The Monitor Guide to The Bestsellers


1. BLACK NOTICE, by Patricia Cornwell, Putnam, $25.95 When a badly decomposed body is found in a Belgian cargo ship, Dr. Kay Scarpetta is called to the scene. The victim of another murder in a convenience store has the same injuries. As Scarpetta is working to solve these two cases, her nemesis, deputy police chief Diane Bray becomes the third victim. Who or what is responsible for these deaths? And how are they connected to similar deaths in France? This exciting story will keep you guessing to the end. (432 pp.) By Lynne Osborne

2. HANNIBAL, by Thomas Harris, Delacorte Press, $27.95 Harriss newest thriller features the darkly brilliant psychologist Dr. Hannibal Lechter, whose desire to consume his patients cares earned him the moniker Hannibal the Cannibal. Its delectable, but this excellently crafted and nuanced work is not for the faint of heart. Harris explores, with frightening deftness, the darker propensities of humanity revenge, torture, mutilation, and violence. But in the end, this richly textured story is worthy of its discriminating protagonist. (480 pp.) By Julia Ann Hansen

3. ASSASSINS, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, Tyndale House, $22.99 Assassins takes us past the mid-point of the Apocalypse, and we see more prophecies of the book of Revelation come to pass. The continuation of the story of the Tribulation Force, those left behind after Jesus Rapture, gives plenty of background on each character as they pray to be chosen by God to assassinate the New Word Order leader, Nicolae Carpathia. The Lord has provided the underground Trib Force with better techies to override the Anti-Christs technology. (384pp.) By Jan Moller

4. MOTHER OF PEARL, by Melinda Haynes, Hyperion, $23.95 Melinda Haynes weaves the lives of a young black man and a teenaged white girl together in pre-civil rights era Mississippi. Both are poor and lacking parents. Both seek family and find it in different ways. Many other characters and issues such as race, rich versus poor, male/female relationships, and female/female relationships are brought in. Too many. The dialogue in the book is top-notch, totally believable. But the symbolism and poorly written similes and metaphors detract from the tale. (445 pp.) By Faye Bowers

5. WHITE OLEANDER, by Janet Fitch, Little, Brown & Co., $24 Fitchs vivid first novel, recently chosen for Oprahs book club, comes complete with conniving characters and dramatic twists. The heroine of this strangely enticing story is 13-year-old Astrid, the daughter of a beautiful Hollywood poet in prison for poisoning one of her boyfriends. Struggling to construct her own sense of identity and morality, Astrid often acts out her dreams, not realizing their harmful outcome. The high level of romance and hope makes the book an engaging read. (384 pp.) By Rebecca J. Davis

6. THE EDGE, by Catherine Coulter, Putnam, $22.95 Ford MacDougal, a counter-terrorist agent with the FBI, knows something is amiss with his sister, Jilly, a pharmacologist, when he dreams he is drowning and discovers that he was merely experiencing what Jilly had faced. Mac learns that the night before, Jillys Porsche had plunged into the sea. Thus, an intriguing mystery seems to await us. Too bad it doesnt last. By the second half, the story degenerates into a clich tale of drug cartels, dead bodies, and macho characters. (390 pp.) By Julia Ann Hansen

7. GRANNY DAN, by Danielle Steel, Delacorte Press, $19.95 Steels writing dances and entrances in her latest book. Although living up to her reputation, its romance lacks substance, leaving the reader uncommitted to its characters. Individually, each character is fascinating, but the romance lacks a genuine spark. Sickness is used repeatedly as a means to bring the couple together, wearing on the reader. Set against the backdrop of Russia during World War I, the affair seems to feed off tragedy and illness, instead of thriving in spite of them. (240 pp.) By Christy Ellington

8. ALL THE QUEENS MEN, by Linda Howard, Pocket, $23.95 Sparks fly as John Medina, an undercover CIA agent, and Niema Burdock, a woman struggling to resist the dangers of international espionage that killed her husband, work together to obtain information on a new chemical bomb developed by Middle Eastern terrorists. In the process, they fall for each other. Be warned that although there are moments of romantic genius and real suspense, some scenes belong in a cheesy R-rated soap opera rather than a thriller romance. (336 pp.) By Christy Ellington

9. THE TESTAMENT, by John Grisham, Doubleday, $27.95 After Troy Phelan throws himself from the 14th floor, the heirs of the worlds 10th-richest man circle over his estate like vultures. Only one problem the will. All the money is left to an unknown figure. Washington lawyer Nate ORiley, whos lost just about everything to alcohol, travels the rain forests of Brazil to unravel the mystery of the missing heir and the tangles of his own tormented, faithless life. Grisham takes us through every emotion and around the world, but the book gradually loses its power. (435 pp.) By Anne Toevs

10. THE GIRL WHO LOVED TOM GORDON, by Stephen King, Simon & Schuster, $16.95 Being lost in the woods can scare the tar out of you. Just ask Trisha McFarland. The sweet nine-year-old gets separated from her family on a New England hiking trip. As she wanders and slips in and out of consciousness, the only thing that keeps her going is the vision of Tom Gordon, the Red Sox closer whom she idolizes. While Kings writing is visceral and at times gruesome the story loses steam and could use more plot twists. (224 pp.) By Lane Hartill

11. JUPITERS BONES, by Faye Kellerman, William Morrow Co., $25 Jupiters Bones is the eleventh in the Peter Decker series. Decker, now lieutenant with the LAPD, is called to investigate the suspicious death of a cults charismatic leader. Once a renowned physicist, Jupiter is now a suicide, or perhaps murder victim. As Decker investigates the death and the cult, things get more and more curious ... and sinister, too. The book offers more than most detective yarns. Secondary characters are well developed, and the story benefits from depth and variety. (256 pp.) By Phelippe Salazar

12. THE GIRLS GUIDE TO HUNTING AND FISHING, by Melissa Bank, Viking, $23.95 With disarming and witty insight, Bank writes of a womans coming of age in this remarkably honest debut novel. Seven short stories follow the fiery, misunderstood Jane from gawky adolescence to gawky adulthood. The often slapstick episodes of disorientation and discomfort hit with a hunters precision, without wandering into flip territory. Bank laughs in the face of the self-doubt and wallflower awkwardness from the days of curfews and double- dates to mortgages and parenting. (274 pp.) By Elisabetta Coletti

13. MCNALLYS DILEMMA, by Lawrence Sanders, Putnam, $24.95 McNallys Dilemma has a dilemma, indeed. The book isnt actually written by Sanders, despite the publishers effort to pawn it off as his book. (Sanders died last year.) If the reader can move beyond this deception, then McNallys latest (I doubt last) adventure is an entertaining read. This time the private investigator is uncovering the murder of a socialite in his Palm Beach town; soon hes tangled in a web of lies and blackmail. Written with gusto and wit by Vincent Lardo ... whoever he is. (320 pp.) By Sara Steindorf

14. TRUE AT FIRST LIGHT, by Ernest Hemingway, Scribner, $26 On the heels of Ralph Ellisons posthumous novel, comes a creation exhumed from Hemingways unpublished papers. In a brief introduction, son Patrick explains that hes licked the manuscript into what I hope is not the worst of all possible shapes. So much for Papas perfectionism. Presented as a fictional memoir, the story records Hemingways safari in Kenya with his fourth wife while dangerous rebels lurk in the darkness. Great authors take note: Burn your papers before you leave. (320 pp.) By Ron Charles

15. HEARTWOOD, by James Lee Burke, Doubleday, $24.95 Burke serves up a dose of down-home Texas adventure, chock full of romance and action. It begins when Billy Bob Holland agrees to handle a seemingly simple defense case for a man accused by local kingpin Earl Deitrich of stealing bearer bonds and an antique watch. But what the Texas Ranger turned lawyer discovers is a pattern of upper-class corruption. Complicating matters is Billy Bobs inability to resist a longtime attraction to Deitrichs wife. (324 pp.) By Stephanie Cook

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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