BOOK REVIEWS: Novels That Should Go in Every Christmas Stocking; Best Books of 2006 .

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A Spot of Bother - Mark Haddon (Jonathan Cape) pounds 17.99

The author made his debut with the peerless Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and the second offering was no disappointment. The dry humour, the angst, the feeling of pent-up frustration were all there.

The book centres on George Hall, a man ready to enjoy his retirement. He is a private individual who cannot get to grips with the modern obsession for talking about problems.

So when he discovers a lesion on his hip, instead of talking, he silently goes mad.

Next - Michael Crichton (HarperCollins) pounds 17.99

Crichton, who has sold more than 150 million books worldwide, has produced a cracking dark tale about biotechnology and transgenics. Epic in style, Crichton is a leader when it comes to blockbusters that fuse fact with fiction.

The Ladies of Grace Adieu - Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury) pounds 16.99

This is a whimsical collection of short folk and fairy tales that have ensured Clarke's place as an author to take seriously.

In this second book, she returns to the worlds of Faerie and England that featured in her first book - Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.

There are plenty of challenges of wit between the humans and the fairies, a myriad twists and turns, humorous plot-lines and capricious characters.

Imperium - Robert Harris (Hutchinson) pounds 17.99

Meticulously researched, Harris has recreated the world in which statesman Cicero lived in first century Rome.

Written in the voice of Tiro, Cicero's personal secretary, the book, it takes the reader on a journey of corruption, power and treachery in the Roman senate. The story, with its compelling prose, develops at such a pace that it could render the reader breathless.

The Inheritance of Loss - Kiran Desai (Hamish Hamilton) pounds 16.99

Winner of the Man Booker Prize for fiction, this is an accomplished book from an extremely talented new writer.

Set at the foot of the Himalayas, the story starts with a judge who wants to live his out his retirement quietly, but whose plans are scuppered when his orphaned granddaughter arrives. Love, hope, betrayal: it has it all.

The Devil in Amber - Mark Gatiss (Simon and Schuster) pounds 15

This is Gatiss' second book in a trilogy about the devillish secret agent Lucifer Box. …