Mr Blue

Edward Bunker (No Exit £16.99) ****

From San Quentin to Quentin Tarantino - a hefty pair of bookends propping up an astonishing life. But there's more to Edward Bunker than simply early notoriety as that particular American prison's youngest ever inmate or late fame in the role of Mr Blue in Reservoir Dogs.

His childhood was marked by a steady escalation from harsh boarding schools to county jail that's almost tragic in its inevitability. Fierce pride plus an IQ of 152 multiplied by a violent anti- authority streak equals social self- destruction and Bunker’s story would be remarkable enough if all it proved was one individual’s ability to overcome what life has thrown at him. However, it's when he lists his known associates that this book detaches itself from the typical ex-criminal's memoirs.

Befriended by Mrs Louise Wallis, neglected wife of movie producer Hal Wallis, Bunker was introduced to, among others, William Randolph Hearst and heard of the newspaper magnate’s death while swimming in the pool at San Simeon (the real life Xanadu of Citizen Kane). After his first published novel, No Beast 50 Fierce, allowed him to go straight, Bunker continued to work as an author while breaking into the movies, receiving an Oscar nomination for his work on 1985's Runaway Train.

With such a tale to tell, it's no surprise that Mr Blue has such a strong sense of narrative pace and thematic redemption. What would, as fiction, set the sceptics chattering, packs a punch when presented as fact.

(Alan Morrison) I Mr Blue is pub/i'shed on Fri 79 Nov.

Bunker mentality: Mr Blue


abound While schisms between the

Daughter Fortune sexes are also explored. With the Isabel Allende (Flamingo £16.99) gradual revelation of the Sommers * ‘k * * family's secrets and lies, the disparity

between appearances and reality becomes all too apparent.

Energetic but elegant prose helps Allende to create a well-crafted saga Which, With startling attention to detail, traverses both continents and decades With ease. (DK)


Boy In The Water

Stephen Dobyns (Viking £9.99) ****

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A famous psychologist who has become burned-out by his jOb, takes over as headmaster of a remote, failing New Hampshire school, where dysfunctionality is the norm. And before you can say ’Stephen King ate my Elmore Leonard collection’, all sorts of spooky weirdness begins to happen. Treading delicately between the planks of crime, horror and psychological fiction, Stephen Dobyns has developed a complex but believable little world to cave in around the troubled new head, Jim Hawthorne. Refreshingly, his suspense

When the man With whom Eliza Sommers has been haVing an illicit affair flees to California, rather than wasting time weeping or berating all men, Daughter Of Fortune’s central character forsakes all she knows and follows him.

What ensues is far more than a yarn about thwarted love. Set in the mid- 18005 With Anglophile Chile and goldrush California as its backdrop, Isabel Allende's fifth novel intertWineS

Continued over page

the sooal and historical With the story STAR RATINGS

i * ir * * tr Outstanding of an English foundlings Journey. H” * Recommended Barbed but accurate observations it it 1' Worth a try about colonialism and the traditions of t it 50-50 * Poor

English, Chilean and Chinese cultures




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l8 Nov—2 Dec 1999 THE lIST 117