Heverjudge a book by its cover, especially Jonathan Aycliite’s Naomi’s Room (Harper Collins £14.99). When the darling daughter oi two Cambridge academics ends up decidedly dead it’s the beginning ot a gruesome trail oi mayhem with otherwordiy undertones. Terrilying stuli which deserves a sackiul oi awards.
Reginald Hill already holds the Best Crime Novel 01 The Year award tor Bones oi Silence (Graiton £3.99). Stereotyped but lovable Detective Superintendent Dalziel and his doubting, domesticated sidekick DI Pascoe are on the murdertrail. Add the activities oi local am-drammers and a suicidal, anonymous letter-writer and the sum is a clever, inlectious read.
Moving irom pop to print is Rapido irontman Antoine de Caunes with Good But Hot (Fourth Estate £5.99). A missing teenage heiress Maria-Liza and her rock idol boyiriend Joe de Brown iorces Texan PI Murchison to Paris, a jaunt which uncovers much
CHRISTMAS BOOK SPECIAL '
bigger things. The result is pacy, littered with musical relerences, acutely observant and wickedly tunny. Parisian puzzles are also the concern oi Leo Malet. In Dynamite Versus OED (Pan £3.99), a train robbery in 1938 is the key to a murder in 1942. The complex unravelling is beautilully written, engulfing crime, love and deception with perception and atmosphere.
0n home turl is Andrew Puckett’s Bloodhound (Collins Crime Club £13.99). A Scottish Liberation Group have contaminated blood packs bound lor England in this utterly unbelievable, clodhopping paddle in the plasma. Characterisation is awiul and it’s a case of a lot ol blood but not much guts, yet Bloodhound is still strangely
compelling. Fact, though, is oiten even stranger than tlction as Richard Byme proves in Salecracking: Tales and Techniques Oi The Master Criminals (Gralton £5.99). An instruction manual tor a dying art, this is also a history ol security methods and a psychological glimpse into the deviant mind.
From Virago comes Jean Warmbold’s gritty and realistic Dead Man Running (£4.99). Believable ioumalist Sarah Calloway seeks a missing scientist specialising in AIDS-vaccine research but uncovers a chilling lntemational conspiracy. A contemporary, political read dipping into a gamut oi social issues. Also from Virago, Amanda Cross’s Poetic Justice (£4.99), a romantic study oi American academia amidst student demonstrations, intstltutional politics and mysterious death. English Prolessor Kate Fansler sets out to solve a mystery which is much more than it seems. Charming and atmospheric.
Simon Brett is creator ot the dire sit-com Atter Henry but is also the author of A Shock To The System. Corporate Bodies (Gollancz £13.99) is further evldence at where his real talents lie. Industrial accident or something more sinister? That’s what Charles Paris must prove in this quirky, engaging novel. (Susan Mackenzie)
Alistair Mabbot finger-picks his way through this year’s hit " parade of rock books
In 1991, two presences loomed larger than most: Jim Morrison’s and Malcolm McLaren‘s. Take it from me. you can live without another Doors book. unless perhaps it‘s drummer John Densmore’s Riders On The Storm (Bloomsbury £13.99), a poignant account of living through crazy times with a crazy guy.
On the punk front, Jon Savage’s England‘s Dreaming (Faber & Faber £17.50) was awaited so long that it couldn’t fail to be a let-down on some fronts. What it is. is a functional, well-written history of punk. and it‘ll do for now. Craig Bromberg covers much of the same ground in The Wicked Ways 0t Malcolm McLaren (Omnibus £8.95) in a more straightforward and entertaining tone.
Some old warhorses weighed in with ideal paperbacks for dipping into at one’s leisure. The highlights of Charles Shaar Murray’s twenty-year career, from Oz to Observer have been collected in Shots From The Hip (Penguin £6.99).
Whether enduring some bafﬂing tosh from Patti Smith or looking on helplessly as Keith Richards nicks the last of his stash. Murray is never less than readable. His only bad habit is an irritating American hipster style, but by the time the 803 rolled along he’d grown out of that.
Let’s hope Nick Tosches never outgrows his particular style. In 28 short chapters, Unsung Heroes Of Rock’n’Roll (Secker & Warburg £7.99) gives the lowdown on a battery of pre-Elvis hotshots. It’s witty, eye-opening and could have you scouring the second-hand racks for Hardrock Gunter or Ming and Ling. The Chinese Hillbillies.
Barney Hoskyns, who was one of the best reasons to buy NME in the early 805, has penned From A Whisper To A Scream (Fontana £4.99) in
tribute to Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Etta James, George Jones and the rest of a select handful he considers to be the best and most transcendent singers of the century. Whisper is worth your cash, but only really ifyou’re planning to use it as a guide to seeking out the records of the singers he loves so much (or if you have them already).
There’s the usual rash of lightweight trash-biogs and fairly useless photo-books as Christmas approaches, but David Toop’s new Rap Attack 2 (Serpent’s Tail £10.99) stands out as a sorely-needed account of the origins and history of rap, thoroughly revised since its initial 1984 printing. Even more essential is Stanley Booth’s newly-published Rhythm Oil (Jonathan Cape £16.99), a book that’s thoroughly steeped in the author’s love for the Memphis blues and its creators. Stunning and evocative.
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The List 6— 19 December 1991 83