THE BOOKS

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A Talent for Murder

‘I wouldn't scream if I were you. Unless you want the whole world to learn about your husband and his mistress.’

Agatha Christie, in London to visit her literary agent, boards a train, preoccupied and flustered in the knowledge that her husband Archie is having an affair. She feels a light touch on her back, causing her to lose her balance, then a sense of someone pulling her to safety from the rush of the incoming train. So begins a terrifying sequence of events. Her rescuer is no guardian angel; rather, he is a blackmailer of the most insidious, manipulative kind. Agatha must use every ounce of her cleverness and resourcefulness to thwart an adversary determined to exploit her genius for murder to kill on his behalf.

Alexander McQueen: Blood Beneath the Skin

When Alexander McQueen committed suicide in February 2010, aged just 40, a shocked world mourned the loss of its most visionary fashion designer.

McQueen had risen from humble beginnings as the youngest child of an East London taxi driver to scale the heights of fame, fortune and glamour. He designed clothes for the world's most beautiful women including Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell. In business he created a multi-million pound luxury brand that became a favourite with both celebrities and royalty, most famously the Duchess of Cambridge who wore a McQueen dress on her wedding day.

But behind the confident facade and bad-boy image, lay a sensitive soul who struggled to survive in the ruthless world of fashion. As the pressures of work intensified, so McQueen became increasingly dependent on the drugs that contributed to his tragic end. Meanwhile, in his private life, his failure to find lasting love with a string of boyfriends only added to his despair. And then there were the dark secrets that haunted his sleep…

A modern-day fairy tale infused with the darkness of a Greek tragedy, Alexander McQueen: Blood Beneath the Skin is soon to be adapted for film, directed by Andrew Haigh (45 Years). This book tells the sensational story of McQueen's rise from his hard East London upbringing to the hedonistic world of fashion. Those closest to the designer - his family, friends and lovers - have spoken for the first time about the man they knew, a fragmented and insecure individual, a lost boy who battled to gain entry into a world that ultimately destroyed him.

Mad Girl's Love Story

On 25 February 1956, twenty-three-year-old Sylvia Plath walked into a party and immediately spotted Ted Hughes. The sensational aspects of the Plath-Hughes relationship have dominated the cultural landscape to such an extent that their story has taken on the resonance of a modern myth. 

Harold Robbins: The Man Who Invented Sex

Harold Robbins, the godfather of the airport novel, changed the face of publishing with classics such as The Carpetbaggers, The Dream Merchants and The Lonely Lady. His readers loved his steamy tales of money, soft porn, drugs, corruption, greed and, just sometimes, redemption. The world's first playboy writer, Robbins reportedly frittered away $50 million on fast cars, loose women and high living. But, obsessed with fame and fortune, Robbins was a deeply complex and often controversial man, and even his closest friends and lovers could only guess at the past of the man behind the perma-tanned mask and gigantic mirrored sunglasses. This is the fascinating story of his extraordinary life.

The Lying Tongue

When Adam Woods takes a job as the assistant to the reclusive bestselling author Gordon Crace he unearths a secret that takes him from the dank canals of Venice back to England, and his own murky past. What follows is a deadly game of cat and mouse, involving deception, blackmail and the cold lust for fame. But it is not until Adam returns to Venice and the two men confront each other that it transpires all is not as it appears to be . . . The Lying Tongue is a deeply atmospheric thriller that will grip you until its shocking climax.

Shadow of the Titanic: The Extraordinary Stories of Those Who Survived

In the early hours of 15 April 1912, after the majestic liner Titanic had split apart and the 1,500 men, women and children struggled to stay alive in the freezing Atlantic, the sea was alive with the sound of screaming. Then, as the ship sank to the ocean floor and the passengers slowly died from hypothermia, a deathly silence settled over the sea. Yet the echoes of that night reverberated through the lives of each of the 705 survivors. Shadow of the Titanictells the extraordinary stories of some of those who survived. 

Although we think we know the story of the Titanic - the famously unsinkable ship that hit an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Britain to America in April 1912 - little has been written about what happened to the survivors after the tragedy. How did the loss of the ship shape the lives of the people who survived? How did those who were saved feel about those who perished? And how did they remember that terrible night, in effect a disaster that has been likened to the destruction of a small town? 

Timed to coincide with the 100thanniversary of the sinking, Shadow of the Titanicsheds new light on this enduringly fascinating story, by showing how the disaster continued to shape the lives of a cross-section of passengers who escaped the sinking ship.

Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith 

Patricia Highsmith - author of STRANGERS ON A TRAIN and THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY - had more than her fair share of secrets. During her life, she felt uncomfortable about discussing the source of her fiction and refused to answer questions about her private life. Yet after her death in February 1995, Highsmith left behind a vast archive of personal documents - diaries, notebooks and letters - which detail the links between her life and her work. Drawing on these intimate papers, together with material gleaned from her closest friends and lovers, Andrew Wilson has written the first biography of an author described by Graham Greene as the 'poet of apprehension'. Wilson illuminates the dark corners of Highsmith's life, casts light on mysteries of the creative process and reveals the secrets that the writer chose to keep hidden until after her death.

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