By Andrew Michael Hurley
BOOK OF THE YEAR IN THE TIMES, SUNDAY TIMES, FT AND MAIL ON SUNDAY'The new master of menace' Sunday TimesIn the wink of an eye, as quick as a flea,The Devil he jumped from me to thee.And only when the Devil had gone,Did I know that he and I'd been one . . .Every autumn, John Pentecost returns to the farm where he grew up to help gather the sheep down from the moors for the winter. Very little changes in the Endlands, but this year, his grandfather - the Gaffer - has died and John's new wife, Katherine, is accompanying him for the first time.Each year, the Gaffer would redraw the boundary lines of the village, with pen and paper, but also through the remembrance of tales and timeless communal rituals, which keep the sheep safe from the Devil. But as the farmers of the Endlands bury the Gaffer, and prepare to gather the sheep, they begin to wonder whether they've let the Devil in after all . . .
Dent's Modern Tribes
By Susie Dent
Did you know that . . . a soldier's biggest social blunder is called jack brew - making yourself a cuppa without making one for anyone else? That twitchers have an expression for a bird that can't be identified - LBJ (the letters stand for Little Brown Job)? Or that builders call plastering the ceiling doing Lionel Richie's dancefloor? Susie Dent does.Ever wondered why football managers all speak the same way, what a cabbie calls the Houses of Parliament, or how ticket inspectors discreetly request back-up? We are surrounded by hundreds of tribes, each speaking their own distinct slanguage of colourful words, jokes and phrases, honed through years of conversations on the battlefield, in A&E, backstage, or at ten-thousand feet in the air. Susie Dent has spent years interviewing hundreds of professionals, hobbyists and enthusiasts, and the result is an idiosyncratic phrasebook like no other. From the Freemason's handshake to the publican's banter, Dent's Modern Tribes takes us on a whirlwind tour of Britain, decoding its secret languages and, in the process, finds out what really makes us all tick.
By Mick Herron
Winner of the 2013 CWA Gold Dagger AwardA BBC Front Row best crime novel of the yearA Times crime and thriller book of the year'The finest new crime series this millennium' Mail on SundayDickie Bow is not an obvious target for assassination.But once a spook, always a spook. And Dickie was a talented streetwalker back in the day, before he turned up dead on a bus. A shadow. Good at following people, bringing home their secrets.Dickie was in Berlin with Jackson Lamb. Now Lamb's got his phone, and on it the last secret Dickie ever told, and reason to believe an old-time Moscow-style op is being run in the Service's back-yard.In the Intelligence Service purgatory that is Slough House, Jackson Lamb's crew of back-office no-hopers is about to go live . . .
Dashing for the Post
By Patrick Leigh Fermor
A revelatory collection of letters written by the author of The Broken Road.Handsome, spirited and erudite, Patrick Leigh Fermor was a war hero and one of the greatest travel writers of his generation. He was also a spectacularly gifted friend. The letters in this collection span almost seventy years, the first written ten days before Paddy's twenty-fifth birthday, the last when he was ninety-four. His correspondents include Deborah Devonshire, Ann Fleming, Nancy Mitford, Lawrence Durrell, Diana Cooper and his lifelong companion, Joan Rayner; he wrote his first letter to her in his cell at the monastery Saint Wandrille, the setting for his reflections on monastic life in A Time to Keep Silence. His letters exhibit many of his most engaging characteristics: his zest for life, his unending curiosity, his lyrical descriptive powers, his love of language, his exuberance and his tendency to get into scrapes - particularly when drinking and, quite separately, driving. Here are plenty of extraordinary stories: the hunt for Byron's slippers in one of the remotest regions of Greece; an ignominious dismissal from Somerset Maugham's Villa Mauresque; hiding behind a bush to dub Dirk Bogarde into Greek during the shooting of Ill Met by Moonlight, the film based on the story of General Kreipe's abduction; his extensive travels. Some letters contain glimpses of the great and the good, while others are included purely for the joy of the jokes.
By Garry Kasparov
In May 1997, the world watched as Garry Kasparov, the greatest chess player in the world, was defeated for the first time by the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue. It was a watershed moment in the history of technology: machine intelligence had arrived at the point where it could best human intellect.It wasn't a coincidence that Kasparov became the symbol of man's fight against the machines. Chess has long been the fulcrum in development of machine intelligence; the hoax automaton 'The Turk' in the 18th century and Alan Turing's first chess program in 1952 were two early examples of the quest for machines to think like humans -- a talent we measured by their ability to beat their creators at chess. As the pre-eminent chessmaster of the 80s and 90s, it was Kasparov's blessing and his curse to play against each generation's strongest computer champions, contributing to their development and advancing the field. Like all passionate competitors, Kasparov has taken his defeat and learned from it. He has devoted much energy to devising ways in which humans can partner with machines in order to produce results better than either can achieve alone. During the twenty years since playing Deep Blue, he's played both with and against machines, learning a great deal about our vital relationship with our most remarkable creations. Ultimately, he's become convinced that by embracing the competition between human and machine intelligence, we can spend less time worrying about being replaced and more thinking of new challenges to conquer.In this breakthrough book, Kasparov tells his side of the story of Deep Blue for the first time -- what it was like to strategize against an implacable, untiring opponent -- the mistakes he made and the reasons the odds were against him. But more than that, he tells his story of AI more generally, and how he's evolved to embrace it, taking part in an urgent debate with philosophers worried about human values, programmers creating self-learning neural networks, and engineers of cutting edge robotics.
By Stephan Abarbanell
It is 1946, and the full horrors of the previous six years are slowly coming to light.But in Jerusalem, Elias Lind can't accept that his brother Raphael really did die in a concentration camp. He has evidence that the scientist is still alive but, unable to search for him himself, he persuades a young member of the Jewish resistance to help. Lilya's search for Raphael takes her from the dusty streets of Jerusalem to the heart of political London, from US-controlled Munich to an overcrowded and underfunded displaced persons camp, before leading her to the devastated shell of Berlin itself. But before long Lilya realises that she isn't the only one searching for the missing scientist; a mysterious pursuer is hot on her heels, and it soon becomes clear that Raphael's life isn't the only one in question . . .Displaced is a deeply intelligent thriller about how the actions of a few can change the course of history. It is about the making of a new world from the ashes of the old, and decisions taken whose consequences are still with us today.
Dinosaurs on Other Planets
By Danielle McLaughlin
'An exquisite collection from an exciting new voice in short fiction' LadyA woman battles bluebottles as she plots an ill-judged encounter with a stranger; a young husband commutes a treacherous route to his job in the city, fearful for the wife and small daughter he has left behind; a mother struggles to understand her nine-year-old son's obsession with dead birds and the apocalypse.In Danielle McLaughlin's stories, the world is both beautiful and alien. Men and women negotiate their surroundings as a tourist might navigate a distant country: watchfully, with a mixture of wonder and apprehension. Here are characters living lives in translation, ever at the mercy of distortions and misunderstandings, striving to make sense both of the spaces they inhabit and of the people they share them with.
Do Polar Bears Get Lonely?
Do Polar Bears Get Lonely? is the third compilation of readers' answers to the questions in the 'Last Word' column of New Scientist, the world's best-selling science weekly. Following the phenomenal success of Does Anything Eat Wasps? (2005) and the even more spectacularly successful Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze? (2006), this latest collection includes a bumper crop of wise and wonderful answers never before seen in book form.As usual, the simplest questions often have the most complex answers - while some that seem the knottiest have very simple explanations. New Scientist's 'Last Word' is regularly voted the magazine's most popular section as it celebrates all questions - the trivial, idiosyncratic, baffling and strange. This all-new and eagerly awaited selection of the best again presents popular science at its most entertaining and enlightening.
Death is a Welcome Guest
By Louise Welsh
Longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the YearMagnus McFall was a comic on the brink of his big break when the world came to an end. Now, he is a man on the run and there is nothing to laugh about.Thrown into unwilling partnership with an escaped convict, Magnus flees the desolation of London to make the long journey north, clinging to his hope that the sickness has not reached his family on their remote Scottish island.He finds himself in a landscape fraught with danger, fighting for his place in a world ruled by men, like his fellow traveller Jeb - practical men who do not let pain or emotions interfere with getting the job done.This is a world with its own justice, and new rules.Where people, guns and food are currency.Where survival is everything.Death is a Welcome Guest defies you to put it down, and leaves you with questions that linger in the mind long after you read the last page.
Duel in the Snows
By Charles Allen
In December 1903 a British army marched over the Himalayas to counter a non-existent Russian threat and was confronted by a medieval Tibetan army ordered to stop it by non-violent means. It was a clash between the mightiest political power in the world and the weakest. Leading the mission was the charismatic Francis Younghusband. Commanding the army escort was an officer determined to do things by the book: General James Macdonald. The result was conflict at every level.Drawing on diaries, letters and unpublished first-hand accounts, Charles Allen reveals not only the true character of one of Britain's great imperial heroes but also the calamitous outcome for the Tibetan people of Britain's last attempt at empire-building.
By Bill Minutaglio, Steven L. Davis
In November 1963 President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. His death remains a defining moment for millions of people but few understand the unstoppable forces that were building in the city long before this dramatic event played out before the world. Dallas 1963 is a riveting account of the convergence of a group of unyielding and highly focused protagonists in a city sometimes seemingly filled with hate for JFK. Wicked stabs of fate and circumstance steered these fascinating characters together: the richest man in the world, a combative military general, a Mafia don, a strident Congressman, thundering preachers and even the elegant owner of one of America's most famous stores. This book expertly narrates how the spiralling events surrounding these characters on the ground in Dallas ultimately brewed a toxic environment before the President's assassination. Using a wealth of new information, as well as the first ever examination of key primary documents, Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis, both experts in their field, provide a comprehensive and detailed portrait of the place, the time and the people of these extraordinary events in American history. They also provide cautionary and controversial lessons rendering this time increasingly relevant for the modern age.
The Demolition of the Century
By Duncan Sarkies
'Twisted, surprising and very very very funny. Did I put too many verys? I don't think so' Jemaine Clement, Flight of the Conchords, on Two Little Boys Tom Spotswood (a.k.a. William McGinty) is an insurance investigator who has lost his socks, his suitcase, his career, his ex-wife, and most importantly, his son, Frank.He is being followed by Robert Valentine, the mysterious owner of the horse with no sperm; Alastair Shook and his van of teenage guards; and Spud, a demolition man who is using his wrecking ball to bring down the most beautiful movie theatre in town, the Century.To find his son he will have to come to terms with his past - a past he ran away from. But first he will have to find those socks.The Demolition of the Century appeals to fans of kooky, quirky humour similar to Flight of the Conchords.
Days of God
By James Buchan
The Iranian Revolution of 1979 was a turning-point in modern history. The destruction of the Iranian monarchy not only upset the political order in the Middle East and brought on a quarter-century of warfare, but introduced a new way to look at history. In Days of God James Buchan lives each moment of the revolution through the eyes of ordinary people as he tries to answer his own troubling question: why did his friends, with their peculiar Iranian dreaminess and charm, act the way they did?
The Dressmaker of Khair Khana
By Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
When the Taliban took control of Kabul, Kamila Sidiqi and all the women of Kabul saw their lives transformed. Overnight, they were banned from schools and offices and even forbidden from leaving their front doors on their own. The economy collapsed and young men left the city in search of work and security. Desperate to help her family and support her five brothers and sisters at home, Kamila began sewing cothes in her living room. Little did she know that the tailoring business she started to help her siblings would be the beginning of a dressmaking business that would create jobs and hope for one hundred neighbourhood women and would come to mean the difference between starvation and survival for hundreds of families like her own.
By Michael Arnold
Devil's Charge, the second in The Civil War Chronicles, Michael Arnold's acclaimed series of historical thrillers, sees battle-scarred hero Captain Stryker, 'the Sharpe of the Civil War', fight for his honour. 'Stands in comparison with the best of Cornwell' Yorkshire PostEngland stands divided: king against Parliament, town against country, brother against brother. For Captain Stryker, scarred hero of a dozen wars, the rights and wrongs of the cause mean little. His loyalties are to his own small band of comrades - and to Queen Henrietta Maria's beautiful and most deadly agent, Lisette Gaillard. So when Prince Rupert entrusts him with a secret mission to discover what has happened to Lisette and the man she was protecting - a man who could hold the key to Royalist victory - nothing, not false imprisonment for murder, ambush, a doomed siege or a lethal religious fanatic will stand in his way.A Sunday Times Historical Fiction Book of the Year
By Stuart Tootal
Colonel Stuart Tootal is the first senior commander to provide an account of the fighting in Afghanistan. A gritty portrayal of unforgiving conflict, Danger Close captures the essence of combat, the risks involved and the aftermath.3 PARA was the first unit into Helmand in 2006. Sent on a peace mission, it became engaged in a level of combat that has not been experienced by the British Army since the end of the Korean War. Undermanned and suffering from equipment shortages, 3 PARA fought doggedly to win the break in battle.Numerous gallantry decorations were awarded, but they were not without cost. On returning from Afghanistan, Tootal fought to get proper treatment for his wounded and feeling frustrated with the Government's treatment of its soldiers, he resigned from the Army.This is a dramatic, and often moving insight into the leadership of soldiers and the sharp end of war.
By James Lees-Milne, Michael Bloch
Despite advancing years, James Lees-Milne's descriptions of the people he meets, the houses he visits and country life on the Duke of Beaufort's Badminton estate are sharper than ever.He continues to enjoy a wide variety of experiences, and vividly recaptures a weekend at Chatsworth, a monastic retreat, a journey in a helicopter, an encounter with Mick Jagger and an intimate lunch with the Prince of Wales. As the grand old man of country house conservation, he becomes a media celebrity, but declines a CBE and refuses to be photographed by Lord Snowdon. In old age, he draws close to his formidable wife Alvilde, whose death in 1994 both shatters and liberates him, but he remains emotionally interested in members of his own sex. As always, he is a penetrating commentator on the times. A tour of the Cotswolds makes him ruefully aware of the yuppy trends of the Thatcher era, while he predicts that the victory of New Labour will herald a descent into American-style vulgarity and yob culture. Witty, waspish, poignant and self-revealing, James Lees-Milnes last diaries contain as much to delight as the first, and confirm his reputation as one of the twentieth century's great English diarists.
By Franny Moyle
Their Bohemian lifestyle and intertwined love affairs shockingly broke 19th Century class barriers and bent the rules that governed the roles of the sexes. They became defined by love triangles, played out against the austere moral climate of Victorian England; they outraged their contemporaries with their loves, jealousies and betrayals, and they stunned society when their complex moral choices led to madness and suicide, or when their permissive experiments ended in addiction and death. The characters are huge and vivid and remain as compelling today as they were in their own time. The influential critic, writer and artist John Ruskin was their father figure and his apostles included the painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the designer William Morris. They drew extraordinary women into their circle. In a move intended to raise eyebrows for its social audacity, they recruited the most ravishing models they could find from the gutters of Victorian slums. The saga is brought to life through the vivid letters and diaries kept by the group and the accounts written by their contemporaries. These real-lie stories shed new light on the greatest nineteenth-century British art.
The Dying Breed
By Declan Hughes
Even the best private eye needs more than a name to find a missing person, but that's all that Father Vincent Tyrrell, the brother of prominent racehorse trainer FX Tyrrell, will offer Loy when he comes to him for help. A dwindling bank account convinces Loy to delve into the deadly underworld of horse racing, but fortune soon smiles on him: while working another case, he discovers a phone number linked to FX on a badly beaten body left at an illegal dump. Loy's been around long enough to know that there's more to the Tyrrell family than meets the eye - and then a third body appears. At Christmastime, on the eve of one of Ireland's most anticipated racing events, the intrepid investigator bets his life on a longshot: finding answers in a shady network of trading and dealing, gambling and breeding.