Welcome to our weekly Books Digest where we round up the new books you should and shouldn’t, be reading. This week features The Last Colony by Philippe Sands, Planta Sapiens: Unmasking Plant Intelligence by Paco Calvo and Dark Music by David Lagercrantz.

For more books, take a look through our Books Digest Archive.

The Last Colony by Philippe Sands (Orion Publishing, £12.59)

In the 1960s, Liseby Elyse, a newly married and pregnant 20-year-old, was suddenly deported from the only home she ever knew with just one suitcase. Her deportation, along with the entire population of an island, was the result of a decision to offer the US a base on one of the Chagos Archipelago islands in the Indian Ocean, creating a new colony (the “British Indian Ocean Territory“) and forcefully removing the locals.

In the decades since, the government of Mauritius has fought for the return of Chagos, with the case eventually reaching World Court in The Hague in 2018. Philippe Sands QC, the author, has been intimately involved with the case over the last few years as the people of Chagos waited to hear the answer to two all-important questions: Did Britain illegally detach Chagos from Mauritius? And should Liseby Elyse and her fellow Chagossians be allowed to return home?

In this short but impactful book, Sands uses one women’s struggle for justice to illuminate the impact of colonial rule in this complex case of international law and geopolitics.

Planta Sapiens: Unmasking Plant Intelligence by Paco Calvo with Natalie Lawrence (Little, Brown Book Group, £15.99)

From leading researcher Professor Paco Calvo comes a bold new perspective on plant biology and cognitive science. In Planta Sapiens: Unmasking Plant Intelligence the reader is taken on a “mind-bending” journey of the often underestimated and overlooked world of plant intelligence — with the aim of transforming how we perceive other forms of life. 

Science has explored the weird yet wonderful ways in which plants communicate, behave and thrive in their environment. From chemical warfare to the emotions that plants experience, plant life flourishes in a rich and dramatic world. 

Plants are presented as not only our allies — inspiring novel ways of approaching global ecological issues — but also as our teachers, allowing us to expand our understanding of our own minds. Planta Sapiens is an impressive exploration and dazzling insight into the lives of plants.

Dark Music by David Lagercrantz (Quercus Publishing, £14.89)

David Lagercrantz, a celebrated Swedish journalist and fiction author known for the continuation of the Millennium trilogy written by Stieg Larsson, returns with the first instalment of a new crime series inspired by the legacy of Sherlock Holmes. Dark Music follows Professor Hans Rekke and Micaela Vargas, two unlikely allies brought together in an effort to uncover a mysterious international conspiracy. 

Born into a wealthy Stockholm family, Rekke is a uniquely-minded and troubled ex-Stanford professor. An expert in “enhanced interrogation techniques” and tormented by personal demons and depressive spells, Rekke’s mental state is increasingly fragile and his lack of filter and impulsive behaviour alienates him from his peers whilst working alongside local police. 

Vargas, on the other hand, is a competent community police officer, who hales from a humble background, describing herself as “a girl from the hood”, with a brother who is involved in Stockholm’s underbelly. Uncompromising and tenacious, the chemistry between the two drives the mystery-crime plot.

A slow burner with emphasis on character development, Dark Music is an intricately written and gripping Scandi-crime read — teeing up future stories for its protagonists.