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

Issue: "Troops hunt for weapons," June 14, 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 (internet purchases).
The Da Vinci Code
Dan Brown 38 Points
A curator at the Louvre is murdered, but before he dies leaves clues that send his granddaughter (a police cryptologist) and his colleague (a Harvard professor) on a search for the killer.

Brown will please goddess-worshipping conspiracy buffs who like weird theories of biblical interpretation and his profane premise: that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had an affair that produced a son.

Naked Prey
John Sandford 34 Points
When a black man and a white woman are found hanging from a tree near a Minnesota small town, the now-married Lucas Davenport is called in to solve the crime. With the help of sidekick Del Capslock and the lone witness, a 12-year-old muskrat trapper, Davenport eventually succeeds.

This obscenity-laced page-turner is Sandford's 14th in the Prey series. It features many subplots involving drugs, stolen cars, kidnapping, and the irresponsible media.

Sinister Pig
Tony Hillerman 30 Points
When a former CIA agent is murdered, Jimmy Chee, helped by Joe Leaphorn, must unravel a complicated case (drugs, oil and gas leases, murder) and rescue Chee's love interest.

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Tony Hillerman's Navaho police stories are well-loved for good reason. He describes beautifully the desert settings of his novels and he conveys the essence of Navaho culture and religion. But in this book the writing is clunky, the characters flat, and the plot convoluted.

The Lovely Bones
Alice Sebold 17 Points
The book opens with the graphically described murder of Susie Salmon, 14, by her neighbor. From "heaven" she watches the effects of her death.

Those wanting a theologically correct view of heaven will be disappointed: It has no God, but is a place where you get whatever you want. Susie experiences vicariously through her sister the milestones of growing up, and eventually sees her friends and family rebuild lives shattered by grief.

The Devil Wears Prada
Lauren Weisberger 17 Points
The travails of a young woman who lands a job as an assistant to the nasty editor of Runway magazine.

This book's young author was an assistant to Vogue editor Anna Wintour for a year, and people think the over-the-top behavior of her fictional editor is based on Wintour's real-life antics. Those who delight in dirt-dishing and name-dropping might like the book enough to overlook the poor writing, thinly drawn characters, and bad language.


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