John Niven (Vintage Books)

John Niven’s debut novel is dark, twisted and very, very wrong in (most) places.

It’s also laugh-out-loud funny. Taking a satirical look at the music business during the late nineties Britpop era, the main character, Steven Stelfox, is brilliantly vile and malicious.

A coke-hungry A&R man with a penchant for hookers and brand-names, Stelfox won’t let anything bring him down in the sink-or-swim music industry, even if it means disposing of a couple of colleagues along the way.

It’s not a plot-heavy story, rather a continuous sequence of day-to-day events – music conferences, parties, days at the office, a few murders, more parties – that all wrap up quite nicely at the book’s finale.

Echoing Bret Easton Ellis’ well-known novel American Psycho, in a less slick New York, more gritty London kind of way, it’s a totally un-PC and gruesome read.

Having spent 10 years working in the UK music industry himself, there’s no doubt that Niven’s characters are worryingly accurate caricatures of some of the people who drive the music machine. NATASHA VUKOVIC