The Western Wild
By Samantha Harvey Published in hardback by Jonathan Cape
Priced (ebook £9.99).
Available now £16.99
When the richest man in Oakham - a vividly imagined, late 15th century Somerset village - is swept away and lost in the river one Shrovetide morning, it falls to bucolic priest John Reve to investigate his disappearance. In her fourth novel, Samantha Harvey, a senior lecturer in creative writing at Bath University and the author of the Booker Prize longlisted The Wilderness, pours a modern style into her God-fearing tale of guilt and suspicion that sees Reve conduct most of his sleuthing from the discomfort of a rudimentary confessional. The disappearance of the worldly Thomas Newman has pervasive consequences for Reve and his congregation, as he was funding the building of a bridge to an expanding world a metaphor perhaps for his own enlightenment amid folk obsessed with the cycle of sin and forgiveness. Harvey's novel eventually jumps back in time to reveal the truth behind Newman's fate, but it is the steady unravelling of Reve's absolute faith in the old ways that leaves the deepest impression. 8/10 Review by James Cann
Featuring Ali Astro & Mickey - A real Labour of Love Here's an album with bite, although perhaps more for what it stands for than its sound, which is as smooth and nostalgic as one would expect. The breakaway trio - comprising of UB40's founding members Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue - has produced a continuation of their Labour of Love series, which included three albums released between 1983 and 1998, and completely ignores Labour Of Love IV, released in 2010 and fronted by Ali's estranged brother Duncan.
This new collection of covers includes classics such as Stevie Wonder's A Place In The Sun and How Could I Leave by Dennis Brown, so there is little to not enjoy. Fans will appreciate Campbell's distinct vocals and their unwavering light reggae style, which is as prevalent as ever after nearly 40 years.
While this effort may not produce a hit as big as Red Red Wine, from the first Labour Of Love album, it's a strong compilation and apt homage to UB40's defining era: the 1980s. Highlights are their version of Culture's International Herb and the punchy Under Me Sleng Teng, originally by Wayne Smith. As the title suggests, it really is a real labour of love. Ali
7/10 Review by Lucy Mapstone