Gareth Creer Big Sky (Doubleday £9.99)

In his third novel, (rareth ( ieer has created a pretty flimsy and unconvinc ing Lock, Stock kind of British small-time gangster thriller Big Sky tries in vain to be different through a handful of clumsily executed quirks and ends up Just being plain irritating

The narrator is mute lintmy Mack, a two-bit dodgy dealer in the south east of England who is planning the big scam, the one that'll finance a retirement for him, his Junky girlfriend and his gang of misfit henc hmen in sunny Spain Predir tably, it all goes pear-shaped, and Jimmy ends up an unwnting pawn of Flint, a female drug baron, in a much bigger Europe-wide drug dealing power game

Cr‘eer's writing style is overly f ashy, particularly towards the terminally slow dc-énouement, and the Important stuff, like character development, plot etc, is poorly executed All you are left with are gaping holes in the story and an thoroughly unengaging novel (Doug Johnstonel

CRIME HORROR Mo Hayder Birdman (Bantam £5.99)

When you compare the horror films of Alfred Hitchcock wrth those by George Romero, the main difference is in their choice of suspense or gore to scare the audience.

In her debut novel Birdman, Mo Hayder decides that full-on graphic portraits of sexual torture and mutilation are the best means of shocking the reader Problem is, by the time you get to the umpteenth description of a rnurderer's crude surgical procedures on hrs vrctims, it's merely distasteful and dull

Luckily, Hayder does possess an ability to create a believable backdrop for this crime story introducing a flawed hero in DI Jack Caffer‘y, a cletectrve haunted by his own childhood tragedy The London she creates in the shadow

STAR RATINGS ' " Unmrssable

- » Very good

- v ~ Worth a shot

a *- Below average

i~ You've been warned

96 THE “ST S ian—l8 Jan 200i

o‘ the Dome s «titan-fer: Dy prostitutes, paedopn -es and drag dea'ers, nit also wealthy p'of'ess or‘ar: whose o'utzxard normality beres an inner SICIIIICSS Only the stror‘g characterisation and t‘.'.;sting plot sape this f'O'n the ranks of SC‘ITSdIIC)".(i!iS°. trasi‘. Louisa Pearson


In This Block There Lives A Slag . .. And Other Yorkshire Fables (Flamingo £9.99)

Short stories, like quickies, can either be intensely stimulating and satisfying, or else the initial enthusiasm rapidly gives way to the realisation that the experience is gOIng nowhere, and you'll ultimater end up feeling frustrated and let down This collec tron of fast fiction contains some of each, and interestingly, though perhaps not altogether surprisingly, it is the longer stories which are the most fulfilling Who sard SIXO doesn't matter7

Set in various locations throughout Yorkshire, the maiority of the stories deal with loss in one form or another, but it is not a depressing collection by any means, Bill Broady has a sharp sense of humour and a wonderfully surreal take on ordinary life From Bradford's campaign to revrve the city by employing a team of 'Bouncing Bears' as mascots, to the last gig by insane ]<i// legend Sun Ra, In This B/ock is an enjoyable mix of the sublime and the ridiculous rKrrsty Knaggs)


The Constant Gardener (Hodder £16.99)




Many wondered what John le Carre wOuld find to write about when the USSR imploded and took the Cold War With it. Our Game saw him writing prescrently about the Caucasus, while in this novel he explores the ethics of the pharmaceutical multi-nationals His Naomi KIern-esque attack on corporate greed provrdes a movrng backdrop to The Constant Gardener, its foreground is a Irttle less satisfying.

When a British drplomat's wrfe is murdered in Kenya, he rs determined to follow her trarl and expose the kIIIE‘TS, Thrs task proves less than simple when he finds himself surrounded by


Peter Carey True History Of The Kelly Gang iFabei fi699i

Peter Carey

Horrific, vast and awe-inspiring

Outback Australian myths don't come much bigger than Ned Kelly, tin- headed highwayman, bank robber, bushranger and leader of a fearsome gang. The Kelly legend has, however, been treated badly, with weak biographies that align his story to Robin Hood's and a laughable 605 movie starring Mick Jagger which set him up as a sort of counter-culture hero.

Ned Kelly was, of course, neither a total saint or a complete sinner, but the result of a vicious agricultural upbringing in the Victoria province. A first- generation son of the first criminals and immigrants to be released from Van Dieman’s Land, his story is a fascinating insight into the colonial oppression faced by the Irish settlers in the paradise land and Peter Carey knows it.

The 1988 Booker winner's new book is an absolute rhinestone gem, yet we should expect no less from a writer who deserves to be listed next to Dickens and Lawrence Sterne. Huge, consuming and lingering, Carey presents us with a series of supposedly found manuscripts and journals written by Kelly himself.

They make such horrific, awe-inspiring reading that you really don’t mind if they’re not the genuine article. Carey is in delightful form playing with his themes of the validity of pure truth, crushed lineages and the wiggly traces left in the sand by a million fireside storytellers. This is a vast book but, like Carey's previous masterpiece Illywhacker, you never feel he wastes a word, a line or an emotion. A delicious cockatoo crumble to the rest of the coming year’s humble pies. (Paul Dale) at; True History Of The Kel/y Gang IS pub/rshed on Mon 75 jan

pre-desflf‘nf‘or‘ at;d..' if It s irraf-re',

greed, corruption and smug ex-pats whose idea of raclrcai action rs to congregate for ’drinkies' on a shaded its preaii rye ')(/7'r".'.l‘(:'_ ped 'strrav lawn James S.“ (:I"

Justin Quayle is a irkeable, if old- fashroned protagOnist, but his guest is too meandering to be trqu gripping, and the whole novel has the aura of

the (mic? IMO" bi.

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