Blood line, by Mark Billingham. London: Little, Brown, 2009.
Mark Billingham read the first, hair-raising, chapter of this at the Winter Wordfest event in November, and it was un-put-down-able. Tom Thorne is a wonderful creation, and this is tightly plotted with a twist in the tail to give you whiplash... As ever, his descriptions are graphic but not gratuitous, and you genuinely care what happens to his characters right from the first few pages...
The people's music, by Ian MacDonald. London: Pimlico, 2003.
A series of collected essays in music, with subjects ranging from Bob Dylan to The Supremes; the essays on Dylan and Nick Drake are particularly fine. The title essay talks about the passage of popular music from the essentially amateur process of folk music to the professionalism of writers such as Cole Porter and Irving Berlin and the manufactured artists of Motown; and then tracking its descent into amateurism again with the Beatles and Stones, and later the punk era. The piece was written in 2002 or so - it would be interesting to hear where MacDonald thinks we're going in the era of The X-Factor...
Little face, by Sophie Hannah [audiobook]. Oxford: Isis, 2007. Read by Charlotte Strevens.
Alice returns to her house after the first outing without her new baby, and claims that the baby in the cot upstairs isn't hers. Her husband is equally convinced she's lying, and her very controlling mother-in-law loses no time in weighing in. I don't think I'd have carried on with this after the first couple of chapters if it hadn't been an audiobook; I didn't really feel sympathetic to any of the characters, the final dénouement was a bit of a disappointment (and I couldn't make the reasoning add up), and some of the mental and physical sadism was just unpleasant. Strevens is a good reader though; now we can search the library catalogue by narrator as well as author, I'll be ordering up some more she's read.
Un Lun Dun, by China Miéville. London: Pan, 2008.
One intended for young adults; this is a wonderfully inventive trip through London and unLondon, with some great inventions such as the binja (fighting waste bins), unbrellas (ever wondered where all those broken umbrellas go?) and Webminster Abbey (populated by giant spiders). The style of it is much simpler than Miéville's complex prose when writing for adults, but none the worse for that, and the London cityscape is skewed just enough to make it magical without it becoming unrecognisable.
Scarpetta, by Patricia Cornwell. London: Sphere, 2009.
I didn't have a lot to say about this one, really; it's a Scarpetta. It is, however, less ridiculously angst-ridden and more plot-driven than some of the more recent ones. I keep reading these, despite vowing that I won't; I always come out of them feeling a little bit disappointed...