June 04, 2001 12:00 PM

by Jodi Picoult

Take a bubbling cauldron of mass hysteria, toss in a pinch of the burgeoning sexual power of teenage girls and you’ve got…no, not that Carson Daly program on MTV but the Salem witch-hunts. Updating a familiar story in soapy style with a contemporary New England setting, Picoult (Plain Truth) jumps around the viewpoints of a bewildering assortment of overwrought characters, including four high school girls who practice the pagan religion Wicca and a well-intentioned young man so handsome that delusional young women keep accusing him of rape. Despite being predictable, Salem Falls is a fun, frothy brew of mystery, sex and small-town secrets. (Pocket, $24.95)

Bottom Line: Not bewitching but crafty

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