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Bestsellers

Culture | The Top 5 best-selling hardback novels as measured by placement on four leading lists as of March 3

Issue: "Weapons of mass hysteria," March 15, 2003
Scoring system: 10 points for first place, 9 for second, down to 1 for 10th, on the lists of the American Booksellers Association (independent, sometimes highbrow stores), The New York Times (4,000 bookstores, plus wholesalers), Publishers Weekly (general bookstores), and Amazon.com (internet purchases).
1
The King of Torts
John Grisham 39 Points
PLOT
A mysterious benefactor lifts a young lawyer from the public defender's office and installs him as the newest and wealthiest class-action specialist.

GIST
Instead of presenting a rookie lawyer trying to make good, Grisham gives us a cynical public defender all too easily captured by greed.

CAUTION
Mild obscenities and profanities, adult situations.

2
The Lovely Bones
Alice Sebold 37 Points
PLOT
Susie Salmon, 14, is murdered by her neighbor. From "heaven" she watches the effects of her murder on family and friends.

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GIST
Heaven in this novel has no God, but is a place where what you want, you get. Eventually she sees her friends and family rebuild lives shattered by grief.

CAUTION
Some language, violence, and sexual situations; particularly graphic opening chapters.

3
Flashback
Nevada Barr 15 Points
PLOT
Park Ranger Anna Pigeon solves a mystery while dealing with an illegal alien smuggling operation.

GIST
Anna is drawn into a mystery involving Samuel Mudd (John Wilkes Booth's doctor) and his time as a prisoner in Florida's Dry Tortugas National Park. Meanwhile, she must find out why she and the previous ranger became ill after taking up duties there.

CAUTION
Some language.

4
Pattern Recognition
William Gibson 14 Points
PLOT
A Belgian advertising bigwig hires a freelance consultant to discover who is posting anonymous film clips on the Internet that create a worldwide buzz.

GIST
Gibson melds brand-names, buzzwords, and computer geek jargon to deal with themes such as commercialism, globalization, and Internet culture.

CAUTION
Scattered obscenities.

5
Crossroads of Twilight
Robert Jordan 13 Points
PLOT
Book 10 in the Wheel of Time, Jordan's fantasy series, continues the complex saga that simultaneously complicates and clarifies aspects of Jordan's vast world.

GIST
The Wheel of Time world comes with its own mythology and morality. For the reader unwilling to absorb this vast cosmology, the Wheel of Time is little more than a bunch of strange names and imaginary places.

CAUTION
None.

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