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FICTION Lowboy by John Wray (Canongate, pounds 12.99) A 16-YEAR-OLD paranoid schizophrenic, the title character Lowboy is on the run, navigating the streets and underground network of New York.

Ditching his "meds" in the hope of regaining his sexual desire and losing his virginity, he hooks up with his girlfriend and seeks to save the world from what he perceives to be its imminent demise.

As his psychosis takes hold, and the danger to those around him grows, New York police detective Ali Lateef gives chase with Lowboy's mother in tow.

What follows is a pacey page-turner, but one which succeeds in reflecting convincingly the turmoil and disorientation of a schizophrenic mind without getting bogged down in the science.

John Wray's prose is at once spare and powerful, comic and profound, and as his protagonist's fate unfolds, the suspense rises until the very last line.


HISTORICAL DRAMA The Red Velvet Turnshoe by Cassandra Clark (John Murray, priced pounds 18.99) A NOVEL with a 14th century nun as its heroine could have readers running for cover.

But Hildegard is a nun like no other. A cross (no pun intended) between Brother Cadfael and Miss Marple, she is a resourceful and strong woman who may now be wearing the habit of a Cistercian, but was once a wife and mother.

Cassandra Clark's central character is certainly memorable, and the story woven around her is well plotted and researched.

Set in East Yorkshire and travelling to a wider Europe suffering the aftermath of the Black Death and the deprivations of the Hundred Years War, this unusual murder mystery is a fascinating read.

The story ends with enough loose ends to encourage further Hildegard books - surely a great addition to the sleuthing fraternity! SANDRA MANGAN

THRILLER NON FICTION Intuition by Allegra Goodman (Atlantic Books, priced pounds 12.99) FORGET CSI, this lab-based thriller is about egos, not evidence.

In a lesser-known cancer research lab in Boston, a group of post-doc brains are battling to achieve a breakthrough. …