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Books in brief


Georgia in Hawaii: When Georgia O'Keeffe Painted What She Pleased by Amy Novesky; illustrated by Yuyi Morales; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99. Ages 6 to 9.

This lovely book offers a snapshot of painter Georgia O'Keeffe that may offer a more memorable portrait of her for young readers than a more complete biography would. Novesky tells the amusing true but little-known story of O'Keeffe's nine-week trip to Hawaii in 1939 as a guest of the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, which commissioned her to create two paintings for a pineapple juice campaign. The company refused her request to live near the pineapple fields. (Novesky writes: "Georgia went where she wanted, when she wanted.") As O'Keeffe toured Hawaii, she painted waterfalls, mountains, the sea and the beautiful flowers -- the plumeria, lotus and hibiscus. Upon her return, she gave the company not the requested pineapple paintings but paintings of a heliconia flower and a papaya tree (although she eventually did give in and paint a pineapple). Morales' gorgeous paintings are her own style and do not mimic O'Keeffe, but in their striking lines and gorgeous colors are also fittingly evocative (particularly the flower paintings) of O'Keeffe's own work.

-- Jean Westmoore



Carry the One by Carol Anshaw; Simon & Schuster, 272 pages ($25).

A car, carrying revelers from a wedding reception who are stoned, drunk, sleepy and distracted by lust, strikes a 10-year-old girl on a country road and kills her. Carol Anshaw's masterful novel, "Carry the One," recounts both the horror of the accident and the way it reverberates in a cluster of lives, particularly sisters Carmen (the bride) and Alice and their brother Nick (both in the death car).

Alice goes on to success as a painter, great enough to be feted in Amsterdam. But almost no one ever sees her masterpieces, eerie paintings of the dead girl, aged over the years, which Alice feels are somehow dictated to her: "Alice never had a day she didn't think about the girl. Everybody, she figured, had to coat the grain of sand in his or her own way. Making these paintings was hers."

Olivia, Nick's girlfriend and later wife, was driving the car, stoned. She pleads guilty and emerges from prison completely straight-edged. Nick, an astronomer and construction worker, tries to use her for the strength to shake his drug addiction.

Where Alice sees paintings of the dead girl in her mind's eye, Nick feels compelled to visit her parents, now separated.

The relationship Anshaw depicts between temperamentally different yet loving and committed sisters is one of the great pleasures of her novel. She writes succinctly, yet still provides plenty of the texture of their lives.

The word "closure" appears in this book, but these characters don't fool themselves about its possibility in their lives. "We don't deserve the luxury of our lives," Carmen tells her husband late in the book.

Anshaw is a sharp, commanding writer and often surprisingly funny. While her story is contemporary enough to include the events of Sept. 11, her mastery is classic.

-- McClatchy Newspapers



Heart of a Killer by David Rosenfelt; St. Martin's Press, 304 pages ($24.99).

David Rosenfelt, best known for his Edgar-nominated series about dog-loving attorney Andy Carpenter, juggles several sub-genres with aplomb as he seamlessly spins what starts as an intriguing mystery and turns into a high-concept thriller.

Underachieving attorney Jamie Wagner is content to coast, doing background research for the partners at the large firm where he works. But a case that he expects will just be more paperwork may rouse him out of his stupor.

Imprisoned six years ago for the murder of her abusive husband, Sheryl Harrison wants to file a suit against the state of New Jersey to allow her to donate her heart to her 14-year-old daughter, who has a congenital heart condition. The girl has a rare blood type that only Sheryl shares. Sheryl realizes she is asking to commit suicide under a controlled situation so her heart will immediately go to her daughter.

The case, as Jamie sees it, doesn't have a chance of going anywhere and, he figures the paperwork will be shunted aside. But when word of Sheryl's request leaks out, the case becomes a media circus, forcing him to invest more of his time. He finds many inconsistencies about her case, including that the lead detective doubted her guilt. Digging further, he discovers a far-reaching conspiracy to keep Sheryl in jail.

Rosenfelt keeps a firm hand on his plot as he escalates the story from a legal thriller to the kind of action adventure that would star Bruce Willis. Despite the infusion of ramped-up action, the novel remains a believable, often chilling story with appealing characters. Rosenfelt also balances this with his trademark dry humor.

-- McClatchy Newspapers