Ellen Shapiro, Meredith Maran, and KYLE SMITH
July 29, 2013 12:00 PM

The Cuckoo’s Calling

by Robert Galbraith |



When this debut mystery was published in April, it won admiring reviews but sold dismally. What a difference a pseudonym makes. Thanks to an anonymous tweet informing Britain’s Sunday Times that author “Robert Galbraith” is actually J.K. Rowling, the book has now shot to the top of bestseller lists. So will Harry Potter fans go cuckoo for a crime caper? There’s no magic involved this time out, but Rowling switches genres seamlessly, telling a gritty, absorbing tale about a down-on-his-luck London P.I., Cormoran Strike, whose fortunes begin to shift when he’s hired to look into the supposed suicide of supermodel Lula Landry. (Those Hogwartsian names should have given us a clue.) Rowling told the Times she wishes she could have kept her secret a little bit longer, but she promises a sequel from “Robert.” He will, however, “probably continue to turn down public appearances.”

Big Girl Panties

by Stephanie Evanovich |



This first novel by Janet Evanovich’s niece is a fun and fluffy, if somewhat predictable, read. Like her aunt, Evanovich the Younger uses a tried-and-true story line (32-year-old Holly loses husband, gains weight, hires trainer, loses weight, beds trainer) and a perky, accessible writing style that fairly defines the term “beach read.” The plot sometimes strains credulity (would hunky Logan really fall for chubby, grieving Holly?), but Big Girl Panties has wit and heart.

& Sons

by David Gilbert |



The shadow of decline hangs over aged literary lion Andrew Dyer, the author of a midcentury prep-school novel called Ampersand (wittily echoed in Gilbert’s title) who shares with J.D. Salinger a curmudgeonly distaste for public life and worldwide fame. Dyer’s two adult sons have proven to be disappointments and his marriage is a wreck, but renewal beckons in the person of his teenage third son Andy. Conceived under mysterious circumstances and startling in his resemblance to the old man, young Dyer is a lively one, full of the frustrations and embarrassments of youth yet in possession of an old soul that may herald more artistic greatness in the family. This throwback literary novel is slow-paced, but its rueful, poetic vision of faded WASP grandeur is frequently heartbreaking.

COMMENTS? WRITE TO KIM HUBBARD: bookseditor@peoplemag.com

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