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FICTION The Pied Piper's Poison

Christopher Wallace (Flamingo £16.99) at ‘k s a:

Chrldren's stones can mess wrth the rnrnd Of all the tradrtronal tales, ’The Pred Piper Of Hamelrn', With its c'lrmac‘trc' mass abduction of children by a srnrster adult, has the greatest c’apaCrty to make us shrver

Edinburgh author Wallace has chosen the fable as the basrs of hrs first novel and, if you thought the krds’ story was macabre, you’d better read The Fred Piper’s Poison over a stiff drink. Actually, get rat-arsed

Splitting hrs narratrve between a refugee camp blighted by a horrific mystery illness during the harsh Polish wmter of 1946, and the besieged town of Harnelrn rn 1648, Wallace dissects the ravages of European war He rrrsrsts on a grrrn dragnosrs of a human condition perpetually on the brink of anrrnal aggression, always ready gurte lrterally to devour rtself

Thrs rs gutsy, unc ornprornrsrng stuff,

' and profoundly relevant to the post-

Bosnra 90s, if an unsuitable book before bedtrrne (PR)

. The Ugliest House In

The World Peter Ho Davies (Granta £9.99)

if 2%:

Skip the title anyone expec trng a feast of the macabre Will be clrsappornted What Davres offers rn thrs, hrs first collec tron of shorts, are lyrrcal snapshots of human kindness

and frarltres, stories frlled wrth hrrrnour

World of 1951

and therr farr share of tragedy.

Half Welsh, half Chinese, and raised in the Midlands, Peter Ho Davres shifts from the urban hurndrurn of Coventry to the colonial iungles of Malaysia to the dusty thoroughfares of the erd West. He delves rnto a love trrangle of whrc h two corners are Butch and Sundance, vrsrts the brandy—and-c rgars post-battle analysis of the Bntrsh-Zulu exchange at Rourke’s Drrft, and stands at the bac k of a gueue for the fortnightly giro from where the future amounts to lrttle but the prorrrrse of a lunch trrne pint

Tender but unsentrrnental, The Ugliest House In The World rs a frne debut With an acute sense of the absurd (RE)


Don Delillo (Picador, £18) a a is: e- Srnce Moby Drc k first beached on lrterature's shores our cousins across the Pond have obsessed over frndrng The Great Arnerrcan Novel With Undem/or/d, many have declared the guest over Thrs rdea of grand search frts DeLrllo's epic 837-pager, whrc h strtc hes together characters and eprsodes through the rnotrf of the baseball hrt rn the sport's most famous moment The Shot Heard Around The The monomanrac‘al desire for thrs prec e of rnernorabrlra



. «s x s s Outstanding g as is Recommended 1 a a a. Worth a try 2 K i!" a Poor

connects a narrative which spans the mrsSrle-crazy 50s to the lnternet-lrt 90s A white baseball to Melvrlle’s whrte whale.

This rmpressronrstrc work allows the reader to float through rts arnbrent pages before electrrfyrng sentences shocjkwave the sprne, but for all its paranora and pre-mrllennral storming, Underworld rs more hopeful than DeLrllo’s earlier tempestuous wrrtrngs Thrs masterful book rarses many questions, not least rs ‘what can DeLrllo do next7’ (PR)

NONeFICTlON McX: Scotland's X-Files Ron Halliday ed (8&W £6.99) N: air

There are sceptics and there are believers For my own part, l‘rn stuck rn that rnrddlrng black hole whose inhabitants would probably lrke to believe However, until the reports of UFO sightings and bizarre experiences attributed to the 'other srde' are replaced by the evrdence of the eye, books like thrs Will continue to enthral and disturb but, ultrrnately, farl to c onvrnc e

Ron Halliday, charrrnan of sornethrng called Sc ottrsh Earth Mysteries Research, appears to believe that anything which has no logically watertrght explanation srrrrply must be the work of another drrnensron And anyway, Just because you haven't seen

a car crash, you strll believe they occur

It's hardly conc lusrve stuff

From Blarrgowrre to Bonnybrrdge and Loch Ness to Lrvrngston, all manner of rnysterres and subseguent cover ups

; are cited to 'prove' that the truth rs not Just out there and the sole preserve of

dumb southern rednecks It's very much here and about to doorstep you at any moment Yeah, right (801


3 The Velvet Years

1965—67: Warhol's Factory

Photographs by Stephen Shore; Text by Lynne Tillman (Pavilion £9.99)


In retrospect (bar Velvet Underground), Warhol's zoo could be labelled an exemplary display of supreme hype over talent, yet the legend refuses to die Shore was merely seventeen years old when given carte blanc he to photograph the madness, to electrifying effect Complemented by the rnernorres of the main tlrvrngi players, thrs rs a stylrsh and Witty

? tribute (SM)

(.ontrnuecl over page

The Hanging Garden Ian Rankin (Orion £16.99) 1r at a: * There are two kinds of cop in British crime fiction. 0n the one hand there are the Morses and Dalglishs - poetry-quoting policemen who solve elegant murder puzzles in leafy suburbs. Then there are the detectives who work all too recognisable city streets, where crime is no game and death is a painful, ugly business.

Despite his recondite surname, John Rebus is very much of the second persuasion. The Hanging Garden marks the tenth appearance of Ian Rankin's Edinburgh detective, and finds Rebus investigating a suspected war criminal, while attempting to protect a young Bosnian prostitute from the predations of villains.

Hard-boiled has its own stock characteristics. Rebus, liking for prog rock aside, is a familiar type - a heavy drinker and failed husband and father. Hard-bitten too, he sees valentines in shop

Ian Rankin: Edinburgh's award-winning crime writer

windows and imagines puncture wounds. But Rankin invests these familiar tropes with a rare conviction, to create one of the most compelling crime

series in contemporary fiction.

What with Chechen gangsters, the yakuza and an east-west crime war to be found in its pages, there’s more than a spot of garish colour in The Hanging Garden, but at its heart it is much more than that - it's a novel of loss and terror, and a match for any its more allegedly ‘literary'

counterparts. (Teddy Jamieson)




(l 2/ Jan 1998 THEUST 95