Sunday Herald Life - - NEWS - By Alas­tair Mab­bott

Harry Pot­ter & The Philoso­pher’s Stane: Scots Edi­tion by JK Rowl­ing, trans­lated by Matthew Fitt (Itchy Coo, £7.99) WL Lorimer’s clas­sic New Tes­ta­ment in Scots may take some beat­ing, but the Harry Pot­ter oeu­vre is al­most as hefty a cul­tural cor­ner­stone these days. Mark­ing 20 years since its orig­i­nal pub­li­ca­tion, and fol­low­ing trans­la­tion into 79 other lan­guages, the first Harry Pot­ter book makes its de­but ap­pear­ance in Scots, trans­lated by Matthew Fitt. Al­though JK Rowl­ing is from Glouces­ter­shire orig­i­nally, the se­ries will al­ways be in­deli­bly as­so­ci­ated with Scot­land, so the Scots trans­la­tion feels apt and, thanks to the likes of “Tam O’Shanter”, these old Scots words are well suited to Hog­warts’ at­mos­phere of sor­cery and sus­pense. Fitt writes with con­fi­dence and rel­ish, re­nam­ing Quid­ditch as “Bizum­baw” and Dum­ble­dore as “Dumbiedykes”. Fur­ther­more, he’s brought a new live­li­ness to the prose, which begs to be read aloud for the sheer fun of it, and a gal­lus charm to a fran­chise that has ar­guably be­come rather tired out af­ter seven nov­els, eight films, ded­i­cated shops and more mer­chan­dise than you could shake a wand at. Arthur & Sher­lock by Michael Sims (Blooms­bury, £9.99) It’s well known that Joseph Bell, the keenly ob­ser­vant sur­geon who lec­tured med­i­cal stu­dents at the Univer­sity of Ed­in­burgh, was the model for Sher­lock Holmes, but this tightly fo­cused bi­og­ra­phy of Arthur Co­nan Doyle places Bell in the con­text of the other in­flu­ences that shaped his most fa­mous cre­ation. Al­though Sims en­joys ex­plor­ing the in­tel­lec­tual, de­duc­tive roots of Sher­lock Holmes, he high­lights the sporty and phys­i­cally im­pos­ing side of Co­nan Doyle, who had a streak of reck­less­ness and im­pul­sive­ness which led him to join a whal­ing ex­pe­di­tion as its medic, take off to Africa and use him­self as a guinea pig for ex­per­i­ments with a highly toxic sub­stance. A fas­ci­nat­ing sec­tion ex­plains how far the nascent genre of the detective story had pro­gressed by the point Doyle cre­ated Holmes, and how the au­thor drew on his pre­de­ces­sors while refin­ing the form. It’s all told con­cisely and breezily, highly in­for­ma­tive with­out ever get­ting bogged down and writ­ten with warm ad­mi­ra­tion. Col­lu­sion by Luke Hard­ing (Guardian/Faber, £14, 99) It’s one of the burn­ing is­sues of the mo­ment. Did Rus­sia in­ter­fere with the 2016 US elec­tion? Was there col­lu­sion be­tween Trump’s team and the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment? It’s hard to fol­low all the al­le­ga­tions and de­nials day-to-day in the press. Bet­ter to set­tle down with this book by Luke Hard­ing, who was the Guardian’s Moscow bureau chief from 2007 to 2011, when he was ex­pelled from the coun­try. Trump’s gov­ern­ment, es­pe­cially in its early days, has a dis­pro­por­tion­ate num­ber of Rus­sian con­nec­tions and in­ter­ests, and Hard­ing has found nu­mer­ous sources who claim that the Krem­lin has been court­ing Trump since 1987. He there­fore scru­ti­nises deal­ings be­tween Trump and var­i­ous Rus­sian as­so­ci­ates (whose back­grounds are ex­plored too), point­ing out their con­nec­tions with Putin and see­ing pat­terns in the flow of money into Trump prop­er­ties. Hard­ing has not only done the leg­work, he can ex­plain what it means. If he’s right, in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the US gov­ern­ment’s Rus­sian con­nec­tions can only get more dam­ag­ing.

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