September Books in Brief

By Linda Sargent

“Smokin’ Seventeen”

Smokin' Seventeenby Janet Evanovich, Random House Publishing Group ($28.00)


Stephanie Plum is back in another series of comic adventures. The story starts with a call from her grandmother, who has had a dream that she fears is a bad omen. In the ensuing days, the dream proves prophetic as Stephanie’s life doesn’t get any better.

The construction lot next to Vincent Plum Bail Bonds is turning up dead bodies buried in shallow graves. There are no clues as to whom the killer is and no connection between the victims, but what is clear is that Stephanie’s name has somehow made it onto the list.

To add to the comedy of errors, Stephanie’s mother has decided it’s time for Stephanie to choose between either her long-time boyfriend Morelli, who is a Trenton cop, or security expert Ranger. Since Stephanie isn’t ready to decide, her mother fixes her up with a former high school football star who has recently returned to town.

Evanovich keeps adding to this delightful and successful series.



“One Summer”

David-Baldacci One Summerby David Baldacci, Grand Central Publishing ($25.00)


Christmas is coming, but there is no holiday cheer in the Armstrong family. Jack Armstrong is in the final stages of a terminal illness, but he is determined to make it through the holidays so his wife and children’s thoughts of Christmas will not bring back memories of death.

Suddenly, Lizzie is killed in a car accident, and her parents waste no time in taking charge. Overwhelmed with grief over the loss of his wife, and not knowing how to cope with three children in the face of his own terminal illness, Jack is intimidated into thinking the best thing for his children is to allow Lizzie’s parents to take them. Before he can adjust, their family home is sold, the children are on their way to live with their grandparents, and Jack is placed in a hospice center to die alone.

Eventually, his disease goes into remission, and he begins to battle his in-laws for the return of his children. He is soon on the road to rebuilding his relationship with his children, and finds that life can be filled with promise.



“The Upright Piano Player”

The Upright Piano Playerby David Abbott, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group ($22.95)


This first book by David Abbot will grab your attention from the beginning as it tugs at your heartstrings. The story opens at a funeral and the events leading up to that point.

Henry Cage is the founder of a consulting firm in London. Although he is divorced, he has a successful career, money, a beautiful home, and a solid reputation of being ethical and a person of good character.

When business partners force him out of the company he founded, he is at a loss of what to do with himself. He spends New Year’s Eve with friends; unable to find a ride following the festivities, he begins to walk home, and is mugged along the way.

From that point on, his life begins to unravel. His ex-wife encourages him to contact the son whom he has barely spoken to in past years, and decides to visit when he learns that he has a four-year old grandson.

In the meantime, he discovers that the man who assaulted him is now stalking him and doing damage to his property. He decides to get away, and tries to reconnect with his ex-wife, with more tragic consequences.

This story is about loss and the number of ways that life can test an individual.



“Good Stuff:  A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant”

The Good Stuffby Jennifer Grant, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group ($24.95)


Probably few women have seen Cary Grant on the screen and not fallen madly in love with this elegant and sophisticated persona. When he was 62, his 29-year-old wife, Dyan Cannon, gave birth to their daughter, Jennifer. Grant was determined to give his daughter his time, his love, and all the memories he could, knowing there was a distinct possibility he would not live to see her graduate from college or get married and have a family of her own. He retired from the entertainment industry to spend time with his only child, being Jenifer’s primary caregiver.

Upon his death at the age of 82, Jennifer came into possession of boxes and boxes of records that included her earliest drawings, notes they exchanged, and pictures of their life together, all of which she shares in this trip down memory lane.

Grant’s one serious request was that Jennifer remember him the way she knew him, although people would say things about him that he would not be present to defend. He asked her to stick to the truth because she, above all others, “truly knew him.”

This is a remarkable book about the loving relationship between a father and daughter and the lessons imparted along the way.




Outrageby Robert K. Tanenbaum, Simon and Schuster Adult Publishing Group ($12.99 eBook availability)


Butch Karp, Manhattan District Attorney, has always preached two things in his office – integrity is key, and never charge a suspect unless there is irrefutable evidence that leads to proof beyond a reasonable doubt of guilt.

Basking in a recent courtroom triumph, Karp is asked to review the arrest and indictment of Felix Acevedo, a shy Bronx teenager who has confessed to two murders.

Felix is a “little slow,” and his family and friends can’t believe he could have been responsible for these crimes – Felix will confess to anything if he thinks it will make someone happy. Interview transcripts show strong evidence that Felix was coerced into confessing.

While the media is having a field day treating the arresting officer as a “hero,” the killer is still at large. Butch knows that he will take a beating in the press when he lets the accused go, but the integrity of his office must be upheld.

The investigation soon leads in a different direction, plus a disgruntled police detective who has withheld evidence and made a deal with the devil.

Tanenbaum always writes page-turning thrillers.