MUST READS – Nov 14, 2019


Secret Service by Tom Bradby (Corgi £7.99, 368 pp)

Secret Service

by Tom Bradby (Corgi £7.99, 368 pp)

Tom Bradby’s day job as presenter of ITV’s News At Ten must have provided him with a wealth of useful background for his latest thriller, which explores something rotten at the very heart of the British Establishment.

Bradby’s heroine, Kate Henderson, juggles her demanding role as a wife and mother with an even more taxing job as a senior MI6 operative.

While domestic conflict rages at home, with her 15-year-old daughter in a constant state of hormone-fuelled huff and her own mother succumbing to dementia, the fate of the nation seems even more precarious.

World politics is in crisis, the prime minister is gravely ill, and one of the candidates to replace him is suspected of working for Russian intelligence. Tasked with investigating the rumour, Kate discovers the truth is more shattering than she could possibly have imagined.

Tell Me Who I Am

by Alex and Marcus Lewis (Coronet £9.99, 352 pp)

Tell Me Who I Am by Alex and Marcus Lewis (Coronet £9.99, 352 pp)

Tell Me Who I Am by Alex and Marcus Lewis (Coronet £9.99, 352 pp)

At the first meeting with his co-writer, Joanna Hodgkin, Alex Lewis told her: ‘I want to write this book because I want to know who I am.’

In 1982, aged 18, Alex fell from a motorbike and fractured his skull. When he emerged from unconsciousness, the only person he recognised was his twin brother, Marcus. His brain injury had erased his memories of almost everything, including his own name.

For more than a decade, with his brother’s help, Alex pieced together the story of his past, unaware that important parts of the narrative were missing.

But as his suspicion grew that Marcus was withholding important details, he confronted his brother, only to find that their early years were beset with darkness and suffering.

This remarkable memoir of trauma and survival is a testament to the resilience of Alex and Marcus’s bond.

Brief Encounters

by Anthony Kenny (SPCK £9.99, 224 pp)

Brief Encounters by Anthony Kenny (SPCK £9.99, 224 pp)

Brief Encounters by Anthony Kenny (SPCK £9.99, 224 pp)

Sir Anthony Kenny is a philosopher and former Master of Balliol College, Oxford.

In the course of his long career, he has had encounters with many of the most significant figures of our time, and his book collects together pen-portraits of 60 of them.

They include Harold Macmillan, Margaret Thatcher, Denis Healey, Roy Jenkins, Richard Dawkins, Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, Graham Greene and Iris Murdoch.

The portraits are brief but often illuminated by a telling detail: Iris Murdoch mixing white and red wine to produce a ‘murky rosé’; Bill Clinton, on a visit to Oxford, listening with trepidation to a reading of his tutor’s reports during his time there as a scholar; and Ted Heath cheerily admitting to having accepted an invitation to dinner with Hitler in the 1930s.