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7:00am Saturday 12th May 2012 in NewsXtra
look at the latest releases, plus what's new in paperback.
By Kate Whiting.
Skios by Michael Frayn is published in hardback by Faber and Faber, priced £15.99. Available May 3.
A dramatist best known for his spoof Noises Off, currently running to rave reviews in the West End, Michael Frayn's novels are - reliably - an even greater delight.
This latest title from the prince of farce doesn't disappoint, inciting unstifled chuckles from start to raucous, unexpected finish.
On the sunny Greek island of Skios, as its expat community gears up for the social event of the year, a case of mistaken identity sparks a rapid chain of mayhem that threatens to topple the status quo.
Writing sharply yet languidly, with tongue firmly in cheek, Frayn draws a cast of tarts and buffoons worthy of Gerald Scarfe.
Professional organisers will groan with recognition at the logistical nightmares seen here. And for those who like to look deeper, the mirth has a serious side; the mayhem an allegory for the current European crisis.
More than anything, though, this satirical gem is, quite simply, hilarious.
9/10 (Review by Sarah Warwick) Home by Toni Morrison is published in hardback by Chatto & Windus, priced £12.99. Available May 3.
The tenth novel from the Nobel Prize-winning author, who brought us The Bluest Eye and Beloved, introduces us to Frank Money, an African-American Korean war veteran who has returned to 1950s segregated America.
Despite fighting for his country, he's hardly welcomed home and has to contend with post-traumatic stress disorder from his time on the frontline. He breaks free from hospital and journeys back to Georgia with his younger sister, Cee.
As with other Morrison novels, a split narrative technique is used to good effect, as the story flicks between the present day to the frontlines of Korea, and the childhood of Frank and his sister.
Cee and Frank's lover Lily also take turns narrating, but the main voice is that of Frank, revealing his haunting interior life.
The story hints at the backgrounds of the siblings, but ultimately leaves a lot of questions unanswered, which may leave some readers frustrated as they get to the end of the novel.
7/10 (Review by Elaine Adu-Poku) The Innocent by David Baldacci is published in hardback by Macmillan, priced £12.99. Available now.
He's written more than 20 best-sellers and been on countless awards shortlists - for those in the know, David Baldacci is a must-read thriller writer.
If you haven't read his books before, then The Innocent is a perfect introduction to the work of a master of the genre.
Assassin Will Robie is at the top of his game, and after two successful missions, he is called upon to kill a US government employee.
But the assignment goes badly wrong, and Will becomes a wanted man - with the added complication of a teenage girl who is also running for her life. Where can they go - and, more importantly, who can they trust?
The Innocent is Baldacci at his breathtaking best. It has a plot with more twists and turns than a Blackpool rollercoaster and characters that leap from the page.
Prepare for an all-night sitting... you won't want to put this one down.
10/10 (Review by Sandra Mangan) The Lady Most Likely: A Novel In Three Parts by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James and Connie Brockway is published in paperback by Piatkus, priced £7.99. Available May 3.
Historical romance authors Julia Quinn, Eloisa James and Connie Brockway have teamed up to create The Lady Most Likely, a three-part account of a Regency house party.
Following a near-death encounter, the horse-mad Earl of Briarly decides it's time to settle down, and enlists his matchmaking sister Carolyn to help him find a wife.
So ensues a party where all the eligible ladies are invited, as well as some single men, thus creating the ideal opportunity for not just the Earl to get his hands on the opposite sex.
Although the novel is meant to be a fun romp and there are a number of titillating scenes to please aficionados of the genre, it is unfortunately utterly putdownable.
The narrative is never interesting enough to hold the reader's attention and it's obvious who will end up with whom from the outset.
The Earl's transformation from a bumbling simpleton to a hot-blooded Adonis by the end of the book is unbelievable, and it is astonishing how quickly everyone falls in love - without a mythical Cupid in sight!
5/10 (Review by Zahra Saeed) The Love Letter by Fiona Walker is published in paperback by Sphere, priced £7.99. Available now.
I'd never been introduced to the writing of Fiona Walker before casting my eye over her twelfth book, The Love Letter.
And although I embrace new experiences, unfortunately, I found this particular example of 'women's commercial fiction' rather boring.
Upper middle class literary agent Allegra "Legs" North ditches her first love, Francis, and embarks on an affair with her boorish boss Conrad, who insists Legs tries to get the company's star author to attend the Devon-based arts festival run by her ex-lover's family.
Meanwhile, her artist mother is having an affair with her ex-lover's bassoon-playing father. We've seen this kind of scenario before and better constructed by others.
The plot is too convoluted yet, bizarrely, predictable and those plum-in-the-mouth accents are simply annoying.
Walker may be billed as 'the Jilly Cooper of the Cosmo generation', but Cooper does it better.
5/10 (Review by Denise Bailey) Non-fiction Breakout Nations: In Search Of The Next Economic Miracle by Ruchir Sharma is published in paperback by Allen Lane, priced £25. Available May 3.
Ruchir Sharma, in this brilliantly navigated journey through the highs and lows of the world's most watched markets, gives the reader a fantastically comprehensive yet accessible insight into easy money and the emerging markets of China, India, Brazil, Russia and beyond.
Drawing comparisons between the economic, social and political maps of countries which to the amateur's eye appear juxtaposed, Sharma gives us a glimpse of his years of experience as a head of emerging markets and equities.
Breakout Nations puts the realism back into the manic craze and blind faith that investors have shown in these developing nations, reminding us that double-figure growth is never sustainable as a constant.
Divulging his methods, he simultaneously highlights the naivety of the people with an alarming amount of power on the global markets.
A brilliant insightful read, as would be expected from a contributing editor for the Wall Street Journal and the Economic Times.
9/10 (Review by Tinashe Sithole)