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Sure Bets in Forty Words or Less: Failsafe Suggestions to Delight, Intrigue, and Transport the Reader (courtesy of Adult Reading Round Table).
Case Histories, by Kate Atkinson (2004)
Private eye Jackson Brodie delves into three ice-cold cases in a literary mystery that melds complex characters, wicked humor, and sophisticated prose in one beautifully plotted package.
Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline (2011)
In a cyberpunk adventure, the keys to an immense fortune are hidden inside a virtual-reality quest involving 1980s pop-culture references.
The Mercy of Thin Air, by Ronlyn Domingue (2005)
Dying in an accident in 1920s New Orleans, Razi Nolan finds herself neither living nor dead. From this ghostly perspective, she recalls the story of her own life and afterlife while observing the lives of a contemporary couple.
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, by Tom Franklin (2010)
Silas Jones and Larry Ott are childhood friends until a local girl disappears. They part ways only to come face to face 20 years later when another girl goes missing, and Larry is once again the chief suspect.
Blind Submission, by Debra Ginsberg (2006)
When a woman accepts a job at a prestigious publishing house, she must deal with hostile coworkers, an overbearing boss, and an anonymous manuscript that begins to eerily mimic her real life in this cleverly plotted literary thriller.
The Kitchen House, by Kathleen Grissom (2010)
An indentured servant sent to work on a plantation finds a family among the slaves in the kitchen house. But when she grows up and marries the master’s son, she is expected to leave the only family she’s ever known.
The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey (2012)
Childless couple Jack and Mabel struggle to eke out a living from the unforgiving Alaskan landscape. One night they impetuously build a child in the snow; the next morning, their creation is gone, and they spot a girl in the forest. Is she real?
Peeps, by Scott Westerfield (2005)
Based on the premise that symptoms of a parasitic infection are the source of many vampire myths, Peeps follows recently infected Cal as he tracks “parasite positives.” Interspersed with descriptions of real parasite-host relationships, this isn’t your typical teen vampire tale.
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, by Lauren Willig (2005)
The first in a series about female spies in league with the Scarlet Pimpernel, Willig’s time-slip romance balances adventures in love and politics. Steamy romantic scenes and a fast-paced plot make this a quick, light read.
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