Crime: Start off by relaxing into a good murder. Colin Dexter's The Way Through the Woods (Pan pounds 4.99): a new Morse, this one is better than telly. Carl Hiassen's Native Tongue (Pan pounds 4.99): for sheer off-the-wall American energy. Michael Dibdin's Cabal (Faber pounds 4.99): in which Aurelio Zen takes on the Vatican. Patricia Cornwell's All that Remains (Warner pounds 4.99): for stiffs in depth.
Biography: Significant Others (Thames and Hudson pounds 14.99): creative partnerships, eg Vita and Virginia, Nin and Miller; sex, art and gossip. Alan Bullock's Hitler and Stalin (Fontana pounds 9.99): significant others who never met, interwoven in a great narrative design. Alan Clark's Diaries (Weidenfeld pounds 20): unashamed nastiness.
Historical Fiction: Hilary Mantel's A Place of Greater Safety (Penguin pounds 5.99): the French Revolution in living colour, the domestic linked to the political arena. The Volcano Lover (Vintage pounds 5.99): Susan Sontag's passion for ideas exuberantly recreates Nelson and Emma Hamilton. Fiction: Donna Tartt's The Secret History (Penguin pounds 5.99): survival of the primitive in a closed circle of campus aesthetes, the tension of a thriller within an elegant novel. David Malouf's Remembering Babylon (Chatto pounds 14.99): another closed community wrestling with the primitive (aboriginal, and within itself) in 19th-century Queensland. Adam Thorpe's Ulverton (Minerva pounds 5.99): a cross-section through English rural and linguistic life, written with awesome versatility. Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient (Picador pounds 5.99): a poetic anatomy of casualties in a ruined Italian villa at the end of the war. Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (Secker pounds 12.99): another episode from Roddy Doyle's Barrytown, seen through the medium of a child's sensibility and idiom, funny, moving and unsentimental.
On the plane home: Angela Carter's Expletives Deleted (Vintage pounds 5.99): vivid reviews of classics and contemporaries (and an entertaining sideswipe at foodism) for lots of good ideas on what to read next.
Compiled by Linda Adams of Muswell Hill
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