Sunday, April 11, 2004

Once again, The Sunday Times offers up it's bestseller lists, and Lee Child's The Enemy has swooped up to number 2 for hardback fiction. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time drops to number three, but even that is remarkable when you notice that the just-released paperback edition is sitting quite comfortably at number 1. Elsewhere on the paperback list, Persuader goes to number 6, and Mark Billingham's Lazybones sneaks in at number 10, up from 17 last week.

Ruth Rendell (rencetly given the Lifetime Achievement Award from Mystery Ink) reviews John Harwood's The Ghost Writer.

Now, I'm aware that the subject of Mark Haddon and his book is getting very well-worn, but here he's written a charming article in The Observer about "why Jane Austen was his inspiration, and how he got over the problem of drawing dinosaur legs".

Also, last week I was caught delightfully unaware by the news that Robert Wilson has written a very swift follow-up to The Blind Man of Seville (which, despite what anyone else in the world happens to tell you, was the best book of last year by some way), which will be released in my part of the world this August, entitled The Silent and the Damned: In the steaming heat of a Sevillian July, Javier Falcon is called to a crime scene in an affluent suburb of the city. Initial impressions suggest that the case can be written off as a suicide pact but, troubled by incongruities in the evidence, Falcon cannot shake off the suspicion that the scene has been staged by a cold-blooded murderer. That the next two suicides are genuine, there is no doubt. But what could have made the head of the Sex Crimes squad become the first police officer at the Seville Jefatura to take his own life?

Once again, what is Fiona reading? The White Lioness by Henning Mankell, the first time his Wallander series got really really good. So far, it's a remarkable book. Set in 1992, after Nelson Mandella's long walk to freedom, it is centred around a plot to assassinate him that stretches all the way to Sweden and the doorstep of Inspector Kurt Wallander. He gets over any "Day of the Jackal" problems (i.e. we know Mandella wasn't assassinated) by making a lot of the plot so centred on its effects on Wallander, and Sweden, personally. Now, I must get back to it; last night I left Inspector Wallander as he was chasing off alone into a Military Training Ground shrouded in fog, in pursuit of a suspect with a gun who has taken a man hostage. It's all very exciting.

As an aside, here is an excellent profile of Mankell from The Guardian, and also a review of his latest book published in the US, The Return of the Dancing Master.