ASKING FOR TROUBLE
A true contemporary gothic is hard to pull off. Take a tortured -- and maybe homicidal -- hero, an isolated house, mysterious incidents and any modern woman with half a brain would be running for her life. But not in Asking for Trouble (4.5), Leslie Kelly's wonderful book. Simon Lebeaux thinks the old hotel he's inherited from his uncle is haunted. Isolated in the mountains above Trouble, Pa., it has seen a series of unexplainable happenings. Graduate student Lottie Santori comes to do research on a serial killer who was the original owner of the hotel, not knowing Simon has closed it for business. She convinces him to let her stay, and together they solve the mystery of the haunted hotel. Lottie is a strong heroine who grew up in a family of brothers and doesn't buy into the town's mistaken view of Simon. Simon, meanwhile, is a tortured hero with real issues, and he's normal enough to be sympathetic. The action flies.