Bookcase: Louis de Bernières' and Simon Berthon's new titles reviewed - The Leamington Observer

Bookcase: Louis de Bernières' and Simon Berthon's new titles reviewed

Leamington Editorial 7th Dec, 2020 Updated: 7th Dec, 2020   0

This week’s bookcase includes reviews of The Autumn Of The Ace by Louis de Bernières and A Time To Lie by Simon Berthon.

Plus a beloved children’s author is back with a new book…


1. A Time To Lie by Simon Berthon is published in hardback by HQ, priced £12.99 (ebook £7.99). Available December 10

Picture credit: HQ/PA.

Simon Berthon’s latest book is a multi-layered political thriller brimming with tension, that tracks the meteoric rise of a young Prime Minister.

What begins as an accusation of a murder cover-up between two old friends and Conservative party colleagues, gradually unravels into political sabotage, historic mass executions and international espionage.

With deception at every turn, Berthon delivers masterful character development amid a tangle of sub-plots that both disguise and enrich the main story arc.

Cleverly paced and meticulously planned, A Time To Lie will have you racing toward the ending, where politics and journalism collide in a bid to uncover the truth.


(Review by Rebecca Wilcock)

2. The Autumn Of The Ace by Louis de Bernières is published in hardback by Harvill Secker, priced £17.99 (£9.99). Available now

Picking up at the end of World War II, The Autumn Of The Ace finds Daniel Pitt in his early 50s with a second chance at a future.

Picture credit: Harvill Secker/PA.

The third novel in the Pitt trilogy – although each novel can stand alone – brings back an eccentric cast of characters, following their lives post-war and into old age.

Louis de Bernières is firmly in his comfort zone, embracing nostalgia while exploring love, relationships and faith.

Although inherently introspective, the novel covers the cultural and social shifts of the 20th century, travelling between continents and characters.

Under the guise of a ‘last hurrah’, the novel is centred around death – in battle, in love, and in old age – making for a fairly muted end to the trilogy.


(Review by Rebecca Wilcock)

3. Out For Blood by Deborah Masson is published in paperback by Corgi, priced £7.99 (ebook £4.99). Available December 10

With the Christmas break fast approaching, many of us are searching for the perfect holiday read to devour – and Deborah Masson’s latest crime novel might be the answer.

Picture credit: Corgi/PA.

Out For Blood is the follow up to Hold Your Tongue, starring hard-nosed DI Eve Hunter fighting gruesome crime on the streets of Aberdeen.

This time round, the son of a wealthy businessmen and an unidentified teenage girl are found dead, and it’s Eve’s job to discover what links them – and how Aberdeen’s elite might be involved.

Even though it can be read on its own, it’s probably worth starting with the first book as it’s constantly referenced.

There’s not much to surprise you here – it ticks all the boxes of a solid crime read, full of fast-paced dialogue and action, but not too much colour or nuance. While not earth-shattering, it’s a good way to escape for a few hours.


(Review by Prudence Wade)

Children’s book of the week

4. The Puffin Keeper by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Benji Davies, is published in hardback by Puffin, priced £12.99 (ebook £8.99). Available now

While this picture book can be enjoyed by children as the story of a lifetime friendship between a boy and a lighthouse keeper, adults can also see it as an allegory for the birth of Puffin Books, celebrating its 80th birthday this year.

Picture credit: Puffin/PA.

Benjamin Postlethwaite is the keeper on Puffin Island; he saves the lives of passengers on a boat wrecked during a storm, including 5-year-old Allen Williams and his widowed mother. Years later, Allen finds the world much changed by war – so seeks solace with Ben and the host of puffins who have made the island their own.

This charming and clever book emphasises the power of kindness and allowing things to flourish in the right way.

Whether you read it on face value or examine the subtext, it tells you about the value of writing and reading stories – something you want a child to take to heart.


(Review by Bridie Pritchard)



1. Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

2. Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

3. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

4. The Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory

5. A Song For The Dark Times by Ian Rankin

6. Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith

7. The Mirror And The Light by Hilary Mantel

8. Christmas Is Murder by Val McDermid

9. The Evening And The Morning by Ken Follett

10. Troy by Stephen Fry

(Compiled by Waterstones)


1. A Promised Land by Barack Obama

2. Private Eye Annual: 2020 by Ian Hislop

3. A Year At The Chateau by Dick Strawbridge & Angel Strawbridge

4. Guinness World Records 2021 by Guinness World Records

5. Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given

6. My Life In Red and White by Arsene Wenger

7. Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

8. Anything Is Possible by Gareth Southgate

9. How Animals Saved My Life by Professor Noel Fitzpatrick

10. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse by Charlie Mackesy

(Compiled by Waterstones)

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