/Staff Picks

Staff Pick Recommendations and Reviews from the Gutter Bookshop

As an independent bookshop, our booksellers like to uncover new and interesting books that you might not see everywhere else, so have a browse of our very own staff pick selections with accompanying reviews and maybe you’ll find your next great read right here!

*UPDATE ON SATURDAY 28TH MARCH 2020*

Due to the COVID-19 crisis and lockdown in Ireland we are no longer able to pack and send online orders until 12th April (or until the lockdown is lifted). If you do wish to place an order, please be aware that it will not be posted until the lockdown ends. Click & Collect parcels will not be available until the lockdown ends. Both shops are fully closed during this period. Thank you for your support and understanding, and love to you and your friends and families at this difficult time. Bob (Owner).

  • You've got to be in the club to know the truth.Everyone's heard the rumours about elite gentlemen's clubs, where the champagne flows freely, the parties are the height of decadence and the secrets are darker than you could possibly imagine... DS Maeve Kerrigan finds herself in an unfamiliar world of wealth, luxury and ruthless behaviour when she investigates the murder of a young journalist, Paige Hargreaves. Paige was working on a story about the Chiron Club, a private society for the richest and most privileged men in London. Then she disappeared. It's clear to Maeve that the members have many secrets. But Maeve is hiding secrets of her own - even from her partner DI Josh Derwent. Will she uncover the truth about Paige's death? Or will time run out for Maeve first? 'A classy, astute, timely, whip-smart read' Lucy Atkins 'The Maeve Kerrigan series is truly the gold standard for police procedurals' Catherine Ryan Howard ISBN 9780008149093
  • Patrick Freyne has tried a lot of stupid ideas in his life. Now, in his scintillating debut, he is here to tell you about them: like the time (aged 5) he opened a gate and let a horse out of its field, just to see what would happen; or the time (aged 19) he jumped out of a plane for charity, even though he didn't much care about the charity and was sure he'd end up dead; or the time (aged old enough to know better) he used a magazine as a funnel for fuel when the petrol cap on his band's van broke. He has also learned a few things: about the power of group song; about the beauty of physically caring for another human being; about childlessness; about losing friends far too young. Life as seen through the eyes of Patrick Freyne is stranger, funnier and a lot more interesting than life as we generally know it. Like David Sedaris or Nora Ephron, he creates an environment all his own - fundamentally comic, sometimes moving, always deeply humane. 'Patrick Freyne is a comic genius' Marian Keyes 'Clever, lovely and great, great fun' Roddy Doyle *PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 2020 - PRE-ORDER NOW* ISBN 9781844884889
  • In this remarkable, inspiring collection of essays, acclaimed writer and critic Olivia Laing makes a brilliant case for why art matters, especially in the turbulent political weather of the twenty first century. Funny Weather brings together a career's worth of Laing's writing about art and culture, examining its role in our political and emotional lives. She profiles Jean-Michel Basquiat and Georgia O'Keefe, interviews Hilary Mantel and Ali Smith, writes love letters to David Bowie and Freddie Mercury, and explores loneliness and technology, women and alcohol, sex and the body. With characteristic originality and compassion, she celebrates art as a force of resistance and repair, an antidote to a frightening political time. We're often told art can't change anything. Laing argues that it can. It changes how we see the world. It makes plain inequalities and it offers fertile new ways of living. *PUBLISHED 16TH APRIL 2020 - PREORDER NOW* ISBN 9781529027648
  • Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award 2019. Tobi and Ella's childhood in East Berlin is shrouded in mystery. Now adults living in London, their past is full of unanswered questions. Both remember their family's daring and terrifying attempt to escape. But what happened next? Where did their parents disappear to, and why? What happened to Heiko, their little brother? And was there ever a painting of three blue horses? In contemporary Germany, Aaron works for a Stasi archive, making his way through old files, reconstructing the tragic history of thousands of families. But one file in particular catches his eye; and soon unravelling the secrets at its heart becomes an obsession. When Ella finds a stash of her mother's notebooks, she and Tobi embark on a search that will take them back to Berlin. Her fate clashes with Aaron's, and they piece together the details of Ella's past... and a family torn apart. Devastating and beautifully written, funny and life-affirming, Confession with Blue Horses explores intimate family life and its strength in the most difficult of circumstances. ISBN 9781788548786
  • It’s winter in Sokcho, a tourist town on the border between South and North Korea. The cold slows everything down. Bodies are red and raw, the fish turn venomous, beyond the beach guns point out from the North’s watchtowers. A young French Korean woman works as a receptionist in a tired guesthouse. One evening, an unexpected guest arrives: a French cartoonist determined to find inspiration in this desolate landscape. The two form an uneasy relationship. When she agrees to accompany him on trips to discover an ‘authentic’ Korea, they visit snowy mountaintops and dramatic waterfalls, and cross into North Korea. But he takes no interest in the Sokcho she knows - the gaudy neon lights, the scars of war, the fish market where her mother works. As she’s pulled into his vision and taken in by his drawings, she strikes upon a way to finally be seen. 'Enigmatic, beguiling...This finely crafted debut explores topics of identity and heredity in compelling fashion. In its aimless, outsider protagonist there are echoes of Sayaka Murata's Convenience Store Woman.' - Irish Times ISBN 9781911547549
  • Part memoir and part joyful romp through the fields of imagination, the story behind a beloved pseudonymous Twitter personality reveals how a writer deep in grief rebuilt a life worth living. *PUBLISHED JULY 2020 - PRE-ORDER NOW* ISBN 9780358216773
  • Heartbroken after a long, painful love affair, a man takes a job driving a haulage lorry through France. Travelling with him is a secret passenger - his daughter. Twenty-something, unkempt, off the rails. With a week on the road together, man and girl must attempt to restore themselves and each other, and to repair a relationship that is at once fiercely loving and deeply scarred. As the pair journey down the motorways and through the service stations of France, a devastating picture reveals itself: a story of grief, of shame, and of love in all its complex, dark and glorious manifestations. Publication date: 30th April 2020 ISBN 9781781620533
  • The Pulitzer prize-winning novel from the author of the Booker longlisted My Name is Lucy Barton and Olive, Again. Olive Kitteridge: indomitable, compassionate and often unpredictable. A retired schoolteacher in a small coastal town in Maine, as she grows older she struggles to make sense of the changes in her life. She is a woman who sees into the hearts of those around her, their triumphs and tragedies. We meet her stoic husband, bound to her in a marriage both broken and strong, and a young man who aches for the mother he lost - and whom Olive comforts by her mere presence, while her own son feels overwhelmed by her complex sensitivities. A penetrating, vibrant exploration of the human soul, the story of Olive Kitteridge will make you laugh, nod in recognition, wince in pain, and shed a tear or two. ISBN 9781849831550
  • A thrilling Cold War story about a KGB double agent, by one of Britain's greatest historians - now with a new afterwordOn a warm July evening in 1985, a middle-aged man stood on the pavement of a busy avenue in the heart of Moscow, holding a plastic carrier bag. In his grey suit and tie, he looked like any other Soviet citizen. The bag alone was mildly conspicuous, printed with the red logo of Safeway, the British supermarket. The man was a spy. A senior KGB officer, for more than a decade he had supplied his British spymasters with a stream of priceless secrets from deep within the Soviet intelligence machine. No spy had done more to damage the KGB. The Safeway bag was a signal: to activate his escape plan to be smuggled out of Soviet Russia. So began one of the boldest and most extraordinary episodes in the history of spying. Ben Macintyre reveals a tale of espionage, betrayal and raw courage that changed the course of the Cold War forever... ISBN 9780241972137
  • Celebrity, with its neon glow and selfie pout, strikes us as hypermodern. But the famous and infamous have been thrilling, titillating, and outraging us for much longer than we might realise. Whether it was the scandalous Lord Byron, whose poetry sent female fans into an erotic frenzy; or the cheetah-owning, coffin-sleeping, one-legged French actress Sarah Bernhardt, who launched a violent feud with her former best friend; or Edmund Kean, the dazzling Shakespearean actor whose monstrous ego and terrible alcoholism saw him nearly murdered by his own audience - the list of stars whose careers burned bright before the Age of Television is extensive and thrillingly varied. In this ambitious history, that spans the Bronze Age to the coming of Hollywood's Golden Age, Greg Jenner assembles a vibrant cast of over 125 actors, singers, dancers, sportspeople, freaks, demigods, ruffians, and more, in search of celebrity's historical roots. He reveals why celebrity burst into life in the early eighteenth century, how it differs to ancient ideas of fame, the techniques through which it was acquired, how it was maintained, the effect it had on public tastes, and the psychological burden stardom could place on those in the glaring limelight. DEAD FAMOUS is a surprising, funny, and fascinating exploration of both a bygone age and how we came to inhabit our modern, fame obsessed society. ISBN 9780297869801
  • The international bestseller by legendary statisticians Hans, Ola and Anna Rosling: inspiring and revelatory, filled with lively anecdotes and moving stories, Factfulness is an urgent and essential book that will change the way you see the world, and make you realise things are better than you thought. ISBN 9781473637498
  • Vanessa Wye was fifteen-years-old when she first had sex with her English teacher.She is now thirty-two and in the storm of allegations against powerful men in 2017, the teacher, Jacob Strane, has just been accused of sexual abuse by another former student. Vanessa is horrified by this news, because she is quite certain that the relationship she had with Strane wasn't abuse. It was love. She's sure of that. Forced to rethink her past, to revisit everything that happened, Vanessa has to redefine the great love story of her life - her great sexual awakening - as rape. Now she must deal with the possibility that she might be a victim, and just one of many.Nuanced, uncomfortable, bold and powerful, My Dark Vanessa goes straight to the heart of some of the most complex issues our age. ISBN 9780008342258
  • "My first contact with Strout’s prose and I came away enchanted. Topics and characters stuck in my mind for days! Ah, the power of the things unspoken… It’s a very easy and quick read dealing tenderly with mother-daughter relationship and growing mentally out of extreme poverty." Marta Lucy is recovering from an operation in a New York hospital when she wakes to find her estranged mother sitting by her bed. They have not seen one another in years. As they talk Lucy finds herself recalling her troubled rural childhood and how it was she eventually arrived in the big city, got married and had children. But this unexpected visit leaves her doubting the life she's made: wondering what is lost and what has yet to be found. ISBN 9780241248782
  • "A gentle, tender novel about a man who survived, gained, and then lost, but kept going with an open, slightly curious mind. It’s a book about transition, perseverance and most importantly – love. A fantastic read." Marta Andreas lives his whole life in the Austrian Alps, where he arrives as a young boy taken in by a farming family. He is a man of very few words and so, when he falls in love with Marie, he doesn't ask for her hand in marriage, but instead has some of his friends light her name at dusk across the mountain. When Marie dies in an avalanche, pregnant with their first child, Andreas' heart is broken. He leaves his valley just once more, to fight in WWII - where he is taken prisoner in the Caucasus - and returns to find that modernity has reached his remote haven. Like John Williams' 'Stoner', 'A Whole Life' by Robert Seethaler is a tender book about finding dignity and beauty in solitude. An exquisite novel about a simple life, it has already demonstrated its power to move thousands of readers with a message of solace and truth. ISBN 9781447283904
  • "A heart-warming collection of simply written real life stories of people just like us. Compiled by Grosz during his 35-year-long career, it offers insights into the patients’ minds as well as the psychiatrist’s. A fascinating discovery!" Marta This book is about learning to live. Echoing Socrates' statement that the unexamined life not worth living, psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz draws on his twenty-five years of work and more than 50,000 hours of conversations to form a collection of beautifully rendered tales that illuminate the human experience. These are stories about everyday lives: from a woman who finds herself daydreaming as she returns home from a business trip to a young man loses his wallet, to the more extreme examples: the patient who points an unloaded gun at a police officer and the compulsive liar who convinces his wife he's dying of cancer. The resulting journey will spark new ideas about who we are and why we do what we do. ISBN 9780099549031
  • "A real rollercoaster of a book! There’s poetry, life choices, race issues, weird families, and in the middle of it all – hilariously witty characters to propel you through the book. Nell Zink is my new discovery and I highly recommend her." Marta Virginia, 1966. The motionless deeps of the lake outside Stillwater College are being ruffled. Lee, a blue-blooded poet and professor, is determinedly fondling Peggy, an ingenue freshman with literary pretensions, in his canoe. So begins a long affair but the two are mismatched from the start. The story that follows rocks the boat in every sense. Nell Zink's hugely entertaining, totally unique Mislaid explodes the nuclear family and topples every foundation of identity - black and white, gay and straight, "normal" and very very strange... ISBN 9780008100575
  • "A sharply witty tale about greed and need centred on the Plumb family. They are as endearing as they are dysfunctional." Ann When black sheep Leo has a costly car accident, the Plumb siblings' much-anticipated inheritance is suddenly wiped out. His brother and sisters come together and form a plan to get back what is owed them - each grappling with their own financial and emotional turmoil from the fallout. As `the nest' fades further from view, they must decide whether they will build their lives anew, or fight to regain the futures they had planned. Ferociously astute, warm and funny, The Nest is a brilliant debut chronicling the hilarity and savagery of family life. `A masterfully constructed, darkly comic, and immensely captivating tale...Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney is a real talent' Elizabeth Gilbert. ISBN 9780008133757
  • "The truth is that some of the best books never get on to a prize list, and this is one of those books. Life is not always fair." Ann An old lady dies alone and unheeded in a cold Edinburgh flat on a snowy Christmas night. A faded emerald dress hangs in her wardrobe; a spilt glass of whisky pools on the floor. A few days later a middle-aged woman arrives back in the city she thought she'd left behind, her future uncertain, her past in tatters. She soon finds herself a job at the Office for Lost People, tracking down the families of those who have died neglected and alone. But what Margaret Penny cannot yet know, is just how entangled her own life will become in the death of one lonely stranger... ISBN 9781447293927
  • "If, like me, you have more than a passing fondness for a good dose of Victorian misdeeds and general skulduggery, then this is for you.It takes the action to Edinburgh, and the medical community, which finds itself on the cusp of scientific advancements and the temptations that brings." Ann Edinburgh, 1847. Will Raven is a medical student, apprenticing for the brilliant and renowned Dr Simpson. Sarah Fisher is Simpson's housemaid, and has all of Raven's intelligence but none of his privileges. As bodies begin to appear across the Old Town, Raven and Sarah find themselves propelled headlong into the darkest shadows of Edinburgh's underworld. And if either of them are to make it out alive, they will have to work together to find out who's responsible for the gruesome deaths. ISBN 9781786893802
  • "A Scooby gang, a haunted house and the distinct whiff of impending apocalypse – can it get any better? Frankly, no, it can't - this is a great fun read." Ann A nostalgic and subversive trip rife with sly nods to H. P. Lovecraft and pop culture, in the vein of It and Stranger Things. SUMMER 1977. The Blyton Summer Detective Club (of Blyton Hills, a small mining town in Oregon's Zoinx River Valley) solved their final mystery and unmasked the elusive Sleepy Lake monster-another low-life fortune hunter trying to get his dirty hands on the legendary riches hidden in Deboen Mansion. And he would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling kids. 1990. The former detectives have grown up and apart, each haunted by disturbing memories of their final night in the old haunted house. There are too many strange, half-remembered encounters and events that cannot be dismissed or explained away by a guy in a mask. And Andy, the once intrepid tomboy now wanted in two states, is tired of running from her demons. She needs answers. To find them she will need Kerri, the one-time kid genius and budding biologist, now drinking her ghosts away in New York with Tim, an excitable Weimaraner descended from the original canine member of the club. They will also have to get Nate, the horror nerd currently residing in an asylum in Arkham, Massachusetts. Luckily Nate has not lost contact with Peter, the handsome jock turned movie star who was once their team leader... which is remarkable, considering Peter has been dead for years. The time has come to get the team back together, face their fears, and find out what actually happened all those years ago at Sleepy Lake. It's their only chance to end the nightmares and, perhaps, save the world. ISBN 9781785658761
  • "Two things stood out for me when reading this book – guns do indeed kill people and the police do care, often at great personal cost." Ann After gaining unparalleled access to the homicide unit in Prince George's County, which borders the nation's capital, bestselling author Del Quentin Wilber begins shadowing the talented, often quirky detectives who get the call when a body falls. After a quiet couple of months, all hell breaks loose: suddenly every detective in the squad is scrambling to solve one shooting and stabbing after another. Meanwhile, the entire unit is obsessed with a stone-cold 'red ball', a high-profile case involving a seventeen-year-old honour student attacked by a gunman who kicked down the door to her house and shot her in her bed. This is the inside story of how a team of detectives carry out their almost impossible job. Murder is the police investigator's ultimate crucible: to solve a killing, a detective must speak for the dead. 'A Good Month for Murder' is a compelling true crime account which shows what it takes to succeed when the stakes couldn't possibly be higher. ISBN 9781509830534
  • "Not for the faint-hearted, but that said, absorbing, shocking, thought provoking and powerful. Be brave!" Ann When law student Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich is asked to work on a death-row hearing for convicted murderer and child molester Ricky Langley, she finds herself thrust into the tangled story of his childhood. As she digs deeper and deeper into the case she realizes that, despite their vastly different circumstances, something in his story is unsettlingly, uncannily familiar. 'The Fact of a Body' is both an enthralling memoir and a groundbreaking, heart-stopping investigation into how the law is personal, composed of individual stories, and proof that arriving at the truth is more complicated, and powerful, than we could ever imagine. ISBN 9781509805648
  • "An interesting starting point, when you know who the perpetrator is from the very beginning. But do you? He has certainly served his time but was he punishing himself for a different reason? You can always make your mind up for yourself..." Ann The year is 1793, Stockholm. King Gustav of Sweden has been assassinated, years of foreign wars have emptied the treasuries, and the realm is governed by a self-interested elite, leaving its citizens to suffer. On the streets, malcontent and paranoia abound. A body is found in the city's swamp by a watchman, Mickel Cardell, and the case is handed over to investigator Cecil Winge, who is dying of consumption. Together, Winge and Cardell become embroiled in a brutal world of guttersnipes and thieves, mercenaries and madams, and one death will expose a city rotten with corruption beneath its powdered and painted veneer. 'The Wolf and the Watchman' depicts the capacity for cruelty in the name of survival or greed - but also the capacity for love, friendship, and the desire for a better world. 'An unexpected masterpiece, a wild and unusual mix of genres that in one fell swoop succeeds in renewing the entire crime fiction genre' Arne Dahl. ISBN  9781473682146
  • "In a nutshell, it is what it is. There is a plot, sort of; there are normal people (after a fashion), and there’s a theme in there too somewhere. Anyway, I liked it." Ann WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE... a friendly desert community where the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead while its citizens pretend to sleep. It's a town like your town, with a city hall, a bowling alley, a diner, and a radio station reporting all the news that's allowed to be heard. It might be more like your town than you'd like to admit. In this ordinary town where ghosts, aliens and government conspiracies are parts of everyday life, the lives of two women, with two mysteries, are about to converge. From the creators of the wildly popular Welcome to Night Vale podcast comes an original mystery of appearances and disappearances about the ways we all struggle to find ourselves, no matter where we live. ISBN 9780356504865
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