Summer Reading

A dozen books to beguile a long, leisurely season in the sun

Peter Benchley's 1974 best seller, Jaws, starred the shark that ate Long Island, became a smashing film and inspired a school of sequels. After some dry runs, the novelist has taken the plunge again. Beast (Random House; 350 pages; $21) features tentacles rather than mandibles. Otherwise it is the familiar mixture: lethal creature, relentless pursuers and vast quantities of saline solution. When waters off Bermuda become the killing grounds of a giant squid, tourism collapses. Whereupon an Ahabian fisherman, Whip Darling, clambers into a submarine and leads the hunt. All the old ingredients are present, from aqua horror ("the creature moved...

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