Even the Dogs by Jon McGregor

On a cold, quiet day between Christmas and the New Year, a man's body is found in an abandoned apartment. His friends look on, but they're dead, too. Their bodies found in squats and sheds and alleyways across the city. Victims of a bad batch of heroin, they're in the shadows, a chorus keeping vigil as the hours pass, paying their own particular homage as their friend's body is taken away, examined, investigated, and cremated. All of their stories are laid out piece by broken piece through a series of fractured narratives. We meet Robert, the deceased, the only alcoholic in a sprawling group of junkies; Danny, just back from uncomfortable holidays with family, who discovers the body and futilely searches for his other friends to share the news of Robert's death; Laura, Robert's daughter, who stumbles into the junkie’s life when she moves in with her father after years apart; Heather, who has her own place for the first time since she was a teenager; Mike, the Falklands War vet; and all the others. Theirs are stories of lives fallen through the cracks, hopes flaring and dying, love overwhelmed by a stronger need, and the havoc wrought by drugs, distress, and the disregard of the wider world. These invisible people live in a parallel reality, out of reach of basic creature comforts, like food and shelter. In their sudden deaths, it becomes clear, they are treated with more respect than they ever were in their short lives.

Ghosts by Daylight by Janine di Giovanni

Janine and Bruno first fell in love as young reporters in the besieged city of Sarajevo. Years later - after endless phone calls, much of what the French call malentendu, secret trysts in foreign cities, numerous break-ups, three miscarriages, countless stories of rebel armies and a dozen wars that had passed between them - they arrive in Paris one rainy January to begin a new life together. The remnants of their separate lives, now left behind, are tentatively unpacked into their shared apartment on the Right Bank: Bruno's heavy blanket from Ethiopia, a set of long feathered arrows from Brazil, an ash tray stolen from a hotel in Algeria, and Janine's flak-jacket and canvas boots, still full of sand from the Western Desert in Iraq. But having met in another lifetime - in another world - ordinary, civilian life doesn't come easily. War has become part of them: it had brought them together, and, though both are damaged by it, neither can quite leave it behind. And the difficult journey that follows, through their mix of joy and terror at becoming parents, Bruno's battle with post-traumatic stress and addiction, and Janine's determination to make France her home, leads to an understanding of the truth that people who deeply love each other cannot always live together.