I Can't Wait On God by Albert French | Serendipities by Umberto Eco | Rubicon by Steven Saylor | Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather Trilogy ed Nick Browne | The Highwayman by Jessica Berens

I Can't Wait On God by Albert French (Vintage £6.99) Having stabbed a fat pimp to death after he demanded a blow job, the very sexy but slightly psychotic Willet Mercer hits the road with her man Jeremiah Henderson, heading for North Carolina to see her son. The acquaintances they leave behind in Fifties Pittsburgh carry on dancing, drinking and gambling to escape the harsh rigours of poverty, police brutality and segregation and the midday sun, or just sit on their porches and try to mind their own business. Although many of them smoke more than they speak, French's dialogue captures the bathetic cadences of the blues, while his densely compacted prose, shot through with searing images, has the rhythmic complexity of jazz.

Serendipities by Umberto Eco (Phoenix, £6.99) A collection of five lectures and essays in which Eco expounds on the idea that various misunderstandings, mistakes, myths and culture-clashes have ultimately led to greater knowledge and had a profound impact on the world. He reiterates each point with several examples - although a decision seems to have been reached between him and his translator, William Weaver, not to translate many of the lengthy Latin phrases and passages within. Having read Serendipities I now feel less well-read than before I started. Beginning a sentence with the condescending phrase, "Even a high school student can deduce that ..." doesn't help.

Rubicon by Steven Saylor (Robinson £6.99) The seventh mystery for Gordianus - Saylor's avuncular, sleuthing ancient Roman - opens with a corpse on page one, and then continues at breakneck speed against the backdrop of an imminent civil war as Caesar prepares to invade. Although the history feels well-researched, it's merely a gimmicky backdrop. Murder, betrayal, adultery, greed and concealed compartments containing parchments are surely as old as Rome, but Saylor's excellent pacing and skilful exposition is disrupted by clumsy reminders that we are supposed to be in ancient times. I kept expecting one of the comedy slaves to remark upon a funny thing that happened on his way to the Forum.

Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather Trilogy ed Nick Browne (Cambridge £10.95) Five essays by American film theorists which examine Coppola's greatest achievement. The best of them, Vera Dika's lucid and precise study of ethnicity within the films, looks at The Godfather's claims to authenticity and the way it reappropriates the Italian gangster from earlier Hollywood movies. Topics for discussion elsewhere include genre, ideology, opera and the Mafia. The Cambridge Film Handbook series is probably of less interest to the general reader than Bloomsbury, Faber or BFI guides. Strange that, if it's aimed at academics, the filmography should be incomplete, but it does do Coppola a great service by ending in 1992.

The Highwayman by Jessica Berens (Arrow £5.99) A middle-aged, machine-gun-toting alcoholic, her sensitive but delinquent teenage son, a nymphomaniac dwarf poet, a wannabe crimelord with a hygiene obsession, the members of a fashion shoot including the vicious Teutonic photographer and a gay assistant in full Native American garb, plus butch lesbians, biker gangs, hoteliers and New Age therapists, all converge in a small Somerset town. That's more than enough wild and wacky characters to fill a Carl Hiaasen or Nicholas Blincoe thriller. Unfortunately it's also more than the plot of Berens's second novel can sustain, and in drawing the strands of her narrative together she leaves a lot of loose ends.

Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Arts and Entertainment
U2's Songs of Innocence album sleeve

tvU2’s latest record has been accused of promoting sex between men

Arts and Entertainment
Alison Steadman in Inside No.9
tvReview: Alison Steadman stars in Inside No.9's brilliant series finale Spoiler alert
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.

    '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
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    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
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk