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Byline: edited by Julie Chamberlain, Marion McMullen, Paul Allen, Ted Jury

Jealous girl will keep you in suspense

Her by Laura Zigman (Hutchinson, pounds 9.99)

JEALOUSY rears its ugly head when bride-to-be Rachel meets the ex-fiance from hell just a few months before her wedding day.

Her rival is beautiful, clever, rich and effortlessly steals all her friends away.

Rachel is convinced it's only a matter of time before her boyfriend Donald dumps her for his old love and so her nightmare begins.

There's a touch of a stalker's diary to the offering and, like Fatal Attraction, you keep waiting for the bunny boiler to strike.

Marion McMullen

Tale of revenge is near its sell-by date

Midnight Runner by Jack Higgins (Harper Collins, pounds 16.99)

THE latest offering from the bestseller-machine finds the murderous Rashid clan thirsting for revenge after losing three brothers to gung-ho hero Sean Dillon.

Their sister Kate has been left at the head of the Arab dynasty and she proves more than a handful for the Anglo-American intelligence team.

After one of her revenge attacks claims the life of his daughter, Daniel Quinn, the US president's very own secret operation chief, pleads with his boss for action.

But the president stands firm, asking him to rely on the law.

"Aren't I entitled to justice?" he asks. "What happens if the law doesn't work?"

You've guessed it - call for Sean Dillon.

Pretty ordinary thriller from a series that's a bit past its sell-by date.

Paul Allen

First timers show their ingenuity

Mud Puppy by Erica Wooff (The Women's Press, pounds 9.99), Seeing the Wires by Patrick Thomson (HarperCollins, pounds 6.99)

FIRST novels are pretty hit-and-miss affairs - but these two rather surreal offerings set in unlikely towns both show originality and promise.

In Mud Puppy, a strange breathing newt is discovered in the mud off the Welsh coast at Newport. It is a creature out of its element, like the two main characters; Daryl, an artist who has come home from London after losing her way as an artist, and teenager Ani, a petrol pump attendant who lives in a private world of drag kings and Elvis impersonators.

They are drawn together and to the newt, but it's hard to tell where the boundaries of the real and fantasy worlds lie as tragedies of real life intrude for both of them.

An intelligent read questioning identity, sexuality and the meaning of art.

Seeing the Wires is set in equally-unglamorous, rain-sodden Dudley, and told with a very droll sense of humour.

Sam, aged 30, moves from university to building site then dull council job. Life is progressing in a workmanlike way until his best friend Jack reminds him they murdered five people 10 years previously.

Then the story starts alternating between the present, and the pair at 20, with no clues what is true.

Thomson introduces some massive twists which throws assumptions made throughout the book into doubt, then ties the ending together in a neat way.

Lots of magic and a fair amount of gore, but ingenuity all the way.

Julie Chamberlain

Friends become enemies in this explosive saga

The Blackbirder, by James Nelson (Corgi Paperback, pounds 5.99)

THE second book in The Brethren of the Coast trilogy sees former pirate Thomas Marlowe on the side of law and order in Virginia and in pursuit of a good friend, the black ex-slave King James.

James is hunted for killing a white man, the captain of a slave ship, a Blackbirder. He aims to sale the captives back to Africa, and the action gathers pace as Marlowe closes in and James realises that apparent allies have their own agenda.

The climax as friends becomes enemies is explosive and bloody.

Ted Jury

TOP 10 BOOKS 1 Painted House, John Grisham - pounds 6.99

2 Amber Spyglass, Philip Pullman - pounds 6.99

3 Northern Lights, Philip Pullman - pounds 5.99

4 Subtle Knife, Philip Pullman - pounds 5.99

5 Lord of the Rings, J R R Tolkien - pounds 14.99

6 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling - pounds 6.99

7 The Summons, John Grisham - pounds 16.99

8 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, JK Rowling - pounds 6.99

9 Five Quarters of an Orange, Joanne Harris - pounds 6.99

10 Fellowship of the Ring, J R R Tolkien - pounds 6.99

l Supplied by Waterstones, Broadgate

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AUTHOR: Jack Higgins
COPYRIGHT 2002 Coventry Newpapers
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Feb 23, 2002
Words:741
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