England -- fiction

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death

By M.C. Beaton

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Agatha has moved to a picture-book English village and wants to get in the swing. So she buys herself a quiche for the village quiche-making contest and is more than alarmed when it kills a judge. Hot on the trail of the poisoner, Agatha is fearless, all the while unaware, that she's become the next victim....

Also available on audio.

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Sleepyhead

By Mark Billingham

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Dear Detective Inspector Thorne. What can I say? Practice makes perfect. And don't you just envy her that perfect...distance? I invite you to consider the concept of freedom. True freedom. Have you ever really considered it? I'm sorry about the others. Truly. I shall not insult your intelligence with platitudes about ends and means but offer in mitigation the thought that a massive undertaking often has an appropriate margin of error. It's all about pressure, Detective Inspector Thorne, but then you'd know all about that. Seriously, though, Tom, maybe I'll call you sometime.

"Mark Billingham's arresting debut novel Sleepyhead, an international bestseller, is a mesmerizing, psychological thriller. Tense and unnerving, this menacing tale of obsession is as scathingly witty as it is bone chilling, and it introduces a stunning new talent in detective fiction.

"Alison Willetts is unlucky to be alive. She has survived a deliberately induced stroke, and although she can see, hear, and feel, she is completely unable to move or to communicate. In leaving Alison alive, the police believe her assailant has made his first mistake. Until Detective Inspector Tom Thorne discovers the horrifying truth: Alison is the psychopath's first success; the three women he killed before her were the mistakes. 'An appropriate margin of error' is how their killer dismissed them; his true intention was to leave them just like Alison: put to sleep for the rest of their natural lives. And Thorne knows they won't be his last victims. To save innocent lives, he must find a criminal whose agenda is terrifyingly unique. But this untraceable, sadistic madman is smart, elusive, and cryptic -- he enjoys toying with the police almost as much as he savors pursuing his sick fantasy -- and the only lead Thorne has is the tragically uncommunicative Alison."

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Lady of Hay

By Barbara Erskine

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Jo Clifford, a successful journalist, is all set to debunk hypnosis and nonsense of past-life regression in her next magazine series, until she submits to a simple hypnotic session and finds herself reliving the experiences of Matilda, Lady of Hay, the wife of a baron at the time of King John.

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Below the Salt

By Thomas Bertram Costain

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A United States senator believes that he is the reincarnation of a Saxon freedman who saw King John sign the Magna Carta. (NoveList)
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Come to Grief

By Dick Francis

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Ex-jockey Dick Francis brings back one of mystery's most intriguing heroes, one-handed Sid Halley, in his newest bestseller. When Halley becomes convinced that his friend Ellis Quint--one of the racing world's most beloved figures--is responsible for a shocking crime, he finds himself the target of the public's wrath--and finds that proving his friend guilty could be dangerous.

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Murder by the Waters: Further Adventures of the American Agent Abroad

By Robert Lee Hall

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"The year is 1758. Sent from America to England to battle with the Crown, Benjamin Franklin, with his keen mind and scientific skills, has also found himself called upon to solve a series of mysteries - cases of murder, blackmail, forgery, and jewel theft - but his latest mystery is perhaps his most baffling and challenging.

"He is invited to the city of Bath, site of England's famous spa, where rakes and lechers and gamesters abound. He rides there in a coach with a beautiful, seemingly innocent young girl who comes to sit at the heart of a plot to gain control of a fabulous fortune.

"Thieves steal letters, highwaymen attack, bludgeoners attempt murder, and shots ring out in the House of God. Despite all this, the Bath social round progresses, at secret gaming parties, grand balls, and the famous waters, where a man is later found murdered.

"Benjamin Franklin must winnow his way through this intrigue, to the truth of a mystery which may be masterminded by his great enemy, the enigmatic Quimp, who governs much of England's crime. Ben is ably aided by his natural son, Nick Handy. Once again his acute intellect and unerring heart prove him to be the archetypal detective."

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The Tale Of Hill Top Farm: The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter

By Susan Wittig Albert

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The author of Peter Rabbit and other creature tales, Beatrix Potter is still, after a century, beloved by children and adults the world over. In this first Cottage Tale, Albert introduces Beatrix, an animal lover who has just bought a farm in England's beautiful Lake District. As Beatrix tries to win over the hearts of her fellow villagers, her animal friends set out to solve a mystery all their own.

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The Orchard on Fire

By Shena Mackay

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“Set in the small English village of Stonebridge in the Fifties, this is the story of eight-year-old April Harlency's coming of age in a place where the charm of the local landscape contrasts sharply with the prejudices, vicious gossip, and vagaries of what we would now call child abuse. As the Harlency family moves from their rented rooms to run the Copper Kettle Tearoom (poorly), their ex-landlord hangs a notice on the window: 'No Blacks. No Irish. No Pets.'

"April befriends the red-headed, energetic Ruby who lives above her parents' butcher shop where, as April says, 'I learned the fate of Pansy Pig and all her pink litter and burst into tears.' The two girls form an immediate and fast friendship. April also befriends the lonely Mr. Greenridge who presses his unwanted sexual advances on her. To escape the pressures of daily life, April and Ruby find a hideaway in the middle of an orchard where, together, they build the 'camp of our dreams.'"

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The Canterbury Tales

By Geoffrey Chaucer, translated into modern English by Nevill Coghill

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"A retelling of the medieval poem about a group of travelers on a pilgrimage to Canterbury and the tales they tell each other. With their astonishing diversity of tone and subject matter, The Canterbury Tales have become one of the touchstones of medieval literature. Translated here into modern English, these tales of a motley crowd of pilgrims drawn from all walks of life-from knight to nun, miller to monk-reveal a picture of English life in the fourteenth century that is as robust as it is representative."

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The Autobiography of Henry VIII, with Notes by His Fool, Will

By Margaret George

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"Much has been written about the mighty, egotistical Henry VIII: the man who dismantled the Church because it would not grant him the divorce he wanted; who married six women and beheaded two of them; who executed his friend Thomas ore; who sacked the monasteries; who longed for a son and neglected his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth; who finally grew fat, disease-ridden, dissolute. Now, in her magnificent work of storytelling and imagination Margaret George bring us Henry VIII's story as he himself might have told it, in memoirs interspersed with irreverent comments from his jester and confident, Will Somers. Brilliantly combining history, wit, dramatic narrative, and an extraordinary grasp of the pleasures and perils of power, this monumental novel shows us Henry the man more vividly than he has ever been seen before."
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