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Bestsellers

Culture | The five best-selling hardback novels as measured by placement on four leading lists as of Dec. 12

Issue: "Every law counts," Dec. 23, 2000
Scoring system:10 points for first place down to 1 for 10th on The New York Times list (4,000 bookstores, plus wholesalers), the American Booksellers Association list (independent, sometimes highbrow stores), USA Today (3,000 large-inventory bookstores), and Amazon.com (Web purchases).
1
Roses are Red
James Patterson 26 points (NYT: 2nd; ABA: 4th; USA Today: 1st; Amazon: not listed)
PLOT
Alex Cross pursues a cold-blooded bank robber while suffering disappointment on the home front.

GIST
A suspense novel in which the "Mastermind" plays a game of cat and mouse with Alex Cross, the police, and the FBI. He's a ruthless killer who is intent on proving how smart he is.

WORLDVIEW
Materialist.

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CAUTION
Sex and mild language.

2
The Last Precinct
Patricia Cornwell 26 points (NYT: 4th; ABA: 6th; USA Today: 6th; Amazon: 2nd)
PLOT
Chief Medical Examiner Scarpetta, accused of a brutal murder, must use extraordinary means to exonerate herself.

GIST
Scarpetta is tired of her work, her personal life is a mess, and she is accused of murdering Richmond's police chief. The crimes get weirder, Scarpetta grows more introspective, her niece begins another lesbian affair, and cop Marino melts down.

WORLDVIEW
Relativism.

CAUTION
Language.

3
Prodigal Summer
Barbara Kinsolver 26 points (NYT: 9th; ABA: 1st; USA Today: 7th; Amazon: 1st)
PLOT
The story of three women in the southern Appalachians during one particularly hot and wet summer.

GIST
The females embrace the interconnection of the world, but the males fear it and try to control the natural world with guns, chemicals, and "god." Wisdom is realizing that mankind is just one thread in the fabric of life.

WORLDVIEW
Feminist pantheism.

CAUTION
Sexual situations.

4
The Mark
Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins 22 points (NYT: 1st; ABA: 8th; USA Today: 2nd; Amazon: not listed)
PLOT
The Tribulation Force struggles to hang on while Antichrist Nicholae Carpathia assumes the throne.

GIST
The Antichrist is ruling the earth, forcing those loyal to him to have their hands and foreheads branded; they must also submit to having implanted memory chips. Action and suspense take the place of character development.

WORLDVIEW
Apocalyptic sci-fi.

CAUTION
N/A

5
Drowning Ruth
Christina Schwarz 17 points (NYT: 7th; ABA: 9th; USA Today: 8th; Amazon: 3rd)
PLOT
A young mother drowns mysteriously and her sister steps in to fill her place.

GIST
When Matilda's husband Carl returns from WWI, no one can tell him how his wife drowned or why she was living on an isolated island during winter. His young daughter has a memory of drowning also, but she's alive. And the sister/aunt isn't talking because she's hiding secrets of her own.

WORLDVIEW
Soap "Oprah" fatalism.

CAUTION
N/A

IN THE SPOTLIGHT
WORLD cuts against the grain among magazines by not hyping, and not even reviewing, books by our writers and editors. We've discussed internally whether to change that rule: On the one hand, we're opposed to self-promotion and cults of personality (that's why we don't publish photos of our columnists), but on the other hand, we don't want to deprive our readers of information about books they probably would like. Our compromise plan is merely to note at the end of the year books our staff members have produced: Thus, this past year brought Christians in a .Com World: Getting Connected without Being Consumed (Crossway) by Chris Stamper and Gene Edward Veith. Ed Veith also wrote a children's book, The Sword of Rob Roy, as part of a beginning-reader series from Veritas Press. The Free Press/Simon and Schuster published Compassionate Conservatism by Marvin Olasky. We do want to say a bit more about a young adult novel by contributor J.B. Cheaney: The Playmaker (Knopf) draws the reader into Elizabethan London, with its teeming alleys, open sewers, pickpockets, and players. The Playmaker will interest many WORLD readers for its plot and description, and also because Mrs. Cheaney writes of the religious currents swirling through Elizabethan London as well as the cultural ones.

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