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September 14, 2007 Edition

Eifelheim, by Michael Flynn

Hard science fiction meets historical narrative in this dense but compelling story of the Black Death in a small German town (reminiscent of Connie Willisí ďThe Doomsday BookĒ). The mystery begins when Tom, a historian, wonders why the town of Eifelheim was never resettled after the devastation of the Plague and deepens when he realizes that the townís old name of Oberhochwald was changed at the same time that its inhabitants were wiped out. Why rename an empty town? Most of the story takes place in medieval times, and one of the draws is seeing how the language and world-view of the time necessarily obscures Tomís search for the truth. When Tomís physicist girlfriend, Sharon, recognizes a wiring diagram in an illuminated treatise, the conclusion is inescapable: in a medieval Black Forest village, aliens from the stars lived and died.

Blind Submission, by Debra Ginsberg

When Angel Robinson loses her job at the Blue Moon Bookstore, she is fortunate enough to land a new one as an assistant to a renowned literary agent and quickly makes herself indispensable to her diva of a boss. But things start to go sour when she receives the first chapters of an unsolicited manuscript that contains parallels to her own life in the office and at home. As more installments arrive, each more personal than the last, she goes from intrigued to frightened. While her overbearing boss is desperate to sign the anonymous author, Angel is equally desperate to get the creep out of her life in this black comedy of a mystery.

Stealing Lincolnís Body, by Thomas J. Craughwell

Craughwell brings together counterfeiters, lawyers, corpse-stealers, Lincolnís Guard of Honor, and Abraham Lincoln himself in this intriguing novel that brings to light a little-known historical incident. Not a light read, this somewhat macabre story traces Abraham Lincolnís body from the room in which he died to the cement in which he now reposes. In 1876, on the eve of a presidential election, two men got as far as removing Lincolnís casket from his sarcophagus, with the goal of holding the corpse for ransom. Though they didnít succeed, the incident led to the casket being stashed ignomiously under the tomb for safety for years. The history of American counterfeiting, the creation of the Secret Service, the art of embalming, and the lives of Lincolnís surviving family flesh out this fascinating slice of history.

Lazy Eye, by Donna Daley-Clarke.

This series of character sketches and vignettes swirls fluidly around an immigrant family in 1970s Great Britain. Sonny Johnson is a West Indian soccer player for whom racial taunts and an unprecedented heat wave come together disastrously, leaving his son and daughter to live with their aunt while he serves time in prison. Letters from Sonny are interspersed with his sonís memories and hopes, combining into an energetic whole. Winner of the 2006 Commonwealth Writersí Prize for Best First Book.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, by Paul Torday

Stocking a wadi in a Yemeni desert with salmon is a preposterous idea, but it is what Sheik Muhammad, a wealthy and powerful man, wants most. The British government is anxious for better publicity than what is generally coming out of the Middle East and encourages fisheries scientist Dr. Alfred Jones to work on the project. Together with the sheikís elegant land agent, Harriet Chetwode-Talbot, and the British Prime Ministerís odious liaison, Peter Maxwell, Dr. Jones works to perform a brief but brilliant miracle: fly-fishing in the desert.

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