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Book Reviews: The Bellwether Revivals | The Locked Ward | Stonemouth

  • by WILLIAM LEITH
 

A round-up of the latest paperbacks

The Bellwether Revivals

By Benjamin Wood (Simon Schuster, £7.99)

***

We open with an appalling scene – a house by a river, two bodies and a dying man whose name is Eden. Then we flash back to the moment when our hero Oscar meets Eden and his sister Iris. We’re in Cambridge. Eden and Iris are students – eccentrics from a prominent family. Oscar is a normal boy from Watford. He flirts with Iris. But then something weird happens. Eden claims to be able to control people’s minds, using musical instruments. It sounds batty, but it’s scary.

The Locked Ward

By Dennis O’Donnell (Vintage, £8.99)

****

As a kid, Dennis O’Donnell had an idea of people whose minds had become disordered and the men in white coats who came to take them away. Later, he became one of the men in white coats – a psychiatric orderly. O’Donnell describes the job beautifully. This is a superb study of people whose minds have gone wrong, and the art of 
caring for them.

Stonemouth

By Iain Banks (Abacus, £7.99)

****

We first meet Stewart Gilmour on a bridge in the north of Scotland. Gilmour has come back to Stonemouth, his home town. He has an assignation. He’s done something wrong, and he’s checking with the authorities to see if it’s okay for him to come back. But the authorities are not the local police. They’re gangsters, and Stewart has done something to offend them. We are desperate to know what it is. Also, we know that Banks, an excellent storyteller, will lead us up to this moment, and that it will be the climax of the book.

 

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