COLAPINTO About The Author (Fourth Estate 9:10) 0...


the Author

Surely not again? Another writer so embrOiled in his own miserable writing process that he produces a novel about it? Or worse. one who imagines his readers will prefer bricks and mortar to a prefabricated castle in the sky? Well. don‘t let the title put you off. This isn't about an author at all.

Cal Cunningham is a fake; a cowardly wannabe who steals his flatmate's novel on the very day that he identifies his mashed- up skull in a Manhattan morgue. He's a vulture. sweeping in on a dead man's lover and his life. And then he's a fox. running from the bared teeth at his tail, as his carelessness leads to blackmail and to murder.

John Colapinto's brilliantly swerving plot chucks out the surprises just when you‘ve decided it's safe to relax. More than that. he’s turned literary endeavour into psychological thriller and it makes for a damn good read. (Heather Walmsley)



The Vendetta Defence (HarperCollins $39.99)


Judy Carrier. from Lisa Scottoline‘s all-woman law firm (this touch has earned her the billing ‘the female John Grisham') takes on an ostensiny unwinnable case. Septuagenarian Anthony Lucia has killed a fellow OAR in retaliation for his wife‘s murder 60 years ago.

34 THE LIST 9-16 Aug 2001

The plot IS insubstantial. and I'm giving nothing away when I reveal that she WIRS against all odds. Most of the book is taken up With painstaking scene- setting, remarkany coupled wrth a total absence of character development. The writing is laughably bad. including gems such as ‘his Italian accent was as thick as tomato saucefi

Scottoline is Italian- American herself. which she apparently feels licenses her blue-eyed. blonde heroine to make comments about Italians which border on racism. An implausibly clueless lawyer, predictable plot twists and pseudo-intellectual drivel contrive to produce an irritating book. lightweight to the point of utter banality. (Anna Shipman)

FANTASY NOVEL NEIL GAIMAN American Gods (Headline £17.99) 0.

Best know for his Sandman comics. Neil Gaiman continues the transition into serious novelist. For anyone who has read his previous output this will be familiar territory: ancient gods in the modern world. Here we have Shadow. a man who is released from prison only to be recruited by Odin in a war between the old gods (Loki, Horus. etc) and the new gods (TV. credit cards. etc). But can he work out his true role in this epic struggle?

Gaiman's writing is far more Suited to comics. where there is already an inherent fantasy world and much less prose. with the

illustrations taking up the brunt of the work. His attempts at a poet 3 use of the language comes aoross as lumpen high school aspirations ‘.‘.’lll‘i deep and unmeaningfui metaphOrs. What is supposed to be a Tolkien for the modern- age comes aCross as a twee fairy story vrith incongruous exerts of violence and bad language.

(Henry Northmore)


MACDONALD The Chill (Canongate €5.99) 0...

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First published in 1963. The Chi'// is a classic of its genre. The twelfth in a series of novels featuring private eye Lew Archer. it embodies all the qumtessential characteristics of the tough-talking, Marlowe— esque. American gumshoe.

The Chi// begins with Archer taking on a missing person's case. but from this relatively innocuous start. it soon descends into a complex double murder investigation spanning twenty years and several states. Kenneth Millar. writing under the pseudonym of Ross Macdonald. has inspired crime writers from Lawrence Block to James Ellroy. and his

work is considered to

be in the same league as Raymond Chandler's: high praise indeed.

And judging from this. there is no doubt that he is a master of the crime thriller. keeping the tension high throughout and throwing enough twists. turns and red herrings into the intricate plot to ensure that the denouement comes as a complete surprise. (Kirsty Knaggs)



Coldheart Canyon HEE'::€"C;N Ms

836.99 CO.

Clive Barker draws upon fifteen years of life lived in Hollywood - he also directs and produces movies - to create a tale of terror, part Faust, part Picture Of Dorian Gray. A disquieting epilogue set in the 205 introduces The Hunt, a mural depicting unspeakable depravities secreted away in an Eastern European monastery. It’s bought lock, stock and tens of thousands of painted tiles by a rich Hollywood producer and shipped to Los Angeles for a starlet with a private penchant for


Cut to 2001 and Todd Pickett, an A-list superstar of popcorn movies

whose career is in turnaround. Pickett is convinced by an industry shark to undergo plastic surgery, but far from rejuvenating his glamorous good looks and reviving his career, the procedure goes wrong and he’s hideously scarred. Fade to black. Gone to ground in a canyon lost in the Hollywood hills, Pickett discovers the evil European mural and a means of

reviving his fortunes . . .

Is the truth even scarier than

Barker’s fiction?

Barker certainly has a gift for descriptive prose, though it’s something that works for and against him. His writing is extremely evocative of period and place, but he often doesn’t leave enough to the imagination, which, as we all know, is darker than any place a writer can take us.

Still, he takes great delight in performing an autopsy on the ‘dream factory’; everyone from Louis B. Mayer to Tom Cruise is here. Crass and corrupt, Hollywood lends itself to the horror story, though those familiar with Tinseltown exposes may wonder whether the reality is more horrifying than Barker’s fiction. (Miles Fielder)

GRAPHIC NOVEL METAPHROG Louis: Lying To Clive (Metaphrog £9.49) 0..

On first glimpse. Louis: Lying To Give appears to be a kid's picture book. But the straightforward approach simple page layout and watercolour images belies what lies beneath. In fact. if Franz Kafka had written a comic book. this would be it.

The fifth publication by Metaphrog. the Franco- Scottish writer-artist team based in Glasgow. connnuesthe adventures of the eponymous butterbean- headed character. Here. he's locked up in Bee Farm a hard labour camp where the crimes of the inmates are unspoken and their punishment unclear. Certainly. there‘s

injustice afoot. not least in respect of poor Clive. the bee who can't fly. who is brainwashed into committing murder by the farm 's omnipotent Master.

The mix of cute characters and soft artwork with disquieting stOrytelling and vague meaning makes for interesting reading. Not for nothing has Metaphrog been nominated for Eisner Awards. the comic industry's Oscars. (Miles Fielder)



Fantastic Four lMarvell 0...

Grant Morrison takes apart another Mar/el mainstay in this. the first of a four-issue mini- series. The Fantastic Four are perhaps the most staid and conservative of Man/el's gallery of superheroes. and even the name reeks of SOs nostalgia. But. as u8ual. Morris0n breaks the stay down. taking the basic elements and creating a

far more l)‘:_‘ifsl.'lllf>il’. reality. tiiiiirjiiiti in iiiziiitgii j)i‘()l)l(:iiis, self liigit’ii'Vj and echoes of [he 7i'3/7l{)(3fil.

He asks us tr, “NRC/ill“: the reality of i1‘:li’l’l le.ll)l)‘:Li Ill (1 iiillVl'i’} body of orange roar. such as The Thing. and

tilt: CfISLiiJllilIQS Ei‘, .‘J‘:l! ii’. the powers this would bring. All this as the, embark on another conflict .'/ith writ; of t'ir; greatest Super/WIN 2 ever. Dr Der/in: :: r/xif‘vm that is as much Marital as it is physicaE.

Backed Lit) .‘flth equally impreSSi'xe art .794! from J80 L99. MW," "TC T'“: tone of tire story perfectly. this :s a dark and intelligent take Or. an old classic.

(Heriry' l‘Jo’thiiio'ei