New Finnish Grammar
Diego Marani, trans. Judith Landry,
Text, A$27.99

During World War II, a man is beaten in Trieste and left for dead, without memory and without language. A doctor identifies him as Finnish, and to that nation he is sent for rehabilitation. Yet the victim's real identity proves elusive. This very original novel is about how language shapes us. An incidental pleasure is its insights into Finnish. Recommended for language buffs and readers of ''out-of-the-box'' books.

Cyanide & Poppies
Carolyn Morwood
Pulp Fiction Press, A$22.95

Crime writer Morwood's beat is early 20th-century Melbourne; her series detective, Eleanor Jones, an independent woman scarred, like many, by WWI. Jones is now working as a film reviewer on The Argus. A fellow journalist is murdered, the suspect a psychic. Though the crime powers the plot, the focus is on the 1923 Melbourne police strike and the social chaos it created. A compelling crime history lesson, with believable characters.

Adventures of a Compulsive Traveller
Dominic Dunne
Transit Lounge, A$29.95

Dunne is an Australian journalist and globetrotter. This book comprises bite-size fragments of his travel experiences. They range from the mundane (dumb Americans), to the bizarre, such as his readings of Dollywood and Elvis (weird dumb Americans). His great gift is a boundless curiosity. He also tests boundaries. There is material here for most tastes. For the armchair traveller.