BOOK REVIEW / Paperbacks: The Wives of Bath by Susan Swan, Penguin pounds 5.99

The puzzle of gender roles is the theme of this novel, based on the strange-but-true story of a Canadian schoolgirl who cut off a cab-driver's penis after murdering him, and then 'wore' the severed organ. Swan transplants the event to an exclusive girls' boarding school, where 14-year-old Mouse Bradford and her friend Paulie play gender-bending games in the school boiler-room, which gradually degenerate into more serious sexual experimentation and a final bloody prize-taking.