Poolbeg, £6.99

Shane is a flashy, 23-year-old art exhibitionist. Recovering from the mysterious death of his girlfriend Lisa, and with his financial security becoming increasingly precarious, the erstwhile constants of Shane's life have been emphatically destroyed. Andrew is 30. A successful investment advisor by trade, he has it all: looks, money, and success. Behind the suave exterior, however, lies a dark and sordid secret. It is the possible disclosure of this secret that threatens Andrew's comfortable, suburban lifestyle.

And then we have Nuala, the 28-year-old owner of a cosmetic shop called Nuala's Moonage Daydream. Beautiful and eccentric, "Nuala has become disillusioned with making things smell sweet." So goes the blurb on the back of the book. Unfortunately, nothing about 'Planned Accidents' smells sweet, 'Stinks' would be far more apt. Put simply, this novel is devoid of all the qualities it so blatantly pretends to have: pace, piquancy and passion.

Author Sean Monaghan fails to mould his characters into anything other than tools to muse on the topics of wanton sex and secular existence. The only character with a past beyond six months is Andrew, and his is simply encapsulated in an illegal and sordid sexual escapade. As a pivotal character, the supposedly eccentric Nuala is the biggest disappointment, her deadweight flatness suspending the novel in a bubble of banality and blandness. Avoid.

Tom Grealis