I have long been a fan of Jo Graham's Numinous World series: her original, extraordinarily well-researched historical novels ranging from the Antiquity to modern times, linked by characters' common destinies. You can follow her heroes as reincarnated in different eras, from the aftermath of the Trojan War (Black Ships) to Alexander's successors's turbulent nation-building (Stealing Fire) to Cleopatra's Egypt (Hand of Isis); or you can take the books individually and never be puzzled by continuity, since each can also stand alone with a self-contained story. (I would still advise to read her Napoleonic saga in sequence: The General's Mistress, The Emperor's Agent, the forthcoming The… Read more
The most interesting part of a mystery has always been the world it makes you discover, from the Judge Tan series to Cadfael to Rumpole to Sam Spade. This is an edgy, complex, riveting whodunit, set in a bureaucratic near-future European Union dystopia which is both scary and believable. (Well, perhaps apart from the fact that Britain is very much inside it still. On the other hand, what you see of it would make a Eurosceptic out of the most committed Lib-Dem.) Inside the political, bureaucratic and corporate rivalries is a clever romance between two anti-heroes of sorts, both ferociously intelligent, both flawed. I defy any reader to guess the outcome of the murder investigation or the… Read more
Ida St Elme really existed. Not just that: from 1827, she wrote her Memoirs, which became the best-selling book of the early 19th-century in France and beyond, earning her the nickname of "the female Casanova". (And as the actual Casanova wrote beautifully as well, it's an especially apposite tag.) Courtesan, actress, spy, soldier, wife, mistress, hostess, writer, this Dutch-born heroine lived through the French Revolution and the First Empire as a modern woman, now unjustly forgotten. She died in obscurity and poverty in 1845 in a convent in Brussels; you can find her actual "Mémoires d'une Contemporaine", written in French, recently-added at Project Gutenberg.