Ghost Milk by Iain Sinclair, published by Hamish Hamilton (hardback non-fiction)
The Archduke of London writing is back with a new tome, ostensibly about the Olympic project. He's not a happy man. The London games leave him cold, a 'theme park without a theme', a corporate takeover. Unless you share his grumpian ways, the pessimistic tone gets annoying, quickly. Yet this is an important book that needed to be written, and makes a thought-provoking counterview to the estuaries of positive Olympic PR spin we're now getting daily. As usual, the author's prose is beautiful if difficult to digest. Fans of Sinclair Bingo will have a field day: JG Ballard is mentioned in the first few pages. Rachel Whiteread, too. You'll also encounter, as one reviewer put it, the usual 'endless vainglorious cameos from tediously eccentric friends'. We confess, we're only a quarter of the way through this meaty feast, so will give it a fuller treatment to coincide with its paperback release.
Bryant & May Off the Rails by Christopher Fowler, published by Bantam (paperback fiction)
When a series of unusual deaths takes place in King’s Cross underground station, London’s most elderly detectives, Arthur Bryant and John May, take up the case. Is their nemesis Mr Fox up to his old tricks, or does the evidence point towards a group of UCL students? The investigation takes the duo from the Peculiar Crimes Unit on a risky mission into abandoned stations and London folklore. If you’ve never read a B&M novel, now’s the time to start. This eighth entry in the series is arguably the best yet, and can be enjoyed as a standalone novel or as a sequel to previous instalments. With a ninth out soon in hardback, plus a graphic novel in the works, the octogenarian investigators still have a bright future ahead of them.
Fragemented by Jeremy Worman, published by Cinnamon Press (paperback non-fiction)
This is a nice idea: an autobiography written in sketches and vignettes. The author draws from both the mundane and unusual, to paint an impressionistic memory of London over four decades. We bounce from the giant squats of the 1970s to the buggies and beer cans of modern-day London Fields, through oyster bars and junkie hangouts. Fragmented will particular appeal to denizens of Hackney and Hornsey, from which most of Worman's observations are drawn. It's a pleasant, dreamy amble through a typical London life, with moments of grief and poignancy (particularly the final pieces, which rest on the author's troubled childhood).
Cool London, published by teNeuss (paperback non-fiction)
More for visitors than locals, Cool London sets out to recommend the snazziest bars, clubs, hotels, shops and sites around the capital. On the whole, it's not a bad selection with all the obvious nightspots present and correct. It's also a visually handsome book, with plenty of well-chosen colour photography. Credibility peters out towards the end, when the awkwardly named 'highlights' section recommends Canary Wharf and London Eye as examples of cool, while the lazy cover image fatally undermines the title. The cost-saving measure of printing text in four languages on each page is also less than ideal. But, for £8.95 RRP it's not a bad stab at a mass-market guide.