DESPITE THE dismal sales of many political memoirs, publishers remain eager to sign on the dotted line for books by and about politicians, though poor old Jeremy Thorpe was reduced to signing with Politicos, the list launched by the Westminster bookshop of the same name. Now two of the key players in the Northern Ireland drama are to be the subject of biographies on which they will co-operate. David Trimble, leader of the Ulster Unionists, will be scrutinised by Dean Godson, chief leader writer of the Daily Telegraph, from which paper he will take a sabbatical in order to complete the book, which is being edited by Michael Fishwick of HarperCollins, the man to whom John Major has entrusted his literary career. Mo Mowlam will be the subject of a book by Julia Langdon, who's contributed to both the Mirror and Punch. That's been bought by Alan Samson of Little, Brown, whose political portfolio includes Douglas Hurd and Edwina Currie. He will also publish Patrick Higgins's authorised life of Rab Butler. Andrew Adonis, who left Fleet Street for the No 10 Policy Unit, has been chosen by Lord Jenkins to write his life - though only on condition that it is published posthumously. And the bouffant-haired Andrew Rawnsley is at work for Penguin on a book that will chronicle Blair's first thousand days in office. No sign yet that Kenneth Clarke has succumbed to publishers' blandishments.
WHILE JOHN McCarthy settles down to married life, his former cell-mate Brian Keenan is putting the finishing touches to his debut novel. Turlough is a recreation of the life of Turlough O'Carolan, the 17th- century harper (as he is described in the Cape catalogue), blind and afraid of the dark, thoughts of whom sustained Keenan throughout his own years of darkness.
WITH SO much emphasis on new books by new talent, it's good to see that Pan has been leafing through its back pages, this week launching a series of Classic Crime which will bring back into print "mysteriously missing tales by criminally good writers." Six titles are now available, among them Francis Iles's Malice Aforethought, introduced by Colin Dexter, Nicholas Blake's The Beast Must Die, for which P D James does the honours, and two titles by Eric Ambler, Journey into Fear and The Mask of Dimitrios, with introductions by Robert Harris.