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Pile by the Bed reviews The Seven by Chris Hammer, the third rural Australian crime novel to feature detectives Lucic and Buchanan, this one set in the NSW irrigation region.

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Pile by the Bed reviews The Wolf Hunt by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen a thriller that explores the lives of expatriate Israelis in America and engagingly explores the grey area of a number of complex issues.

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Pile by the Bed reviews The Secret Hours by Mick Herron a top shelf stand alone espionage novel set in Herron's Slough House continuity.

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Pile by the Bed reviews Gods of the Wyrdwood by RJ Barker (Forsaken #1), a ferocious piece of world building and a great set up for the rest of his third fantasy trilogy.

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Pile by the Bed reviews The Death I Gave Him by Em X Lui a science fiction, locked room retelling of Hamlet complete with AI, experimental drugs and surveillance.

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Pile by the Bed reviews The Detective by Ajay Chowdhury, the third book in his crime series about a disgraced Indian policeman who starts again in London with the help of his family and their restaurant

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Pile by the Bed reviews The Combat Codes by Alexander Darwin, the first book in a science fiction series set in a world in which all disputes are settled by one-on-one combat.

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Pile by the Bed reviews Ordinary Gods and Monsters by Chris Womersley a kids-on-bikes coming-of-age crime story set in 1980s Melbourne suburbia.

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Pile by the Bed reviews The Wonder State by Sarah Flannery Murphy, her third book in which she uses a supernatural premise to explore and expose the lives of her very real protagonists.

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Pile by the Bed reviews and recommends Tom Lake by Ann Patchett another beautifully observed, totally engaging novel exploring relationships and family.

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Pile by the Bed reviews and recommends Learned by Heart by Emma Donoghue, a book that explores the teenage years of Victorian-era personality Ann Lister through the eyes of her roommate and first lover - Elixa Raine.

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Pile by the Bed reviews and recommends Ripper by Shelley Burr, page-turning Australian rural crime follow up to her award winning debut Wake.

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Pile by the Bed reviews and recommends The Saint of Bright Doors by Vajra Chandrasekera, a fascinating debut urban fantasy that explores issues of belonging, revolution, power, religion, class and race.

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Pile by the Bed reviews and recommends He Who Who Drowned the World by Shelley Parker-Chan, the final book in her Radiant Emperor Duology a historical fantasy set in fourteenth century China, Mongolia and Korea.

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Pile by the Bed reviews and recommends Cuddy by Benjamin Myers an exploration of the life and legacy of St Cuthbert and the Cathedral built to house his remains in Durham over a period of 1300 years.

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Pile by the Bed reviews Airside by Christopher Priest a novel that explores the starnge "null space" of airports through the eyes of a film critic.

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Pile by the Bed reviews Abandon by Blake Crouch, a thriller revolving around a hundred year old mystery involving the disappearance of the population of a mining town.

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Pile by the Bed reviews For the First Time, Again, the final book in Take Them to the Stars, Sylvain Neuvel's science fiction series that reimagines the second half of the Twentieth Century and in particular the space race.

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Pile by the Bed reviews Kill for Me Kill for You a stand along thriller from Steve Cavanagh that takes a familiar crime trope and turns it on its head.

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Pile by the bed reviews award winning environmental dystopian novel Pink Slime by Uruguayan author Fernanda Trías.

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Lord of the Darkwood by Lian Hearn
Fantasy , Review / 15/09/2016

Lord of the Darkwood is the conclusion to the mythological prequel series of Lian Hearn’s bestselling Otori books. As with the previous volume Emperor of the Eight Islands (reviewed here), Lord of the Darkwood is actually a compilation of two shorter books the first called Lord of the Darkwood and the second and final volume called The Tengu’s Game of Go. This again is to the benefit of the overall tale as the first volume of the two...

Underground Airlines by Ben Winters

Hot on the heels of Colson Whitehead’s magical realist version on slavery in the antebellum south The Underground Railroad (reviewed here) comes Ben Winter’s alternate history exploring similar issues. Ben Winter’s version of the present is one in which Abe Lincoln was assassinated before the civil war and in the aftermath of that event a compromise was reached in which the Southern states were allowed to maintain slavery. Modern day...

Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton
Literature , Review , Science Fiction / 08/09/2016

In a time in which postapocalyptic fiction constantly trying to outdo itself in disaster, Lily Brooks-Dalton has produced what might be the quietest, gentlest most heartfelt view of the end of the world to date. The apocalypse in Good Morning, Midnight happens offstage, the view of it is from an extreme distance from which nothing is known other than there is no longer any telecommunications and, later, that all of the world’s lights...

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

With Black Lives Matter in the news in the US it is perhaps no surprise that fiction and non-fiction explorations of slavery are once again coming to the fore. Fiction which focuses on slavery, while important to an understanding of historical context, also casts a light on current events. Recent films like 12 Years a Slave, the remaking of Roots on TV and now, among a number of new books which take slavery as their focus, comes Cols...

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Rowling, Tiffany and Thorne
Fantasy , Review / 02/09/2016

Probably nothing that is written in this review will affect the juggernaut of what is essentially the eighth Harry Potter book. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the rehearsal script of the new two-part play set nineteen years after the events in the Deathly Hallows, returns readers to familiar locales, spells and situations but with a new generation of teenagers at the helm. The centre of The Cursed Child is two confused, fairly ty...

The Medusa Chronicles by Baxter and Reynolds
Review , Science Fiction / 31/08/2016

Then last novella written by Arthur C Clarke, one of the greatest writers of the classic science fiction age, ended with almost an open invitation. Its protagonist, Howard Falcon, half man, half machine was to be an ambassador between humanity and a machine culture, which was not the focus of that story, “in the troubled centuries that lay ahead”. Two of the biggest names in the British sci-fi scene have taken up the challenge of chr...

Heart of Granite by James Barclay
Review , Science Fiction / 29/08/2016

Military sci-fi goes reptilian in James Barclay’s Heart of Granite. But this is not humans versus reptiles as you might think. This is humans using genetically modified reptiles as weapons and transport in a three–way world war over resources. Once the world building is laid out, Heart of Granite settles down into a military mode complete with chains of command, a protagonist with a healthy disrespect for authority and political mach...

Top 5 Science Fiction Books – Jan to June 2016
Top Fives / 28/08/2016

Looking for a great science fiction book? From political intrigue to young adult space adventure (with zombies) to the mind blowingly-weird here are the top five science fiction books reviewed on Pile by the Bed in the first half of 2016. Click on the cover for the full review:

A Toaster on Mars by Darrell Pitt

As the introduction makes clear, A Toaster on Mars in not, actually, about a toaster or any other kitchen appliances. And the plot only meanders to Mars for its finale. The toaster in question is actually a cyborg character called Nicki Steel, wearing the epithet for robots made popular by the recent Battlestar Galactica reboot. Set in the 26th century, A Toaster on Mars is a science-fiction comedy romp for kids. The paper thin plot ...

Surrender New York by Caleb Carr
Crime , Review / 19/08/2016

Caleb Carr is probably best known for his historical crime fiction debut The Alienist. That book, and its sequel, Angel of Darkness, set around turn of the century New York City and, later upstate New York, explored the early days of criminal psychology. They had an old fashioned feel which, given their setting, was entirely appropriate and brought the period and locations to life. Carr’s latest book, Surrender, New York is contempor...

Company Town by Madeline Ashby
Review , Science Fiction / 17/08/2016

Maybe there is something in the water but the idea of decommissioned oil rigs as places for residence seems to be popping up a bit in science fiction lately (see also Jon Wallace’s Rig, reviewed here). In Madeline Ashby’s Company Town, the rig is off the coast of Canada and is the centre of a sprawling ocean-based town of five towers called New Arcadia. When the book opens, New Arcadia is being taken over by the Lynch Corporation fol...

Devour by LA Larkin
Review , Thriller / 15/08/2016

L.A. Larkin’s third thriller takes readers back to Antarctica, the setting of her last novel Thirst, but with a new cast of characters and a new global threat. But Devour doesn’t get to Antarctica straight away. Larkin opens in Afghanistan where investigative journalist Olivia Wolfe is tracking down information about a terrorist cell. So while there is a lengthy detour to Antarctica to set up the action this is a globe-trotting thril...

Smoke by Dan Vyleta
Fantasy , Review / 12/08/2016

Dan Vyleta’s new high concept fantasy novel was inspired by a quote from Charles Dickens that ponders how much worse London’s pollution would be if “moral pestilence” were visible “how terrible the revelation”. In Vyleta’s nineteenth century, Dickensian alternate England, this is exactly what happens. People smoke when they sin or let their passions get away from them, with the soot that is left behind a visible reminder of that sin....

Never Never by Patterson and Fox
Crime , Review , Thriller / 10/08/2016

James Patterson best known to adults as the author of the Alex Cross series and to young adults as the author of the Maximum Ride series. But much like Tom Clancy, Patterson has become more than just an author, he is an industry. The back of Never Never lists over eighty novels for which he is co-author. Candice Fox, on the other hand, has written three crime novels in the Archer and Bennett series. But they are three of the best Aus...

Black Water Lilies by Michel Bussi
Crime , Review / 08/08/2016

Michel Bussi has won plenty of crime fiction awards in his native France but his first book to be translated into English only hit the shelves last year. After the Crash (reviewed here) was a twisted, surprised filled eighteen year investigation into the identity of the survivor of an air crash. Following the success of that novel in translation, another of Bussi’s crime thrillers, Black Water Lilies, originally published in 2011, ha...

Made to Kill by Adam Christopher
Crime , Review , Science Fiction / 02/08/2016

LA, 1965, a beautiful female movie star walks into a seedy detective’s office and makes him an offer he can’t refuse. Only the detective is a robot. One of the greatest exponents of pulp genre noir detective fiction, Raymond Chandler, reputedly turned his nose up at one of the other popular pulp genres of the time – science fiction. The two trod very different paths – one on the seedy side of reality with hard drinking, smoking, wise...

Bloodline by Claudia Gray
Review , Science Fiction / 29/07/2016

Not long after the first Star Wars film was released, novelists started expanding the Star Wars universe. So that activities in the years following Return of the Jedi, also known as episode six, were very well documented and well understood by hard core fans. When Disney bought the Star Wars franchise it picked up some of the existing threads but essentially negated the existing thirty years of literary universe-building. So that fun...

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
Literature , Recommended , Review , Thriller / 27/07/2016

Noah Hawley has written a number of novels but is probably best known as the writer of the television reimagining of Fargo. While Fargo lives in the American mid-west, in Before the Fall, Hawley is mainly concentrated on the East Coast, the lives of the mega-wealthy and the people with whom they come into contact. But Before the Fall is many things – a mystery and a thriller, a meditation on fate and a critique of modern media. Befor...

Rig by Jon Wallace
Review , Science Fiction / 25/07/2016

Jon Wallace returns to his dark post-robopocalyptic world for a third and possibly final time in Rig. This volume takes readers off England’s blighted shores and into the wider world, starting off the coast of a post-nuclear Florida. Once again, Kenstibec, the Ficial (android) who, since losing his nanotech has become increasingly Real (human) is at the centre of a narrative that jumps between his current dire circumstances to his ea...