A Monitor guide to the bestsellers

1. The Da Vinci Code

Last Week: 1

Weeks on List: 6

by Dan Brown

Doubleday, $24.95

Available on tape

The body of a murdered museum director sprawled on the parquet floor of the Louvre starts an international chase in which a Harvard professor and a brilliant police cryptographer must flee the crime scene to prove their innocence. The trail literally becomes a quest for the Holy Grail, spanning 2,000 years of history and hidden in codes within codes. Brown's retelling of the Grail myth is as much a pager-turner as the manhunt - and you'll never view "The Last Supper" the same way again. (454 pp.) By J. Johnson

The Christian Science Monitor: Favorable review

The New York Times: Favorable review

Kirkus Review of Books: Unfavorable review

Book List: Mixed review

2. The Lovely Bones

Last Week: 2

Weeks on List: 45

by Alice Sebold

Little Brown, $21.95

Available on tape

In the first chapter of this runaway bestseller, 14-year-old Susie Salmon is enticed into a cave by her neighbor, who rapes and dismembers her. For the next seven years Susie describes, from heaven, how her family and friends - even her murderer - cope with her absence. Relief only comes through the hard work of learning to care for the living again. As her father eventually realizes, "You live in the face of it." It sounds mawkish, but Sebold has done something miraculous here. (288 pp.) (Full review July 25, 2002) By Ron Charles

The Christian Science Monitor: Favorable review

The New York Times: Favorable review

Kirkus Review of Books: Favorable review

New York Review of Books: Unfavorable review

3. Shutter Island

Last Week: 5

Weeks on List: 2

by Dennis Lehane

Morrow, $25.95

Available on tape

Federal marshal Teddy Daniels arrives on Shutter Island in 1954 to help find an escaped patient from Ashcliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane. As events turn sinister, it becomes clear that Daniels has something far more personal at stake than recovering the patient. Lehane adeptly plants the reader in a moody, volatile atmosphere with a dark, foreboding sea and a constantly turning examination of violence. The book is well-paced, with a pleasingly complex lead character and plot. (336 pp.) By Tonya Miller

The Christian Science Monitor: Favorable review

The New York Times: Unfavorable review

Kirkus Review of Books: Favorable review

Book List: Favorable review

4. The Guardian

Last Week: 3

Weeks on List: 3

by Nicholas Sparks

Warner, $24.95

Available on tape

Newly widowed Julie Barenson, "the kind of gal whose highlight of the week was usually something as mundane as removing a stubborn ring from around the tub," is rebuilding her life in a small Southern town. Romantically torn between a gallant out-of-towner and a grungy best friend, she is swept up in a tale of love, obsession, and murder. The novel, filled with clichés but not much surprise, could have been 200 pages shorter. Readers will sniff out the bad guy as easily as Julie's faithful dog does. (224 pp.) By Marie Ewald

The Christian Science Monitor: Unfavorable review

Kirkus Review of Books: Unfavorable review

Publishers Weekly: Unfavorable review

5. Lost Light

Last Week: 6

Weeks on List: 4

by Michael Connelly

Little Brown, $25.95

Available on tape

In this latest Harry Bosch installment, the now-retired LAPD detective proves you don't need a badge to get the job done. The hard-nosed maverick takes it upon himself to reopen a cold case, the murder of a young movie production assistant four years ago. The woman's murder, connected to the heist of $2 million from a movie set, is not as simple as it once appeared. As Bosch gets closer to the truth, he must dodge his ex-wife, an overzealous FBI team, and an unrelenting journalist. (400 pp.) By Michele Babineau

The Christian Science Monitor: Favorable review

The New York Times: Mixed review

Kirkus Review of Books: Favorable review

Publishers Weekly: Favorable review

6. The Second Time Around

Last Week: 4

Weeks on List: 2

by Mary Higgins Clark

S&S, $26

Available on tape

The plot of Mary Higgins Clark's latest might have been taken from the nightly business news: After a medical research company announces that early tests of its cancer cure are highly promising, the CEO disappears and millions of dollars are missing. Then a reporter with a connection to the case sets out to discover what happened. Unfortunately, this tale of intrigue is about as suspenseful as yesterday's news. But Clark's legions of fans won't mind and will enjoy the ending. (320 pp.) By Judy Lowe

The Christian Science Monitor: Unfavorable review

Publishers Weekly: Favorable review

7. The Devil Wears Prada

Last Week: 8

Weeks on List: 2

by Lauren Weisberger

Doubleday, $21.95

Available on tape

Weisberger's roman à clef, based on her experience as assistant to the editor of Vogue, would make a better short story than novel. It takes only a few chapters to see why her alter ego, Andrea Sachs, works for the fictitious, Prada-clad Miranda Priestly at a fashion glossy, rather than at The New Yorker, where she'd rather be. And why, when she finally quits in a flurry of profanity, she ends up freelancing for Seventeen. In Sachs, Weisberger creates a character about as unsympathetic as the devil herself. (360 pp.) By Teresa Méndez

The Christian Science Monitor: Mixed review

The New York Times: Unfavorable review

Kirkus Review of Books: Mixed review

Book List: Unfavorable review

8. All He Ever Wanted

Last Week: 9

Weeks on List: 2

by Anita Shreve

Little Brown, $25.95

Available on tape

Nicholas Van Tassel, a cold college professor and creepy narrator, is obsessed with a young woman named Etna in Shreve's newest historical romance. Though she marries him to escape her suffocating aunt and uncle, she does not love him - and neither, finally, do his employers. Driven by domestic and professional ambitions, he gets embroiled in a monstrous plot of deception to win back his wife and ascend to the dean's office. He gets all he ever wanted, plus everything he deserves. (320 pp.) (Full review April 17) By Ron Charles

The Christian Science Monitor: Favorable review

Kirkus Review of Books: Favorable review

USA Today: Favorable review

9. The King of Torts

Last Week: 7

Weeks on List: 12

by John Grisham

Doubleday, $27.95

Available on tape

After a stalled start to his legal career as a public defender, Clay Carter is tipped off about a lucrative lawsuit against a pharmaceutical company. He soon gets caught up in a whirlwind of questionable ventures that make him a multimillionaire. His spending increases as the stakes become less certain. And his mysterious inside source, Max Pace, turns out to be more than he appears. The predictable plot is stretched with unnecessary contortions, but the book is nonetheless a quick, entertaining break. (376 pp.) By Katie Nesse

The Christian Science Monitor: Mixed review

The New York Times: Unfavorable review

Publishers Weekly: Favorable review

10. Armageddon

Last Week: 10

Weeks on List: 3

by Tim LaHaye

Tyndale House, $24.99

Available on tape

In the 11th thriller of the Left Behind series, global armies of the Antichrist converge on the remnant of the faithful at Jerusalem and Petra for a final battle before the appearing of Jesus Christ. Tribulation Force members suffer torture and the guillotine rather than renounce their faith, and Jews accept Jesus as the Messiah as the forces of evil attack the city. The fast-paced drama skillfully interweaves love stories, technical wizardry, catastrophic events, and preaching aimed at the unconverted. (425 pp.) By Jane Lampman

The Christian Science Monitor: Mixed review

11. Children of the Storm

Last Week: 11

Weeks on List: 4

by Elizabeth Peters

Morrow, $25.95

Available on tape

The 15th mystery involving Amelia Emerson and her intrepid family of Egyptologists finds them in the midst of a family reunion - one that will delight fans but baffle newcomers, since there are now three generations to keep track of. Several of the priceless artifacts unearthed at the end of the last book have been stolen, and it doesn't take long before more than one Emerson is in deadly danger. "Storm" isn't Peters's best, but time spent with Amelia and her brood is never boring. (416 pp.) By Yvonne Zipp

The Christian Science Monitor: Mixed review

The New York Times: Favorable review

Book List: Mixed review

12. Good Faith

Weeks on List: 1

by Jane Smiley

Knopf, $26

Available on tape

Smiley's subject this time is the 1980s real estate boom. There aren't a thousand acres to this new novel, but it's still a major piece of literary property. Joe Stratford, the narrator, is a careful, honest agent in a small New England town. Falling under the thrall of a magnetic ex-IRS agent, Joe and his partner risk everything for a project doomed to fail, along with the nation's savings and loan system. Ultimately, though, the tragedy for Joe is the loss of emotional, not financial, opportunity. (416 pp.) (Full review April 10) By Ron Charles

The Christian Science Monitor: Favorable review

The New York Times: Mixed review

Kirkus Review of Books: Favorable review

Library Journal: Favorable review

13. Dirty Work

Last Week: 12

Weeks on List: 2

by Stuart Woods

Putnam, $25.95

Available on tape

Woods never met a stock character he didn't like. Tough talking cops, sexy British spies, diabolical Arab terrorists, and hapless G-men: They're all here as policeman-turned-lawyer Stone Barrington hits the streets of New York in his ninth book. The characters are thinner than cardboard and the romance flatter still. Yet the hunt for a beautiful hit-woman on the streets of Manhattan has enough surprising turns to make any attorney wish he could handle a divorce case like this. "Dirty work" is a dirty little pleasure. (336 pp.) By Seth Stern

The Christian Science Monitor: Mixed review

The New York Times: Mixed review

Book List: Favorable review

14. Cerulean Sins

Weeks on List: 3

by Laurell K. Hamilton

Berkley, $22.95

Available on tape

"Cerulean Sins" reacquaints readers with Anita Blake, a vampire hunter for the St. Louis police department and human consort for a vampire and werewolf. (Can you say conflict of interest?) As Blake's preternatural powers grow, she must solve a crime and save a vampire friend, all while sating her need for sexual contact every 12 hours. Hamilton's prose reads like bad Raymond Chandler, but the rich world she has created, rendered here for the 11th time, carries us through the tough-talkin' schlock. (416 pp.) By Noel Paul

The Christian Science Monitor: Mixed review

Kirkus Review of Books: Mixed review

Publishers Weekly: Favorable review

15. Twelve Times Blessed

Weeks on List: 2

by Jacquelyn Mitchard

HarperCollins, $25.95

Available on tape

Perhaps best enjoyed at the beach, this novel offers the tale of a 43-year-old mother and widow who marries a man 10 years her junior - echoing Mitchard's own life. At times, it reads more like a Harlequin Romance than a book by an Oprah Book Club author. Mitchard throws everything at her characters - infidelity, brushes with death, New Orleans - but they remain largely two-dimensional. Even so, like a movie on TV's Lifetime channel, you find yourself compelled to stay with it until the end. (544 pp.) By Kim Campbell

The Christian Science Monitor: Mixed review

Book List: Mixed review

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK