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Books: Just browsing...; Top 10 Fiction.

1 The Constant Gardener John le Carre (Hodder, pounds 16.99)

2 Pastures Nouveaux Wendy Holden (Headline, pounds 10)

3 The Truth Terry Pratchett (Doubleday, pounds 16.99)

4 The True History Of The Kelly Gang Peter Carey (Faber, pounds 16.99)

5 Fierce Invalids Tom Robbins (No Exit, pounds 12.99)

6 White Teeth Zadie Smith (Hamish Hamilton, pounds 12.99)

7 The Last Precinct Patricia Cornwell (Little, Brown, pounds 16.99)

8 The Blind Assassin Margaret Atwood (Bloomsbury, pounds 16.99)

9 Sushi for Beginners Marian Keyes (Michael Joseph, pounds 16.99)

10 The Shape of Snakes Minette Walters (Macmillan, pounds 16.99)

A PAINTED HOUSE by John Grisham

(Century, pounds 16.99)

You could set your watch by Grisham's annual novel and the inevitable debate as to whether or not, after X successes and Y failures, he's finally lost it. Narrated by seven-year-old Luke, this is the rather un-Grisham-like tale of what happens when evil visits a poor-but-happy farming family one cotton-picking season during the Korean War. There's none of Grisham's usual complexity, only touches of his lively yarn-spinning and, as for heart-stopping pace, don't even think about it. It's quietly solid - as his poorer novels always are - but it tapers off quite noticeably. So, once again we all wonder whether Grisham has finally lost it.

THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE by Steven Pressfield (Bantam, pounds 5.99)

Chip away at the putting and posturing of this golf novel and you'll find a poignant life lesson told by Hardy, our narrator, as he remembers an inspirational episode from his boyhood. To spite the '30s depression, Savannah, Georgia hosts a showdown between two golfing champs and the local hero, Rannulph Junah. Junah's lost his way in life and is set to lose the match. Luckily his extraordinary caddie, Baggar Vance, gets him back on track. Don't ask how. It's sentimental stuff redeemed by a head-spinning otherworldly strangeness. Watch out for the film starring Will Smith.

DISOBEDIENCE by Jane Hamilton (Doubleday, pounds 12.99)

This American novel taps into a hot topic - Internet confidentiality. It centres on the moral issues of a teenage son who reads his mother's e-mail correspondence about her extra-marital affair. Beth's adultery threatens to destroy the family, but son Henry's interest is more jealous lover than concerned son. Is she a wife, mother or lover? Written years later, Henry's account of that turbulent time is reflective, gentle and measured. While it makes a change for emotions to be dissected so sensitively, it's too introspective a study to get excited about. A little more action, please. To order any of the books reviewed on this page plus 99p P&P call: 0870 165 85 87
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 2, 2001
Words:449
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