HISIORICAL l ((JTION JAKE ARNOTT The Devil‘s Paintbrush (Sceptrel COO
Moving far away from his London-centric crime tales, Jake Arnott has plundered a chance and highly unlikely meeting between two figures from Britain's colonial past. The Black Isle-born Hector Macdonald, aka Fighting Mac, was a proud general who fought in Sudan and the Boer War, eventually committing suicide when word got out of his homosexuality. Aleister Crowley, aka The Beast of Boleskine, was the hedonist and bisexual who gained notoriety for his satanic ways, later dubbed ‘The Wickedest Man in the World‘. In Crowley’s memoirs, he records having lunch with Macdonald, but Arnott grabs that titbit and lets his mind run free with the wild imaginings of a duo setting off into the Paris night to conjure up the demons and memories of the stiff upper-lipped soldier’s lustful past. Arnott has claimed that Crowley’s fascination for Empire makes him a direct descendant of Harry Starks, the Krays-inflected gangster from The Long Firm and that The Devil’s Paintbrush isn’t quite the departure it may first appear. Where the book slips is with its Carry on Occult set pieces and an inevitable lack of focus, lurching between two very different back stories and shoehorning in a debate to decide which one was the biggest sinner. The walk-on parts for Baden-Powell, King George VII and Lord Kitchener are mild diversions from a tale told with not so much a light sweep as a bucket of hues splattered everywhere. (Brian Donaldson)
CHICKVLIT Noin HELEN FITZGERALD
My Last Confession (Faber) O...
Glasgow-based Aussie writer Helen Fitzgerald likes to walk a high-wire in her fiction. balanc‘ing between the two disparate genres of intelligent chick—lit and dark. \‘iolent nOir crime writing. In lesser hands it could be a mess. but Fitzgerald always seems to pull it off. this third novel being the egual of her seintillating DTGHOUS two works.
Krissie is a parole officer, struggling With a fraught family life while also getting too involved in the case of one of her clients. Jeremy.
Stylistically. and in terms of plot. Fitzgerald excels at Jarring the reader out of complacency. swnching from first to third person. cutting from chat about relationships to a \‘lOlelll prison rape. l\.‘/lSllllg the reader's expectations and turning Our aSSumptions on their heads. As Kris3ie gets deeper in trouble at home and work. the pace is relentless. leading to a climax as Shocking as it is emotionally satisfying. (DOug JOhnStOnei
‘J , L.E'~‘\' SA. (RE CHUCK PALAHNIUK Pygmy - Jonathan cape
Hanng tackled the taboo subiect of porn in his last book Snuff, Chuck Palahniuk's tenth noxel sees the
control. ers‘, courting author moving onto another no-no topic With this wickedly Witty tale of terrorism in the American heartland. A terrorist attack in the Midwest isn't gLiite enough of a provocation for the sardonic satirist. however, so Palahniuk makes his terror cell teenage kids from an unnamed far eastern totalitarian state whose cover as foreign exchange students hides a very naughty scheme to breed wrth westerners before blowrng them up.
All of Palahniuk's novels are funny. but this is the first billed as an out-and-out comedy. And the humour is broader than previous books. making Pygmy read like The Manchurian Candidate meeting The Simpsons. all of which (Sin the seryice of ridiculing the Widespread and inbred raCism and religious fanatiCIsm of his own c0untry. One critICIsm, however: the broken English of the titular titchy narrator SWIftly becomes grating.
COMICS ANTHOLOGY VARIOUS
Khaki Shorts (mwv.myspacecom khakishortsl 0..
More underground comics action pierces 'yOur mind as Khaki Shorts returns after a two-i, ear hiatus. it‘s a distinctly Glaswegian title (with Just a dash of Edinburgh wrti packed with acidic humour ranging from so-fi pastiche to police action
ﬁlth l’xz-esc1ue comedy strips. Where l/iz plays around With the Beano template to concoct an adult take on kids' comics. Khaki Shorts instead lampoons the likes of Star Trek. superhero comics and the medium itself (particularly in 'Super Scott'l.
mindless comedy to sharp observation and wrth names such as Fiob Miller, Neil Bratchpiece and Jon Miller (several of whom we've covered in these pages before), it adds up to an amusrng and diverting read. Well worth the it cover price. it's a small amount to pay for a few laughs and a quick delve into the Scottish underground.
HISTORICAL DRAMA GILES FODEN
Turbulence (Faber) 00
Giles Foden's novel opens with the fantastical Vision of icebergs being towed from Antarctica to Saudi Arabia for the purpose of watering the Sheikh's desert. Taking in sea lions trained to detect mines, frissons and debate. the horror and waste of war, and the fragility of genius. this tale of Allied scientists attempting to provide a weather forecast for the D-Day landings c0uld have been an intriguing take on that historical penod.
What lets it down is the fact that having
l . ‘ 3
evidently carried out vast research, Foden has Crammed all his findings into this book. The result is that. for the large part. it reads more like a textbook on meteorology than a novel. It yOu happen to have a paSSion for that Subject. it Will likely be an educational and interesting experience. If not. it's 350 pages of talking about the weather, interspersed wrth glimpses of what might have been an engrossmg read.
5 UPCOMING NOVELS
David Pom Occupied City Back home in his native Yorkshire. the Damned United author delivers the second of his Tokyo stories with Japan now in its third year of US occupation. Faber, 6 Aug. Thomas Pynchon Inherent Vice The reclusive scribe emerges with this LA- set 'psychedelic noir'. But is he really JD Salingeﬂ Jonathan Cape. 6 Aug.
Moo Recon The Bride's Farewell A young woman in 18503 rural England runs away from home on horseback the day she's to marry her childhood sweetheart. only to find love in the most unlikely place. Penguin, 3 Sep. Douglas Count-M Generation A In the near future bees are extinct, until one autumn when ﬁve unconnected individuals, in different parts of the world. are stung. Thus begins Coupland's latest dissection of digital- age paranoia. William Heinemann, 3 Sep. Jame. lllm Blood's a Rover The final instalment of the epic American Underworld trilogy features three characters during the social upheavals in the US during the 608 and 70s. Century, 5 Nov.
28 May-11 Jun 2009 T". LICT 41