PAPERBACKS

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The Lost World by Michael Crichton (Arrow, pounds 5.99) Just when you thought Jeff Goldblum had rid the world of scary monsters, renowned paleontologist, Richard Levine, comes face to face with a giant squeaking mouse in a rain forest in Costa Rica. This is no ordinary frond-hopping rodent, but a "mussaurus", the smallest dinosaur known to man. The "raptors" are back and standing on Levine's new cellular phone - his only connection with the outside world. Crichton sets the Darwinians to rights.

In the Best Possible Taste by David Lister (Bloomsbury, pounds 7.99) It is inconceivable that any disc jockey other than Kenny Everett would merit such an assiduous biography. Lister reveals that, in classic comic style, the best work of this instinctive anarchist emerged from despair, prompted by "an imploding marriage and torment over his sexuality". The tacky showbiz milieu is both fascinating and repellent. With forensic skill, Lister probes the gulf between "Cuddly Ken" and the "Bacchanalian romps" of his private life.

Mad Cows by Kathy Lette (Picador, pounds 5.99) Dedicated to Calpol and disposable nappies, Kathy Lette's sequel to Foetal Attraction gets to grips with the sticky business of life after birth. During a trip to Harrods with her newborn baby, Maddy Wolf inadvertently shoplifts a packet of prunes (her thoughts being temporarily distracted by the progress of a wayward sanitary towel), and ends up in Holloway Prison's Mother and Baby unit. For post-natalers who need their jokes writ large.

A Soldier's Song by Ken Lukowiak (Orion, pounds 5.99) Produced in an obsessional outpouring a decade after the event, this staccato memoir by an ex-para plunges the reader into the Falklands front-line. There are some good jokes, like the padre who announces that a marine is to be discharged after shooting off the end of his penis: "You have to be a complete prick to be a commando." But Lukowiak emerged deeply scarred by his experiences of war. His book is a message from a mind at the end of its tether.

The Enchantment of Lily Dahl by Siri Hustvedt (Sceptre, pounds 6.99) Lily Dahl gives off the vibes of a waitress in an Edward Hopper painting. Red- lipped and slightly frazzled, she wants to be an actress but is temporarily marooned as a waitress in the Ideal Cafe, impatiently awaiting the end of each shift so that she can dash off to undress for the mysterious artist staying at the boarding house across the street. Siri Hustvedt (aka Mrs Paul Auster) has written about young, solitary heroines before, and Lily - like Iris in the author's previous book, Blindfold - courts both danger and dangerous men. Stagey and sexy, this is just the kind of small-town American gothic tale in which Sam Shephard might play a part.

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