Three Miles Down (Due for publication March 26, Jonathan Cape, pounds 16.99; hardback) by James Hamilton-Paterson.

During the course of the Second World War two ships, a Japanese sub and a British troop carrier, were sunk 1,000 miles apart out in the Atlantic Ocean. The most striking thing they had in common is that both were believed to have be carrying several tonnes of gold. This is the true story of an attempt by a group of buccaneering bounty hunters to recover the lost treasure.

Paterson was drafted in as Operations Chronicler, a job he took fairly seriously, although not seriously enough to bog his readers down in the hi-tech jargon that comes with a modern deep water recovery operation. Intrigue and suspense are naturally built into a story that he recounts quite commendably to begin with.

For the first half of the book I was more than prepared to view his frequent asides as either necessary background or very funny indeed. But sadly by the time I'd reached about page 200 I'd given up all hope of the team ever finding anything other than "six shoes, including a pair!" and I felt the author had too. The interesting bits, such as journey in the MIR submersible three miles down, become lost in a sea of waffle.

The Traveller's Healthbook (Wexas, pounds 9.99) by Miranda Haines and Sarah Thorowgood (editors).

What at face value might appear to be a hypochondriac's bible, is actually a very handy little book. The first chapter deals with advice on all the things you need to think about before you go like health insurance and vaccinations (though going on a first aid course seems a bit extreme for a two-week beach break).

The next couple of sections are devoted to air travel problems and phobias, how to cope with bugs and bites and sound advice on overcoming culture shock.

The book also includes the latest guidelines on how to prevent and cure some of the most worrisome and troublesome diseases from dengue fever to dysentery.

Even if you are not given over to hypochondria it's easy to become fairly anxious when you read things like, "The temptation to explore beneath the blue tropical sea can be irresistible. But be warned... behind the postcard image of a coral reef is a festering soup of malevolent life."

With this in mind the editors do point out that the chances of catching tropical diseases like cholera are in fact very small, although "severe diarrhoea" is a common problem.

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