Paerbacks: A House of Light

Beyond Black

Evening in the Palace of Reason

Metro Girl

Salonica: City of ghosts

Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon

Forward Book of Poetry 2006

Candida Clark's latest novel marks a departure for a writer who up until now has specialised in elegiac and enigmatic love stories. A House of Light, a psychological thriller set in an English country house, is more firmly grounded in a contemporary reality of seedy businessmen and displaced singletons. Yet the opening scenes take place on terra incognita in the grounds of a luxury hotel on the West African coast. Here we are introduced to Katherine, a young British photographer who, tired of shooting palm trees, starts snapping pictures of nearby industrial plants and rusting container ships. Within three weeks of her return to London, her flat is destroyed in an arson attack. The mystery of Katherine's post-Africa persecution gathers momentum when she returns to her childhood home in Kent - an early Victorian pile in reclaimed marshland. Keeping news of the fire from her father (soon to be remarried), Katherine feels no safer in Chatham than in Gabon or London. That she feels the house haunted by the spirit of her long-dead mother - also a photographer - adds to her growing paranoia. This is an unsettling hybrid of a book, lit by the author's trademark passion for rural landscapes, and a fascination with the more occluded moments of family history.

Beyond Black, by Hilary Mantel

Alison Hart, a medium by trade, tours the dormitory towns of the M25 with her sidekick, Colette. While Alison is fat, soft and slow and has trouble finding her shoes, Colette has no presence beyond that provided by her push-up bra and lycra shorts. In a subversive odd-couple narrative that pits the spiritual world against the service sector, Mantel critiques Blair's Britain with delightfully hellish results. Alison's finest moment coincides with Princess Diana's death. "Oh, fuckerama!" cackles Di from the Other Side, "Give my love to Kingy... And the other kid. Kingy and Thingy." A clarion call to the living dead.

Evening in the Palace of Reason, by James Gaines

If you can forgive some over-egged US magazine-writer prose, Gaines has an enthralling tale to tell. He starts from the meeting in 1747 between the ageing, unfashionable Bach and Frederick the Great - Prussia's Enlightened despot, who set the fading old composer an impossible task. The result was the brilliant Musical Offering. Bach's late testament gives Gaines the cue to recount both men's careers, as standard-bearers for the warm beauty of faith (Bach) and the cold clockwork of reason (Frederick). Yes, the scales tilt towards great music and old-time religion, but Gaines's love of Bach soars above dogmatism.

Metro Girl, by Janet Evanovich
HARPERCOLLINS £6.99 (393pp)

With ten Stephanie Plum mysteries to her name, US crime writer Evanovich branches out with a new wise-cracking heroine, Alex Barnaby. Alex is a mechanic's daughter and, sadly for her female readership, a woman obsessed with cars and spare parts. Though the Plum books were nominally stories of intrigue, the characters were as least as interested in food and men as murder. In contrast, Alex swaps cute banter with the boys about dipsticks and stock racing. In Miami, she is on the trail of her lost brother, whose disappearance is linked with missing gold and even the Cuban missle crisis.

Salonica: City of ghosts, by Mark Mazower

A splendid narrative history of the now-Greek port city that, for 500 years, embodied the multi-cultural Mediterranean at its hybrid, bustling best. Showing via a vivid patchwork of people and events how Muslims, Christians and Jews joined in the Ottoman centuries to build up their cultural and commercial powerhouse, Mazower exposes the "false continuities and convenient silences" of all nationalists. Pasha, priest or prostitute, Salonicans grew rich and famous on live-and-let-live. Then the modern fevers of identity gripped them, and led to tragedy when, in 1943, 45,000 of the city's Jews perished in Auschwitz.

Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon, by Jorge Amado
BLOOMSBURY £8.99 (448pp)

Amado, who died at 88 in 2001, was the grand old man of Brazilian literature. This reprint of a 1958 classic has intrigue, assassinations and a high quota of fantastic events. Set in the mid-Twenties in the cocoa-growing town of Ilhéus, the novel describes the impact on the males - and especially on Nacib the Arab bar-owner - of a beautiful mulatto girl. A tale of murder, miracles, food, revenge and well-dressed balconies.

Forward Book of Poetry 2006
FORWARD £8.99 (147pp)

A reliably rich catch from the Forward Prizes, with winning pieces by this year's victors (David Harsent, Paul Farley, Helen Farish) beside striking new works from the poetic A-list: Carol Ann Duffy and Paul Muldoon to Alice Oswald. It's a mouth-watering taster for poetry lovers, but also a toe-in-the-water treat for sceptics. Forget polemics and savour the real deal. What the late Julia Darling writes of her beloved Newcastle goes for poetry as a whole: "Don't give it a mirror. Let it be itself."

Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May


Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama


Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before