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IAIN M BANKS STEVEN BARNES CHRIS CLAREMONT DAVID GEMMELL GUY GAVRIEL KAY KATHERINE KERR ANNE MCCAFFREY PAUL MCCAULEY LARRY NIVEN TERRY PRA TCHE'IT PATRICK TILLEY TAD WILLIAMS JACK WOMACK
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SPRING BOOKS SPECIAI.
I Victories (ieorge V. Iliggins (Andre Deutsch £13.99) In the late 19608. as the American public begins to count the cost of the Vietnam war. Vermont's Republican congressman Bob Wainwright realises that. for the first time in decades. he will have a challenger at the upcoming election. That man. the central character of Victories. is I Ienry Briggs. a former baseball star who. in his days on the road. was something of a sexual athlete. but is a political virgin.
As the campaign gets underway and the stress on the protagonists mounts. so the meaning ofthe title of I Iiggins's slow-moving but engrossing novel becomes clear. While the essentially decent Briggs is initially seen as the good guy compared to the mean-spirited Wainwright. the outcome of the election — only revealed. in flashback. in the final chapter — is less important than the way in which these men respond to the pressure. Political victory is insignificant compared to Briggs‘s maintaining his integrity in the face of the Washington establishment. and Wainwright's refusal to dig the dirt on his challenger.
'I'his admirable book. particularly strong on the dialogue and the minutiae ofeveryday life. is that rarity. a convincingly optimistic realist novel. Much ofthe setting. and many of the finely drawn supporting cast. would not be out of place in a dirty realist text. Iliggins's writing. however. possesses a humanity and warmth usually absent from that genre. In the end. it is the author who is the real victor for having produced a quiet. unassuming minor masterpiece. (Stuart Bathgate)
RHYTHM OF LIFE
I The Music of Chance Paul Auster (Faber and Faber. £13.99) Chance. luck and fate are the threads that tangle up the characters of Auster‘s novel. (‘asting their lives to the fickleness ofthe laws ofchance. the cards they are dealt are rotten through and through. Above all. Auster affirms. their briefwhiffof freedom is in the gamble.
Nashe. a fireman with a broken marriage and a young child. unexpectedly inherits a large stun of money from his estranged father. Taking stock of his situation. he does two things: he jacks in hisjob at a the fire department and then buys a fast car. He then does some serious driving — a year behind the wheel. speeding across America while listening to Mozart. In the course of this aimless journey he meets Jack Pozzi. a gambling fiend. who is looking for a sponsor to back him in a game of poker. Nashe decides to throw in his lot with Pozzi. gambling with the remnants of his dwindling
inheritance. 'I'his. naturally. proves to be his biggest mistake yet.
Nashe and Pozzi stumble around their ill-starred venture like extras from a Waiting/or (Judo! set. The despair they hit against in their surrealistic waiting game is sharply drawn by Auster and relentlesst maintained until the last page. An exceptional work. (Ann Vinnieombe)
I A German Requiem Philip Kerr (Viking £13.99)'1'his. the third novel by Edinburgh-born Philip Kerr to feature Berlin-based detective Bernie (iunther. sees the action move from the post-war ruins of the (ierman capital to the relative affluence of Vienna. where (iunther is hired to prove the innocence of a black-marketeer. about to be hanged for the murder of an American intelligence officer. With the city under the control of the four Allied powers. just about everyone in town is a prostitute. a spy. or both. No one. however. is what they seem.
Essentially an entertainment. with the usual ration ofsex and violence which the crime genre requires. A German Requiem. as the plot becomes more complex. also examines the muddy moral issues of the era. Should the Allies recruit ex-Nazis in their attempts to prevent the spread of Communism? Do the Russians have a right to ride roughshod over the people they have ‘liberated'? (iunther. as a former member of the 88 who requested a transfer to the front rather than be complicit in the killing ofeivilians. is the perfect protagonist for such a tale. exemplifying the dictum that no one is innocent.
While aspects of the plot are too wilfully hardboiled. and many of the female characters are mere ciphers. Kerr has nevertheless succeeded in creating a credible and engrossing picture ofpost-war Europe. A (ierman Requiem is a worthy successor to the crime novels of Friedrich I)urrenmatt. and the author. still only in his mid-30s. seems set to go from strength to strength. (Stuart Bathgate)
See I’(1/)erha('ksf()r a review of Philip Kerr '3‘ second Bernie ( } uni/(er novel . The I’a/e ( ‘rimimil.
I Billy Whitley Strieber (Macdonald £13.99) The most terrifying. marrow- chilling aspect of Billy is the sheer convincing reality of it all. Dissected and dismembered. the inner psychological machinery of mass-murdering pederast Barton Royal is laid bare with such clarity. precision and warped logic that the reader can only marvel — with some unease — at Whitley Strieber‘s perception.
The tale is ofchild-aluluction. A young boy is snatched from Smallsville. USA. taken to (iod
BU'I'he im lh’April 1991