BOOK BITES | Stephen Morris, Luca D'Andrea, Ruth Hogan

06 October 2019 - 00:00 By Sunday Times Books

Published in the Sunday Times: 06/10/2019

Record Play Pause ****
Stephen Morris, Little Brown, R325

The first volume of Joy Division/New Order drummer Stephen Morris's memoirs, subtitled "Confessions Of A Post-Punk Percussionist", is written with warmth and sophisticated wit, the product of an intellect that the author does his best to play down in his narrative. The enduring popularity and influence of the bands he has been a part of are related with similar modesty, painting a picture of a group of friends in uninspiring surroundings for whom music offered attractive escapism, and who ultimately made a living as musicians because they were unqualified for much else as any other romantic reason. Morris scoffs at the mythology that surrounds Joy Division in particular, and his knack for storytelling makes this alternative (or authentic, perhaps?) history of his particular part of the '80s music scene in the UK hugely entertaining. Bruce Dennill @BroosDennill

Sanctuary ***
Luca D'Andrea, Quercus, R325

Errant wife Marlene Wegener flees her gangster husband into the majestic Dolomite range of the Italian Alps. Herr Wegener, the violent and twisted product of a feral youth, surviving the closing years of Nazi occupation, cannot accept her rejecting him. He dispatches on her trail an infinitely patient and infinitely cruel assassin, known simply as The Trusted Man. Marlene, after a car accident, has found refuge with a kindly crofter, who is eking out an existence on the higher slopes. When Wegener discovers that Marlene was pregnant with his child when she left, he tries to cancel the hit. The Trusted Man, however, is a weapon; once pointed and launched he cannot be recalled. Sanctuary, which won the Scerbanenco Award for best Italian mystery novel, is radiant with the physical majesty of the Dolomites, offset by an ancient world of dark secrets. William Saunderson-Meyer @TheJaundicedEye

Queenie Malone's Paradise Hotel ****
Ruth Hogan, John Murray, R315

Tilda is a grown woman laden with obsessive rituals and has a penchant for fire and flames. She begins to unravel the mystery surrounding her father's exit from her life, followed by her own exile to boarding school. The story swells with surprising revelations and some heartbreak, but this is not a book that will leave you with questions. It will not arouse great passion, but it will leave you satisfied. What started out as a dull, trudging slog through one woman's life turns into a modern story about the nature of truth and the magic and cruelty of love. Noluthando Ncube @BeautysDaughter