Publishing world zeroes in on 9/11 -- Four new fiction books recount the event

By Jennifer Reese
Updated March 21, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

Absent Friends

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  • Book

Publishing world zeroes in on 9/11

ABSENT FRIENDS
S.J. Rozan
Mystic River meets The 9/11 Commission Report in this moody, smartly written, and overlong mystery. Fireman Jimmy McCaffery died a hero in the World Trade Center. Or did he? An aggressive New York reporter thinks she’s discovered something fishy in McCaffery’s past, and begins investigating the circle of working-class friends with whom he grew up on Staten Island. The long, tense windup suggests dark deeds and sordid secrets, but the payoff never arrives. B

DEAR ZOE
Philip Beard
On the morning of 9/11, 15-year-old Tess DeNunzio momentarily leaves her 3-year-old half sister, Zoe, playing in their front yard in Pittsburgh so she can watch news of the terrorist attacks on TV. A driver — distracted by the same news on the radio — hits the little girl. Philip Beard’s slight epistolary debut attempts to portray a family paralyzed by their private grief, but in fact the novel’s more affecting segments describe Tess’ sexual and emotional coming-of-age. B

WINDOWS ON THE WORLD
Frédéric Beigbeder
Frenchman Frédéric Beigbeder braids together the musings of two fictional narrators: a shallow Texan who takes his sons for an ill-fated breakfast at Windows on the World atop Tower 1, and a neurotic French writer who broods over the book he’s writing about 9/11. While serving up a few clever insights and pretentious inanities (”People who don’t understand lap dancing will never understand America”), this ambitious mess revives the horror of 9/11 but sheds no new light on that day. C+

BEYOND TUESDAY MORNING
Karen Kingsbury
This sequel to the popular One Tuesday Morning continues the romantic and spiritual adventures of Jamie Bryan, whose firefighter husband perished on 9/11. In the 2003 book, a stranger who looked exactly (but exactly!) like Jamie’s husband emerged from the rubble to live with her before regaining his memory and returning to his family. Now, his hunky brother comes along and by chance (by chance!) meets Jamie. Their ”chemistry” and Christian devotion spell, one hopes, a happy ending to the series. D-

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Absent Friends

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