Nicola Upson's novels featuring Golden Age crime writer Josephine Tey are very popular, and here is the latest, The Death of Lucy Kyte. "When Josephine inherits a remote Suffolk cottage from her godmother, it comes full of secrets. There's the infamous Red Barn murder, committed nearby a century before, and still casting a shadow over the village. And there's Lucy Kyte, the mysterious beneficiary of her godmother's will, whom no-one in the close-knit village will admit to knowing.
As Josephine settles into the house, she knows that something dark has a tight hold on the heart of this small community. Is it just the ghosts of the Red Barn murder, or is there something very much alive that she needs to fear?..."
Two novels from acclaimed Icelandic writer Jón Kalman Stefánsson next, first Heaven and Hell:
"In a remote part of Iceland, a young man joins a boat to fish for cod, but when a tragedy occurs at sea he is appalled by his fellow fishermen's cruel indifference. Lost and broken, he leaves the settlement in secret, his only purpose to return a book to a blind old sea captain beyond the mountains. Once in the town he finds that he is not alone in his solitude: welcomed into a warm circle of outcasts, he begins to see the world with new eyes."
Its sequel is The Sorrow of Angels: "it's three weeks since the boy came to town, carrying a book of poetry to return to the old sea captain. Three weeks since he lost his best friend Barður to the sea and already his ghost has faded. Meanwhile, the snow falls so heavily that it binds heaven and earth together.
As the villagers gather in the inn to drink schnapps and coffee, Jens the postman stumbles in half dead having almost frozen to his horse. On his next journey to the wide open fjords he is accompanied by the boy, but along the way both must risk their lives for each other in the quest to save an unusual item of mail."
From the reviews: "The author has a lyrical, poetic style ... the action unfolds vividly and dramatically, and the reader feels part of the scene. The combination creates an unusually intense reading experience."
Changing the scene and the tone, next up is Jennifer Close's Things We Need. " 'In the Coffey house, there was always a list taped to the refrigerator. At the top, it was titled THINGS WE NEED. The title was always capped and underlined, as if to stress that yes, this is important, these aren't just things we want, these are things we need.'
Will and Weezy Coffey thought they'd prepared their three children for the challlenges and hurdles of adult life. But being a grown-up isn't easy. Claire's engagement has been called off and she's hiding from her debts. Martha's in a career crisis and even her sympathetic therapist is losing patience. And Max, the baby of the family in his final year at college, has got himself into a serious girlfriend fiasco.... A story about modern life and the place we return to when things go drastically awry: home."
"The perfect piece of escapism for all women from eighteen to eighty," that's Catherine Alliott's My Husband Next Door: "When Ella married the handsome, celebrated artist Sebastian Montclair at just nineteen she was madly in love. Now, those blissful years of marriage have turned into the very definition of an unconventional set-up. Separated in every way but distance, Sebastian resides in an outhouse across the lawn from Ella's ramshackle farmhouse.
With an ex-husband living under her nose and a home crowded by hostile teenaged children and a hyper-critical mother, Ella finds comfort in the company of the very charming gardener, Ludo. But is he the answer to her prayers? Then Sebastian decides he must move away, but how much longer can Ella hide from what really destroyed her marriage, and the secret she continues to keep?"
Finally today, Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami. Amy Sackville (The Still Point and Orkney) describes this as "a dream-like spell of a novel, full of humour, sadness, warmth and tremendous subtlety," and with its author likened to a young Haruki Murakami, the novel has been called "a mature and more subtle Norwegian Wood".
It is about a woman's relationship with an older man "that blossoms against the odds. Tsukiko is in her late 30s and living alone when one night she happens to meet one of her former high school teachers, 'Sensei', in a bar. He is at least thirty years her senior, retired and, she presumes, a widower. After this initial encounter, the pair continue to meet occasionally to share food and drink sake, and as the seasons pass - from spring cherry blossom to autumnal mushrooms - Tsukiko and Sensei come to develop a hesitant intimacy which tilts awkwardly and poignantly into love.
Perfectly constructed, funny, and moving, this is a compelling tale of modern Japan and old-fashioned romance that can be consumed in a single sitting."