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April 24, 2005 Edition

Baker Towers, by Jennifer Haigh

Bakerton, named for the coalmines that are its citizens’ lifeblood, and marked by the two tall towers of coal waste which dominate the scenery, both shelters and stifles the Novak family. Set post-WWII, this gentle novel follows the fortunes of the family members as they work to get more out of life than the mining town has to offer. As they move through their lives, we see changes in the town that foreshadow changes in the greater society.

The Forgotten Man, by Robert Crais

When a man is found shot in an alley, the LAPD call Elvis Cole: the injured man says Elvis is his son. Elvis jumps at the chance to meet his father, who left the family years ago, but before Elvis arrives, his father is dead. On the trail of his father’s lost years, Elvis stirs up some bad business, and soon is being stalked by a killer as he untangles the secrets his father guarded.

The Murder Artist, by John Case

Alex Callahan and his twin sons are at a Renaissance Fair when the boys suddenly disappear. Clues left in his house include a seemingly random set of things: an origami rabbit, a bowl of water, and seven stacked Liberty dimes. Clues gleaned from others who have lost their own sets of twins point towards a voodoo connection. And then he comes across the case of the adult showgirl twins, and tries to believe that they have nothing to do with his sons…

Sammy’s Hill, by Kristin Gore

Presidential campaigns, health care reform, and political morality are all tangled up in this funny romance. Samantha Joyce is a hardworking political analyst working for a US senator in Washington DC when she meets Aaron, a speechwriter who complicates her life in unexpected ways. When Sam’s senator gets picked as the Democratic vice presidential candidate, her life really spins out of control, and she gets her first taste of DC-style scandal thanks to a mis-sent Blackberry message. Written by Al Gore’s daughter, this is an inside look at life on the Hill, with Sam as an Americanized Bridget Jones.

Bad Dirt: Wyoming Stories 2, by Annie Proulx

This collection of stories centers largely around the town of Elk Tooth, where the town’s men spend a winter in a beard-growing contest (abandoned, eventually, because of a man from Rhode Island) and the women stand ready to measure. Everyone in town from the retirees from Brooklyn, the rancher trying to save his farm by raising turkeys, to the young man at the mercy of his neighbors, is immortalized in these stories with an honest and sympathetic eye.

The Reckoning, by Jeff Long

There are still surprises hidden in Cambodia, reminders of the Vietnam war, and photojournalist Molly Drake is determined to uncover them. She’s looking for the remains of an American pilot, shot down during the war, but what she finds is a mystery surrounding the disappearance of an entire American patrol. And she finds that even thirty years after the fact, some want to make sure that secrets are kept.

Much ado about you, by Eloisa James

Tess and her three sisters are orphans living with their guardian, the Duke of Holbrook, when Tess’s plans for the future are thrown into disarray. Society says it’s her job to marry well and quickly, then act as matchmaker for her younger sisters to make sure they find the proper husbands. But when Imogen upsets the balance by eloping with her lover and Tess’s erstwhile fiancé disappears, Tess finds herself in love with a most unsuitable man – yes, he’s rich, yes, he’s handsome, but his reputation is scandalous. Will she have the courage to defy convention and follow her heart?

The Presence, by Heather Graham

Turning a run-down Scottish castle into a tourist destination seems like a great money-maker to Toni and her friends, and they’ve got some great ideas. They stage reenactments that combine fiction with fact, and spice up local history with a little murder and a made-up laird they call Bruce MacNiall. But the friends are in shock when Bruce MacNiall really appears and claims to be the castle’s owner in this murderous romance.

The Memory of Running, by Ron McLarty

This fascinatingly quirky novel follows Smithy Ide, a 43-year old self-proclaimed loser as he begins to shed his skin and grow into the person he’d always wanted to be. It all begins after his parents’ funeral, when he rediscovers his old Raleigh bicycle, and sets off on an epic trip from Rhode Island to reclaim his sister’s remains in Los Angeles. Or maybe it began years before, when Smithy was a runner called Hook and his big sister Bethany was beautiful and not-yet-schizophrenic. Now, as he bicycles along on his quest, he remembers those days, and the days in between, coming to terms with the person he’d become and learning to move on.

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