mpyiig his implau5ible plotting. Strong s first case sees him investigate his f)\'vl‘i club, City, as a succeSSion of :‘s key players are framed in off-the- fieltl scandals Media-friendly inCidents of sex, drugs, violence and drink (llIVllig all help to plunge City toward relegation, as its lack Walker-like (liairiiian contemplates selling up.

Suspects for the inSide JOb are a graft- all is no simple task. In raiding The I Scotsman's photographic archive,

iiiltleii ’iiionster' cockney agent, an .ivaiicious committee member and a dodgy Journalist who hears about the scandals a little too QUICkly. If the culprit becomes ObVIOUS a good 100 pages from the end, Andrews prowdes us with enough Christopher Bl(_)()kliiyi€-l$h comic observations to keep us reading. (SC)


y, e, e, in r e 4” .,,‘ 7: g 4 vim“ :53 / 7% Z flw” g. y “to <7 in er

'Not the first but certainly the funniest football thriller' Mu Ripleyouyrmh

TONY HAWKES Playing tloe Moldovan: at Ennis

ZTUES _JAN7PM _2VED6 Vaults IAN 7PM THU 2 7 West End JAN 7PM THU West End FEB 7PM Born Free

PICTOR AL HISTORY Twentieth-Centur Scotland: A Pictorial Chronicle 1900-2000

Martin Hannan & Donald MacLeod eds (Mainstream £14.99) it *

Capturing a century which

encompassed two world wars, royal scandals, sporting triumphs and the eprOSion of mass media to cover it

staff snapper Donald MacLeod has grabbed the samples and $05 writer Martin Hannan has supplied the text. While the 176 pages will stir many a memory of Scottish life, it suffers a

little in the wake of such

extraordinary collections as the

' Observer’s recent supplement. The imagery seems a little flat in

comparison, though one glimpse at Dunblane’s Primary 1 school photo, or the Lockerbie wreckage, or the 1977 Wembley invasion should

invoke something,

Yet, there is a sense that this is all a bit too safe and tasteful. To cover a century of such brutality, horror and carnage, there should have been a place for the odd shocking image. An easy-flick-through when it should be a stop-in-your-tracks read. (80)


Three Dark Days

Kenneth MacDonald (Acair E9) *1:

It is often the case that writers choosing to pen autobiographical

Authors at


in January & February a East End


£5.00 *


WITH MERCAT TOURS Vaults Guide Boole

*Tz'clzetsfi'om East End


Canongate Prize Book - Scotland Into the New Era

OUT NOW £4.99


Michel Faber (Canongate £9.99) *it*

There are many dangers involved in taking to the road and hitching a lift. Being drugged via needles in the passenger seat and taken away to be mutilated and eventually sold as part of a bizarre meat trade is probably not one of the fears occupying your mind while giving drivers the thumb.

This is the scenario which Michel Faber has dreamed up for his debut novel, having tasted success in the short story realm with his first collection, Some Rain Must Fall. lsserley is a part human. part medical experiment whose task is to take to the road and entice bulky, lone men into her car and deliver them to the slaughterhouse from hell.

Talk up your slaughters: Under The Skin

Despite lacking much in the way of human sensibilities, language and feeling. her conscience lurks away and dissatisfaction with her lot starts to seep through as the victims pile up and the full consequences of her

journeys become apparent.

The slow unravelling of Under The Skin’s horror is perhaps Faber's finest achievement. here. There are little elements of many things in there - the flesh-obsessed community of Texas Chain Saw Massacre, the dark character collective of The League Of Gentlemen and a quasi-Orwellian

anthropomorphic nightmare.

Though making such comparisons is perhaps unfair; where Onrvell's worlds seemed too distant, Faber places his weirdness into readily recognisable places. This is the work of a fresh and promising talent. Under The Skin is cold. brittle, understated and sinister. Don't read alone. (Brian Donaldson)

I Under The Skin is published on Thu 27 Jan.


83 George Street. Edinburgh tel: 0131 225 3436

West End. 128 Princes Street. Edinburgh tel: 0131 226 2666

East End. 13—14 Princes Street. Edinburgh tel: 0131 556 30345

90 THE “ST 20 Jan—3 Feb 2000

narratives do so in order to achieve catharSis, to bid a final farewell to a harrowing past experience. Writing about such traumatic events lift them from the conSCience and give them a new place in the world.

Such is the case with Three Dark Days, an autobiographical acc0unt of a merchant seaman’s encounter With fleeing South Vietnamese refugees in the South China seas. Written in an unassuming and direct style, MacDonald gives v0ice to memories suppressed for over 30 years.

The first-person account of birth,

death and extreme suffering in a

highly emotionally-charged atmosphere is readable solely due to its grounding in fact. Were this fiction, it would read somewhat unfortunately like a poor man’s Heart

Of Darkness, lacking the colour and imagination of a more talented writer, (C 8)


Mr Commitment

Mike Gayle (Flame £6.99) at t t a Mike (3aer is a sort of cool Helen Fielding for men; the sort of men who are afraid of commitment Without being irritating and seXist. SenSitive and caring men who fear losmg the thing that defines them.

Duffy is such a man, whose biggest fears are IKEA trips, dinner parties and baby talk. What becomes clear in Mr Commitment is that men who admit they need love are being honest and ultimately it’s about self-awareness and humility. Devastatineg good looks are par for the course but money and success are not.

It may be that this book is a better read for women, as Ra/ph’s Party c0u|d be more relevant to men, in that it’s too predictable for its Own gender but holds some inSights for the other. Still, it's an easy, breeZy read which flows satisfyineg enough to its happy conclu5ion. (AH)


Catherine Bromley, Steve Cramer, Thom Dibdin, Brian Donaldson, Ally Hardy, MOira Jeffrey, Hannah McGill, Alan Morrison


* H: n Outstanding 1r *tt Recommended 1r * Worth a try

' it a 50-50 * Poor