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What We're Reading: May 25-31

Maureen Corrigan hails the "genius" of Stieg Larsson's vision, as revealed in his final "Girl Who" mystery. Is Anthropology of an American Girl the next Catcher in the Rye? Neda Ulaby says no. And novelist Aimee Bender evokes the taste of love in The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.


The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest

By Stieg Larsson

In this anxiously awaited final installment of what everyone calls The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series, Stieg Larsson gives readers a look backward into the grotesque childhood that shaped his heroine, Lisbeth Salander, into the asocial street fighter and crackerjack computer hacker she became. As in the preceding mystery, The Girl Who Played With Fire, Salander is the still point of a furiously churning plot that involves, in this case, high-level business corruption as well as a rogue special-ops agency secreted in the Swedish government. For most of this tale, Salander lies immobile in a locked hospital room; meanwhile, her sometime partner in crime, investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist, frantically races around Sweden trying to save Salander, who's been accused of committing a ghastly triple murder and assaulting her own monstrous father. Blomkvist bets that the uncommunicative Salander isn't guilty of the crimes; but because she's Salander, Blomkvist knows she's not really innocent, either.

Hardcover, 576 pages; Knopf; list price, $27.95; publication date, May 25


Anthropology Of An American Girl

A Novel

By Hilary Thayer Hamann

Anthropology of An American Girl follows the romantic fixations and travails of one Eveline Auerbach as she progresses from high school in Sag Harbor, N.Y., to college at NYU in the 1980s. She roams through the Hamptons, Jersey and Manhattan, trying to locate her place in the world and carve out a personal mythology. The novel was self-published a few years ago, then picked up by Spiegel & Grau and allegedly re-edited.

Hardcover, 624 pages; Spiegel & Grau; list price, $26; publication date, May 25


The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake

By Aimee Bender

Until she's about to turn 9, Rose Edelstein seems to be a normal little girl, especially in comparison with her older brother Joseph, a scientific genius who is her mother's favorite. Then her mother bakes her a lemon cake with fudge icing, and Rose, upon eating a slice warm from the oven, recognizes a strange new emotional flavor — the moroseness behind her mother's cheerful mask. From then on her emphatic sense of taste intrudes upon every bite of food. Meanwhile, her brother's growing social withdrawal overshadows his precocious brilliance. Rose and Joseph share a fragile bond in this Los Angeles household haunted by neurotic limitations. Their father is so phobic about hospitals he waited out the children's births on the sidewalk. Their mother has a wide array of thwarted ambitions. This sensual and detailed portrait of Rose's coming of age as a "magic food psychic" also reveals the complicated negotiations within a family where missed connections are the norm.

Hardcover, 304 pages; Doubleday; list price, $25.95; publication date, June 15

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