BOOK REVIEW / In brief

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The Independent Culture
Deliria by Albyn Leah Hall, Serpent's Tail, pounds 7.99. A Californian's descent into the nether- world of Kentish Town's drug network as she chases the dragon of a heroin addiction with an amorous Irish dealer and a taste for oblivion. The novel is equally convincing in this Camden twilight, in Dublin suburbia and in the Hollywood of the heroine's glitzy showbiz upbringing, which is also the site of her ultimate detoxification. There's an excellent ear for dialogue - whether of a recovering addict in denial or Irish patriot at full throttle - and an unblinking eye for people living on the brink. Maggie Traugott

Felidae by Akif Pirincci, trs Ralph Noble, Fourth Estate pounds 12.99. A feline whodunnit with a thread of animal rights sentiment, in which a cool cat called Francis moves into a new neighbourhood and finds mangled corpses occurring with suspicious regularity. Francis notices that the victims are all tomcats on the track of a female in heat, and together with two other males he investigates the Ripper's activities. These cats read, watch movies, operate computers, and recognise a Harley Davidson motorbike, which rather jars with the author's otherwise realistic treatment of his feline subjects. Orlando the Marmalade Cat playing Inspector Morse, with a dash of James Bond thrown in. Leslie Wilson

The Glassblower's Breath by Sunetra Gupta, Orion pounds 13.99. Hailed as Virginia Woolf's literary heir, Sunetra Gupta also bids for the mantle of T S Eliot. Her narrator, like Tiresias, floats freely through every character's mind and makes few compromises for reader-

comfort. Competing lovers flutter around her incandescence while she attempts to exorcise her sister's death. Despite the melodramatic ending, this novel-as-poetry will make the next book you pick up seem prosaic by contrast. Verity Mason

Savage Nights by Cyril Collard, trs Willlam Rodarmor, Quartet pounds 14.95. Bisexual film- maker, knowing he's HIV positive, embarks on affair with 17-year-old girl while continuing his liaisons with Arab youths and cruising a cement-pillared tunnel by the Seine. Behind the montage of compulsive sexual incidents are glimpses of the sinister world of French racist groups. Autobiographical novel which lacks the art, passion and humanity to be much more than simply unpleasant. Anita Mason