I Tommy Was Here Simon Corrigan (Abacus £5.99) The story of a quest both external and internal. as Imogen Holm searches for her son Tommy. who has vanished in Paris. As she investigates his disappearance. she is forced to question many of her beliefs about her son, and ultimately about herself. Corrigan’s prose reads effortlessly and draws an atmospheric picture of Paris. An involving and compelling novel. I Murdoch William Shawcross (Pan £5.99) Few biographies start in such a gripping fashion: Shawcross chooses as prologue the events of December 1990 when Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. the core of his information empire. hung by a thread. The huge remainder of the book then turns to a painstakingly researched history of the man. drawn largely from first-hand interviews. The globe-hopping format and technological background bump up the interest. I African laughter Doris Lessing (Flamingo £6.99) A weighty tome divided into sections. chronicling four visits by the author to Zimbabwean homeland. Each relates experiences and personal memories with a sharp eye for both the grand climate and the mundane detail. What has resulted is a kind of overall model of the country. which may be traversed slowly on the grand tour or examined randomly in little chunks. As travel books go. it’s quite unique. I The Jan Anthology Miles Kington (HarperCollins £6.99) Some books can only be written convincingly if approached as a labour of love. and this is one of them. In his introduction Kington. a jazz devotee for over forty years. points out that the great bulk of writing on the subject is concerned with facts. His book is therefore devoted to anecdotes on musicians. tracks. touring. conflicts . . . good for dipping into. and an ideal Christmas present for a jazz fan. I My House Is On Fire Ariel Dorfman (Abacus £5.99) In this short-story collection, set against the oppressive background of Pinochet's Chile. Dorfman brings the political situation to life by showing how it affects the small. everyday details of people‘s existence. Children hiding whenever there‘s a knock at the door. police certification required to register a baby . . . the tales have an unusual intensity. and together they give rise to a larger vision. (Gavin Inglis)

I Telling the Pictures Frank Delaney (HarperCollins £14.99) Belle. a

Protestant mill girl, works in Belfast during the Second World War. Her

the stories to the girls she works with. Drama enters her life when she falls in love with Gene. a Catholic from the south. Their romance. of course. heads rapidly for disaster Belle murders the Catholic woman she thinks is after her man on the same day Gene is framed

for the killing ofa general.

Delaney takes the conflict in Ireland and turns it into soap opera. People say things like ‘Bejayzes’ and ‘What about

and endless banter. to demonstrate that Delaney understands human nature as

well as religious divisions. All right in its own way. I suppose. ifyou’ve a few spare hours to kill. (Cathy Boylan)

hobby is watching films and recounting

ye‘. and there is plenty of other padding


I Thyme of Death Susan Wittig Albert (Serpent‘s Tail £7.99) Another new branch to the ever-expanding family tree of independent-minded women detectives comes in the shape of China Bayles. ex-hotshot Houston lawyer who’s abandoned the rat race for the good life and is now proprietor of a herb shop in a picturesque small Texas town. The mysterious death of her best friend. however, soon followed by the appearance of another corpse. forces her reluctantly to dust off her

investigative skills and set about

unravelling the tortuous web of greed. closeted skeletons, thwarted love and local gossip which has resulted in the crime. A lively. colourful. sharply- drawn cast linked by satisfyingly complex relationships, a vividly rendered (if somewhat idealised) setting and a plot that keeps you guessing enables the novel easily to

field; if the author can curb the strangely obsessive detail in which she describes characters’ clothes and houses. she’ll be onto a winner. (Sue Wilson)

hold its own in an increasingly crowded


I Pepper Tristan Hawkins (Flamingo £5.99) Tales of slick young executives overdosing on drink, drugs and sex can be boring in the extreme. Yet somehow Hawkins succeeds in making the story of Richard. an arrogant. overpaid advertising account manager. satisfyingly moving without ever

descent through the worst excesses of 1 alcoholism and his elusive. obsessive

1 relationship with Pepper. the badly

i eczemic new girl at the office.

i Richard‘s internal voices are great.

1 especially Gary the demon who keeps j trying to make him say what he thinks 3 out loud in the worst possible

2 situations. But Hawkins‘s real talent is

becoming sentimental. as we follow his

for observing the tiniest details ofa relationship; central is Richard‘s desire for Pepper when she is unattainable.

l and irritation with her when she is

1 actually around. The prose style takes a I while to settle. but when it does. it is believable and compelling. and avoids

i the obvious downbeat ending. (Gavin

§ Inglis)




I Turn Shields Fri 3. 12.30—2pm. Waterstone’s. 45—50 Princes Square. 221 9650. Free. The popular Herald diarist with a penchant for malapropisms and funny signposts will be signing copies of his new collection Tom Shields Too: More Tom Shields (Mainstream £6.99).


I Beer tasting with Michael Jackson Fri 3. 7pm. Waterstone’s. 128 Princes Street. 226 2666. £1. No not that one. but the author of The Beer Companion (Mitchell Beazley £19.99). who’ll be on hand to suggest a selection of Christmas tipples. Ticket price redeemable against any Mitchell-Beazley beer book.

I Michele Roberts Fri 3. 7pm. Waterstone’s. 13 Princes Street. 556 3034. Free. A writer deservedly winning wider recognition following her Booker-shortlist place last year. Roberts will read from and sign copies of her recent short-story collection During Mother 's Absence (Virago £9.99).

I ngel Tranter Mon 6. 7pm. James Thin.

; 53—59 South Bridge. 556 6743. Free. The popular Scottish historical novelist will read from and sign copies of his latest book. 'lapestrv of the Boar (Hodder & Stoughton £16.99).

I Michael Ignatieff Tue 7. 7pm. Waterstone’s. 128 Princes Street. 226 2666. Free. The media arts pundit on a swift return visit to talk about his book (accompanying the TV series) Blood and Belonging: Journeys Into the New Nationalism (Chatto & Windus/BBC £16.99).

I Owen Dudley Edwards Wed 8. 7pm. James Thin. 53-59 South Bridge. 556 6743. Talk and signing session by the Edinburgh-based Irish historian and writer. about his book Burke and Hare (Mercat Press £9.95). just re-issued in a new edition.

2 I Prue leith Wed 8. 7pm. Waterstone‘s. 83 George Street. 225 3436. Free. Talk/demonstration. and doubtless some tips on seasonal cuisine. from the leading cookery writer. based on her new step-by- step book Leith's Confident Cooking (Bloomsbury £20).

I lieutenant-Colonel Bob Stewart Wed 8. 7pm. Waterstone’s. 128 Princes Street. 226 2666. Free. The Bosnia veteran will talk about his experiences with the army in the former Yugoslavia. and sign copies

of his book Broken Lives HarpetCollins £18).

I Arthur Oinnock Fri 10. l lam. James Thin. 57 George Street. 225 4495. Free. Talk and signing session. co-organised by Donaldson’s School for the Deaf. with the author of Cruel Legacy (Scottish Workshop Publications £5). a history of the deaf.

I Messaggerie Book Fair Fri 10. 5—7pm. Sat 11, 11am—5pm. Italian Institute. 82 Nicolson Street. 668 2232. New titles

' recently published in Italy on sale. from London’s ltalian BookshOp.

I Translating Literature: A Scottish Perspective Sat 11. 10am—5pm. Department of Languages. Heriot-Watt University. Riccarton. 449 5111. Free. Day conference with speakers Ella Wildridge of the Traverse and poet Edwin Morgan. who translated Cyrano de Bergerac into Scots for Communicado’s triumphant production last year. plus round-table discussions. All welcome please contact the department by 6 Dec if you wish to attend.

I Privileged Shopping Evening Tue 14. 7.30pm. Waterstone's. 83 George Street. 225 3436. Free tickets from branch. Escape the crowds. browse in peace and enjoy the drinks. competitions. raffle. etc on offer.

Historian and writer Owen Dudley Edwards, general editor of the Oxford edition of the Sherlock Holmes stories and author of ‘Burke and Hare’, recently reissued by Meth Press, tells Sue Wilson about his favourite fictional character.

‘I’m afraid it has to be Sherlock Holmes, because it’s the story of a fascinating character brought within our grasp by the narration from- someone - Dr Watson - who’s so exactly like ourselves; in other words, it’s the magic of the writer which makes a character, apparently terribly remote from us, very accessible.

‘I first read the stories when l was about seven or eight, though it took a while for them to become favourites - some of them are very frightening; I wanted to keep the light on, so to speak, after having read the one about the housemaid who imprisons her false lover, the butler, in an underground cellar so that a stone slab slowly chokes his life out.

“There’s also the fact that l’m a historian - the atmosphere in the stories is a beautiful historical document, and there are a whole series of very brilliant words of advice on . . . well, really, how to be a historian; things like, never neglect an alternative until you have first disproved it.

“Also, the study of criminal proceedings has the advantage that there are actual records of human life involved, which is also true of something like the Sherlock Holmes stories; by focusing on something like murder - okay, you could say it was sensationalist and so on, but the point is, the investigation has to be made, and as a result a lot of other things come out that otherwise wouldn’t be noticed or reported, which helps us to find a great deal more about the very kind of people who are so often completely ignored.

“The Conan 00er stories are very much affected by the fact that his father was a brilliant alcoholic artist, so the tragedy of alcohol in society is something that is very well worked out in the stories, and it’s not something that apart from a dull, mutton-headed, moralistic denunciation of drink, would be likely to come out particularly in a reading of straight history. There’s a lot of very firm social criticism; very few of the stories end up with Holmes happily solving everything, on the contrary, you see a forest of tragedy, and the causes of this tragedy are not things that any detective investigation are going to clear away.’

The List 3—16 Decetnber I993