Fiction & Biography



Evil Scotland

iFort Publishing 5.78.99) 0.. ALAN BALL & ALAN POUL

Better Living Through Death 'Channel :1. Books 916.9% 0...

Half an hour in the company of Evil Scotland and you may never get out of bed again. Not that you’re particularly safe there. For there are spooks and spectres and ghouls and goblins out to get you in the dead of night. Not that daylight can comfort you either. It failed to save the Duke of Kent whose plane mysteriously went down on a Highland hillside in 1942. And it didn’t protect the trio of lighthousekeepers who vanished into thin air in the winter of 1900, just 20 miles from the Outer Hebrides.

Ron Halliday stops short of suggesting that every unexplained incident in this ‘Iand of mystery’ is down to extraterrestrial activity or the influence of the spirit world, but

he puts enough warped thoughts in your head to suggest that grand conspiracies are being plotted from somewhere. Halliday reckons that there’s evidence to suggest that Bible John may have been acting at the bidding of some other force rather than simply his own killer instincts. He stopped his spree on Hallowe’en after his third killing (three has important symbolic occult meaning) and then disappeared without trace. The removal of a sanitary towel from each of the victims is weird in itself, but could it have meant that Bible John was indulging in some sinister blood


Some Obscenities though, are just down to rotten people, pure and simple. The sections on the notorious killers of recent decades (both male and female) are savage in their intensity. The only problem with the book is its familiarity. The cases discussed - from the ‘gay slasher’ William Beggs to the ‘black widow’ Nawal Nicol - are all sufficiently high profile to be instantly recognisable. And Halliday even plunders from himself,

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Gods, Mongrels and Demons 'Bloon‘shury STllSUOi .0.

Calder brings the underdog to life

108 THE LIST L; ' No. " Dec 224p;

Six Feet Under treats death as a grave matter

reconstructing charred corpses.

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as some of the mad alien and spooky buildings stuff was in his A-Z of Paranormal Scotland.

Strange deaths have come aplenty in Six Feet Under and, without wishing to give too much away for those who haven’t yet seen series three, people can also go missing for no apparent reason. But whatever you do, don’t let Better Living Through Death out of your sight for a minute. Edited by series creator Alan Ball and producer Alan Poul, this is a glorious companion for anyone who loves the show. It even caters for the ghoulish, with pictures of Federico’s handiwork at

We have an extract from Charlotte Light and Dark, the ‘novel’ based on Brenda’s childhood therapy, amusingly cute photos of the Fisher offspring as small children and quotes form Thomas Lynch’s Bodies in Motion and at Rest, one of the texts which gave Alan Ball the inspiration to write Six Feet Under. Were the show to be chopped tomorrow, this would be a fitting epitaph. (Brian Donaldson)

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Classic novels revisited. This issue: Cat’s Eye

Published 15 years ago.

What’s the story Margaret Atwood‘s richly provocative. atmospheric tour de force is, on one level. the retrospective of Elaine Risley. a middlewaged Canadian artist. Outwardly a “cat's eye‘. as cool and emotionless as marble. we learn that Elaine has become so detached partly in order to avoid scarring memories of the cruel power games she unwillingly participated in with her dastardly childhood best friends. The most vicious of these was Cordelia. thankfully later incarcerated in a mental institution. As well as gleefully smashing certain aged male and female stereotypes. Atwood also ponders the nature of time and merriery. concluding that ‘nothing goes away' but merely moves to a different dimension in our cluttered minds.

What the critics said in a thorOtighly rapturous review the Los Ange/es Times called the novel ‘stunning . . . Atwood conceives Elaine with a poet's transforming fire; and delivers her to us that way. a flame inside her icicle.’

Key moment Atwood‘s blunt portrayals of the calculated nasty deeds of children are all close to the bone in their horrible familiarity. Elaine's bitter reflection at one point is particularly poignant. ‘Little girls are cute and small only to adults. To one another they are not cute. They are life-sized.’

Postscript Cat's Eye is one of five Margaret Atwood novels to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Until recently always the bridesmaid. she has won the award only once. for 2000's The Blind Assassin.

First line test ‘Time is not a line but dimension. like the dimensions of space.‘

(Allan Radcliffe)

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