CRIME THRILLER PAUL JOHNSTON A Deeper Shade of Blue (Hodder & Stetrghton £10.99) 0...


ll Deeper Sharla at Blue

Clear your diary. take the phone off the hook and ignore the doorbell. The new Paul Johnston thriller is here and idesprte the almost unforgrvable folly of being named after a song by Stepsr it's a bit of a cracker.

Tl‘e HOW book marks a la\.rorrrao.e departure for Johnston the author haying exchanged the dark. futuristic Edinburgh of hrs Ournt Dalngmple series for the Illl‘, Greek Island of Trrgane. This romantic. mysterious setting proxrdes the backdrop for the .nx'estrgatrons of m 1'- Greek. half-Scottrs" (MIXING eye Alex Mauros. hired to< xer the late of a vanished Arnerrcan tourist.

Naturafi; lvlaxros drscox'ers more than funny shapeo shells ‘.'.'asl‘ed UK) on the sands. Hrs engurrres bringing hrm into contact with a couple of sinister deaths ét'ltl some ser ousl‘, dodgy seasnore trafficking. Once aga n. Johnston provides euroence of "IS taient for sprr‘r‘hg an Involving. sophrstrcated yarn. '.-.rhrre 'trs love for 'rrs setting. his mar“, colour't’u characters and the Greek culture is .nt'ectrotrs.

Ar‘an Radcliffe:

SEX [MAMA MICHEL HOUELLEBECQ Platform W Ilraln l-lerrerira"“ 542.99, CO.

Th:s rs a 31,2“, strange and rather (Istthwng book. teetering net .'.'een excellence and arrfulness. Fortysometnrng Michel rs unleashed from us empty rite '.‘.'l‘.er‘ hrs father rs murdered so. naturally enougn, the hunt for Thai pussy rs on.

Detachment from

102 THE LIST ‘, 7’: Set. .‘

humans is relieved only by sexual contact wrth Far Eastern prostitutes but in a twrst of fate he becomes romantically Involved wrth a main player in the tourist industry. whose search for new markets leads her to the sex trade. The sex scenes - graphrc and prolific - become as self- rndulgently rite.isttrrt)atory as capitalism. but HOuellebecg's positron rs vague: rs sex the only pure truth or s this just gratuitous t'antasrsrng? And does he condemn the reaping of sexual rewards in poor countries or rs there a genurne celebration of its pleaSure’?

The amoralrty is unsettling and the unpleasant characters depressing. Somehot'r. though. it gets to you and WOI‘I leave yeti alone long after the last gloomy page has been turned. Ruth Hedges

HISTORICAL TABLE WILLIAM TREVOR The Story of Lucy Gault rVrkrng 57.16.99» O...



I'l hrs powerful 'IOW novel. ‘f‘l’rllram Trevor exniores the ways in .v‘nrch regret can transform relationships. fives. even entire co'..ntrres. The story opens Wrtl‘ a seemineg reparaole action when Captain Everard Gault shoots an intruder in the sr‘oalder. Reaction to this ep.sode triggers an :ncreasrngly grave series of events that splits up the Gault ‘amrly. with abandoned daughter

LUCy coming to believe she can never truly love until she rs reunited wrth her parents.

Though the tale has the srrnple. trrneless quality of a table. the action begins not long after the creation of the Irish Free State. allots-ring the author to draw parallels throughout bett'reen his characters plight and the ways in which Ireland has become a slay :- tc its own history.

Of course. this tendenc', to rernarn stuck in the past to detrrmenta: effect rs not the preserve of the Irish. and in thrs sense the none is close to the bone and incredibly poignant. 'Allan Radcliffe.

ROMAN I K) (SOME; DY AMY JENKINS Funny Valentine rFIame S‘tOr COO.

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valentine A“

ans title number rsrt't irker to set the Irterar‘,’ neather a'rgnt and. thankiu at doesnt pretend to. Amy l'rrrs Life Jenkrns' rem corn rs a brt ilkC‘ a tub of Bev‘ 8. Jerry's: enroyanle. SSKLKI‘, sweet in paces. but above al.. lll()l’(~E‘-f§t‘.. Stevie is a n gl‘. maintenance grr: and orou: of rt ra kind of Bridget Jones meets- Germarne Greer. rt' ,o.r ‘.'.rrI|r. As; 'ser ();.s' yourno. she belre‘.'es she‘s got it a. coxered: ens, write the 'rmportav‘t' stores. fight the underdogs (:(Ir'r‘er‘ and. '-.'.'hate\.'er you do. keep l()‘.'(} out of :ne equation. But ‘.'.'nen fr.m star I ours Paritager‘et ‘.'.r'alks :r‘to lrt'e. Steve's forced to renegotiate her family. her linenttsinps. and mostly. her vre‘.‘.'s on one. Jenkrns' >rose :ends rtself such a gentre tale. presenting a character who frustrates as but whom we adore regardless. I rgl‘t. tlir‘ty. predictabe and ‘un. Just .eave you." n gnprosr hat

at the door. Anna Ivtrifa".


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The Songs of the Kings «Hamish Hamilton S‘lti99r OOOO

Archaeology can only tell you so much about the truth behind classical legend. This gives folk like authors the opportunity to fill in the gaps and do what they do best: make stuff up. In The Songs of the Kings, Booker winner Barry Unsworth takes an episode from the Iliad as his raw material. An unfavourable wind has trapped the Greeks at Aulis, across the ocean from their eventual destination of Troy. The army is growing restless, and voices call for a sacrifice to appease Zeus. Unsworth’s treatment has its roots in classical literature but its branches in modernity. Its heroes speak in demotic English, happily using terms like

Did the Greeks say ‘motherfucker’?

‘motherfucker’ (rather fitting considering the whole Oedipus saga) and ‘CV’ (did the Greeks speak Latin?). At times it feels ludicrous, like the Brat Pack ‘doing’ the wild west in Young Guns. But as The Songs of the Kings moves implacably towards its terrible conclusion, Unsworth’s tactic serves to wrench his characters away from their classical forms into violent life.

These are not men of honour. Odysseus is a cold, scheming politician, Nestor a senile old man, Ajax a thug and Achilles a self-regarding murderer. Soothsayers display more cynicism than faith as they jostle for the king’s ear, while the blind bard who glorifies these over-ambitious

bullies is fully aware of the game he plays.

The essential message of Unsworth’s novel that the warriors of Greece were as cruel and capricious as their gods - is hardly groundbreaking, but it is brilliantly told. This short, sharp tale deserves to be on the shelves of

revisionists and purists alike. (James Smart)

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