The Consumer Reports of Bestsellers?

What books get the fewest consumer reviews?

No, not midlist titles — books by bestselling authors. Most reviewers feel they don’t need the attention (with the notable exceptions of People and Entertainment Weekly).

The Daily Beast is jumping into the breach. William Book has begun a new column that sorts through the bestsellers to identify “which, if any, are readable” (I guess that assumes people buy the books, but don’t read them?)

Here’s how he describes his brief:

I’ll render the kind of blunt verdict you get when reading about toasters in Consumer Reports. I’ll tell you which of the bestsellers, if any, are readable. If they’re semi-readable, I’ll tell you which pages to skip. With any luck, you’ll know which one to pack for the flight to Jakarta. If you want a different approach, try The New York Review of Books.

The first up is Sue Grafton’s U is for Undertow. True to his word, he recommends that if you want to “cut straight to the whodunnit … skip over pages 25-26, 226-233, and 253-260,” although, “that’s not recommended, because U is for Undertow isn’t much of a mystery.”

Does he recommend reading it, “Absolutely,” although he doesn’t present a convincing case for doing so.

It’s a good idea for a column, but, generally, the prepub reviewers, who are not allergic to covering potential bestsellers (all four reviewed this one), were more articulate in their recommendations.

U is for Undertow (Kinsey Millhone Mystery)
Sue Grafton
Retail Price: $27.95
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Putnam Adult – (2009-12-01)
ISBN / EAN: 039915597X / 9780399155970

Random House Audio, UNABR CD; 9780739323212; $45
Large Print; Thorndike; 9781410420374
Book and audio downloadable from OverDrive

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