Books for the Beach

Tucson-Pima Public Library's 'PageTurners' are a great source for summer reads.

The Tucson-Pima Public Library's web site features "Pageturners," volumes that the librarians have found to be "not simply a good book, but a compulsive read," according to Kathleen Dannreuther at the Catalina branch.

Booklovers should bookmark to find recommended books in categories including Biographies/Memoirs, Audiobooks, Beach Books, Far East, Literary Fiction, Southwestern and, soon, Quality True Crimes.

The library staff looks for books that you just can't put down, or, in the case of audio books, those that made your previewers "drive around the block over and over or miss their freeway exit," Dannreuther said.

The library has allowed us to share a sample of the "Beach Books" given that this is, after all, summer, and half of you are headed for San Diego anyway. Here are some good reads, with the reviewer's name in parentheses, to take along with you:

Abagnale, Frank, Catch Me if You Can: The Amazing True Story of the Most Extraordinary Liar in the History of Fun and Profit, 2000

In the space of five years, Frank Abagnale, a teen-age dropout, passed $2.5 million in fraudulent checks in every state and 26 foreign countries. He did it through brazen scams, such as impersonating a Pan Am pilot, a pediatrician, a lawyer (he actually passed the state bar as a teen-ager!), and a college-level sociology instructor. This is a deliciously deceitful true story of the world's most-sought-after con man, now a consultant for the FBI. Soon to be a major motion picture. (Kathleen Dannreuther)

Banbury, Jen, Like A Hole In The Head, 1998

Bookstore clerk Jill purchases a rare Jack London first edition from a suspicious looking dwarf and sells it for a nice profit. A thug called "The Joke Man" suddenly appears, searching for the first edition, and to prove he really means business sets the dwarf's hair on fire. Jill is a quick-witted counterpart to Sam Spade is this Generation X noir thriller. (Sarajean Harwood)

Becker, Laney Katz, Dear Stranger, Dearest Friend, 2000

An e-mail friendship develops between a breast cancer survivor and a woman who has just discovered a lump. The two women share their fears, hopes and doubts, gaining strength through the exchanges. This is an informative and emotionally supportive read on a topic important to all women. (Nancy Lee)

Berg, Elizabeth, Never Change, 2001

Always a bridesmaid and never a bride" is an old expression, but it seems applicable to Myra Lipinksi. In her 50s, Myra has convinced herself that her career as a nurse and her dog Frank are enough. That is, until former hometown football hero Chip Reardon returns home to die from an incurable illness. Myra has some interesting insights into being less than perfect in our image conscious society. (Kay Mitman)

Berne, Suzanne, Perfect Arrangement, 2001

An upscale Massachusetts couple, two young children, one golden retriever and the promise of perfect child care when Randi Gill is hired as nanny. But all is not quite as it seems, and as the secrets are stripped away and the suspense mounts, the novel poses the terrifying question--who can you trust with your children?

(Rona Rosenberg) Bunn, T. Davis, The Great Divide, 2000

Country attorney Marcus Greenwood becomes embroiled in an international case involving a Georgetown student who is being held as a political prisoner in China. Politics, intrigue and government corruption keep the pages turning. (Nancy Lee)

Crusie, Jennifer, Fast Women, 2001

Still vulnerable from her recent divorce, Nell Dysart's life is in for a jolt at her new job--McKenna Investigations. Here she finds embezzlement to uncover, bribery to investigate, a dog to steal, some very cold bodies in the freezer and a sizzling attraction to the Sam Spadish senior partner, Gabe McKenna. (Rona Rosenberg)

Doss, James D., Grandmother Spider, 2001

Tribal policeman Charlie Moon needs help solving his case, involving the disappearance of two scientists. All indications are that they have been kidnapped by Grandmother Spider--a Ute legendary character--or so proclaims his aunt Daisy, a shaman. Part of the Charlie Moon series by Doss, this book offers it all: mystery, humor and mysticism, with a little tribal history thrown in for good measure. (Nancy Lee)

Dubus III, Andre, The House of Sand and Fog, 1999

A Bay-area house becomes the most important piece of property in the world in this breathtaking thriller filled with moral ambiguity and riveting characters. A young woman down on her luck and an ambitious Iranian immigrant must settle a dispute over the small bungalow, with tragic consequences. A true page turner, and well-written, too. (Kathleen Dannreuther)

Fergus, Jim, One Thousand White Women, 1998

May Dodd, part of the government's "Brides for Indians" program (which hopes to assimilate the "red man" through marriage to U.S. citizens and the production of offspring), chronicles the trials and tribulations of such a venture with humor and insight. Fergus, working within a basic historical framework, tells a tale that grips the reader until the last page and beyond. (Sarajean Harwood)

Folsom, Allan, Day After Tomorrow, 1994

A child sees his father killed, then thirty years later glimpses the killer in a Paris cafe. He attempts to unravel the threads leading to the killer, revealing many sinister, long-term activities. Plot twists and international intrigue make this a gripping read. (Sarajean Harwood)

Hijuelos, Oscar, Empress Of The Splendid Season, 1999

Lydia Espana, once a pampered daughter of a prosperous Cuban businessman, violates his ethical code, is banished to New York and becomes a cleaning woman to support herself and her family. Hijuelos, author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, once again explores the consequences of Cuban dreams clashing with American realities. (Laura Sullivan)

Kanon, Joseph, Prodigal Spy, 1998

As a child, Nick Kanon's father disappears, amid the McCarthy hysteria of the 1950s. In adulthood, he discovers that his father is alive in Russia. In attempting to unravel the mystery surrounding dad's defection, Kanon's discovery of high-level government conspiracy lends a new twist to the Red Scare period of our history. An intriguing combination of fact and fiction. (Carol Ann Rott)

Lansing, Alfred, Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage, 1999,

This is the awesome tale of British explorer Ernest Shackleton's 1914 attempt to reach the South Pole. His ship, Endurance, was trapped and then crushed by sea ice, leaving Shackleton and 27 men adrift on ice floes. The story of how Shackleton saved all of them and reached South Georgia Island is one of the great epics in the history of survival. This is white-knuckle reading at its best. (Kathleen Dannreuther)

Mapson, Jo-Ann, Bad Girl Creek, 2001

The first of a trilogy, Bad Girl Creek features four women, each coping with hard luck. Together they rebuild a broken farmhouse and their lives, lending support, friendship and hope. Mapson creates strong, sometimes quirky women characters and involves the reader immediately in their lives. Any book by this author is a treat. (Carol Ann Rott)

McCrumb, Sharyn, The Songcatcher, 2001

A haunting song, learned by a young 18th century Scottish kidnap victim, passed down through successive generations, is the thread that weaves itself throughout McCrumb's story. As with McCrumb's other Appalachian titles, this is part mystery, part regional history and all entertainment. (Kay Mitman)

Page, Jack, Cavern, 2000

In a man-made cavern near Carlsbad, N.M., scoured from a 2,000-foot-deep salt deposit to house radioactive nuclear waste, government employees have started to disappear. Are these mysterious vanishings a conspiracy? Or the work of an unimaginable presence that appears from nowhere? A tale of intrigue, science, and terror! (Rona Rosenberg)

Poirier, Mark Jude, Goats, 2001

Fourteen-year-old Ellis is getting ready to leave the laid-back foothills lifestyle of his home in the Santa Catalina Mountains in Tucson for a boarding school in the East. This means leaving behind his featherbrained mother and the only real father figure he has ever known, Goat Man. This is a charming first novel, with a cast of kooky, unforgettable characters and lots of Tucson locales. (Kathleen Dannreuther)

Rule, Ann M., And Never Let Her Go, 1999

Another lesson in why sex and power make a lethal cocktail. An insecure, impressionable young woman, secretary to the governor of Delaware, falls under the sway of a sociopathic, charismatic attorney--who ultimately murders her. A moral tale of good and evil, written by Rule's experienced hand. (Jeanne Michie)

Smith, Martin Cruz, Havana Bay, 1999 (fiction)

Detective Arkady Renko arrives in Cuba to ID the body of a Russian official. Investigation into the crime pulls Renko into the midst of a conspiracy--whose members want nothing less than control of Cuba. (Sarajean Harwood)

Stewart, James, Blind Eye: How the Medical Establishment Let a Doctor Get Away with Murder, 1999

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stewart tries his hand at true crime with this incredible tale chronicling the 14-year career of serial killer Dr. Michael Swango, who murdered his patients with impunity while practicing in the U.S. and abroad. (Kathleen Dannreuther)

Stillman, Deanne, Twentynine Palms, 2001

A portrait of the dark side of American life. Tragic murder, marginal lifestyles and a seemingly endless search for justice are the basis for the tale. The author adds interest to what might have been just a sordid true crime story with her research and unique style of reporting. (Jeanne Michie)