THE LAST TRAIN TO MEMPHIS
Few authors dare to inspire readers with blatantly imperfect characters, but Cook does so with ease in this masterful and poignant new novel. When recovering drug addict Claire Burton shows up on ex-flame Rufus Johnson's doorstep, old feelings return.
But now that they are slightly older and a bit wiser, the attraction is that much stronger. Despite the desire to rekindle what they had, Rufus has responsibilities from his past that he must live up to before he can find a future with Claire.
The author vividly details the scenic backdrop of this sultry novel, and the gritty troubles facing the couple add realism. Cook is equally adept at balancing the graver aspects of the story, with humor and personality. Sultry scenes provide the necessary proof that Rufus and Claire are in tune with each other, both physically and mentally. The musical history of Memphis combined with the city's Southern charm make it the ideal setting for this romance. Overall, The Last Train to Memphis is perfection. (May, 320 pp., $9.95)