MP Edwina Currie‘s latest blockbuster A Woman '3' Place is set to send a cold wind down Britain‘s corridors of power. Her hlonde heroine Elaine Stalker is back. rattling the closets of fictional ministers and parliamentary secretaries. Here she reveals her own vital statistics.

Name Edwina Currie.

Age Getting on a hit.

Route to becoming a writer Birmingham city councillor from I975 until 1986. and an MP from I983 until now. [She was PPS to Sir Keith Joseph at the Depaitiiient of Health and Science and. from l986—A88, was Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Health. Her first novel A l’ur/iunieiiIury Affair. pttblished in I994. was a bestseller]

Daily routine 9am-- I pm. writing; lunch; House of Commons at 3.30pm; listen to questions and debate; supper and gossip: vote at ltlpm. Bed.

Influences My main influence is trying to he better than Jeffrey Archer. Ambitions Another bestseller. and another .

Income Bigger than it used to be.

A Woman 's Place by Iii/with: ('iirrie is published by Horlt/er (HUI Stone/lion u/ now.



I The Big Kiss David Huggins (Picador £I3.99) Steve Cork has

his wife shagging someone else . . is she'.’ ()stensihly a London tnystery

escapade. the tltrillcr element is

bipolar affective disorder that‘s manic

depression for those who like their psychiatric jargon clarified. Two things have happened: he's been manoeuvred ottt of his job as co-owner of Puffa clothing. and thinks he accidentally overheard a colleague murdering somebody during a muffled phone call. Then he's interrupted mill-minis to find

secondary to l-Iuggins's central interest: shoving an ‘80s hangover" drama down the reader‘s throat. Littered with brand names. musical references. and therapy speak. the prose tries to mirror the wretched fakery of its rniddlebrow milieu btit falls short of real satire.

()ur contempt for these half-sentient figurines isn't compensated for by insight or suspense. Modiin fare. like the needle. got stuck on the chorus of Blur's .S'Iei'eorv/n's. (Deirdre Molloy)


I I Sleeping Partner William Paul

(Constable £l4.99) It‘s one thing for a criminal investigator to he fatally llawed (see Fitz. and Morse) btit it's quite another for the subject to be a model of incompetence. Such is the case with William Paul‘s fictional creation DCl David I’yfe.

In Sleeping l’ui'mer. the philandering Iiyfe views the case of a murdered widow as relatively open and shut. Mistake number one. With the guilt so heavily placed on one character‘s

shoulders. the hapless Ramensky. and warnings against accepting the ob\ iotis solution ringing in his ears. I“) re really ought to have known better.

Despite the presence of philosophical conceits such as '/.cno's Paradox and metempsychosis. the tale remains a rnercurially paced if lightweight thriller. And ultimately frustrating. Iiach segment of Paul's llorid prose is betrayed by dialogue which may have shone on the pulp fiction page btit now is simply embarrassing: ‘shc was a seductive bundle of trouble'. You know the kind of thing. (Brian Donaldson)


I Official And Doubtful Ajay Close (Seeker and Warburg J; I 0)

Scottish journalist Ajay Close's debut novel is not so much a Whodunnit as a Whosentit. A threatening letter is received at the Royal Mail‘s returned letters section. where the wily Nan Megratta takes it upon herselfto trace the intended target from the illegibly addressed envelope.

Narrowing the field down to the local Labour MP. ‘the honourable member for Testosterone West‘. a drug-dealing restaurant owner with a corpse iii his dustbin and a tabloid agony aunt. she unlocks a closet overpopulated with skeletons. As connections are made and pasts dragged into the present. we find that .\'an ltas a disturbing history of her

'I'rapped somewhere between Bukowski's vision of postal drudgery

: and Pynchon's labyrinthine

communications network. Close‘s prose

is drenched in description allowing the

horror to seep through gently. Trust and

Ajay Close: ‘absorbing and rewarding’

bones are broken in tandem as the

di\ ision between exploiter' and exploited becomes ever more fuzzy. An absorbing and rewarding debut novel from the Scottish journalist. (Brian Donaldson)



I The Riders Tim W'inton (Picador £5.99) A prolific author. well respected in his native Australia. Winton achieved wider prominence with this I995 Booker nomination. While his pregnant wife and child sell up. Scully. a stereotypical Australian male. converts their new home it) Ireland. When only their daughter returns. Scully rs pitched into a multi- faceted. mystery train of a search for his wife.

I Beirut Blues Hanan Al-Shaykh (Vintage £6.99) During the dying days of civil war. Asinahan. a middle-class Muslim woman living in Beirut. writes a series of letters to friends. family. heroes arid to her land and the war itself which create an overview of an existence where daily life battles with unimaginable horror. With its powerful conclusion. this is a great read.

I Rebel Hearts Kevin Toolis (Picador £6.99) Toolis. lidinburgli-boru of Irish parents. spent ten years researching the lives of those involved with the Provisional IRA. The result is stunning and timely. From top dog to gofei‘. Toolis examines the history. hierarchy and structure of the organisation plus its expectations and actions. drawing from countless interviews and illustrated with real-life incidents.

I Orson Welles Simon (‘zillow- (Vintage £8.99) To Welles's worshippers this is literary heaven. To others it is akin to crossing the Sahara in stilettos. ie hard going. Nonetheless. Callow. more familiar as an actor. has produced an undeniably thorough doorstop which seeks to redress the man behind the myth by probing the underlying circumstances surrounding the main events of his life.

I Handsome Men Are Slightly Sunburnt l‘rank Ronan (Sceptre £8.99) (‘leverly pivoting on the insecurities of handsome men. novelist Ronan's debut short story collection is lively and perceptive. Set predominantly in Ireland these men fight their doubts. more often than not concerning love and women. These are stylish and original tales peppered with a sly wit and told w ith consununatc ease. (Susan Macken/ie)


I Amy Tan lit) 9 Feb. 6.30pm. John Smiths. 353 Bytes Road. 33 3769. The author of the hugely successful for lurk ('ln/i reads from her new novel set in China and America The [Ill/lt/l't't/ Secret .Seltyey (flamingo U599).

I Turkish Day Sat It) l-‘eb. ll.3()am and 3.30pm. John Smiths. 57 St Vincent Street. 33l 7473. A display of Turkish Carpets with talk explaining the intricate patterns (and no doubt a handy book to accompany it). Turkish Tea and Delights will be served.

I Marsha Hunt Wed 31 Feb. 6.30pm. Dillons. 174—6 Argyle Street. 348 48 I4. The author reads from her new book Re/msxess[rig Ernestine (HarperCollias £15.99). See preview.

I Schools Multimedia an Thurs 33 Feb. 3—7pm. John Smiths. 57 St Vincent

Street. 331 7- 73. Demonstration of the latest educational titles on (‘D-RUM. aimed at Secondary School teachers.


I 2Write Sat ll) l‘eb. 3-4pm. Newington

Library. l‘ountainliall Road. 539 5536.

Hugh Rae (better known as Jessica

Stirling) leads a workshop on writing a

l family saga.

I 2Write Tue l3 l‘eb. 6.3(l- 8.3(lptit.

(‘entral Library. (ieorge l\' Bridge. 335

5584 Margaret lilphinstone gives a

; workshop entitled ‘An Introduction to

Writing Short Stories‘.

1 I New Travel Writing Thurs )5 rich. 7pm.

I Waterstone's. l3 Princes Street. 556 3034.

Jeremy Seal reads from his new book A

Fe: (I! the Heart (Picador £6.99) detailing

i his journey through Turkey in search of a

lhat. while harmonica playing Kevin Coster tells of his hitchluking travels

across two continents in A Thousand

.lIi/ey I’l‘oai Aha-here (Penguin {5.99).

I 2Write l-ii l6 lieb. 3 4pm. Muirhouse library. Peniiyw-ell ('ourt. 539 5538. Alan Spence conducts an introductory workshop on how to write fiction.

I Marsha Hunt Tue In ten. 7.3(lprit. Waterstones. 83 (ieor‘ge Street. 335 3436. The author reads from her new book Ito/mm vine [fir/texture (llai'perCollins U599). See preview.


I Paisley Book Fair Witlt the absence of the bi-annual lidinburgh Book l‘estival. this event is the largest book festiyal iii Scotland in I996. Now in its fourth year. the fair takes place at Paisley Town Hall from Wed l4 --Sat 17 February. and features talks. events and exhibitions for all ages. Highlights are listed below. contact ()l4l 887 3468 for further details. Opening Ceremony Wed )4 l‘t‘lI l larti.

Rub (' A'ex/iirr creator Ian Pattison gets the

ball rolling with help from a mystery

member of the Nev/iii! cast.

Margaret Thomson Davis and Evelyn Hood Wed l4 l-‘eb. 3-»4pm. .-\fternoon tea with two of Scotland's most successful women writers.

Travels With Katie Wed l4 I‘eb. 3 4pm Scouts/I I’uys/mrl presenter Katie W'ood shares some travel tales.

Edwin Morgan Thurs l5 lieb. 6.3() 7pm. ()ne of Scotland's most popular poets reads from his new book (ii/let rei/ l’uelns ((‘ai‘canet Press). with ja/z by the West End Trio.

Eric lomax Fri l6 Feb. 7.30— 8.30pm. The author of The Rui/rmv .llun (Jonathan Cape) talks about his experiences as a Japanese POW.

Sarah Brown Sat )7 Feb. l().3()-I l.3()am. The vegetarian Delia Smith takes a look at new ingredients and recipes.

Janice Galloway Sat l7 Feb. noon— 1 pm. The award-winning novelist reads a selection of her work and answers questions.

85 The List 9-22 Feb I996