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Mississippi Books and Writers

February 2002

Note: Prices listed below reflect the publisher's suggested list price. They are subject to change without notice.

The SummonsThe Summons

A novel by John Grisham

Doubleday (Hardcover, $27.95, ISBN: 0385503822)

Publication date: February 2002

Description:

Ray Atlee is a professor of law at the University of Virginia. He’s forty-three, newly single, and still enduring the aftershocks of a surprise divorce. He has a younger brother, Forrest, who redefines the notion of a family’s black sheep.

And he has a father, a very sick old man who lives alone in the ancestral home in Clanton, Mississippi. He is known to all as Judge Atlee, a beloved and powerful official who has towered over local law and politics for forty years. No longer on the bench, the Judge has withdrawn to the Atlee mansion and become a recluse.

With the end in sight, Judge Atlee issues a summons for both sons to return home to Clanton, to discuss the details of his estate. It is typed by the Judge himself, on his handsome old stationery, and gives the date and time for Ray and Forrest to appear in his study.

Ray reluctantly heads south, to his hometown, to the place where he grew up, which he prefers now to avoid. But the family meeting does not take place. The Judge dies too soon, and in doing so leaves behind a shocking secret known only to Ray.

And perhaps someone else.

Hunting SeasonHunting Season

A novel by Nevada Barr

Putnam (Hardcover, $24.95, ISBN: 0399148469)

Publication date: February 2002

Description from Booklist:

In the tenth adventure in Barr’s National Park series (each installment is set at a different park), District Ranger Anna Pigeon investigates a murder at an old inn on Mississippi’s Natchez Trace Parkway. After the discovery of the corpse—naked and marked in such a way as to suggest an S & M ritual—interrupts Anna’s brunch with her new romantic interest, local sheriff Paul Davidson, the intrepid ranger finds herself forced to untangle a poaching plot with roots deep in Mississippi history. This latest entry in Barr’s popular series marks a definite return to form after the disappointing Blood Lure. The edgy, fast-paced tale generates plenty of tension, making the most of several nighttime crimes, and Barr does a good job of developing the character of Anna, adding romance to the mix and giving the ranger plenty of opportunity to display her slightly dark, off-center wit. Descriptions of grand National Park vistas, so prominent in the earlier books, are missing this time, but Barr still makes the most of her setting, evoking the special charms of autumn in the South. Series fans will be pleased to see the return of Randy Thigpen, Anna’s nemesis from earlier novels. Barr, the undisputed queen of the eco-mystery, has turned a novel premise into a thriving subgenre. —John Rowen. Copyright American Library Association. All rights reserved.

Blood LureBlood Lure

A novel by Nevada Barr

Berkley (Paperback, $6.99, ISBN: 0425183750)

Publication date: February 2002

Description from Publishers Weekly:

The latest entry in this excellent series featuring National Park Service ranger Anna Pigeon is one of Barr’s best. Anna has been assigned to work temporarily in Montana’s Glacier National Park, where she seems more at home than in her recent forays to East Coast parks, and learns how to do DNA studies on wildlife by working with a biologist, Joan, on a study of grizzly bears. Anna, Joan and a young, inexperienced volunteer, Rory, are sent out into the park’s wilderness areas to set lures for the grizzlies. They use a powerful and nasty-smelling concoction, mixed with cow’s blood, that the grizzlies find irresistible. Once the bears rub up against the trees or barbed wire that have been coated with the lure, samples of their DNA can be collected from the hair and skin left behind. In their remote campsite one night, Anna and Joan amazingly survive a grizzly bear attack on their tents unscathed, only to find that Rory has gone missing. As park rangers and rescue teams hike the mountainous park looking for the missing teenager, they find instead the dead body of a woman whose face has been horribly mutilated. Rory is an obvious suspect, as is the bear who attacked the camp. Barr focuses on the wilderness park and its endangered population of grizzlies rather than on Anna’s personal life and problems, and this makes for a tightly plotted, satisfying read. The author’s masterful descriptions of the natural world immeasurably enhance an exciting, suspenseful story that is sure to flirt with bestseller lists. Mystery Guild main selection and Literary Guild alternate selection. —Copyright © 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

A Multitude of SinsA Multitude of Sins

Stories by Richard Ford

Knopf (Hardcover, $25.00, ISBN: 0375412123)

Publication date: February 2002

Description from Booklist:

Ford’s novel Independence Day (1995) won both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award. Here, in 10 short stories, he meticulously explores love and intimacy, particularly the way people often fail to meet the challenges of truly connecting with their partners; 7 out of the 10 stories deal with infidelity.

Yet even in the passionate liaisons forged outside of marriage, regret is a common theme. In the powerful “Abyss,” Residential Agent of the Year Frances Bilandic, married to a man suffering from a terminal degenerative disease, enters a tumultuous affair with fellow realtor Howard Cameron. Her impulsive decision to ditch a seminar and take a side trip to see the Grand Canyon has unforeseen consequences: “What had been wrong with her? He wasn’t interesting or witty or nice or deep or pretty. And up here, where everything was natural and clean and pristine, you saw it.”

Even in the beautifully written “Dominion,” what passes for optimism in a Ford short story is the realization by a woman on the brink of divorce that “life shouldn’t be always trying, trying, trying. You should live most of it without trying so hard.” This is grim, unsettling fiction that radiates emotional pain from every precisely written line. —Joanne Wilkinson. Copyright American Library Association. All rights reserved.

Splintered BonesSplintered Bones

A novel by Carolyn Haines

Delacorte (Hardcover, $23.95, ISBN: 0385335903)

Publication date: February 2002

Description from Publishers Weekly:

Described on the somewhat staid cover as “a mystery from the Mississippi Delta,” Haines’s third Southern cozy (first in hardcover) is heavy on the cornpone, but is saved from the totally ridiculous by a hearty leavening of laughter.

Sarah Booth Delaney and her cohorts, Tinkie Richmond and Cece Dee Falcon (formerly Cecil but that’s for another story) band together to save friend and horse breeder Eulalee “Lee” McBride from a first-degree murder rap. Lee has confessed to the murder of her loutish husband, Kemper Fuquar, in order to save her mixed-up 14-year-old daughter, Kip Fuquar, from the charge. The sheriff is hard-put to find a woman any woman on the outlying magnolia-scented estates who didn’t have a motive to crush Kemper’s skull, then sic Avenger, a temperamental show horse, on the rotter. When she’s not busy being a PI, Sarah Booth stays busy playing with her red tick hound, Sweetie Pie; talking to a resident ghost, Jitty, in her antebellum mansion; reluctantly scouring the area for a date to the hunt ball; baby-sitting for a willful Kip; and reading Kinky Friedman books. Sarah Booth keeps up with her friends’ lipstick and nail polish colors, and even goes along with having Sweetie Pie’s hair dyed brown from its graying shade.

The author’s long on accent, if short on clues that help elucidate the mystery. But Haines (Them Bones) keeps her sense of humor throughout, holding the reader’s attention and internal laugh track right down to the last snicker. —Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

The Transformation of the Southeastern Indians, 1540-1760The Transformation of the Southeastern Indians, 1540-1760

Edited by Robbie Ethridge and Charles Hudson

University Press of Mississippi (Hardcover, $50.00, ISBN: 1578063515)

Publication date: February 2002

Description from the publisher:

The most current thought on Native Americans of the colonial South.

With essays by Stephen Davis, Penelope Drooker, Patricia K. Galloway, Steven Hahn, Charles Hudson, Marvin Jeter, Paul Kelton, Timothy Pertulla, Christopher Rodning, Helen Rountree, Marvin T. Smith, and John Worth.

The first two-hundred years of Western civilization in the Americas was a time when fundamental and sometimes catastrophic changes occurred in Native American communities in the South.

In The Transformation of the Southeastern Indians, historians, anthropologists, and archaeologists provide perspectives on how this era shaped American Indian society for later generations and how it even affects these communities today.

This collection of essays presents the most current scholarship on the social history of the South, identifying and examining the historical forces, trends, and events that were attendant to the formation of the Indians of the colonial South.

The essayists discuss how Southeastern Indian culture and society evolved. They focus on such aspects as the introduction of European diseases to the New World, long-distance migration and relocation, the influences of the Spanish mission system, the effects of the English plantation system, the northern fur trade of the English, and the French, Dutch, and English trade of Indian slaves and deerskins in the South.

This book covers the full geographic and social scope of the Southeast, including the indigenous peoples of Florida, Virginia, Maryland, the Appalachian Mountains, the Carolina Piedmont, the Ohio Valley, and the Central and Lower Mississippi Valleys.

Robbie Ethridge is an assistant professor of anthropology and southern studies at the University of Mississippi. Charles Hudson is Franklin Professor of Anthropology and History at the University of Georgia.



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