Genre fiction seldom catches the eye of literary awards judges, but this thriller from the English crime writer has been long-listed for the Man Booker Prize.
The story begins in 1998, on a stifling summer’s day in England’s West Country, when 11-year-old Jack and his two sisters wait in their broken-down car while their mother goes off and seeks help. But she never comes back and life for the children changes forever.
Three years later, Jack is still in charge — of his sisters, of supporting them all and of making sure nobody knows they’re alone in the house. And he is desperate to find out just what happened to his mother — as is DI John Marvel, sent from London to work on the case. The outspoken journalist and author first published this polemical tome in 1999 and it focused on the decline — as he saw it — of morals and manners in his native land from the 1960s on. That edition had Tony Blair and ‘New Labour’ in its sights, and this thoroughly revised book brings the reader up to the present day.
Subtitled ‘From Winston Churchill to Theresa May’, Hitchens argues that the Britain of the present day is a poor shadow of the country that emerged victorious from the second world war and the befuddled leadership in the wake of the Brexit vote only serves to highlight how far the country has fallen in areas such as literacy and the widening gap between rich and poor. Bloomsbury Sport, 336 pages, €14
Not so long ago, even the biggest of England’s football clubs were owned by local businessmen whose firms employed local people. Such an idea feels terribly antiquated today when so many clubs — and not just the Liverpools and Man Uniteds — are owned by billionaires on the other side of the world.
Sportswriter Montague travels the globe to learn more about these often secretive owners and how they came to amass their wealth. He looks at the influence they have had on the game and how it’s led to so many fans feeling disconnected to the club they have supported all their lives. And he wonders where the game can go if yet more Middle Eastern oil barons and Russian oligarchs buy up football.
FICTION Snap Belinda BauerBlack Swan, 448 pages, €14
NON-FICTION The Abolition of Britain Peter HitchensBloomsbury, 272 pages, €12
SPORT The Billionaires Club James Montague