“Heat Lightning” by John Sandford, G.P. Putnam’s Sons ($26.95)
Virgil Flowers, the newest member of Lucas Davenport’s investigative squad, is back with a new puzzle on his plate. When Davenport calls Virgil to tell him there has been a second homicide in less than two weeks with similar circumstances, Virgil hits the streets. Both of the victims were shot at close range with a .22, both were discovered by a war memorial, and both had a lemon stuffed in his mouth. Virgil needs to find the connection before another murder takes place. When he finds the connection, he almost wishes he had not.
During the investigation, Flowers finds out that a lemon in a person’s mouth is a Vietnamese symbol of keeping family secrets. Finding out that the victims served in the same unit in Viet Nam leads Virgil to a Veterans’ support group. Virgil begins to believe that the group’s leader may be a person of interest in these murders, but he can’t quite connect the dots.
The list of victims grows, and Virgil is running to keep up with the new information that comes to light. This is a brilliant suspense story that will keep you up late.
“twilight” by Stephenie Meyer, Little, Brown and Co. ($19.99)
This is the first in a four-book series that is sweeping the country in popularity with teenagers and adults alike. Not your typical “blood-sucking” tale of vampires roaming the night, this book is a love story with complications.
Bella moves to Washington State to live with her father so her mother can be free to travel with her ball-playing second husband. She finds it difficult to transition from the sunshine of Florida to the cloudy skies of the northwestern state. While sitting in the cafeteria on her first day of school, she notices a group of five kids across the room; her eyes are drawn to them because of their beauty and the paleness of their skin. But when one of the boys meets her eyes, she almost recoils from the hate in the look that he gives her. She thinks it’s her imagination, but when she enters her biology class and discovers the only available seat is next to him, his intense dislike of her is noticeable to other members of her class.
Her father, the local sheriff, tells her that the father of the family is a noted surgeon at the hospital and that all the kids are very intelligent and well behaved.
As the days pass, she notices that the family always sit together in the cafeteria, but they never eat. Edward, the oldest boy who seems to hate her, surprises her one day in biology class by speaking to her and being friendly. She eventually gets to know Edward and learns to love him. Along with this familiarity, she not only learns their secret, but that they are not biologically related. They have been rescued from dire circumstances by Carlisle, the head of the family, who has taught them to renounce human prey and live off the blood of animals, which they hunt far from their home turf.
For Edward’s sake, the family welcomes Bella into their home, but when a group of tracking vampires becomes fixated on her, they risk their home life to protect her. The results of their decision have devastating effects on the family and on Bella, personally.
If you are not a fan of vampire stories, this one is so different that you will still want to pick it up and read it. Once you finish this book, you will be anxious to read the three that follow.
“The Gate House” by Nelson DeMille, Grand Central Publishing ($27.99)
When John Sutter’s wife shot and killed Frank Bellarosa, mafia don, neighbor and lover, John got on his sailboat and sailed around the world, ending up in London, where he has worked for the last seven years. Ten years later, he has returned to the Gold Coast to help settle the estate of an old family servant. Taking up residence in the gatehouse of the estate, he discovers that his ex-wife has also returned and is living only a quarter of a mile away.
Much to his chagrin, he soon crosses paths with Frank Bellarosa’s son, who is not only trying to earn the respect of his father’s mafia family, but is also driven by a need to avenge his father’s death, his target being Susan Sutter.
As John and Susan’s feelings for each other are rekindled, they find themselves in a fight with Susan’s parents to reunite, a tug of war with law enforcement officials who want Frank’s son behind bars, and in a struggle to make sure that Susan is protected.
This book is the sequel to DeMille’s earlier story, The Gold Coast, and his writing style draws the reader in.
“Scarpetta” by Patricia Cornwell, G.P. Putnam’s Sons ($27.95)
Kay Scarpetta is in New York with her husband, Benton, and her niece, Lucy, to examine a patient in the Bellevue Hospital psychiatric prison ward. The prisoner has asked specifically for her and has refused to talk to anyone else. He is free to leave the hospital at any time because the police have no evidence that he has committed any crime, even though he is discovered holding the body of his murdered girlfriend.
When Kay enters the room of Oscar Bane, she is treated to a bizarre story from a paranoid individual who believes he is being tracked and spied on by the government through electronic means.
Unknown to Kay and Lucy, Pete Marino is now with the New York Police Department, and the reunion between the three may be strained due to the circumstances under which Pete bowed out of their lives.
Bodies that seem to have no connection to each other begin to be discovered. In addition, someone is attacking Kay Scarpetta, not physically but through a Web site that is damaging to her reputation.
The team of Scarpetta, Benton, Lucy and Marino come together once again to put the case to rest. A new character is also introduced who will probably find a place in future Kay Scarpetta books.
This book is Cornwell at her best, with many unexpected twists and turns.
“Books – a memoir” by Larry McMurtry, Simon and Schuster, ($24.00)
Pulitzer Prize and Academy Award winner Larry McMurtry is probably best known for such works at The Last Picture Show, Lonesome Dove, and his co-authorship of Brokeback Mountain. In this memoir, McMurtry takes you down the road for a glimpse of his childhood, his young adult life, and where his experiences with books have led him.
Born in Archer City, Texas, he grew up on a cattle ranch where there was not much opportunity to read. When a relative left him a box of 19 books, his world opened up to the concept of imagination. His life took a series of turns that led him to become an author, a scriptwriter, a college professor, and a bookstore owner. His writing led him to live in Houston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C., and finally full circle back to Archer City.
Finding that he has a love of books, he has become a bookman, buying and selling books ranging from comic books to travel books to historical novels.
This book takes you on an extraordinary journey through the life of a writer, a voracious reader, eccentric collectors and sellers, and the search for those rare finds that bookmen long for. It is full of stories, amazing characters, anecdotes of authors, including McMurtry himself, and engaging gossip. This is a look behind the scenes of the buying and selling market of books.