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Books: Leisure reading

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'Be the One'

By April Smith,

Knopf, $24.

Smith, the author of the successful "North of Montana," has written a second novel about Cassidy Sanderson, a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the only female scout in the major leagues. While taking pride in her ability to make it in a man's world, her job security suffers when she runs out of prospects. When she learns about Alberto Cruz, a young player in the Dominican Republic, she impulsively pursues him.

It turns out her decision is laden with risk, not only because she is bending her own professional rules, but because Cruz, who is as good as promised, also "has a bad spirit on him." The disturbing result for her is a blackmail scheme that reaches to the rooms of high-stakes sports and finances. It is the kind of story that will appeal to both the sports fan and the mystery lover.

Smith's strong suit is dialogue. — Dennis Lythgoe

'Biography of a Germ'

By Arno Karlen,

Pantheon, $22.

The author, a psychoanalyst who has written widely on history and biomedical science, talks here about a microbe's life seen from its own point of view. The bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, the cause of Lyme disease, is invisible to the naked eye, yet it is closely tied to the fate of many creatures. The book follows the life of Bb, as the author calls it, in its travels through ticks, mice, deer and finally, humanity.

Bb is of special interest to medical science because it is one of several microbes that have shifted focus from other species to humans, causing such epidemics as Lyme disease and AIDS. Karlen shows how Bb entered the bodies of human beings because we invited it to through the changing of our environment and behavior. This is a very interesting attempt to humanize a germ. — Dennis Lythgoe

'Finest Hour'

By Tim Clayton and Phil Craig,

Simon & Schuster, $27.50.

This is a gripping story of WWII's Battle of Britain, with the title taken from the famous statement by British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, who called it "Britain's finest hour." Europe seemed to lie at the feet of Germany's Adolph Hitler after whirlwind campaigns to defeat Poland, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and France.

In this expertly drawn historical account, the authors have presented an important story supported by personal accounts from participants, including diaries, letters and memoirs showing why this battle was to be triumphant. This book is the companion volume to the PBS Series originally produced by WGBH/Boston. — Dennis Lythgoe