by Stieg Larsson | [

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People PICK

When Swedish author Stieg Larsson's debut novel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, was published in the U.S. last year, it was an instant bestseller. Tattoo featured crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist and young hacker Lisbeth Salander hunting for a girl who'd gone missing 40 years earlier on a remote island. While suspenseful and impressive, the book had too many digressions on corporate malfeasance for it to be the literary triumph it was hailed as: On the Swedish achievements scale, it ranked closer to meatballs than to Ingmar Bergman. But now comes part 2 of Larsson's trilogy, and it's gripping stuff. Blomkvist and Salander are back, trying to discover who killed two people about to expose Sweden's sex-trafficking trade. It's a nail-biting tale of murder and cover-ups in which the victims are tantalizingly hard to distinguish from the villains. This time, believe the hype.

by Julie Kramer | [

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"Nothing sells a news story like murder, mansions and money," says brassy TV reporter Riley Spartz as she pursues a ratings-grabbing piece. And this amiable mystery about her investigation into a wealthy jilted bride and the groom who's been missing since the eve of their wedding has all three components—along with quirky subplots involving a kidnapped fish at the Mall of America, a meth dealer who sells drugs at yard sales (used Twister game, anyone?) and offstage machinations at a Minneapolis TV station. The heroine's name is irritatingly implausible, and there are some silly scenes involving a comedy club. But smart dialogue and a fleet pace make this second outing in Kramer's fledgling series (after 2008's Stalking Susan) a crowd-pleaser.

by Karin Slaughter |

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Will Trent and Faith Mitchell are not ideal police officers: He's illiterate and has violent outbursts; she's pregnant and attracted to the wrong men. As a team, though, they must compensate for each other's weaknesses and catch a psychopath who's killing women with eating disorders. While it won't make you lose sleep or check your closet for bad guys, Slaughter's latest is a compelling look at how two flawed people work to overcome their shortcomings and combat pure evil.

edited by Michael Taeckens |

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Think your breakup was bad? In the name of love, and its opposite, Junot Díaz punches a turtle. Jennifer Finney Boylan, née James, retreats into wigs, bras and Keats; Dan Kennedy learns the dangers of being hugged by a lesbian pal who's into community theater. These uproarious, touching tales remind us that the heart wants what it wants, and often what it wants defies reason.

>Tattoo was first published in Sweden, a year after the author died of a heart attack. To date it has sold millions of copies worldwide.


MELISSA JOAN HART Peggy Noonan's When Character was King, about Ronald Reagan. I go to lectures at the Reagan Library, so I have to be up on him!

SETH MEYERS The plays of Martin McDonagh. Deal with that, everybody! They're really great. He wrote In Bruges. I've never read plays for leisure before.

SOLEIL MOON FRYE I'm not doing any summer reading myself, but I do read to the kids—lots of children's books. They'll read anything with princesses.

>• Can't get past those Fabio covers? Plenty of romance novels are "well-written by smart, funny women," says Sarah Wendell, author (with Candy Tan) of Beyond Heaving Bosoms. Their faves:

BET ME by Jennifer Crusie WENDELL: It's like the best TV show. TAN: The universe conspires to get the couple together.

THE SHADOW AND THE STAR by Laura Kinsale TAN: A white ninja? It sounds horrible, but it's heartwrenching.

LORD OF SCOUNDRELS by Loretta Chase TAN: The banter is amazing.

MAGNATE'S MAKE-BELIEVE MISTRESS by Bronwyn Jameson WENDELL: A total inversion of the Cinderella myth.

THE IN DEATH SERIES by J.D. Robb (a.k.a. Nora Roberts) WENDELL: Scary, powerful, sexy. Nora's a freaking powerhouse.