Supernatural Surprises; the Apprentice. by Gordon Houghton (Anchor Fiction, Pounds 9.99)
When Death's assistant dies, the Agency has to recruit a new helper.
Using the traditional method of The Unholy Tombola, the Agency locates a candidate, a 28-year-old man lying buried in St Giles cemetery.
To prove himself this man must assist Death in seven deaths over a period of seven days.
If, however, he fails then he will be able to choose how he wants to die. . . again.
Jam-packed with bizarre meetings such as the apprentice's encounter with War, Famine and Pestilence who have foregone their horses in favour of fast cars, this is a fast-paced black comedy for anyone who's ever wondered how the Supernatural organise themselves.
Me, the Moon and Elvis Presley. By Christopher Hope (Picador, pounds 6.99).
This novel spans nearly 50 years of life in Buckingham, a small town in the middle of South Africa.
Hope gets inside the mindset of the inhabitants of the place recounting tales of racial difficulties and the town's desperate attempts to kick-start itself into the 20th century.
In this portrait of such a small community Hope manages to convey a great sense that the fears and concerns of the people of Buckingham are the same across the whole of South Africa thus giving the reader an accurate psychological portrait of a country unsure of its future. …