J David Simons

BackPage Press, £9.99

Tonight, Jake Tully will find out if he’s won a prestigious literary prize, and he’s got a good feeling about it. In his pocket is an excoriating acceptance speech, with which he intends to settle a few scores at the televised ceremony. But before he even gets there, he gashes his hand, his son is arrested and he assaults a member of the public. Simons has created a memorable character in the brash but sensitive author, interspersing the setbacks of his big day with flashbacks revealing the wounds he carries around and those he’s inflicted on others. In an irony lost on no-one, least of all himself, the theme of Jake’s shortlisted novel is the responsibilities we have to those who love us. Simons skilfully handles the delicate balancing act of romping through the comical mishaps of Jake’s whisky and codeine-fuelled day while eliciting sympathy for his well-realised protagonist.

Celtic Way:


Alicia Garza

Penguin, £9.99

One of the co-founders of Black Lives Matter, Alicia Garza grew up in Northern California, watched the 1992 LA riots on TV and writes here about her inspirations and the path that led to the creation of BLM. More importantly, she draws on her 20-plus years of experience as an activist to examine the steps needed to create a sustainable movement which can progress from protesting to acquiring political power and bringing about social change. Social media is no substitute for solid organisation and community involvement, she insists, while discussing how to negotiate the pitfalls of activism, such as internal power struggles, the lack of women in leadership positions and people who are reluctant to act in their own interest. With racial and generational discontent growing on a global scale, the wisdom and advice in this book will assist progressive movements of all kinds to function more effectively.

Celtic Way:


Tariq Ashkanani

Thomas & Mercer, £8.99

After ratting out his drug-dealing partner, Detective Thomas Levine has been transferred from Washington DC to the nowheresville of Cooper, Nebraska – where, on his first day, a woman is found dead with her eyes gouged out. In a shocking twist, his new partner shoots a suspect with Levine’s gun, entrapping him into joining in the illegal activities of the town’s corrupt cops. The real killer is still out there somewhere, but Levine now has to contend with his own colleagues and a ruthless drug cartel too. Ominous and compelling from the start, this debut novel from an Edinburgh solicitor nails the blunt, noirish prose of the hard-boiled thriller. It’s a gritty, murky story in which even the hero doesn’t come out well, haunted by his responsibility for his girlfriend’s drug-induced death, his betrayal of his old partner and the selfish streak that leads him to make questionable, fateful choices.