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The Early Word Swimsuit Issue: New Summer Reading, Week of June 1, 2010

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Let the beach sands of time creep into the cracks and binding of your summertime book fare this year with — among some choice present-day mystery/thrillers (Steve Martini, Jeffery Deaver), sci-fi/fantasy titles (Laurell K. Hamilton, Taylor Anderson, Sara Douglass), and romance adventures (Shannon McKenna, Shana Abe) — several escapist titles that let you seek novelty and diversion in the past.

Tracing an issue in the deaf community that persists even today, Victoria Thompson's Murder on Lexington Avenue (Gaslight Series #12) is another entry in a series of mysteries set among the upper classes in turn-of-the-20th-century New York City. Murder on Lexington Avenue sees Det. Sgt. Frank Malloy investigating the murder of Nehemiah Wooten, who was bludgeoned with a loving cup Wooten won for sculling at Harvard more than 30 years earlier. When Wooten's seemingly uncaring widow goes into labor Malloy, along with midwife Sarah Brandt, gains investigative access. They discover that nobody knew that Valora Wooten was pregnant — perhaps because the child is not her husband's! Wooten's views on eugenics — he was a follower of Alexander Graham Bell's advocacy of compulsory sterilization laws — alienated him from his wife after  the birth of their deaf daughter Electra, who went on to lip read but had secretly been learning American Sign Language from a teacher from a rival school, who was the object of her affections and the source of detestation for her disapproving father. Meanwhile, the plot thickens, the web entangles, and the whodunit chases the pages, but Malloy is hot on the proverbial trail as your sunburn stings and deepens…

You'll be a little preoccupied too with the goings-on of The Spy by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott, but perhaps more on a worldwide, though still historical mindset. The time is 1908, and rumblings of World War I are beginning to sound. A naval arms race of grand proportions is in progress, and the world's powers are committed to developing the best warships and, simultaneously, using deadly force to halt the development of other nations' navies. When, beyond the initial and supposed suicide of chief gun designer Arthur Langner, the deaths of several of America's most brilliant technological minds occur — all men tied to a top-secret project called Hull 44 — Isaac Bell and his Van Dorn Detective Agency are brought on board to solve the crimes and stop the killers. An accomplished assassin simply named the Spy is behind it all, but whom does he serve and why? It's a chaotic enough case that the Spy could be affiliated with virtually anyone, as Bell finds himself up against German, Japanese, and British spies, in a mission that encompasses dreadnought battleships, Teddy Roosevelt's Great White Fleet, Chinatown, Hell's Kitchen, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard. So: What did you do on your Summer Vacation? You learned a little history and were entertained — and tanned — at the same time!

Is a turn of the 20th century setting, though, even one imbued with events of global gamut, still too provincial or limiting for you? Let's go for a little paranormal boundlessness. Call it "Son of Sisterhood of the Time-Traveling Pants of Sorts I Guess." In My Name Is Memory, Ann Brashares, author of the YA novel Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, offers an adult novel that takes readers on a tour of cosmic coulda-beens, romantic rendezvous, and near misses from sixth-century Africa through eighth-century Turkey to WWI in the service of one man who remembers his past lives and the woman he's loved through them all who's more than a little hazy on the details. To name names and point fingers: the apparently endlessly reincarnated Daniel, who thinks of himself as a recycled soul, remembers all his past lives. But most of all, he remembers Sophia, and has devoted a big chunk of his many lives trying to find her, ever since their disastrous first meeting during his first remembered life in the sixth century when he mistakenly burned down her North African house causing the death — in his "original sin" — of a little girl form of Sophia. Despite her changing name, appearances, and living conditions she's unaccountably drawn to this enigmatic figure she somehow feels a deep connection with. But circumstances keep the two apart again and again. Will fate finally bring them together now that Sophia — a college student named Lucy — seems to be so temptingly aware of the bond, with almost a sixth sense, and as within reach as the suntan oil you so desperately need right now!

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE…

The Time Weaver
by Shana Abe

Distant Thunders (Destroyermen Series #4)
by Taylor Anderson

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
by Aimee Bender 

My Name Is Memory
by Ann Brashares 

The Spy
by Clive Cussler, Justin Scott

The Burning Wire (Lincoln Rhyme Series #9)
by Jeffery Deaver

The Infinity Gate (Darkglass Mountain #3)
by Sara Douglass

From Hell with Love
by Simon R. Green

Bullet (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series #19)
by Laurell K. Hamilton

Mouse and Dragon
by Sharon Lee, Steve Miller

Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Objective
by Eric Van Lustbader, Robert Ludlum

The Mountain Between Us
by Charles Martin

The Rule of Nine (Paul Madriani Series #11)
by Steve Martini

Fade to Midnight
by Shannon McKenna

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella
by Stephenie Meyer

Passing Strange (Generation Dead Series #3)
by Daniel Waters

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