Cheer up, love: adventures in depression with the Crab of Hate, by Susan Calman. London: Two Roads, 2016.
This is a wonderful book. It's often extremely funny, as you'd expect; but it's also extremely honest about living with depression, and some of the things Susan Calman has found help with her own depression; there's also a great section on the things to say, and not to say, at difficult times. Calman looks at the impact of social media on mental health, at talking therapies, at people's attitudes to her being gay and depressed, at physical appearance... It's all extremely engaging, and beautifully written, and (again) funny. And obviously, there are cats. Highly recommended!
Out of bounds, by Val McDermid. London: Little, Brown, 2016.
A teenage joyrider crashes a stolen car, killing his three passengers and putting himself into a coma. When his DNA is analysed to see whether he'd been involved in other car thefts, it seems to hold the key to the 20-year-old murder of a hairdresser killed on a night out. DCI Karen Pirie of the Cold Cases Unit is extremely keen to find the perpetrator of a crime which affected all the people involved so deeply, but it's not as straightforward as it seems; and Pirie also has enemies within Police Scotland who resent her involvement in the present-day crime and wish to stop her. As the investigation goes on, some very powerful people are stirred up and Pirie's life is in danger. As ever, this is brilliant. (There's also an extremely accurate description of a Select Committee session in Portcullis House - Pete Wishart MP of the SNP is credited at the end for help with that one!)
The escape artist: life from the saddle, by Matt Seaton. London: Fourth Estate, 2002.
I had this recommended by the bibliography at the back of another cycling book; and it's a really interesting account of a keen amateur, almost-professional, cyclist in the 1990s, and the sacrifices people make to an obsession. What I hadn't realised was that it's the Matt Seaton who's also the Family editor for The Guardian and widower of Ruth Picardie, whose heartbreaking Before I say goodbye... columns I read in the Observer in the 1990s. So it's also a pretty poignant memoir; it balances the exhilaration of racing, and of feeling physically in completely top condition, with the guilt of not spending time doing more responsible, more social things.
The long way home, by Louise Penny. London: Sphere, 2014.
I finished The beautiful mystery, the previous book in the series, just before a meeting in Bloomsbury; and bought this on the way home. Gamache and Reine-Marie are starting to enjoy a life in retirement in Three Pines, but there's one unresolved mystery - Peter Morrow hasn't returned to his wife Clara after their one-year trial separation, and while Clara is still undecided as to whether she really wants him back, she knows Peter wouldn't stay away if there wasn't something very wrong. Gamache agrees to help find Peter, and it turns into a slightly bizarre road trip around Québec and Ontario. There's a lot about art and artists, and about losing one's way and trying to find it; and a surprising, heartbreaking conclusion. Extremely good.
The critic: an Enzo MacLeod investigation, by Peter May. Kindle edition.
The second of the Enzo novels. After solving one historic unsolved case, Enzo is again taking time out of his day job as a chemistry professor at Toulouse University to look at another case, this time in the vineyards of the Gers. A prominent US wine critic went missing from the area a decade before, and no trace of him has been found, until his corpse appears displayed in a vineyard, seemingly having been pickled in wine all this time. Enzo's enquiries aren't popular with everyone, though, and his motley crew of students, his daughters and their boyfriends prove both a help and a hindrance before the mystery is finally (slightly horrifyingly) solved. This was a brilliant book to be reading in France last month.