The Killer is Dying by James Sallis (No Exit, £7.99) James Sallis is without a doubt the most underrated novelist currently working in America. His new novel is a masterclass in writing. It’s a tale of three individuals who never meet but who spend the whole book chasing each other’s tails. Sepulchral prose and deep empathetic nuance mark this out as a classic. It’s a novel about dying and suffering and the grace we manage to wring out of life’s failures. West End Front by Matthew Sweet (Faber, £20) This great and surprising book looks at the fate of London’s grand hotels – the Ritz, the Dorchester, the Savoy – during the Blitz. A home to spies, artists, exiled foreign royalty, criminals and celebrities, the hotels provided secrecy and good locations. Sweet’s research is prolific and he opens up a seam of history that is both rich and unexpected. This would make a great Christmas present. The Angel Esmeralda by Don DeLillo (Picador, £16.99) Don DeLillo is one of the greatest writers of sentences that has ever lived – a genius of rhythm and nuance with a laser-sighted view of today’s society. This collection of short stories may not be the best introduction to him, but it should not be ignored. The title piece is about an old, frail nun wallowing in doubt who witnesses a miracle is a moment of pure grace and power.
The Christ Journey by Sister Wendy Beckett (St Paulʼs, £45) The great art historian Sister Wendy is back with this entertaining and illuminating meditation on the work of Greg Tricker. Tricker is a British artist whose recent work has focused on the spiritual and mystical tradition. The Christ Journey series was exhibited at Westminster Cathedral and is a delicate and exhilarating set of images, depicting the life and soul of our Saviour. The Beautiful Indifference by Sarah Hall (Faber, £12.99) Sarah Hall’s new collection of stories is, as you would expect, a mixed bag, but it is beautifully written throughout. Examining the contours of relationships, she delves into the deep pockets of human interaction. Her prose is lucid and often luminescent. The tale of a couple breaking up in an African beach resort is the best of the bunch: an eerie, unsettling vignette of guilt and desire. Spartacus by Ben Kane (Random House, £12.99) One of Britain’s leading historical novelists, Ben Kane has turned his fine talents to the slave leader Spartacus. Beginning in his homeland of Thrace, where Spartacus has run away from the Roman army, he falls out with the king over the beautiful Ariadne, and is betrayed.
Told both with adrenaline and sympathy, this book will bring great pleasure to fans of the genre.