The Monitor's Guide to Bestsellers, Hardcover Fiction

1. THE LOST WORLD, by Michael Crichton, Knopf, $25.95

This is mostly a shameless reprise of "Jurassic Park." Both T. Rex and the velociraptors are back, as bad as ever, chasing everyone and consuming all expendable characters. There is jungle, rain, lightning, and actual cliff hanging. And as usual the author lectures during pauses in the action. He speculates on extinction. Dinosaurs died because they constantly developed, chancing dysfunction. The pace is relentless, and you never know just what will happen. (Monitor Review 9/20/95) By Ronald Preston

2. The Horse Whisperer, by Nicholas Evans, Delacorte Press, $23.95

The storyline is formulaic, cliche laden, and noticeably influenced by "The Bridges of Madison County." It depicts a strong tight- lipped Montana rancher able to see into the "soul" of horses, and a British cum New York successful magazine editor who experiences a midlife crisis when her daughter-on-horseback collides with a semi-truck. The editor finds herself in an extramarital affair with the rancher. Parental guilt about putting career first emotionally tugs throughout this soap-opera. By Jim Bencivenga

3. MORNING, NOON, AND NIGHT, by Sidney Sheldon, Morrow, $24

Sheldon's latest McNovel follows the lives of a billionaire who drowns at sea and his three inheritance-hungry offspring. Controversy and mystery appear when an illegitimate daughter shows up in Boston to meet her long-lost siblings and claim her share of the empire. The book reads like a TV movie, hardly a surprise considering that Sheldon is also a screenwriter. His page-turner is full of plot twists and red herrings, but most of the author's devices are borrowed or just plain predictable. By Kim Campbell

4. COME TO GRIEF, by Dick Francis, Putnam, $23.95

Someone has been lopping a hoof off expensive young horses on English country estates, and sleuth Sid Halley traces the crime to an old friend and fellow ex-jockey, who is also a beloved television sports personality. Francis's steeple chase of an investigation slams Halley into enraged fans and family of the perpetrator, tabloid journalists, greed-driven tycoons, and a tangle of emo tions. A virtual absence of blood, gore, and sex, it runs on psychological tension alone. By Keith Henderson

5. COMING HOME, by Rosamunde Pilcher, St. Martin's Press, $25.95

A lovely, old-fashioned read set in Cornwall in the 1930s and '40s. Pilcher's smooth prose carries the reader effortlessly into the story of Judith Dunbar, an independent survivor who is left at school when her family moves to Singapore. She is soon swept up by the Carey-Lewises, a family whose prewar lives are as light and delicious as fizzy lemonade. Pilcher deftly recreates World War II England, chronicling the changes war brings to Judith and her adopted family with heartfelt insight. By Yvonne Zipp

6. 'L' Is For Lawless, by Sue Grafton, Holt, $24

The lastest Kinsey Millhone mystery, twelfth in Grafton's alphabet series, serves up a veritable stew of outrageous characters. The mystery is framed by the marriage of Millhone's octogenarian landlord's spry older brother to a maroon-haired Hungarian who runs a greasy spoon. Their impending nuptials and a nearsighted, gun-toting grandmother upstage the youngsters, who do nothing more original than look for stolen buried treasure. The ending is rather abrupt and unsatisfying. By Yvonne Zipp

7. BEACH MUSIC, by Pat Conroy, Doubleday/Talese, $27.50

Seemingly every memory, character, place, and event from not only Conroy's life, but also the lives of most of the people he's ever met are in this book. There is Conroy's own family, including abusive father, dying mother, and supportive siblings; the lush locations from Rome to South Carolina's coast; and defining moments in time, from high school to the Holocaust to Vietnam. "Beach Music" is told in elegant prose: lyrical, overblown, romantic. (Monitor Review 6/29/95) By Michele Ross

8. THE CELESTINE PROPHECY, by James Redfield, Warner, $17.95

Well-intended but poorly written, the plot is a cross between "Indiana Jones" and a self-help book. The hero is on a quest for a recently discovered Peruvian manuscript that details the progress of spirituality at the end of the 20th century. At different stages of the journey, he and his fellow searchers discover spiritual "insights," nine in total. Rather than profound, the book is awash in cliches such as the need to "become conscious of the coincidences in our lives." By Yvonne Zipp

9. Silent Night, by Mary Higgins Clark, Simon & Schuster $15

While an important part of the plot is a father recovering from cancer surgery, this little holiday heartwarmer is really about family and faith. When seven-year-old Brian chases down Fifth Avenue after the thief who unwittingly takes a St. Christopher medal meant for his father along with his mother's wallet, he becomes a hostage in a prison break. A suspenseful turn of events makes it a page-turner, and its real appeal is how faith and love strengthen Brian and his family. By Terri Theiss

10. Dead Man's Walk, by Larry McMurtry, Simon & Schuster, $26

The author of "Lonesome Dove" digs deep into the heart of Texas to deliver his readers the formative years of the heroes of his earlier book, which was made into the TV series. Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call join the Texas Rangers - the good cowboys - for an adventurous ride to Santa Fe, N.M. Along the way, they must fight off Indians and Mexican bandits. Many of the tales are unbelievable and reflect a romanticized and extremely violent view of how the West was won. Stupid ending. By Faye Bowers

11. A PLACE CALLED FREEDOM, by Ken Follett, Crown, $25

Mack McAsh is a brawny and brilliant Scottish coal miner who smashes into the injustices of 18th century Britain and is almost smashed by them. He takes on greedy Highland mine owners and grimy London underworld bosses before emerging a free man on the far side of the Cumberland Gap in America's wilderness. The story is a breeze to read, heavily seasoned with tension, historical description, and occasional graphic sex. Characters are appealing, albeit a predictable plot. By Keith Henderson

12. FROM POTTER'S FIELD, by Patricia Cornwell, Scribner, $24

For first-time readers of Cornwell, this is not the best introduction to Richmond, Va.'s Kay Scarpetta, mistress of murder, autopsies, and the morgue. But Cornwell fans will love it. Much of the book takes place in the New York City subways, and the plot can be as difficult for readers to navigate as those subways are for out-of-towners. Two weaknesses are lack of credibility for the decidedly evil antagonist and Scarpetta's indecisiveness in her long-lasting affair with a married man. By Jim Bencivenga

13. POLITICALLY Correct Holiday Stories, by James Finn Garner, Macmillan $9.95

If you think Santa is the king of capitalism, and believe Rudolph to be a crafty labor leader of the oppressed, then these PC holiday stories are for you. Garner revises five seasonal favorites by correcting plot, language, and character motivation for the '90s. For some, this book of satire may provide a short laugh or two. And they may see irony in a man who lives in a wood-heated home criticizing cutting down trees to decorate for Christmas. By Janet C. Moller

14. Memnoch the devil, by Anne Rice, Knopf, $25

Well-written but with morbid overtones, Anne Rice's fifth book in her series of vampire chronicles questions the very essence of Judeo-Christian religion. Garishly painting the novel with her pallette of blood, Rice challenges perceptions of God and the devil, heaven and hell. The novel is definitely not for the pious (or squeamish), as it attempts to undermine traditional concepts of immortality. By Jim Bencivenga

15. STAR WARS: DARKSABER, by Kevin J. Anderson, Bantam, $22.95

It seems that the Empire just won't die. In this latest installment of the epic saga, Luke, Leia, and now-husband Han, must help the New Republic defeat the evil Hutts before they reconstruct the Death Star. The novel stays true to George Lucas's original characterizations and the fantastic universe he created in the '70s, but if you haven't read a few of the previous stories, you will probably be confused. A nice light read, but definitely wait to check it out from your local library. By Marianne Le Pelley

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
QR Code to The Monitor's Guide to Bestsellers, Hardcover Fiction
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today