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Ripper by Isabel Allende (Fourth Estate, £12.99)

Ripper by Isabel Allende (Fourth Estate, £12.99)

There's a touch of Joyce Carol Oates in Allende's fantasy-cum-thriller epic, as San Franciscan teenager Amanda Martin investigates real-life murders with friends who usually play a virtual 'Ripper' investigation game. With sexually mutilated male victims, Allende turns the Ripper story slightly on its head, but though more intelligent and demanding, this is straightforward thriller territory.

Morphologies: Short Story Writers On Short Story Writers edited by Ra Page (Comma Press, £9.99)

The idea behind this collection is ingenious, although if you're expecting today's writers to compare their own work with that of the past masters they discuss, like Ali Smith on James Joyce, or Alison MacLeod on Katherine Mansfield, you will be disappointed. Rather we are left to trust that their own practice infuses their understanding of the greats.

Big Brother by Lionel Shriver (Borough Press, £7.99)

Although this often sophisticated and smart novel is ostensibly about siblings Pandora and Edison, and based partly on Shriver's own relationship with her brother and the latter's serious weight problem, it's also about our need to consume to validate ourselves, and it's about a marriage, and just how much a partnership can accommodate each partner's needs.

Son Of A Gun: A Memoir by Justin St Germain (Tuskar Rock Press, £12.99)

A direct yet also more subtle read than you might expect, this memoir about St Germain's mother's apparent murder by her fifth husband, Ray, the one man her son thinks might actually be good for her, is both compelling and revelatory, as he weaves his way through America's small-town, blue-collar, trailer-living landscape.

Lesley McDowell

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