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A Monitor guide to the bestsellers

July 31, 2003



1. The Da Vinci Code

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Last Week: 1

Weeks on List: 17

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: M

2. To The Nines

Weeks on List: 1

by Janet Evanovich

St. Martin's, $25.95

Available on tape

In Evanovich's ninth episode featuring Stephanie Plum, a Jersey girl with a gift for grabbing gangsters and a penchant for pitfalls, Stephanie and her sidekick, Lula, leave the "burg" for the Vegas strip to ferret out an Indian contract worker. It's a whole new world - e-mail and visa bonds. New for the plus-size Lula, too, who continues to crash through doors and the latest diet fads - from counting points to eating pounds of bacon. The usual cast of characters all appear. It's a laugh a page, a great escape. (320 pp.) By Faye Bowers

The Christian Science Monitor: Favorable review

The New York Times: Mixed review

Book List: Favorable review

3. The Lovely Bones

Last Week: 2

Weeks on List: 56

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

4. The Lake House

Last Week: 3

Weeks on List: 6

by James Patterson

Little Brown, $27.95

Available on tape

A brilliant yet twisted doctor hunts down a group of six extraordinary children for a science project he claims will advance mankind. These youngsters aren't exactly human: Biologists melded bird DNA with human zygotes and implanted the embryos in their mothers' wombs. Consequently, they have wings and fly. Patterson paints gruesome scenes in the doctor's evil laboratory. The seemingly silly premise still yields a page-turning read, and ubiquitous pop-culture references make the story seem real. (384 pp.) By Emily Palm

The Christian Science Monitor: Mixed review

Kirkus Review of Books: Mixed review

Publishers Weekly: Unfavorable review

5. The Devil Wears Prada

Last Week: 4

Weeks on List: 13

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

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