Reviews of The Forever Man: W.A.R.P, Simply Nigella and Liar Liar

The Forever Man: W.A.R.P (Book 3) by Eoin Colfer.

The Forever Man: W.A.R.P (Book 3) by Eoin Colfer.

CHILDREN'S

The Forever Man: W.A.R.P (Book 3)

Eoin Colfer

Simply Nigella by Nigella Lawson.

Simply Nigella by Nigella Lawson.

Puffin, $23

This novel is part three of the bizarre WARP series but you don't have to have read the other parts as Colfer begins with a need-to-know chapter that brings the reader up to speed. Central to the story is a time tunnel or wormhole invented by quantum physicist Professor Charles Smart and used by the FBI to transport witnesses of big trials into the past to protect them.  The tunnel has developed a rift and swallowed all manner of creatures into it including the heroes and villains of this novel and dumped them into village of Mandrake Groans Puritan England in 1647. It is a time when witch hunting was the national sport and the villagers take to their task with some relish.

Meanwhile, psychopathic killer Albert Garrick and his apprentice Riley have been accidentally transported from Victorian England into the present and separated. Riley meets teenage FBI agent Chevie Savano and the two try to keep out of the way of Garrick and the prowling monsters that the wormhole carries.

Liar Liar by MJ Arlidge.

Liar Liar by MJ Arlidge.

The wormhole mutates all that travel in it, none more so than the evil Albert Garrick who becomes the Forever Man and cannot be destroyed. He is a natural witch-finder, dominates the villagers of mandrake and seeks Riley and Chevie to reap his revenge in the most horrifying of ways.

This is masterful storytelling by Eoin Colfer, done with a great deal of panache. His imagery and language merge the world of quantum physics and dark material with wild imagination and adventure to create a believable story that is funny, witty, sinister and adventurous. Only Colfer can get away with changing an FBI Agent into a talking dog and having Garrick fight a giant squid in the middle of an English bog. It may be the end of the series but I wouldn't bet on it. BOB DOCHERTY

   

   

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FOOD

Simply Nigella: Feel Good Food

By Nigella Lawson

Chatto & Windus, $65

New from Nigella Lawson comes a cookbook crafted as therapy - intended to soothe and uplift a busy home cook. The popular domestic goddess says she's disgusted by buzzwords like "clean eating" and "healthy food", but admits, slightly ambiguously, in the introductory pages of Feel Good Food, "I had to cook myself strong". The pretty pink book is broken down into wholesome chapters including Quick and Calm, soothing and easy-eating Bowl Food, feasts to share with friends in Dine, a slow-cooked collection called Breathe, and of course, it wouldn't be Nigella without a lengthy section dedicated to lick-the-bowl style sweets. Side notes on freezing, storing and prepping make life easier. Nigella carefully introduces her recipes to home-cooks with that  familiar sensual flair - granola is "luxurious" and halloumi cheese is "compelling," while matcha ice cream gives her "particular pleasure" - making for rather pleasing reading amongst the recipes.  NICKY PARK

CRIME

Liar, Liar

M.J. Arlidge

Michael Joseph $37

Liar, Liar is the latest in Arlidge's DI Helen Grace series.  She is the premier detective in Southampton, working by a mixture of intuition and close attention to detail.  She is single and somewhat kinky; in short, an interesting character. In this book she has to deal with a particularly nasty series of arsons.  They occur in threes, each trio involving one private house in which people burn to death.  There seems to be nothing connecting the victims and the desperate police flounder, being pushed by a muck-raking local reporter. This is a disturbing, chilling story, the motivation of the arsonist all too believable; the equivalent could occur anywhere.  It is also a satisfying police procedural, with credible cops interweaving their personal and professional lives.  At the centre of it all is Helen Grace, a powerful and memorable addition to British crime fiction's growing list of police investigators.  Once started, Liar, Liar is not easy to put down. KEN STRONGMAN

 - Stuff

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