THE KING'S REVENGE
Don Jordan & Michael Walsh Little, Brown, $35
This book details the fates of the 59 men who signed the death warrant for Charles I. Regicide was an offence against God and bitterly personal for Charles II. Over 30 years, he either executed his foes publicly or sent assassination squads across the known globe. It reads like a real-life spy thriller, with a cast including the Cromwells and Aphra Behn. But the authors also note the regicides' reforms. An informative, good read.
DEATH BY BEAUTY
Gabrielle Lord, Hachette, $32.99
Lord is an Australian queen of crime-writing, her beat Sydney. This latest of the Gemma Lincoln series sees our heroine return to crime-busting after maternity leave. She has several cases: a ''vampire'' targeting and killing young women; a sinister beauty farm; and an ex in trouble. The links are almost inevitable, as is a mother's vulnerability through her child. The result is a relentless and intense psychological thriller, but a little too obvious.
THE MYSTERY OF MERCY CLOSE
Marian Keyes, Michael Joseph, $29.99
We all need some levity in our lives, to keep the darkness away. Irish novelist Keyes writes brilliant comedy, and this novel, written after a bout of black dog, juggles economic and personal depression with great wit and observation. Through post-GFC Ireland stalks Helen, a private eye a few pills short of a breakdown. She has the task of finding an errant member of a 1990s boy band. All things Irish are duly sent up, including Bono. It made me giggle.
BOOK THAT CHANGED ME: Sam Bowring
This was the first full-length novel my father read to me and, given I was small and impressionable at the time, I blame him for setting me on the fantasy path. I wonder how things might have turned out if he had read me The Art of War or Embroidery for Dummies instead. The Hobbit opened my eyes to other worlds, and I've wanted to be an author, or wizard, ever since.
Sam Bowring is an Australian comedian, scriptwriter and fantasy author. His latest novel, The Lord of Lies (Hachette, $24.99), is the second in the Strange Threads series.