From Stephen King’s If It Bleeds to The Switch by Beth O’Leary and new novels from Michael Arditti and Martin Edwards, this week’s best new fiction
If It Bleeds
Stephen King Hodder & Stoughton £20
The title piece in King’s latest collection of supernatural tales serves up a vivid metaphor for the media’s unhealthy relationship with violent crime.
Shorter items are more finely honed: a dead businessman spookily acts as a kind of avenging angel for a picked-on schoolkid, and a fever-struck author strikes a bargain with a talking rat who guarantees inspiration – for a price.
Beth O’Leary Quercus £12.99
Workaholic Londoner Leena Cotton has been forced by her boss to take a two-month sabbatical. At the same time, her seventysomething gran, Eileen, is looking for new love and isn’t going to find it in her tiny Yorkshire village.
The solution? A house swap, of course. This sparky, upbeat romcom balances riffs on the generation gap with heavier topics including grief and infidelity.
Martin Edwards Head of Zeus £18.99
With amateur sleuths, lecherous stockings salesmen and birdwatchers with hidden agendas, this affectionate homage to Golden Age crime fiction packs in so many well-worn tropes that it is a book to make you smile rather than bite your nails in suspense.
However, Edwards maintains a cracking pace and only the smartest readers will anticipate the denouement. As elegant period escapism, it ticks all the boxes.
Michael Arditti Arcadia £16.99
Having slain Goliath and founded Jerusalem, King David can have any woman he likes, and does so on a jaw-dropping scale. But what do his many wives and concubines make of the man and his morals? That is the premise behind Arditti’s bold revisionist take on the Old Testament.
It’s easy to get the huge cast list muddled, but as one listens to the stories woven by Michal, Abigail and Bathsheba, all victims of David’s voracious patriarchal appetite, a little of those stirring times peeps through the fog.