lJltfiAtl bit/«MA TONY WHITE Foxy-T
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foxy l and Hlljl Babes run the l / Call, an internet and phone shop down (lannon Street. and live a quiet. idyllic life together until /afar turns up and tries to throw a spanner in the works. this is not a temny exciting story really, but foxy / does have a novelty motif: its narrative voice is that of a rudeboy.
What lrvuie Welsh (lid for radge [ diriburghers. lorry White is trying to do for Bangladeshi East londoners: ‘f'oxy I Just wave her hand as if to say like: “Don't talk to me now man I'm thinking init" lhen after a while she would probaly try whatever it was she been a think about...’ Unsurprisingly, the novelty wears off: some kind of plot is required. and there just isn't enough here to fill 230 pages. Plus the jury will still be out on whether it matters that the author is clearly no rudeboy himself. (Anna Shipman) BLACK COMEDY MICK FOLEY Tietam Brown (Jonathan Cape $716.99) 0....
America seems to have a never-ending stream of amazingly talented novelists. but who would have thought that the
next one would be a former World Wrestling federation r;liariipiori’/ Mick f oley has already written two massively successful memoirs. but this first novel shows the man to be an exceptionally gifted fiction writer to boot. Heading like a distilled version of a John IrVing epic. lieta/n Brown deals With a dysfunctional lather and son pairing as they struggle to reacguaint after 1/ years apart, Set against a familiar Ariierican smalltown backdrop. this is nevertheless a completely fresh and compelling take on how humans interact. and manages to be laugh out loud funny, truly shocking and almost spirit crushineg sad. often all in the same page. Throughout. foley's prose is economic yet punchy, the dialogue is snappy but not gimmicky, and the whole thing is packed lull of character. A hilarious. poignant. angry, feisty, uplifting and brilliant novel. (Doug Johnstone)
cniML- iHnii t m JONATHAN NASAW
Fear Itself (Simon 8. Schuster $10.99) COO
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A number of severe phobics have died in suspicious Circumstances. Someone afraid of heights Jumps off a building and another who is terrified of blood slits their wrists. yet initially the police treat the deaths as surcrde. But when a fellow phobic becomes suspicrous. almost— retired Agent Pender decides to investigate and finds himself embroiled in the plans of a very Sick killer.
106 THE LIST 1? 31 Jul 7003
’ ANNE [)l-‘AHA
Fallen Gods ll learllii‘e 0...
It's a good job Quintin Jardine, East Lothian‘s finest export since Harry Lauder, is so prolific. No sooner is his latest graphically gory, densely plotted, crime soap opera in the hands of an avid reader than its contents have been ravenously soaked up, leaving us bloodthirsty consumers to lick our lips and nurse severe withdrawal symptoms as we ache for the next instalment. And as luck would have it, Jardine has a back catalogue of some 18 novels, this latest being the 12th to cover the intricate investigations of hard-bitten, complex
DCC Bob Skinner.
Jardine's most conspicuous skill is to juggle numerous plot skittles simultaneously without engendering confusion or boredom. In Fallen Gods, Skinner and his colleagues have their work cut out for them, investigating a freak fire at a gallery opening, as well as dealing with legion personal crises. Not least among these are the mysterious death by drowning of Skinner's long lost brother, while two members of the chief‘s team are found struggling to adapt in the face of their own marital difficulties. Another
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Another crisp Quintin offering
And in case the plot wasn’t quite elaborate enough, Jardine has Skinner's estranged wife arrested for murdering her ex-Iover. Told you it was pure soap opera. But just when the author appears to be running out of pages and a sequel seems inevitable, each skittle of plot is dropped gracefully into this master juggler's hand in a neatly satisfying conclusion. Roll on number 19. (Allan Radcliffe)
It's an interesting idea, but unfortunately much of / ear Itself reads like a medical text book or psychological tract on specific phobia disorders. Jonathan Nasaw has obvrously done his research, but this would have been far better if he'd concentrated on developing what is otherWIse a strong plot and varied group of characters. the pace is gtiite exciting once you overlook all the theorising, and there are some chilling twrsts as the tension builds up. But the climax is very disappointing and left this reader feeling rather cheated. (Rachael Street)
POPUl AR 8le NCE- MARY ROACH Stiff
(Viking 5‘14.99) 0...
Being dead is not nice. For Stiff: 7he Curious Lives of Human Cadave/s, Mary Roach discovers corpses bludgeont-zd wrth steel bars to srmulate car
crashes. bodies blasted
wrth gunfire to determine the stopping power of various bullets. guinea pigs propelled at speed into water to establish how air disaster vrctirns die and a french surgeon who crucified cadavers in order to illustrate the hunt Shroud's authenticity. It's a nasty. fascinating business that lends itself to uncoinpr‘ehentling prurience.
l uckily, floach's sense of humour is droll and Wise; she remains clear sighted and entertaining even through some digressional footnotes. It's a good tactic, for our body's Journey from life to death and subject
to object is one that shakes the certainty of all but the most pious churchgoers and keen atheists. Roach ends on a hopeful note. and if you can stomach the gore that is the meat of this well researched, accessible book. you may well find yourself siniling along.
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HECTOR MACDONALD The Hummingbird Saint
(Michael Joseph 3999) CO.
Hector MacDonald's chilling thriller set Ill Central America taps the surface of rnoral idealisin in an imperfect world. B(:llj£lflllll Sword llopper, philanthropist, Visionary and former porn rnag baron has decided to create his utopia. lo gain access to the Promised l and, participants have to adhere to Hopper's man made 'incral codes'. And as an added incentive. Hopper promises
financial rewards for those he considers to be of 'good ' character. While there's undoubtedly a foolhardy nod at least in part to lord of the flies and (he (teach, MacDonald riianages to convey a healthy level of suspense throughout And the backdrop of the Central American cloud forests. ‘Nltfl their undercurrents of warfare, is a sound one. Anno/irigl/ though, the cliaracterisatiori is often sluggish, particularly for the female characters who are sadly under nourished, Disparate but good (Anna Millar)