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John F. Baker -- 11/27/00

Florida Standoff Books Emerging | The Skinny on Bounty Hunters
Harper Hot on New Novelist | Short Takes

Florida Standoff Books EmergingSince Theodore H. White is no longer with us, someone else must emerge to chronicle how the 2000 presidential election was won--or, as of this writing, still not won. Jeffrey Toobin, who since his stint at the O.J. Simpson trial has become Random House's main man for books that go deep inside events of the moment, has again signed with the house, through publisher and editor-in-chief Ann Godoff, to tell the whole tale being played out in Florida, the make-or-break state for Bush and Gore. The author, whose last book examined the Clinton impeachment tale, went down to the Sunshine State as soon as it became clear, the day after election day, that this was going to be a drawn-out cliff-hanger, and has since been reporting his findings for the New Yorker and ABC News. He aims to stay until a decision is finally reached. According to Godoff, who signed the book through Esther Newberg at ICM, buying just North American, and will edit herself, Toobin will again offer "the definitive, character-driven account of what is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing events in recent American political history." She plans to publish next fall, well within the first year in office of the eventual winner.

Much quicker out of the gate, but with a quieter name, will be Little, Brown, where executive editor Geoff Shandler acquired a book by's Washington correspondent Jake Tapper, which will cover the same ground but is due to be published in hardcover soon after Inauguration Day, January 20, 2001. Shandler bought world rights from agent Christy Fletcher at Carlisle & Co., and describes Tapper as "the perfect person to write the definitive book on this incredible mess."

Over at Basic Books they were fortunate in having signed Dana Milbank oftheWashington Post a year ago for a campaign book that will deliver more than they expected. To be called Smashmouth, it will be what editor Vanessa Mobley calls a "smart, irreverent" look at the Bush-Gore campaign and how it ended. She bought world rights from Washington agent Rafe Sagalyn and hopes to have the book out within days of Inauguration.

The Skinny on Bounty HuntersWho better to provide it than Janet Evanovich, whose ebullient tales of New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum have made her a bestseller of ever-increasing velocity (her books are numbered, with No. 7 to appear next June). So thought the author; her agent, Robert Gottlieb,at Trident New Media; and her editor, Jennifer Enderlin,at St. Martin's Press, so they came up with the notion for a nonfiction book--Evanovich's first--to be called The Bounty Hunters, which would reveal the factual underpinnings to Stephanie's fictional doings. Enderlin paid what Gottlieb called "a very healthy six figures" for what will be a book of real-life anecdotes, interviews with and portraits of contemporary bounty hunters, and a deeply informed look into what Enderlin calls "the whole crazy business." She bought North American rights only and if she gets a manuscript in time would hope to publish in time for next year's Christmas gift-giving season, as a potential gift for the other kind of bounty hunter.

Harper Hot on New NovelistHe's Richard Rayner, whose The Cloud Sketcher, a sweeping love story set in the New York era of skyscraper construction in the 1920s, is coming out in February and is already garnering strong advance reviews and blurbs. HarperCollins executive editor Dan Conaway is so keen on Rayner, who he hopes will break out with that book, that he has just signed him for another involving some of the same characters. Still untitled, it will be set in Los Angeles and Las Vegas 30 years later, but starring the same mobster villain as the earlier book. World rights were bought for a substantial sum from agent Jeff Posternak at the Wylie Agency in view of the success Juliette Shapland of HC's foreign rights department had with TheCloud Sketcher. Delivery of the new novel, which is about four very different men all in love with the same showgirl, is expected about a year from now.

Short Takes
Dr. A. Scott Connelly
is a muscular giant of a California fitness trainer whose following is so starry that Penguin Putnam executive editor Jeremy Katz has just shelled out seven figures for two books by him, North American rights only, to be co-written with Carol Colman, the first to appear next fall. Ellen Geiger at Curtis Brown made the primary sale, with Richard Curtis representing Colman.... One of new Picador publisher Frances Coady's first acquisitions is a book by Darwin's great-great-grandson, Matthew Chapman, on a contemporary journey to the Tennessee site of the famous Scopes trial of 1925 to see what, if anything, has changed since then. It's called The Trial of the Monkey, and Coady asked for an exclusive look from agent Joni Evans at William Morris after she met the author. She has North American and serial, and plans to publish next September.