In Brief

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Snowstep by Alan Sillitoe, HarperCollins pounds 14.99. A freak blizzard maroons an implausibly nasty selection of men at an English country hotel: one who killed his wife that morning; one (with his father in tow) considering parricide; one union bigwig who has just made off with official funds; a crooked bookseller; and an IRA terrorist with a nearby van full of ticking Semtex. Least plausible is the way in which four marooned women throw themselves into the arms of this unsavoury lot. Curiously ungripping, like a disaster movie where you don't much mind who dies. Maggie Traugott

The Dyke and the Dybbuk by Ellen Galford, Virago pounds 5.99. A diverting invention about a demon's bungled assignment to possess the soul of a Jewish lesbian taxi driver in N16 who has inherited an 18th-century curse. Between the jokes one is teased with glimpses of great richness: the Jewish history, folklore and occult tradition on which the story playfully but firmly rests. Anita Mason

Man Kills Woman by D L Flusfeder, Secker pounds 9.99. An American baseball writer is commissioned to write the biography of a mythic or monstrous Englishman. As he bushwhacks through a complex schedule of meetings and field trips, he begins, haltingly, to grieve for his subject. Vamping on detective stories and Ealing comedies, Flusfeder makes antic hay out of contemporary confusion. It's clear that he's driven to pastiche not just as a form but as a way of life. But the plots and subplots don't fit together as neatly

as they might. Hugh Barnes

Mortal Beings by Carl Lombard, 4th Estate pounds 8.99. A sexist curse kills off, in middle age, all the males of an Irish family, until one debatably fortunate scion is merely paralysed - except for his eyelids, which he can blink in answer to questions. Consulted to settle legal disputes by neighbours and increasingly invested with spiritual authority, this immobile hero throws both local judge and priest into occupational distress. Lombard combines fine comic characters with a kind of elevated shaggy-dog sense of plot; and there's more than a passing nod to Flann O'Brien. Maggie Traugott

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