HarperCollins, £9.99 stg

Pennance Ward is the quintessential mañana man. His motto, whenever possible, is "Why do today what you can put off 'till tomorrow?" - or next week, or next month or next year even. Ever since he finished college, the pushing-30-year-old has been loafing around waiting for the "perfect" job, but doing nothing to get there. His life is a shambles, and although he knows it, there's always mañana.

When his best friend Ting is stabbed to death by an escaped psychopath in a freak incident, however, Pennance acquires a new perspective on life. Now he, Pine and Stan, who make up the other half of the gang, are charged with giving Ting the send-off he always wanted – a quite unusual stag-wake. And so begins the weekend party of their lives: drinking sessions, sex, drugs, anger, reminisces, awakenings, a road trip from Leeds to Mull to scatter Ting's ashes, and finally acceptance that their friend is really gone.

Casting aside mawkishness in favour of hilarity, James Birrell's novel is a bittersweet, funny and oftentimes poignant look at enduring friendship, life, love and loss. 'The Mañana Man' is guaranteed to make you laugh, and cry.

Joanne Ahern