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Six Picks: Recommendations from the Monitor staff

U2 revisits past successes, Blair and Brown battle it out in 'The Deal' DVD, dogster.com wins barks of approval, and more.

August 1, 2008

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Mirror, mirror on the wall

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When Detective Cassie Maddox is called to a murder scene, she receives the shock of her life: The victim, a grad student, looks just like her – and was using one of Cassie's old aliases. With no other leads, the police conceal the murder and send Cassie undercover to flush out the killer in Edgar Award-winner Tana French's gripping new novel, The Likeness. The idea of a police officer literally walking in the victim's shoes is delicious, and French exploits it fully. We're not usually fans of doppelgänger plots, but "The Likeness" is as good as they come.

Synchronize your watches

The Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympics is set to begin at 8:08:08 p.m. on Aug. 8. Easy to remember except that Beijing is at least 12 hours ahead of most US cities. That could mean breakfast viewing of the evening celebrations.

Real 'Deal'

Stop us if this sounds familiar. Two politicians struggle for control of their party. One is considered the natural heir despite a perceived likability problem. The other is an outsider reformer with a populist streak. The winner will have a shot at leading the country. In The Deal, a riveting new drama on DVD, those two principals are Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) and Gordon Brown (David Morrissey). Consider this a prequel to "The Queen," for which Sheen reteamed with director Stephen Frears and writer Peter Morgan.

Rock of ageless

Warm up your ears for U2's imminent new album by revisiting their past. Newly remastered versions of "Boy," "October," and "War" (supervised by The Edge, who also offers sleeve-note reminiscences) add extra clarity to thunderbolt rockers such as "I Will Follow." Each album comes with a bonus disc of B-sides and unreleased pearls such as "Speed of Life" on "Boy." "October," still the band's weakest release, is improved by an extra CD of high-voltage live tracks. And, though "War" is cluttered with dance remixes, visit iTunes to download the rare "Angels Too Tied to the Ground."

Gone to the dogs

Social networking has always been a natural canine pursuit, but dogster.com wags it up a notch with a website where owners can meet fellow dog lovers, join forums, read blogs, and scour Q&As on every aspect of the doggy universe.

Hungry Dragon

With all eyes on China this week, ABC steps outside the borders of the globe's largest developing nation to assess its emerging role as economic and cultural powerhouse. China Inside Out, an hour-long documentary, airs Wednesday, Aug. 6, at 10 p.m. ET/PT. To understand the new China's growing hunger for resources, Bob Woodruff journeys through Cambodia, Angola, Brazil, and the US.

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