Wednesday 16 January 2019

Femme bookend: Face off in identity change thriller

The Big Novel

The Identity Man by Andrew Klavan (Corvus) starts out as a fairly ordinary thriller, with a cop stabbing a man for no apparent reason, and a petty thief on the run, framed for murder in a city destroyed by floods, crime and corruption.

But it quickly develops into a moral maze, as carpenter (and occasional burglar) John Shannon is given a new face and a new identity by the mysterious 'Identity Man'.

Shannon spends his weeks of recovery in a white room with nothing to do but watch old black-and-white movies. "Identity like stain," says the Identity Man in his Russian-sounding patois, telling Shannon that he'll soon return to his bad old ways.

He's wrong, though, and Shannon falls in love and finds a new life as a sculptor. Until the people who gave him his new face come looking for him . . .

The Big Chicklit

International bestseller Love Virtually by Daniel Glattauer

(MacLehose) was a sensation in Germany and across Europe, and is now following the same path in its English translation.

Leo gets a series of emails in error, and writes back, first politely to say that he's not really the magazine the sender is trying to unsubscribe from. He's woerter@leike.com, she wants woerter@like.com.

One flirty reply later and they're off -- the two of them batting mails back and forth and discovering each other in the process. Their relationship deepens -- but how close can you get to someone, virtually, without looking into his eyes?

"Write to me, Emmi. Writing is like kissing with the mind," emails Leo. News to me. But Emmi is married, and apparently happily. How will this end: with a sign-off or a kiss-off?

The big non-fiction

Mired in debt? Tied by negative equity and negative earnings? To the rescue gallops Ray Langan with I'm in Debt, Get Me Out of It (Ray Langan). Ray is a Debtrepreneur; he co-founded tax planning and financial consultancy company The Wealth Shop, appeared on Dragons' Den and now runs a teachers' job site, EducationCareers.ie.

Langan is talking my language: create an emergency fund, he says. Look at your debt. Are you in "black debt" with your overdraft frozen, unable to pay monthly bills, huge personal debt and negative equity? Or "orange debt", just maxed out?

His advice for those in negative equity is less good. His stratagems would have worked at the start of the crisis, but now banks won't refinance, and most can't sell up and downsize any more. The debts are too huge, the gaps too unbridgeable and things can look bleak.

Still, this buy-from-the-web book is full of excellent advice. > Lucille Redmond

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