Book reviews: The Truth and Other Lies, The A to Z of You and Me, Vigilante

Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Truth and Other Lies By Sascha Arango. Text Publishing, $29.99.
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Best-selling author Henry Hayden has a lot of secrets. It’s his oddball wife, Martha, who actually writes his books; his mistress and editor Betty is pregnant with their child. There are others too, so he has to work extremely hard to keep his life on track. When Martha and Betty disappear the police start to suspect all is not what it seems but how far will Henry go to stay ahead of the truth?  Sometimes it’s a sheer pleasure to read such a clever book. Arango is one of Germany’s leading screenplay writers (the film rights to this book have already been acquired) but this is his debut novel, a dark, funny, captivating read. A villain in the vein of Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley, a book you won’t soon forget.

The A to Z of You and Me By James Hannah. Doubleday, $32.99.

Ivo is 40 and dying, stuck in a hospice with a nurse who thinks playing the A to Z game might help bring back some memories to help him pass the day. We start with Adam’s apple, end with zzz, and in between Ivo’s musings on tonsils, muscles, lips and kidneys, give us an insight into his life and what has led him to this point. This is a debut novel as well and while Hannah’s clipped prose can sometimes be frustrating his story is a beautiful one, touching on life and love and what we’ve lost and stand to lose. The sort of book you’ll read in an afternoon but one that will stay with you for a long time.

Vigilante By Shelley Harris. Weidenfeld & Nicholson, $29.99.

Dressed up on the way to a fancy dress party, middle-aged wife and mother Jenny Pepper saves a woman from being attacked. All of a sudden she’s a super hero, patrolling her town fighting the good fight, leading a double life. It’s all much more exciting than her job in a charity bookshop, her lacklustre marriage and the townfolk appreciate her much more than her own teenage daughter does. But can Jenny separate the real world from her fantasy life? A funny, sometimes dark, look at midlife and why sometimes we all wish we could hide behind a mask.

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