A Summer Mystery Book Sense 76 Top Ten…AND… A call for consensus on what next!

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By Carl Lennertz

Whodunit? You did. Thank you for the great recommendations you’ve been sending in and I’ve been tallying. A neat Top Ten, yes? The pad of 100 fliers goes to press momentarily, headed for the June white box mailing to you.

The next 76 Top Tens? I’m at a loss. We’ve done Poetry, Audiobooks, Teens, SF/Fantasy, Mystery (twice)…. What next? I have nothing scheduled; it all depends on what you nominate. Travel? New Age? Cooking? Scholarly/Technical? Business? I could keep going. I await your direction.

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1. WATER TOUCHING STONE, by Eliot Pattison (St. Martin’s, $7.99 paper, 0312982178; June) "Discredited Chinese bureaucrat Shan is back in this intelligent sequel. He's in trouble with Chinese security, nomadic outlaws, and the Tibetan holy men he's pledged to protect. An excellent mystery/suspense novel that doubles as a crash course in Chinese/Tibetan relations and Eastern philosophies. A book to be savored on many levels." - Barb Bassett, Red Balloon Bookshop, St. Paul, MN

2. SAVAGE RUN, by C.J. Box (Putnam, $23.95, 0399148876; June) "The second mystery featuring soft-spoken Joe Pickett is dynamite. The far right is waging war on radical environmentalists and Joe has waded into the middle. This engrossing thriller is proof positive that Open Season, Box's first novel (which was nominated for an Edgar Award for best first novel by an American) was no fluke." - Doug Jenson, The King's English, Salt Lake City, UT (Open Season is just out in paperback.)

3. GONE FOR GOOD, by Harlan Coben (Delacorte, $23.95, 038533558X; May) "The best mystery I read last year was Coben's Tell No One, and his newest is even better. On her deathbed, a mother reveals to her son that his missing brother is returning home to prove his innocence in a murder case. In typical Coben style, he saves the best twist until the end." - Mary McCarthy, Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops, Milwaukee, WI Also a Random House Audio CD (0553712985)

4. FORTY WORDS FOR SORROW, by Giles Blunt (Berkley, $6.99 paper, 0425185168; March) "Everything about this mystery is outstanding: plot, pacing, complex and interesting characters, even the title. The protagonist is a cop whose beloved wife is mentally ill, and his deep concern for her complicates both his past and the present. This is the best police procedural mystery in ages." - Pat Kehde, The Raven Bookstore, Lawrence, KS

5. WALKING THE PERFECT SQUARE: A Moe Praeger Mystery, by Reed Farrel Coleman (Permanent Press, $26, 1579620396; March) "Set in ‘70s NYC and the present, everyone in the book is trying to get life right, from the missing college student with obsessive-compulsive behaviors to former cop Moe Prager, haunted by a case he solved…or did he? A great read." - Marian Fleischman, Sedalia Book & Toy, Sedalia, MO

6. SHARK RIVER, by Randy Wayne White (Prime Crime, $6.99 paper, 0425185214; June) "White produces one of his finest thrillers yet, featuring marine biologist Doc Ford. Violent and fast-paced, just the way I like 'em." - David Thompson, Murder By The Book, Houston, TX (White’s new book, Twelve Mile Limit, is just out in hardcover.)

7. THE EDGE OF JUSTICE, by Clinton McKinzie (Delacorte, $21.95, 038533625X; May) "This debut combines a very well-written cop thriller with the adrenaline of mountain climbing to produce a book rich in mood, characters, setting and action. We both feel this is a book we can proudly handsell." – Barry Martin and Jean Utley, Book'em Mysteries, S. Pasadena, CA Also a Random House Audio (0553713434)

8. BARKING!: A Grace Smith Investigation, by Liz Evans (Trafalgar Square, $13.95 paper, 0752825410; February) "This sassy British import is refreshing and funny. Ex-policewoman Grace Smith is a hilarious PI. Add the British jargon to a clever plot, and you laugh to the end. What fun!" - Mary Jane Weber, Town Book Store, Westfield, NJ

9. BUBBLES IN TROUBLE, by Sarah Strohmeyer (Dutton, $22.95, 0525946497; June 27) "Tubetop-wearing Bubbles Yablonsky goes undercover in an Amish town to find her missing friend Janice, who left a groom at the altar and whose uncle has been murdered. This is wacky and tacky, just what we love!" - Elizabeth Baldwin & Linda Tonnesen, Mysterious Galaxy, San Diego, CA

10. A CUP OF LIGHT, by Nicole Mones (Delacorte, $24.95, 0385319371; March) "There are many recent gems, but this is the book of my heart. I lost it to Mones over her debut, Lost in Translation, and she keeps it with this unusual novel, a mystery (with no body) mixed with the history of the Chinese Imperial porcelain collection and the smuggling trade. I would kill to have the main character’s experiences in this enchanting novel." – Barbara Peters, The Poisoned Pen, Scottsdale, AZ (Some mystery classics are being reissued in new editions.)

Scribner’s is reissuing P.D. James in exquisite new trade paperback editions, all $12:

THE BLACK TOWER (0743219619)
COVER HER FACE (07432-19570)
INNOCENT BLOOD (0743219635)
A MIND TO MURDER (074321958-9)

Vintage Crime/Black Lizard is reprinting Gregory McDonald’s Fletch novels from the ‘70s and ‘80s in $12 trade paperbacks. "Fletch is great!" – Lori Zatewski, Alibi Books, Glenview, IL

FLETCH (0375713549)
CONFESS, FLETCH (0375713484)
FLETCH’S FORTUNE (0375713557)
Coming July 9:
FLETCH WON (0375713522)
Coming October: