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Mystery novelist turns to biography in portrayal of Billy Graham’s wife

SHARE Mystery novelist turns to biography in portrayal of Billy Graham’s wife

Dr. Kay Scarpetta, step aside. You've been temporarily replaced by Ruth Bell Graham.

Ruth Graham, wife of the Rev. Billy Graham, is the subject of "Ruth: A Portraid" (Doubleday) by Patricia Cornwell. The biography is a literary departure for Cornwell, author of eight popular mystery novels featuring Scarpetta, Virginia's chief medical examiner.In "Ruth," Cornwell, a longtime family friend, profiles the woman behind the man of God, from her childhood with medical missionary parents in China, through college (where she met her husband) and her marriage of more than 50 years.

"Ruth" is among new hardcover books that include fiction by Sidney Sheldon, Louis Auchincloss, Joyce Carol Oates and Barbara Delinsky; and nonfiction by wordsmith William Safire, TV star Paul Reiser, therapist Laura Schlessinger and film actor Kirk Douglas.

In Sheldon's 15th novel, "The Best Laid Plans" (Morrow), Leslie Stewart has a score to settle with Southern governor and White House aspirant Oliver Russell. A week before she was to marry Russell, he fled to Paris to marry a senator's daughter.

Auchincloss offers nine new stories focusing on what he knows best - America's moneyed class - in his 54th book, "The Atonement and Other Stories" (Houghton Mifflin). The tales span a century, from old New York through JFK's Washington and yuppie-era Wall Street.

"Man Crazy" (Dutton), Oates' 27th novel, is the story of a woman's search for a man to replace the father who abandoned her when she was 5. Her relationship with the leader of a murdering satanic cult results in a brush with death that inspires her to change.

A near-death also inspires the heroine in Delinsky's novel, "Three Wishes" (Simon & Schuster). The close call convinces Bree Miller, 33, that her life was spared so that she could achieve her goals: Find a mate, start a family and reconcile with the mother who abandoned her at infancy.

Safire, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist, offers his latest collection of columns in "Watching My Language" (Random House).

What follows "Couplehood"? In the bookstore - as in life - it's "Babyhood" (Weisbach/Morrow). Reiser describes being a first-time dad from firsthand experience: deciding on a name; the harrowing drive when "it's time"; bringing baby home; and "an ever-present moistness" from spittle, spit-up, leaky bottles and leaky bottoms.

"Ten Stupid Things Men Do To Mess Up Their Lives" (Harper-Collins) is Schlessinger's follow-up to her best-selling "Ten Stupid Things Women Do . . ." In the new book, the talk-radio therapist offers examples from callers and letter-writers to help men make their lives and relationships more rewarding.

His quest for spirituality and his Jewish identity; his struggle to overcome crippling injuries from a helicopter crash and stroke; and reconciliation with son Michael are among topics Douglas tackles in "Climbing the Mountain: My Search for Meaning" (Simon & Schuster).