Here’s this week’s selection of the best new books around.
The Discreet Hero by Mario Vargas Llosa
Felicito is a self-made man who has worked himself out of poverty to own a family trucking business, but when the mob start demanding protection money and the police won’t take it seriously, Felicito becomes a reluctant public hero. But events take an even more sinister turn when his mistress is kidnapped… Meanwhile, wealthy insurance tycoon Ismael enrages his twin sons by running away with his new bride, leaving old friend Rigoberto to face the twins’ wrath. Rigoberto and Felicito’s fates are intertwined in this gripping story about money and family.
Published by Faber & Faber, priced at £20
Alfred Hitchcock by Peter Ackroyd
Although he is renowned as one of our greatest film directors, Alfred Hitchcock was a famously enigmatic character who strictly controlled the public’s perception of him. As a lonely, fearful child, he would spend hours in his bedroom planning imaginary rail journeys across Europe in great detail; as an adult, he meticulously controlled the making of his films and became known for his detached air. Here, Peter Ackroyd, who is a master of the biography, reveals a man who loved to laugh and who smashed a tea cup every morning to remind himself of life’s frailty. A fascinating account of an extraordinary character who left an enduring film legacy.
Published by Vintage, priced at £12.99
Sentenced to Life by Clive James
Using both his great wit and lyrical talent, broadcaster and writer Clive James looks back on his rich life via a delightful collection of poems. Through verses that feature both regrets and celebrations of a life well lived, James – who was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2011 – reflects on a remarkable career and a colourful personal life, with poems that have already earned acclaim before the book’s publication.
Published by Pan Macmillan (on April 9), priced at £14.99
The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall
An exploration of the wildness in both nature and humankind, this novel tackles some fundamental questions about the forces that control Earth’s most dominant creature. Rachel has spent a decade avoiding family conflict by working with wolves on an American reservation. But an eccentric Earl’s plan to reintroduce the Grey Wolf to Britain brings her back to the Lake District and into the orbit of her estranged family. While battling with the political obstacles of bringing a wild animal home, Rachel faces up to her own regeneration.
Published by Faber & Faber, priced at £17.99
The Lady From Zagreb by Philip Kerr
Wartime detective Bernie Gunther returns in another dark, fast-paced and thrilling story set in 1942. When Goebbels himself orders Gunther to track down a glamorous German actress who is hiding in Zurich, the detective has little choice – even when he discovers that she’s the daughter of a sadistic Croatian fascist. Meanwhile, the Swiss police ask Gunther to take a look at a cold case that has serious implications for certain powerful people in the Reich.
Published by Quercus, priced at £18.99