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Femme bookend: A heavyweight to keep you busy

"Same MO." The detective stood, ran a palm over his rasping stubble and lit another cigarette. "Crushed to death by a tome."

Jo Nesbo is Norway's super-seller, and his enormous books are now gobbling up forests and best-seller titles alike. The Leopard (Harvill Secker) is the latest and hugest.

It starts with a truly revolting murder -- a girl kidnapped and killed with a device that springs open in her mouth to pierce her brain and throat and drown her. The ultimate detective, Harry Hole, is dragged home from Hong Kong to solve the murder.

If you've got stuff you don't want to think about, sink in here and you'll have weeks of unthinking pleasure.

The chicklit

Ever wondered who takes care of those bad boys -- the ones the paparazzi snap looking up with wounded eyes from a pool of vomit in Soho?

Wonder no longer: Lizzie Harrison Loses Control by Pippa Wright (Pan) is about hapless PR woman Lizzie, who's tasked with minding armpit-scented disaster Randy Jones.

Lizzie has to pretend to be his girlfriend and keep him on the straight and narrow. Then Randy's US music tour will go ahead -- and Lizzie's PR agency will continue to coin it.

And all along, all she wanted to do was prove to her friend Lulu that she wasn't a total control freak.

Sweet and funny, this is a heartwarming book with lovely characters and great twists. Lizzie isn't a typical chicklit heroine, scatty and ditsy. She's Miss Librarian: organised, together, very much a planner. Just what Lulu's tasty brother wants . . .

The Big non-fiction

Oh yeah, the escape. Off to France, to live in a country with a decent climate, civilised people and delicious food. Perfect!

But in Liz Ryan's book French Leave: An Irishwoman's Adventures in Normandy (Liberties Press), the bestseller-writing journalist and fiction author reveals that it's not altogether unmediated by homesickness.

Liz abandoned crime-ridden, tacky Dublin 10 years ago -- everyone thinking she was crazy for leaving the Celtic Tiger. French Leave is the story of how she settled into village life -- she always adored France and had fluent French -- and kept writing her novels while living the emigre life. If your job has gone from under you and the emigration boat is calling, this is a warming book to read -- showing that there are other realities and kinder places.