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Bestsellers

Culture | The five best-selling hardback novels as measured by placement on four leading lists as of July 9

Issue: "More than a warlord," July 21, 2001
Scoring system:10 points for first place, 9 for second, 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), Publisher's Weekly (general bookstores), and Amazon.com (web purchases).
1
Seven Up
Janet Evanovitch 30 points (NYT: 1st; ABA: 1st; PW: 1st; Amazon: not listed)
CONTENT
Female bounty hunter tries to grab a geriatric cigarette smuggler, deal with her wacky family, and decide whether to get married.

GIST
The book lacks a coherent plot and has cartoonish characters. It relies on snappy dialogue, slapstick humor, and the affection readers apparently feel for soft and cuddly New Jersey mobsters.

CAUTION
Bad language and sex scenes.

2
P is for Peril
Sue Grafton 25 points (NYT: 3rd; ABA: 2nd; PW: 3rd; Amazon: not listed)
CONTENT
A respected physician disappears and his ex-wife pays PI Kinsey Milhone to find him.

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GIST
Since the beginning of the alphabet series, Milhone has been frozen in her mid-30s, trapped in amber in the mid-1980s. Twice divorced, Milhone still dates-though not as much as she used to (perhaps the downside of the sexual revolution got to her). Her latest is a run-of-the-mill mystery that her fans will enjoy.

CAUTION
Some bad language.

3
Back When We Were Grownups
Anne Tyler 21 points (NYT: 8th; ABA: 3rd; PW: not listed; Amazon: 1st)
CONTENT
A late mid-life crisis sends Rebecca in search of the person she was when she was 20.

GIST
In this endearing book, Rebecca drops out of college to marry a man who already has three young daughters. He dies, and she works at the family business, holding together her odd, unappreciative family. Now 53, her early hopes are gone, but she realizes she has had a wonderful life.

CAUTION
N/A

4
Cane River
Lalita Tademy 20 points (NYT: 5th; ABA: 4th; PW: 4th; Amazon: not listed)
CONTENT
An Oprah Book Club novel based on Tademy's own family history, tracing four generations of women born into slavery.

GIST
French plantation owners sometimes raped Tademy's ancestors and sometimes loved them. Law and culture kept fathers from legitimizing their offspring. So from generation to generation, even though their skin grew lighter, it was the women's perseverance, cunning, and cussedness that enabled them to grab hold of some land and build a future.

CAUTION
N/A

5
Leap of Faith
Danielle Steele 18 points (NYT: 2nd; ABA: not listed; PW: 2nd; Amazon: not listed)
CONTENT
An orphan is snatched from her fairy-tale existence to be brought up by an unloving aunt. She makes a bad marriage before being rescued by her one true love.

GIST

CAUTION
Women must want romance and Steele knows how to dish it up. In this cliché-ridden clunker, she throws in the sudden orphan, the cold midwestern aunt, the wicked husband, and the true love who rides to the rescue. There's nothing new or fresh in this rehash of a thousand romance novels.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT
At first glance, Mission: Impeachable (Allegiance, 2001) looks like one more addition to an already saturated market of books about President Clinton's impeachment. However, K. Alan Snyder's book offers something that few, if any, of those books do: an unabashedly positive portrayal of the 13 House managers who led the prosecution. Mr. Snyder interviewed all the managers and devotes a chapter to each, even the relatively obscure ones like Steve Chabot. These short biographies show the determination of the individual managers, and Mr. Snyder convincingly argues that they acted out of personal conviction, not partisan politics. Chapter titles like "George Gekas: Meeting the Challenge" will not excite everyone, but at the very least this book should inspire a sense of admiration for Americans who were willing to stand up for what they believed.

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