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     Volume 4 Issue 14 | September 24, 2004 |

   Cover Story
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Latest Arrivals:Fiction

Sanyat Sattar

What to Keep
Rachel Cline
Random House; April 2004

In her smart and witty first novel, Cline homes in on three pivotal periods in the life of Denny Roman. We first see her as a seventh-grader in 1976 in Columbus, Ohio, still reeling from her parents' divorce and lashing out at the taunts of schoolmates with fearless and lacerating humor. At 27, she is a struggling actress in Hollywood come home to Columbus to pack up her childhood belongings. Some of the constants in her life include her cerebral, perpetually distracted scientist mom, with whom she has a complicated relationship; her vulnerable, sensitive step-dad; and her prescient, deeply wise best friend, the acerbic Maureen. This is a wryly funny novel that feels completely fresh and has an odd but effective structure.

Song of Susannah: The Dark Tower VI
Stephen King
Donald M. Grant/Scribner; June 2004

There's something about a crippled, black, schizophrenic, civil rights activist-turned-gunslinger whose body has been hijacked by a white, pregnant demon from a parallel world that keeps a seven-volume story bracingly strong as it veers toward its Armageddon-like conclusion. The sixth installment of this magnum opus stops short with the biggest cliffhanger of King's career, but readers at the edge of their seats need only wait a few short months (Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower) to find out how and if-King's fictional universe will come to an end.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter
Jeff Lindsay
Doubleday; July 2004

It's been years since there's been a thriller debut as original as this one by Lindsay, who takes a tired sub genre-the serial-killer novel-and makes it as fresh as dawn. Lindsay's premise alone is worthy: narrator Dexter Morgan, a blood-spatter specialist for the Miami cops, is also a serial killer. The story opens with Dexter at play, kidnapping and killing a priest who has murdered a number of children, then moves on to the main plot, a series of gruesome killings of prostitutes by an unknown madman. Dexter's foster sister is a Miami Vice Squad cop working on the killings, so Dexter decides to help her solve the case. This puts him in conflict with a dumb but ambitious female homicide detective as well as, soon enough, the killer himself, whose approach to serial killing mirrors Dexter's own, uncomfortably so. Might Dexter himself be the culprit? The answer feels a bit contrived, but will surprise most readers, and it's a minor flaw in a gripping, deliciously offbeat novel that announces the arrival of a notable new talent.







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