Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


The Bestsellers

HARDCOVER FICTION

July 19, 2001



1. THE FOURTH HAND, by John Irving, Random House, $26.95

Skip to next paragraph

Much of Irving's latest reads like a parody of misogynist preoccupations. Devastatingly good-looking Patrick Wallingford lost his hand to a lion during a TV interview in India. Now, he's looking for love in a world of tricky, manipulative women. He eventually meets Doris Clausen, who volunteers to give Patrick her husband's hand. Irving's satire of crass TV journalism is on target but sadly unoriginal. "The Fourth Hand" is sometimes grotesquely funny, but mostly just grotesque. (368 pp.) (Full review June 28) By Ron Charles

The Christian Science Monitor: unfavorable The New York Times: No review noted Kirkus Review of Books: unfavorable Selected reviews: unfavorable Audio available

2. A TRAITOR TO MEMORY, by Elizabeth George, Bantam, $26.95

London detectives have their work cut out for them figuring out who's responsible for a spate of hit-and-runs in the latest Elizabeth George suspense novel. But what do the crimes have to do with a violin virtuoso's loss of his ability to play? George unfolds the investigation and the virtuoso's troubles in alternating chapters, which can be confusing at times. Her style is intelligent and engaging, but finding out whodunit takes patience: At 719 pages, the book is the "War & Peace" of murder mysteries. (719 pp.) By Kim Campbell

The Christian Science Monitor: mixed The New York Times: No review noted Kirkus Review of Books: mixed Selected reviews: mixed Audio available

3. BACK WHEN WE WERE GROWNUPS, by Anne Tyler, Knopf, $25

Tyler fans will recognize all her familiar themes and characters. Beck Davitch can't fathom how she ended up the center of this needy family. All she has is a crumbling mansion her husband left and the care of his ancient uncle. Her grown daughters depend on her to keep the family ticking, and they treat her like a trusty old clock. Beck decides to search for her high school sweetheart, but finds she can't "return to that place where her life forked and choose the other branch". Charming. (256 pp.) (Full review May 3) By Ron Charles

The Christian Science Monitor: favorable The New York Times: unfavorable Kirkus Review of Books: No review noted Selected reviews: favorable Audio available

4. P IS FOR PERIL, by Sue Grafton, Putnam, $26.95

Grafton's latest is a disappointment for Kinsey Millhone fans. Her characters, once quirky and lovable, now seem tired and cranky, and Kinsey herself can't seem to shake a literary lethargy that comes from solving too many alphabetical cases too fast. The disconnected subplots revolve around a missing doctor whom no one really seems to grieve and two psycho landlord brothers, one of whom takes a romantic interest in Kinsey. Not too violent for the genre, but the sex is gratuitously detailed. (352 pp.) By Barbara Petzen

The Christian Science Monitor: unfavorable The New York Times: No review noted Kirkus Review of Books: No review noted Selected reviews: favorable Audio available

5. HOW TO BE GOOD, by Nick Hornby, Riverhead, $24.95

A novel that hits the funny bone but bruises the conscience. Katie is a hard-working doctor and a loving mother - "a good person," she keeps reminding us. But she's very unhappily married to a bitter, acerbic man. On a whim, he gets involved with a spiritual healer and decides to be good. In every way. Who could live with that? Hornby allows absurdity to grow exponentially. Despite some great moments of brutal, over-the-top comedy, there's a tenderness that runs through the story. (305 pp.) (Full review July 5) By Ron Charles

The Christian Science Monitor: favorable The New York Times: unfavorable Kirkus Review of Books: No review noted Selected reviews: unfavorable Audio available

6. RISE TO REBELLION, by Jeff Shaara, Ballantine, $26.95