Summer books offer love, travel mystery and adventure

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Summer days mean lighter clothing, lighter meals and, of course, lighter reading. W New books with tales of romance and travel, mystery and misadventure seek to satisfy warm-weather readers wherever they might be -- the beach or back yard, poolside or porch, fire escape or Fire Island, or the living room recliner with the air conditioner pumping full blast.

Readers who want a double dose of summer -- in the weather and in their reading -- can choose from several titles.

For example, the first day of summer is when a young expectant mother disappears in Luanne Rice's novel "Summer's Child" (Bantam, paperback).

A teenage boy in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York begins his criminal career in the summer of 1950 in "Mafia Summer" (Bloomsbury) by E. Duke Vincent.

The summer of 1992 becomes a memorable one for an American family working in Prague after the mother runs off to Libya to reunite with an old flame in "A Way From Home" (Pantheon) by Nancy Clark.

Two women vie for the attention of a Los Angeles billionaire who is spending the summer at Long Island's celebrity playground in "When Harry Hit the Hamptons" (Sourcebooks, paperback) by Mara Goodman-Davies

In "The Blue Bistro" (St. Martin's) by Elin Hilderbrand, a woman takes a job as assistant manager of an upscale restaurant on Massachusetts' Nantucket Island during its last summer in business.

Isabel Rose's novel "The J.A.P. Chronicles" (Doubleday) is about the reunion of seven women who attended a summer camp for elite Jewish girls.

In "Sleepaway" (Riverhead), editor Eric Simonoff offers a paperback collection of essays about summer camp experiences by Margaret Atwood, David Sedaris, Diana Trilling and others that readers might find quite "in-tents."

Romance is easy to find in the summer -- it's right there, between the covers of some current novels:

In "True Believer" (Warner Books) by Nicholas Sparks, a science writer falls in love with a librarian in small-town North Carolina, where he's investigating ghostly sightings in a graveyard.

Romance and adventure await a woman after she moves to a small town in Missouri to work for a physician in Dorothy Garlock's Depression-era story, "River Rising" (Warner Books, paperback).

Romance with a scientist blossoms for the widowed owner of a gardening business in Nora Roberts' "Black Rose" (Jove, paperback); and next-door neighbors who are lawyers seem to find each other "suitable" in "The Nosy Neighbor" (Pocket, paperback) by Fern Michaels.

Hot-weather chills are offered in mysteries including "The Body in the Snowdrift" (Morrow), Katherine Hall Page's whodunit set in a Vermont ski resort where a lawyer's body appears and the resort's chef disappears. Also set in Vermont, "The Fifth Season" (Three Rivers, paperback) is Don Bredes' tale of a constable who investigates the murders of two local government employees.

Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts is a popular summer destination -- and the scene of the crime in "The Paperwhite Narcissus" (Thomas Dunne) by Cynthia Riggs, in which a land developer is murdered; and in "Vineyard Prey" (Scribner) by Philip R. Craig, about a Vietnam veteran who believes he is being targeted by a serial killer.

James Patterson offers two summery whodunits: "4th of July," written with Maxine Paetro, about a San Francisco police detective investigating serial murders in a small town; and "Lifeguard," written with Andrew Gross, in which a Florida lifeguard takes up crime to court a woman with expensive tastes (both Little, Brown).

Other fictional crimes include a murder on live TV in Karen Robards' "Superstition" (Putnam); the disappearance of a prospective groom at a summertime wedding in California in "The Nitrogen Murder" (Thomas Dunne) by Camille Minichino; the murders of two of Queen Victoria's staff members, investigated by Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in Caleb Carr's "The Italian Secretary" (Carroll & Graf); and two murders in which New York Police Detective April Woo suspects the victims' nannies, in "A Clean Kill" (Onyx, paperback) by Leslie Glass.

Readers anticipating a long summer might consider "The Borgia Bride" (St. Martin's Griffin, paperback), Jeanne Kalogridis' 525- page historical novel about Renaissance Rome; and "A Sundial in the Grave: 1610" (Perennial, paperback), Mary Gentle's 672-page swashbuckler featuring blackmail, romance and a plot to assassinate King James I.

Other historical fiction includes "Sails on the Horizon" (Random House), Jay Worrall's naval adventure of the Napoleonic Wars, and "The Triumph of the Sun" (Thomas Dunne) by Wilbur Smith, set in the Sudan in 1884 during the attempted siege of its capital, Khartoum.

TV soap opera stars who are also novelists include Finola Hughes, whose "Soapsuds" (Ballantine) is about a London stage actress who joins the cast of an American soap; and Louise Shaffer, whose "The Ladies of Garrison Gardens" (Ballantine) is about a woman who leaves her entire estate, including a resort and botanical gardens, to a reluctant heiress.

"McKettrick's Choice" (Harlequin) is Linda Lael Miller's novel about a man who tries to save his best friend from the noose and his father from a land-grabber in old Texas; and in modern-day Texas, a lawman poses as a ranch hand hoping to save his family's property in Janet Dailey's novel "Lone Calder Star" (Kensington).

Among other novels: "A Good Yarn" (Mira) by Debbie Macomber, about a Seattle yarn store proprietor and her knitting class students; "Tokyo Cancelled" (Black Cat, paperback) by Rana Dasgupta, in which 13 Tokyo-bound passengers from around the world entertain each other with stories when they become stranded at an airport; and "The History of Love" (Norton), Nicole Krauss' story about an elderly Holocaust survivor and a teenage girl linked by an obscure Yiddish novel.

For a "Quick" read, there's "Lie by Moonlight" (Putnam), Amanda Quick's novel about a young teacher in Victorian England who uncovers a sinister plot involving her students, orphaned girls.

With the right book, summertime travelers don't have to leave their ZIP codes.

Travel by foot as Bill McKibben describes his three-week trek from the Champlain Valley of Vermont to New York's Adirondack Mountains in "Wandering Home" (Crown Journeys); by train, as Andrew Eames re-creates Agatha Christie's 1928 journey on the Orient Express, from London to Baghdad, in "The 8:55 to Baghdad" (Overlook); and by car, as Julie M. Fenster chronicles the 1908 New York-to-Paris auto race in "Race of the Century" (Crown)

"Tuscany in Mind" (Vintage, paperback) is Alice Leccese Powers' collection of fiction and nonfiction by writers who have visited northern Italy, from the Brownings to Frances Mayes.

"The Risks of Sunbathing Topless" (Seal), edited by Kate Chynoweth, contains essays by women whose travel experiences included plans gone awry and other mishaps, in places ranging from South Africa to the North Pole.

In "Around the World in 80 Dates" (Downtown Press), Jennifer Cox describes her six-month, 18-country search for Mr. Right.

And what better season than summer to do absolutely nothing? In "How To Be Idle" (HarperCollins), Tom Hodgkinson celebrates the joys of inactivity, including sleeping, daydreaming, fishing, napping and meditating.


What's hot this summer?

Some of the most popular titles locally:

Cape Girardeau Public Library

* "Two-Dollar Bill" by Stuart Woods

* "The Mermaid Chair" by Sue Monk Kidd

* "YaYas in Bloom" by Rebecca Wells

* "Fourth of July" by James Patterson

* The "Left Behind" series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins

* "My Life So Far" by Jane Fonda

* "True Believer" by Nicholas Sparks

Barnes & Noble

* "Fourth of July" by James Patterson

* "The DaVinci Code" by Dan Brown

* "1776" by David McCullough

Hastings

* "1776" by David McCullough

* "Your Best Life Now" by Joel Osteen

* "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith: by Matthew Stover

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