THE RESTORER by Michael Sala, Penguin.
It’s the late 1980s. Protests are erupting in Tiananmen Square, the Berlin Wall is coming down, and in Newcastle, an earthquake is about to hit. Michael Sala taps into the tension and fear of the times to help build the mood inside the rundown beach house Roy has bought on the Newcastle coast. His plan is to restore it, and his marriage, and after a year’s separation it looks like he’ll get his second chance when Maryanne agrees to return with their two children. But Roy lives on a hair-trigger; as his teenage daughter Freya puts it, as if “some small fuse had been lit inside… burning through to his nerves”. She disdains her mother for going back to him, while her little brother is scared; Roy has hurt him before. The cracks are widening long before the earth moves in this novel of a family locked into patterns of violence.