Off the Shelf
TWO paperbacks on the shelves that document a darker side of London have appeared on the shelves. Murder Guide To London (Orion, $60) investigates a city author Martin Fido says is the murder capital of Britain. More than half the memorable British murders have taken place in London.
Fido looks at notorious killers such as Jack the Ripper, Dr Crippen, the Kray Twins and Dennis Nilsen.
The second crime book looks not so much at crime, but the men who fight it. The Flying Squad (Headline, $102), by Neil Darbyshire and Brian Hilliard, is an account of the first 75 years of the police unit that inspired the British television detective drama The Sweeney.
The Flying Squad was formed after World War I with unprecedented powers to combat a wave of post-war crime. Darbyshire is the Daily Telegraph's crime correspondent and Hilliard is editor of Police Review.
Also on the crime front, but fictional crime, three successful thrillers have appeared in paperback. Patrica D. Cornwell's Cruel And Unusual (Warner Books, $85) won the Gold Dagger Award in the US. Scott Smith's A Simple Plan (Corgi, $85), a story of greed and betrayal, was hailed by horror writer Stephen King as one of the best suspense novels of the 90s. A Dangerous Fortune (Pan, $85), by Ken Follett, is also a story of greed, this time set in the 19th century.
In Lonely Hearts Of The Cosmos (Picador, $136) Dennis Overbye makes a valiant attempt at unravelling the mysteries of the universe and at profiling some of the people - Stephen Hawking and Edwin Hubble, for example - who have been at the forefront of cosmic research in recent decades.
Overbye is a journalist who has won awards for his science writing, but this is his first book. It was originally published in hardback in 1991.
China hand Austin Coates was commissioned to write China Races (Oxford University Press, $85) by the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club. The book concludes with an account of the Jockey Club itself since 1945, but is more concerned with the China Races of the title - races which were conducted on more than 25 racecourses on the mainland from 1798 until the intervention of war in 1941.
The races were a decadent affair, conducted in Shanghai on a financial scale without parallel. Millionaires rode their own horses or watched their sons ride for them. The Shanghai Grand Stand was the largest in the world and the Race Club the most sumptuous of its kind.
China Races was first published in 1983 - this is a revised and updates reprint.
Colloquial Cantonese (Routledge, $130) is a must for China hands. Written by Keith S. T. Tong and Gregory James, it explains Cantonese as spoken by native speakers in Hong Kong. Both authors have published extensively in lexicography, Chinese linguistics and English language teaching.
This book has chapters on grammar and useful vocabulary, a pronunciation guide, exercises for regular practice and is supplemented by two 60-minute cassette tapes.