Treasure hunt

The magic and mystery of Georgia: Hard by a Great Forest, by Leo Vardiashvili, reviewed

In my drafts folder there languishes an email to The Spectator pitching a letter from a then-forthcoming trip to Georgia. That was, alas, the spring of 2020. So when I saw Leo Vardiashvili’s debut novel billed as ‘a winding pursuit through the magic and mystery of returning to a lost Caucasian homeland’, I leapt at the vicarious travel opportunity. Fleeing the disintegrating post-Soviet republic in the early 1990s, Irakli Donauri and his sons (though not his wife) arrive in London – Tottenham, specifically – where they are surprised to find ‘no top hats, no smog and no afternoon tea’. The boys grow up; two decades pass; their mother never joins

A gruesome discovery: Death Under a Little Sky, by Stig Abell, reviewed

The journalist Stig Abell has such a versatile CV – moving from the Sun to editorship of the TLS and then to his present morning slot on Times Radio – that it’s no surprise he has dipped a toe into the crime-writing waters where so many semi-celebrities increasingly swim. What may be surprising, given the rigours of the genre, is how well he’s done it. Death Under a Little Sky sits on the cusp of cosy crime. Jake Jackson is a police detective in London whose life changes when an oddball uncle dies, leaving him a large house deep in a nameless part of England, complete with acreage and a