by Jon Krakauer |

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In this wrenching account of the life and death of NFL star Pat Tillman, killed in friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004, Krakauer (Into the Wild) brilliantly turns investigative reporter. Interviews with Tillman's family, friends and fellow Army Rangers, plus excerpts from his journals, reveal a stubborn idealist two years into his tour of duty when he was accidentally shot by members of his platoon. Though opposed to the Iraq war, Tillman enlisted with "noble intentions" soon after marrying his high school sweetheart Marie, turning down a $3.6 million contract from the Arizona Cardinals. "My voice is calling me in a different direction," he wrote in a document called "Decision." The book breaks news: Tillman played a never-disclosed role in the rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch of West Virginia in March 2003. Mostly, though, Krakauer will break your heart recounting how the military lied about Pat's death to his parents and fellow-soldier brother Kevin. "Let's go help our boys," Pat tragically told Pvt. Bryan O'Neal just before dying. Noble to the end.

by Dick Francis and Felix Francis |

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In collaboration with his son Felix, Dick Francis is in fine equine form with Even Money, his latest tale of racetrack intrigue. Soon after small-time bookie Ned Talbot is approached by a man claiming to be his father, the stranger is murdered in a parking garage. Turns out there's an international gang desperate for his "father"'s briefcase; Ned must uncover the truth of his parentage if he's to survive. With wit and an expert's understanding of both horses and homicide, the Francises will keep you riveted.

by Rebecca Stott |

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Following Napoleon's 1815 defeat at Waterloo, medical student Daniel Connor leaves Edinburgh for a coveted apprenticeship, but by the time he reaches Paris, his letters of introduction—and a cache of irreplaceable corals—have been stolen. Daniel's search for the thief succeeds; he loses his heart in the process. An engrossing and cerebral thriller.

by Michelle Huneven |

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What are the limits of repentance and regret? That is the question at the heart of Huneven's powerful third novel. After one of her drunken blackouts, college professor Patsy MacLemoore is convicted of running over and killing two Jehovah's Witnesses, a mother and daughter. Huneven, a recovering alcoholic herself, traces the devastated prof's slow road to sobriety after her two-year prison term. To assuage her crushing guilt, MacLemoore forges a bond with the dead woman's remarkably forgiving widower, even footing his surviving son's education bills. A stunning development gives Huneven's meditation on remorse a winning burst at the finish line.

'Screams of "Cease fire! Cease fire!" were lost beneath the din of gunfire'



Long before he won a Pulitzer, music critic Page was a troubled boy growing up with undiagnosed Asperger's. Eye-opening.


The author of The Know-It-All serves up more stunt journalism—posing as a woman, for starters—in his latest romp.


Helping her son after a brain injury brings a mom much-needed perspective—along with a measure of unexpected grace.

>• Still living in Mumbai's slums after her taste of Hollywood, Rubina Ali, 9, has come out with a memoir. She and coauthor Anne Berthod spoke with PEOPLE's Aileen Wong.

HAS YOUR LIFE CHANGED? Rubina: People recognize me wherever I go. And my daddy is searching for a new house for us. Anne: [Slumdog director] Danny Boyle has proposed apartments, but she doesn't want them—they're too far from the slum.

DOES YOUR FAMILY HAVE MORE MONEY NOW? Anne: There is a trust she'll get at 18. And now they can buy meat whenever they want. Rubina likes new clothes and makeup.

ARE YOU ACTING? Rubina: I'm concentrating on my studies. Anne: You have to speak perfect English to be an actress in India.

WHAT ARE YOUR DREAMS? Rubina: To be a very big star! Anne: Her father wants her to start wearing a burka. I told her no Bollywood actress wears a burka! She just said, "We'll see."

>The About a Boy author—whose new novel, Juliet, Naked, is out later this month—shares some fiction he feels passionate about.

ME CHEETA by Cheeta Johnny Weissmuller's chimp dishes the dirtiest dirt on his Golden Age of Hollywood costars.

THE FINANCIAL LIVES OF THE POETS by Jess Walter A laugh-out-loud, desperately painful account of an economy and a marriage in meltdown.

AMERICAN WIFE by Curtis Sittenfeld A superb, almost Dickensian novel about a recent First Lady. Best poolside read you could hope for.

STONER by John Williams Not a Judd Apatow comedy, but a poignant campus novel from the mid-'60s—an unjustly neglected gem.

NOAH'S COMPASS by Anne Tyler (coming in January) Tyler writes brilliant novels; this is as rich, sad and deeply empathetic as the best of them.

>• Eleven years after Matthew Shepard was killed for being gay, his mom, Judy, looks back in a memoir.

WHY WRITE THE BOOK? I wanted people to know Matt had a life before he was found tied to that fence. I wanted to make him real.

HOW ARE YOU COPING? We're no longer trapped in that amber of grief. I speak to raise awareness about the gay community.

ARE YOU HAPPY WITH SOCIETY'S PROGRESS? Acceptance of gays is stronger. Legally, we're stuck, but we'll get there.

DO YOU WISH MATTHEW HAD BEEN BORN LATER? I believe that things happen when they're supposed to. Maybe he would have been a different Matt if he'd been born 10 years later. I wouldn't want that.