Picks and Pans Main: Books

updated 05/16/2011 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/16/2011 01:00AM

If You Were Here

by Jen Lancaster |

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REVIEWED BY CLARISSA CRUZ

NOVEL

Tired of waging war with wannabe gangstas, Chicagoans Mia and Mac decide to move. But not to just any burb: Mia's obsessed with Abington Cambs, the setting of many a John Hughes film, and more important, Sixteen Candles heartthrob Jake Ryan's house-which she promptly buys, despite its major flaws. Witty and hilarious even for non Hughes fanatics.

The Coffins of Little Hope

by Timothy Schaffert |

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REVIEWED BY SUE CORBETT

NOVEL

Bizarre news stories converge when a little girl disappears (or does she?) in the same Nebraska town where the final book in a wildly popular series (think Harry Potter) is being not-so-secretly printed. Memorably narrated by octogenarian obit writer Essie Myles, this is a witty, sometimes profound story about media, mortality and rash acts undertaken in the name of love.

Faith

by Jennifer Haigh |

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REVIEWED BY MEREDITH MARAN

NOVEL

This haunting tale by bestseller Haigh (The Condition) is ripped from the headlines-and heart-wrenching. It's 2002, and Sheila McGann has returned to Boston to defend her brother Art, a priest accused of sexual abuse. Seeking his redemption, Sheila uncovers unsettling truths about the church, her family, herself. "Is every story as complicated as Art's was, as replete with human anguish?" she asks. The answer, Haigh convinces us, is yes.

Guilt by Association

by Marcia Clark |

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REVIEWED BY ELLEN SHAPIRO

THRILLER

Brainy, resolute, a bit wardrobe-challenged: DA Rachel Knight seems a lot like author Clark, who was lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson murder trial. But the shoptalk here has more panache than its real-life version as Knight and her buddies-a fellow prosecutor and an LAPD detective-play the angles to clear a colleague suspected of a murder-suicide. Clark's plot is gritty and intriguing, but it's the hilariously potty-mouthed characters that make this debut thriller sing.

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