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All Book Reviews

Mostly Fiction's
Top Picks for 2002

Based on the books that we've reviewed this year, the following lists our most recommended reads. Last year I worried about all the books left off the list because I didn't have time to review as many novels as I would have liked. This year, I have lots of help and the number of MostlyFiction.com's reviews have tripled. So this year offers a different challenge: selecting the best books, and including those that I might not have read myself. In some cases this is easy since when a reviewer is excited about a book, I tend to hear this before the review comes in. Other times, you can see it in the review itself. (And yeah, I did finally ask everyone.) Anyhow, the judgement criteria does not change: these books are selected for their quality of writing, creativity and lasting impression -- no matter who got to read the book. And nearly all of these are highly recommended for reading group material. So in no particular order...

The 2002 Top Picks (click on title to jump to short summary):
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Empire Falls by Richard Russo
Published May 2001; April 2002 in paperback

Empire Falls at amazon.comMiles Roby has been slinging burgers at the Empire Grill for 20 years, a job that cost him his college education and much of his self-respect. What keeps him there? It could be his bright, sensitive daughter Tick, who needs all his help surviving the local high school. Or maybe it’s Janine, Miles’ soon-to-be ex-wife, who’s taken up with a noxiously vain health-club proprietor. Or perhaps it’s the imperious Francine Whiting, who owns everything in town–-and seems to believe that “everything” includes Miles himself. In Empire Falls Richard Russo delves deep into the blue-collar heart of America in a work that overflows with hilarity, heartache, and grace.

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Atonement by Ian McEwan
Published March 2002

Atonement at amazon.comOn the hottest day of the summer of 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her older sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching Cecilia is their housekeeper’s son Robbie Turner, a childhood friend who, along with Briony’s sister, has recently graduated from Cambridge. By the end of that day the lives of all three will have been changed forever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had never before dared to approach and will have become victims of the younger girl’s scheming imagination. And Briony will have committed a dreadful crime, the guilt for which will color her entire life.

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The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Published May 2002

The Life of Pi at amazon.comPi Patel is an unusual boy. The son of a zookeeper, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior, a fervent love of stories, and practices not only his native Hinduism, but also Christianity and Islam. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes. The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger.

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The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Published June 2002

The Lovely Bones at amazon.comFourteen-year-old Susie Salmon is already in heaven when she narrates the events of this story. She tells us what her new home is like, about her murder, the after events and how her family and friends deal with her death, especially over the years. Though one would expect a story of this nature to offer lots to wallow over; it doesn't. Instead it maintains an almost upbeat tone offering lots of insight into family, especially a family dealing with grief, and shows how life eventually goes on for all concerned.

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Spilling Clarence by Anne Ursu
Published January 2002

Spilling Clarence at amazon.comIn the fictional town of Clarence, Minnesota, a breakroom microwave sparks a smoky fire at the pharmaceutical factory and triggers a massive chemical spill. Panic-stricken and paralyzed, the townspeople wait until the all-clear signal to assure them everything's back to normal. Except that it isn't. Over the coming days, the citizens of Clarence fall under the spell of a strange and powerful drug that unlocks their memories. They become trapped by their own reminiscences: of love and death, of war and childhood, of family they've lost and sins they've committed. Beautifully rendered with a light comic touch, this bittersweet first novel is about more than the sum of its beguiling parts. It's about the need to remember, and about the bliss of forgetting. A universe peopled by exquisitely drawn characters, Spilling Clarence is a funny, moving story with a truly original premise that introduces the talents of an exciting new writer.

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The Dive from Claussen's Pier by Ann Packer
Published September 2002

The Dive from Claussen's Pier at amazon.comCarrie Bell has lived in Wisconsin all her life. She’s had the same best friend, the same good relationship with her mother, the same boyfriend, Mike, now her fiancé, for as long as anyone can remember. It’s with real surprise she finds that, at age twenty-three, her life has begun to feel suffocating. She longs for a change, an upheaval, for a chance to begin again. That chance is granted to her, terribly, when Mike is injured in an accident. Now Carrie has to question everything she thought she knew about herself and the meaning of home. She must ask: How much do we owe the people we love? Is it a sign of strength or of weakness to walk away from someone in need? As our reviewer says, this is "the kind of old fashioned story that existed before writers felt they had to make their presence known on every page."

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Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry
Published September 2002

Family Matters at amazon.comThis new novel takes us to Bombay in the mid-1990s. Nariman Vakeel is a seventy-nine-year-old Parsi widower and the patriarch of a small discordant family. Beset by Parkinson’s disease and haunted by memories of the past, he lives in a once-elegant apartment with his two middle-aged stepchildren – Coomy, bitter and domineering, and her brother, Jal, mild-mannered and acquiescent. When Nariman’s illness is compounded by a broken ankle, Coomy plots to turn his round-the-clock care over to Roxana, his sweet-tempered sister. She succeeds, but not without cost, and eventually Nariman takes up residence with Roxana, her husband, Yezad, and their two young sons. The effect of the new responsibility on Yezad, who is already besieged by financial worries, pushes him into a scheme of deception involving Vikram Kapur, his eccentric, often exasperating employer at Bombay Sporting Goods Emporium. This sets in motion a series of events – a great unravelling and a revelation of the family’s love-torn past – that leads to the narrative’s final outcome.

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Unless by Carol Shields
Published April 2002

Unless at amazon.comReta Winters has started a new sort of life. After 44 years she is discovering the meaning of loss for the first time. For all of her forty-four years, Reta has enjoyed the useful monotony of happiness: a loving family, good friends, growing success as a writer of light fiction, novels "for summertime." This placid existence cracks open one fearfulday when her beloved eldest daughter, Norah, drops out of life to sit on a ritty street corner, silent but for the sign around her neck that reads "GOODNESS." Reta's search for what drove her daughter to such a desperate statement turns into an unflinching and surprisingly funny meditation on where in life we find meaning and hope. Warmth, passion and wisdom come together in Shields's remarkably supple prose. Unless, a harrowing but ultimately consoling story of one family's anguish and healing, proves her mastery of extraordinary fictions about ordinary life.

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The Cyclist by Viken Berberian
Published March 2002

The Cyclist at amazon.comThe enigmatic narrator is a young trainee of the Academy, a terrorist group in the present-day Middle East. This unnamed, transnational pawn has a single mission: to deliver a bomb by bicycle to a hotel, where it will explode, killing hundreds of civilians. But his story is anything but simple. Combining surrealism, tragedy and humor, The Cyclist is a journey into the unsettling workings of the terrorist mind. Even as the narrator ponders his mission, only his musings about food and love reveal clues to his nationality and his agenda. But can such a zestful connoisseur also be a true agent of political violence? This is a witty and wildly inventive novel.

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The Rainbow Singer by Simon Kerr
Published June 2002

The Rainbow Singer at amazon.comThe narrator of this harrowing and hilarious novel is Wil Carson, a former Protestant ex-thug from Northern Ireland. Wil’s adolescent hatred of Catholics is inherited from his bigoted father, but his sardonic twist on life as a "no-hoper from the Backstreets of East Belfast" is all his own. When the opportunity of a lifetime arises -- a chance to travel to America as part of a church-sponsored peace project -- Wil decides to swallow his prejudices and go along with the program. But his goodwill only goes so far, and a series of tragicomic events lands him in a Wisconsin penitentiary. Wil’s stint behind bars leaves him plenty of time to review his past deeds, ponder the choices he’s made, and reflect on a life of mixed blessings and curses. The Rainbow Singer offers a unique slant on Northern Ireland’s ethnic strife as well as an utterly original and distinct new voice in fiction.

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The Big If by Mark Costello
Published June 2002

The Big If at amazon.comA scary, funny novel—a riff on recent history and the American obsession with assassination. It's winter in New Hampshire, the economy is booming, the vice president is running for president, and his Secret Service people are very, very tense. Meet Vi Asplund, a young Secret Service agent mourning her dead father. She goes home to New Hampshire to see her brother Jens, a computer genius who just might be going mad—and is poised to make a fortune on Big If, a viciously nihilistic computer game aimed at teenagers. Vi's America, as she sees it in the crowds, in her brother, and in her fellow agents, is affluent, anxious, and abuzz with vague fantasies of violence. Through a gallery of vivid characters—heroic, ignoble, or desperate—Mark Costello's novel limns the strategies, both sound and absurd, that we conjure to survive in daily life.

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The Resurrectionists by Michael Collins
Published September 2002

The Resurrectionists at amazon.comThe solitude of the Upper Michigan Peninsula is Michael Collins's heart of darkness in this compelling story of the unquiet dead. Almost thirty years ago, when Frank Cassidy was five, his parents burned to death in a remote Michigan town. Now Frank's uncle is dead too, shot by a mysterious stranger who lies in a coma in the local hospital. Frank, working menial jobs to support his unfaithful wife and two children, takes his family north in a series of stolen cars to dispute his cousin's claim on the family farm. Once there, however, Frank also wants answers to questions about his own past: Who really set the fire that burned the family home and killed his parents? Will the stranger, who hangs between life and death, be able to shed light on long-buried secrets? As the television blares the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, news of Jim Jones, and endless sitcom reruns, simple answers -- and the promise of the American dream -- seem to recede from Frank's grasp. Brilliant and unsettling, The Resurrectionists is an ironic yet chilling indictment of American culture in the seventies and a compassionate novel about a man struggling to overcome the crimes and burdens of his past.

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The Crazed by Ha Jin
Published October 2002

The Crazed at amazon.comIn his luminous new novel, the author of Waiting deepens his portrait of contemporary Chinese society while exploring the perennial conflicts between convention and individualism, integrity and pragmatism, loyalty and betrayal. Professor Yang, a respected teacher of literature at a provincial university, has had a stroke, and his student Jian Wan—who is also engaged to Yang’s daughter—has been assigned to care for him. What at first seems a simple if burdensome duty becomes treacherous when the professor begins to rave: pleading with invisible tormentors, denouncing his family, his colleagues, and a system in which a scholar is “just a piece of meat on a cutting board.” Are these just manifestations of illness, or is Yang spewing up the truth? And can the dutiful Jian avoid being irretrievably compromised? For in a China convulsed by the Tiananmen uprising, those who hear the truth are as much at risk as those who speak it. At once nuanced and fierce, earthy and humane, The Crazed is further evidence of Ha Jin’s prodigious narrative gifts.

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The Bondwoman's Narrative by Hannah Crafts
April 2002

Mr Potter at amazon.comThis tale written in the 1850s is the only known novel by a female African American slave, and quite possibly the first novel written by a black woman anywhere. A work recently uncovered by renowned scholar Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., it is a stirring, page-turning story of "passing" and the adventures of a young slave as she makes her way to freedom.

Presented here unaltered and under its author's original title, The Bondwoman's Narrative tells of a self-educated young house slave who knows her life is limited by the brutalities of her society, but never suspects that the freedom of her plantation's beautiful new mistress is also at risk...or that a devastating secret will force them both to flee from slave hunters with another powerful, determined enemy at their heels.


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Mr. Potter by Jamaica Kincaid
May 2002

Mr Potter at amazon.comJamaica Kincaid's first obsession, the island of Antigua, comes vibrantly to life under the gaze of Mr. Potter, an illiterate taxi chauffeur who makes his living along the wide, open roads that pass the only towns he has ever seen and the graveyard where he will be buried. The sun shines squarely overhead, the ocean lies on every side, and suppressed passion fills the air.

Misery infects the unstudied, slow pace of this island and of Mr. Potter's days. As Kincaid's narrative unfolds in linked vignettes, his story becomes the story of a vital, crippled community. Kincaid strings together a moving picture of Mr. Potter's ancestors -- beginning with memories of his father, a poor fisherman, and his mother, who committed suicide -- and the outside world that presses in on his life, in the form of his Lebanese employer and, later, a couple fleeing World War II. Within these surroundings, Mr. Potter struggles to live at ease: to purchase a car, to have girlfriends, to shake off the encumbrance of his daughters -- one of whom will return to Antigua after he dies, and will tell his story with equal measures of distance and sympathy.

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A Winter Marriage by Kerry Hardie
Published December 2002

A Winter Marriage at amazon.com"She met him at a wedding she had gone to only because she needed a husband and a wedding wasn't a bad place to begin looking. . . . And he took to her, he liked her crooked straightness from the start." Hannie Bennet has arrived at the situation she dreads most: she is a woman of a certain age, recently widowed, and her only prospect for protecting herself and all she holds dear is to marry again. And soon.

In Ned Renvyle she finds her perfect foil. It is not love, certainly, but marriage offers other comforts. They enter their union clear-eyed, each making certain accommodations and gaining certain benefits. Hannie believes that this time she can make it work. But their move to Ned's ancestral home in the Irish countryside brings vexations Hannie never imagined-judging eyes, ancient secrets, a brooding and beautiful landscape. Hannie also has a secret of her own, and even this remote and stately country life cannot contain it entirely. A visitor unleashes a maelstrom of jealousy, deceit, blackmail, and terror, and the violence scarcely contained by age-old understandings becomes the true crucible for a marriage's strength.

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Henderson's Spear by Richard Wright

Published March 2002

Henderson's Spear at amazon.comOlivia, a Canadian filmmaker, is writing from a Tahitian jail, piecing together, her troubled past and her family's buried history for the daughter she gave up to adoption years before. The search for her own father, a pilot missing since the Korean War, has, brought her to the South Seas and landed her behind bars on a trumped-up murder charge. In the stillness of her cell, Olivia ponders the meaning of the secret journals she discovered after her mother's death. Their author is her ancestor Frank Henderson, a British naval officer who, as a young man, came to these same waters a hundred years before. The journals tell of his terrifying adventures in West Africa and an extraordinary three-year voyage to Polynesia with Queen Victoria's grandsons -- Prince George (later George V) and his brother Prince Eddy, who would die young and disgraced. Frank's long-ago revelations, which include a fleeting love affair with a Polynesian girl, lead Olivia to understand her father's disappearance and her mother's strange attitude toward the past. Through unforgettable characters and a deep understanding of the landscape and culture of the South Seas, Henderson's Spear tells a mesmerizing story about the patterns of history and the accidents of love.

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Captain Saturday by Robert Inman
Published January 2002

Captain Saturday at amazon.comWill Baggett, TV weatherman, is Raleigh, North Carolina's biggest celebrity. With adoring fans, a nice house, a son in medical school, and a beautiful wife who is one of the town's top real-estate brokers, Will's life is pretty much exactly the way he wants it. But his well-ordered world comes crashing down when a heartless conglomerate buys the TV station and decides that Will is a relic of the past. Trying to get his job back, he gets himself arrested and badly injures both his knee and his pride. That's when Will starts to realize that more than just his career is in jeopardy: his marriage is coming apart and his son doesn't like him very much. Just when he thinks he's hit bottom, the past he thought he didn't have comes calling in the form of his cousin, Wingfoot Baggett, who takes Will for some R&R back home on the Cape Fear River. How Will comes to terms with his history, resolves his trouble with the law, gets to know his son—and himself—and tries to recapture the magic of his marriage is the subject of Robert Inman's graceful, comic, and poignant novel.

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In the Walled Gardens by Anahita Firouz
Published September 2002

In the Walled Gardens at amazon.comIn the Walled Gardens is a powerful political novel and, as our reviewer points out, "equal in scope and in art to the best works by Greene, Naipaul, and other masters of this important genre." Anahita Firouz belongs to the last generation in Iran who witnessed an entire way of life fall apart. This novel is her evocation of that complex and alluring world — a beautifully written portrait of a now-vanished era, and an unforgettable, revolutionary love story.

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Lovely Green Eyes by Arnost Lustig
Published April 2002

Lovely Green Eyes at amazon.comShe has hair of ginger and lovely green eyes, and she has just been transported with her family from Terezín to Auschwitz. In short order, her father commits suicide, and her mother and younger brother are dispatched to the gas chambers, but young Hanka Kaudersová, working for Dr. Krueger, is still alive. Faced with the choice of death or working in a German military brothel on the eastern front, she chooses life, and passes as an Aryan. Hanka fights cold and hunger, fear and shame, sustained by her loathing of the men who visit her and by a fierce desire to live. This remarkable novel soars beyond nightmare to leave the reader with a transcendent sense of hope.

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The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan
Published February 2002

The Twentieth Wife at amazon.comAn enchanting seventeenth-century epic of grand passion and adventure, this debut novel tells the captivating story of one of India's most legendary and controversial empresses -- a woman whose brilliance and determination trumped myriad obstacles, and whose love shaped the course of the Mughal empire. As our reviwer points out, "The Twentieth Wife, soars through time with historical detail, political tension and, throughout, a nearly unrequited love story. Political power, social customs and court life in the Mughal Empire are rendered with the sense of the poet and the eye of the researcher. Not only is the reader treated to lyrical descriptions of sight, smell, texture, and sounds of the time, but also to authentic historical and social details. Lush landscapes, brilliant silk and muslin clothing, the scents of an evening grilled meal, and floral trees blowing in the breeze all bring the dusty and nearly forgotten story of a woman - without whom there may be no Taj Mahal - to life."

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Kleopatra by Karen Essex
Published August 2002 in paperback

Kleopatra at amazon.comThe cherished daughter of an Egyptian pharaoh, she fought the resentments of a subjugated people and the treachery of her own siblings. Defending her throne from hostile forces on every side, she endured exile, found love, and raised a mercenary army against her enemies...all before she was twenty years old. She was Kleopatra. And this is her untold story. Sweeping from the exotic intrigue of ancient Alexandria across the northern African desert to the chaos and corruption of Rome, this novel about one of the most powerful and alluring leaders of all time combines years of exhaustive research with storytelling rich in drama and excitement. The result is the most authentic, entertaining, and endlessly surprising account of the Egyptian queen ever written.


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Wet Grave by Barbara Hambly
Published June 2002

Wet Grave at amazon.comIt’s 1835 and the relentless glare of the late July sun has slowed New Orleans to a standstill. When Hesione LeGros--once a corsair’s jeweled mistress, now a raddled hag--is found slashed to death in a shanty on the fringe of New Orleans’s most lawless quarter, there are few to care. But one of them is Benjamin January, musician and teacher. He well recalls her blazing ebony beauty when she appeared, exquisitely gowned and handy with a stiletto, at a demimonde banquet years ago. Who would want to kill this woman now--Hessy, they said, would turn a trick for a bottle of rum--had some quarrelsome “customer” decided to do away with her? Or could it be one of the sexual predators who roamed the dark and seedy streets? Or--as Benjamin comes to suspect--was her killer someone she knew, someone whose careful search of her shack suggests a cold-blooded crime? Someone whose boot left a chillingly distinctive print . . .

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Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult
Published May 2002

Perfect Match at amazon.comWhat does it mean to be a good mother? For career-driven assistant district attorney Nina Frost, the question inspires pangs of guilt familiar to all parents torn by the demands of home and office. But whereas most parents lie awake at night vividly conjuring the worst scenarios that could befall their children in their absence, Nina lives the reality of such crises -- and it's her job to do something about them. Nina Frost prosecutes child molesters -- and in the course of her everyday work, she has endured the frustration of seeing too many criminals slip through the system and walk free. Then her own son ends up mute from traumatic abuse. Morally complex suspense fiction.

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Reversible Errors by Scott Turow
Published November 2002

Reverisble Errors at amazon.comRommy "Squirrel" Gandolph is a Yellow Man, an inmate on death row for a 1991 triple murder in Kindle County. His slow progress toward certain execution is nearing completion when Arthur Raven, a corporate lawyer who is Rommy's reluctant court-appointed representative, receives word that another inmate may have new evidence that will exonerate Gandolph. Arthur's opponent in the case is Muriel Wynn, Kindle County's formidable chief deputy prosecuting attorney, who is considering a run for her boss's job. Muriel and Larry Starczek, the original detective on the case, don't want to see Rommy escape a fate they long ago determined he deserved, for a host of reasons. Further complicating the situation is the fact that Gillian Sullivan, the judge who originally found Rommy guilty, is only recently out of prison herself, having served time for taking bribes. Scott Turow's compelling, multidimensional characters take the reader into Kindle County's parallel yet intersecting worlds of police and small-time crooks, airline executives and sophisticated scammers -- and lawyers of all stripes. No other writer offers such a convincing true-to-life picture of how the law and life interact, or such a profound understanding of what is at stake -- personally, professionally, and morally -- when the state holds the power to end a man's life.

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Chasing the Dime by Michael Connelly
Published October 2002

Chasing the Dime at amazon.comHenry Pierce has a whole new life—new apartment, new telephone, new telephone number. But the first time he checks his messages, he discovers that someone had the number before him. The messages on his line are for a woman named Lilly, and she is in some kind of serious trouble. Pierce is inexorably drawn into Lilly's world, and it's unlike any world he's ever known. It is a nighttime world of escort services, websites, sex, and secret identities. Pierce tumbles through a hole, abandoning his orderly life in a frantic race to save the life of a woman he has never met. Pierce's skills as a computer entrepreneur allow him to trace Lilly's last days with some precision. But every step into Lilly's past takes Pierce deeper into a web of inescapable intricacy—and a decision that could cost him everything he owns and holds dear.

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Night Watch by Terry Pratchett
November 2002

Night Watch at amazon.comFlung back in time by a mysterious accident, Sam Vimes has to start all over again. He must get a new name and a job, and there's only one job he's good at: cop in the Watch. He must track down a brutal murderer. He must find his younger self and teach him everything he knows. He must whip the cowardly, despised Night Watch into a crack fighting force -- fast. Because Sam Vimes knows what's going to happen. He remembers it. He was there. It's part of history. And you can't change history . . . But Sam is going to. He has no choice. Otherwise, a bloody revolution will start, and good men will die. Sam saw their names on old headstones just this morning -- but tonight they're young men who think they have a future. And rather than let them die, Sam will do anything -- turn traitor, burn buildings, take over a revolt, anything -- to snatch them from the jaws of history. He will do it even if victory will mean giving up the only future he knows. For if he succeeds, he's got no wife, no child, no riches, no fame -- all that will simply vanish. But if he doesn't try, he wouldn't be Sam Vimes..

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American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Published June 2001; April 2002 in paperback

American Gods at amazon.comShadow is a man with a past. But now he wants nothing more than to live a quiet life with his wife and stay out of trouble. Until he learns that she's been killed in a terrible accident. Flying home for the funeral, as a violent storm rocks the plane, a strange man in the seat next to him introduces himself. The man calls himself Mr. Wednesday, and he knows more about Shadow than is possible. He warns Shadow that a far bigger storm is coming. And from that moment on, nothing will ever be the same...

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Stay by Nicola Griffith
Published April 2002

Stay at amazon.comStay opens with Aud, normally the epitome of cool-under-fire contained competence, disintegrating with grief and guilt over the violent death of her lover. These emotions are new to her, and she has moved deep into the North Carolina woods, away from people, afraid of what she might do if pushed. Into her refuge comes her oldest friend asking an impossible favor: to track down his missing fiancée, a woman Aud despises. The police won’t take his concern seriously, and Aud – an ex-cop whose sense of right and wrong has little respect for the law – is the only person he can turn to for help. But to follow the woman’s trail to New York City, she must leave the shelter of her trees and confront a series of physical, moral, and emotional challenges that she has been dodging for weeks, months, and years. None of her choices are easy.

Stay is a dazzling showcase for Griffith’s literary talent. She layers an array of different elements – urban tension and pastoral beauty, complex characters and white-knuckled narrative suspense, lyric prose and visceral violence – into a novel of depth, subtlety, and riveting noir storytelling.

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Hell To Pay by George Pelecanos
Published March 2002

Hell to Pay at amazon.comDerek Strange and Terry Quinn, the team of investigators who made their bestselling debut in Right As Rain, are hired to find a fourteen-year-old girl who's run away from her home in the suburbs. It's easy for Strange and Quinn to learn that the girl is now working as a prostitute in one of D.C.'s most brutal neighborhoods. Getting her to leave is harder. The two ex-cops think they know this world—but nothing in their experience has prepared them for the vengeance of Worldwide Wilson, the ruthless operator whose territory they are intruding upon. Their mission is fractured by a violent criminal act against a young player from the neighborhood football team that Strange coaches. Tracking down the perpetrators becomes a point of honor for Strange and Quinn, and their investigation leads them deep inside the city's labyrinth of crime—and back, again, to the lethal Worldwide Wilson.

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It's My Body and I'll Cry If I Want To by Sharleen Jonasson
Published September 2001

It's My Body at amazon.comBeth Middleton, lapsed feminist, is recently separated from her husband and is the custodial parent of their frequently hostile 14-year-old daughter. A failed investigative journalist in a financial and career slump, she’s wary of the offer, from an unconventional source, of an exceptional assignment: Will she infiltrate an elite beauty clinic to uncover details of a state-of-the art treatment soon to be unleashed on an unsuspecting market? The anti-beauty guerrilla who briefs her claims the treatment could expose millions of women to possibly mortal danger. Beth decides to do her bit to help loosen the hold an increasingly unrealistic beauty industry has over women including, potentially, her own daughter (and also perhaps resolve the ongoing contest between herself and her bathroom mirror). So she signs on as a client at this institution devoted to improving appearances -- and finds many things are not what they appear to be at all. This book delivers a captivating look at the pursuit of beauty in the not-too-distant future. The plot is strikingly original and fast-paced, the writing is smart and funny, and the author clearly has a terrific sense of the absurd. And five months after reading the novel, I still find myself chuckling.

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