BOOKS REVIEWS continued politics, brutal violence and mercenary '

The baffling mystery of King Arthur i Sex-

And all because of a Stradivarius

is now a . : violin which goes missing, forcing the . ..: :. ' - ; Almost Heaven f narrator to become hunterand hunted : i ~ - Marianne Wiggins (Anchor £9.99) -' on a journey from the standing stones : *** * * of Brittany to the stone steadings of I the Hebrides. A tad humourless, but You can just hear the trailer ’a burnt- fine for departure lounges and five- out foreign correspondent, fresh from : mile-etc, etc. (NC) I

the horrors of Bosnia. A beautiful

woman who has forgotten her past.

Only he can save her, but can she also ; Stranger On The River

. save him?’ Pat Gerber (Kailyards Press £4.50) As far as plots go, this one has the * * 1e * potential to fall flat on its face and, if Set in an Argyllshire fishing community, , any of those best-selling romance Valentine overhears a plot led by the writers had got hold of it, it most unscrupulous Bloodshot and his gang certainly would have done. Fortunately, to poison the river and steal all the the sheer beauty and lyricism of salmon. Horrified, she and her Wiggins’ writing raises what could meddlesome kid friends set about have been a mundane love story into a thwarting the poachers' money- heart-rending experience. making plan. The themes of love, loss, passion, Essentially an adventure story, the fast ‘_ , war and memory are dealt with pace and week-long time scale add to ' ' " " exquisitely in a sparse, poetic narrative l the overall feel of high tension and 7.. style which allows the full force of taut suspense in Stranger On The River. ' V emotion to speak for itself. If the tears As the children take on their self- I\ I N L 1‘ l ) 0 l I aren’t flowing by the time you reach imposed roles of heroism, themes of a the end of this, you’re almost friendship and the relationships . , certainly repressed and should seek between child and parent are skilfully Inn" u“. "0"‘wnmg author 0f professional help immediately. (KK) developed. In addition, the strong

The Orion Mystery and The Mayan Prophecies

' environmental concerns which run

throughout Pat Gerber’s book do not

\H .l‘ili‘lllllnl-la," unrk that Nuns .t\\.l_\ Me, detract from the action. ttill}; l:;II|::\1s‘l‘ltl:l:If;{T‘I'j‘13iflfi‘l::;";::‘xl‘;l\\‘l.;|' I Christopher Baer at nme to twglve-year-Oldj' M Kim: Mm“, H” WWW” “I. w Hum *ak it this is a thoroughly enjoyable read for M "mm it H“. “Uh (‘1.Wl(”m'\i'l g t; y Kiss Me, Judas starts as an urban those With a strong sense of “M an”, im “h J“ “W legend. A man meets a woman in a adventure and humorously hotel bar, takes her to his room and complemented by Sue Gerber's o u T N o w i N c o n c. i p A P E R B A c x then wakes up in a blood-red bath of wonderful illustrations. (HM)

ICE CUbEPS, minus a kidney. What I

follows is played out in a morphine

haze as the unwilling donor tracks Paper ; 1 down his amateur Surgeon only to John McCabe (Granta £9.99) ** ir ' become embrorled in a murky maze of InSide this somewhat inept comic FU n n a . drug smuggling and kid(ney)-napping. ' novel, there is an entertaining paranoid I Will Christopher Baer’s debut is noir thriller strivmg to break free: John I on the edge of hysteria. With a mind McCabe has constructed a potentially blurred by drugs, pain, and guilt over gripping plot around the use and

his wife's death, the renally-challenged abuse of DNA eVidence. Unfortunately, Phineas Poe may be the least reliable of he has burdened it with a protagonist

delicious... snap it up

NEW WOMAN all unreliable narrators in literature. lifted lock, stock, and (comedy blank- His recounting of the tale is so firing) barrel from Kingsley Amis’ Lucky

wrapped up in the coils of memory 1m. and imagination that the reader all too The strength of the central story is often feels similarly lost. Add the fact such that it Will keep you turning those that the book’s emotional content pages, even as you wrnce at the poorly seems anaesthetised and the result is timed, would-be humorous tangents an uncomfortable, fragmented read. the author insists on littering his text (Tl) with. Barbs aimed at such soft targets

j as irritating workmates and

temperamental cars are distractions

To Answer The Peacock from the gamma business at hand.

Brian McNeill (Black Ace £14.95) Perhaps lt'S merely a matter of * ** indiVidual taste, and sitcom fans Will 4 A talented, and industrious chap is probably complain that the mystery Brian McNeill - his similarly titled fiddle gets in the way of the gags. For thriller 33,,¢.:w-,,£;3,,,_, mp ,, "5,. music CD has been released I afioonados, however, McCabe has '”‘*2”"4“"’“W~“ simultaneously with this, his second - managed something remarkable here:

crime thriller. For years the frontman of a book as infuriating as it is Scotland’s Battlefield Band, a group he compulswe. (RF)

formed in 70’s Glasgow, McNeill has

' since forged a solo career and emerged CONTRIBUTORS THIS ISSUE:

as an admired, much-covered Norman Chalmers, Thom Dibdin, Brian songwriter in the contemporary neo- I Donaldson, Rob Fraser, Teddy ' folk idiom. Jamieson, Kirsty Knaggs, Helen His debut novel, The Busker, was Monaghan

written in departure lounges and five- mile-high airline seats, and was

something of a curate’s egg. To 3 STAR RATINGS

. . , i: *1hk it Unmissable , Answer ThelPeacock continues its ; it h“, Very 00d : —— predecessors themes in a densely it,” Wort a shot a | d melan e of theft murder anti- ** Below average READ IT NOW IN ANCHOR PAPERBACK POW? “9 I. _' .. * Youwebeedwamedé' ' nuclear actiwsm, Breton nationalist -_ . _. ....,~.-.s

96 THE UST 29 Apr—13 May 1999