23 NOVEMBER 1991, Page 37

Philip Glazebrook

Brazzaville Beach, by William Boyd (Sinclair-Stevenson, £13.95). A complex and wholly convincing novel set in Africa (a chimpanzee research station) in the present and in the English background of the heroine's past, the two parallel narratives wonderfully well integrated for mutual illumination. Boyd lets his people construct themselves out of the situations they encounter, he doesn't fit them together out of 'ideas', with the result that there isn't a man or woman in the book Whose reality hasn't the weight to leave footprints in the reader's head, as well as in the scenes they walk through. It is beautifully written, full of plums, and at the end I knew I'd read a very good novel indeed.

drifs guide to the Secondhand & Antiquarian Bookshops in Britain. This eccentric work will inform you and make You laugh on every page, and sets new standards for thoroughness and honesty in the making of guides. If a work of fiction, it Would be a brilliant and amusing spoof, but Is instead the real thing, tirelessly researched and clearly laid out. On the dis- aPpearance of Guildford, or in warning us against the book-fairies (those dealers who over-frequent book fairs) he is excellent: Whilst the set-pieces, such as the savaging of an ex-editor of the Times, leave the °Itlooker wiping the blood off his clothes With feelings of shocked awe.

It is published by drif field guides, Omnibus Workspace, 41 North Road, London N7 9DP at £9.95.