiction market in Australia holds true, though two new crime novels by début authors – Kyle Perry’s The Bluffs (Michael Joseph, $32.99 pb, 432 pp) and Katherine Firkin’s Sticks and Stones (Bantam, $32.99 pb, 392 pp) – appear to have well and truly jumped out of the blocks. And it’s fair to assume that, given the international commercial and critical success of Megan Goldin’s terrific début novel, The Escape Room, her new book, The Night Swim (Michael Joseph, $32.99 pb, 352 pp), will appeal to antipodean readers this winter.

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The cookery sections of bookshops are crammed with bright new titles, but how necessary are they? Inevitably, they are repetitive – how many ways are there to boil an egg, make stock, prepare a vinaigrette? – and presentation is often privileged over content. In such a crowded market, awash with flashy covers, glossy photography, and populist titles acclaiming the latest celebrity chef, or niche cuisine, how can we sort out the cream from the whey? How can we be confident that books will edify or endure? Gratifyingly, some publishers are reprinting older works, providing a balance between the new and inventive, the tried and trusted.

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