Books: Murdered, She Wrote

Alice Sebold's triumphant novel, The Lovely Bones, is a tragicomedy told by a slain 14-year-old girl

"My name was Salmon, like the fish: first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973." Go ahead, read it again. Almost everything that makes The Lovely Bones the breakout fiction debut of the year--the sweetness, the humor, the kicky rhythm, the deadpan suburban gothic--is right there, packed into those first two lines, under pressure and waiting to explode.

Part coming-of-age tale, part mystery, part ghost story, Alice Sebold's first novel (she's also the author of a memoir, Lucky) is the tale of an ordinary girl who is raped, murdered and dismembered in a field near...

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