This week's bookcase includes reviews of a celebration of two writers in Lunatics, Lovers And Poets: Twelve Stories After Cervantes And Shakespeare and the return of Begbie in The Blade Artist by Irvine Welsh.

Lunatics, Lovers And Poets: Twelve Stories After Cervantes And Shakespeare

Daniel Hahn and Margarita Valencia.

Some of the brightest lights in contemporary fiction celebrate the timelessness of Shakespeare and Cervantes in a collection of short stories to mark the 400th anniversary of both men's deaths. Salman Rushdie introduces a dozen fascinating original takes by writers including Nigeria's Ben Okri, Colombia's Juan Gabriel Vasquez and Britain's Deborah Levy, in a book organised by &Other Stories and the Hay Festival. Writers have been taking inspiration (and sometimes more) from Shakespeare and Don Quixote author Cervantes for centuries, but nonetheless, these stories still manage to be fresh and exciting. Much of this comes from the diversity of writer backgrounds on show, and their style and traditions add a wealth of interpretation and perspective.

The Blade Artist

Irvine Welsh

For fans of Welsh, Frank Begbie is a terrifying proposition. Remorseless, humourless and prone to flurries of extreme violence, he is feared (and secretly ridiculed) by his friends and foes. But in his next outing, Welsh shows his hardman character in a new light. Now a sculptor in America, ex-jailbird Jim Francis, as he's now styling himself, is a doting father-of-two, a loving husband and clean-living evangelist. But when his son from a previous relationship is killed in mysterious circumstances, Jim returns to Edinburgh where his old crew expect him to fall in with his old, bad ways. Still, with Welsh's trademark wit and observation in place, The Blade Artist unpeels a layer of his notorious character and offers an unsettling, but compelling glimpse into Begbie's psyche.

The Mother

Yvette Edwards

It is every parent's worst nightmare, their child being murdered, yet for Marcia and husband Lloydie, whose 16-year-old son Ryan was stabbed to death, it is the reality that now governs their lives. And the trial of the boy accused of murdering their son is just about to begin. Whilst Lloydie turns his back on what is happening, Marcia is determined to be there throughout, in the hope of finding some understanding as to why the accused took the life of her beloved son. Former Man Booker Prize longlisted author Yvette Edwards crafts a wonderfully vivid and arresting portrait of a mother facing up to the ultimate horror and doing so with dignity and bravery. The narrative is insular and tense, and like the trial itself, a crucible of charged emotions.

The Crow Girl

Erik Axl Sund

Make sure you are not home alone when you tackle this Scandinavian thriller, which records detective Jeanette Kihlberg's attempts to track a deranged killer. Creepy is elevated to an art form in this tale of dysfunctional characters, peppered with paedophilia, guilt, pain, powerlessness, denial and betrayal. The subject matter makes for harrowing reading at times, but skilfully escalating suspense keeps you hooked all the way through its 760-pages. Erik Axl Sund is the pseudonym for authors Jerker Eriksson and Hakan Axlander Sundquist and their Swedish original, a bestseller in their native land, has been translated into beautifully economic prose by Neil Smith, who also translates for Jo Nesbo. Ultimately, this novel proves that what frightens us most are not outward acts of violence, but the quiet horrors of the human psyche.