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C by Tom McCarthy

This was a most intriguing and frustrating book. I was fascinated by the way the development of communication paralleled Serge's strange life story but felt at times that he was as much a cypher as any of the signals and codes the book describes. Inspite of this, I enjoyed the book for the brilliance of its descriptions and its chilling even eerie view of life.

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Diamond Star Halo by Tiffany Murray

Musicians flock to the Welsh idyll that is Rock Farm, laying down tracks at the farm’s studio. Halo Llewellyn heads a cast of colourful characters, and with a heroine called Halo, this novel was never going to be conventional. I was seduced by the rock and roll lifestyle of the Llewellyn’s, falling headfirst into Halo’s story and travelling alongside her on her journey from childhood to maturity.

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Witness the Night by Kishwar Desai

This a gruesome tale of a family massacre set against a background of sustained and condoned abuse of female children. Freelance social worker Simran Singh is an engaging heroine, although being middle aged and unmarried, she is an outsider in Indian society - which adds an extra dimension to the story. An exceptionally atmospheric and tantalising novel and deserving winner of the 2010 Costa First Novel Award.

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The Madman of Freedom Square by Hassan Blasim

Fantastical and macabre tales set in Iraq or following exiles as they attempt to build a new life. Inevitable violence and sexual references assault the reader, but nevertheless, there is a weird kind of humour that enables these disturbing stories to be read and even enjoyed.

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