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April 13, 2007 Edition

Critique of Criminal Reason, by Michael Gregorio

Kant, advocate of emotion-free logic, appears here in his later years to lend his expertise to a former student. Stiffeniis is a judge from the countryside who has been summoned by the King of Prussia to catch a serial killer. Inclined to follow traditional methods of solving crimes (torture, for instance), he only reluctantly adopts his mentorís new theory of Criminal Reasoning as bodies pile up in this historical mystery. Set in Konigsberg during a particularly nasty winter as France nips at Prussiaís heels, this is a complex and intelligent read.

Call me by your name, by Andre Aciman

Seventeen year-old Elio spends summers at his familyís Italian villa, swimming, basking in the sun, and listening to his fatherís erudite guests argue obscure points. This year, however, one of the guests is Oliver, a handsome 24 year-old who is comfortable with his body, his Jewish identity, and his sexuality. Elio is immediately attracted, but Oliver seems aloof. Aciman catches the nuances of the romantic dance perfectly: the way a look can elevate or devastate, or a tone of voice can open up a quicksand of uncertainty.

Season of the Burning Souls, by Ken Hodgson

Itís the summer of 1943 in the town of Silver City, and people are burning up Ė literally. First itís Phil-the-Prophet, then an itinerant banjo player, and finally a 101 year-old nun. Whether itís a natural phenomenon, bizarre supernatural assassinations, or a Nazi plot, Sheriff Sam Sinrod doesnít know, but heís determined to find out. This mix of mystery and western with a seasoning of science fiction will keep readers guessing till the end.

Missile Gap, by Charles Stross

This slim volume of alternative history contemplates the flat and strangely changed, post-Cuban war Earth. Though the stars are now different, the US- Soviet war continues unabated, and both sides are sending colonists to explore the new continents. What they find astounds them all: humans arenít the only ones with nuclear power and the will to use it.

Darkfever, by Karen Marie Moning

From acclaimed romance-writer Moning comes the first in a new trilogy that explores the sometimes thin line between the human and fae worlds. When MacKayla Laneís sister is murdered in Ireland, Mac leaves her comfortable Georgia life to find out who Ė or what - killed her. Macís only clue is a panicked phone message from Alina that she doesnít understand. Her arrival in Dublin leaves her still more confused: for one thing, sheís sure sheís seen a leprechaun in the airport and an elf in a pub. As she begins to understand her heritage, she gains a mentor and learns to watch the shadows in this suspenseful supernatural thriller.

The Book of Dave, by Will Self

What if the world were run by a London cabbie? 500 years from now, in a place that used to be London, the society of Ham follows the Book of Dave religiously. Chapters alternate between the contemporary period when Dave, a disillusioned, divorced, and depressed father writes and then buries a book for posterity, and the future, when said book is taken as gospel, offering a grimly humorous look at society. The plot spreads out like a map of London, and the Hamstersí Mokni speech (thereís a dictionary in the back) adds to the contortions needed to work through this rewarding novel.

The Perfect Fake, by Barbara Parker

When graphic artist Tom Fairchild is hired to duplicate a valuable but ruined 16th century map, heís interested in more than the money. Sure, heís got his probation officer breathing down his neck, wanting him to pay restitution to his latest victim, and $50,000 would help, but more than that, Tomís always up for a new challenge. But the instructions heís getting make the job sound more like forgery than duplication, and Tom really doesnít want to go back to prison Ė but the stakes are higher than he knows in this thriller.

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