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GOODBYE, EARL: A Bad Girl Creek Novel
. Simon & Schuster
, $24 (384p) ISBN 0-7432-2463-9
This is the last episode in the Bad Girl Creek trilogy (Bad Girl Creek
; Along Came Mary
), and that's a shame, because readers will miss Mapson's quirky, gutsy protagonists and the cozy familiarity of their steadfast friendship. Five years have passed in the lives of girlfriends Beryl, Phoebe, Nance and Ness. Beryl is living in Anchorage on the verge of a breakup with Earl, the man she thought was the love of her life. Phoebe, still in the Central California coastal town of Bayborough-by-the-Sea, is kept busy with the challenge of raising her precocious five-year-old daughter, Sally, and operating the flower business she inherited from her Aunt Sadie. Still mourning the loss of Sally's father, Phoebe resists the idea of a new man in her life until Andrew comes along. Nance and husband James, Phoebe's brother, appear to have it all—looks, money, social position and true love—but lack the one thing they yearn for: a child. And Ness is nursing David, good friend and AIDS sufferer, at a condo they're renting in Tucson, Ariz. The two make a last trip to California since David's dying wish is to view the ocean just one more time. The story unfolds as in the two previous novels—each chapter is told from a different character's point of view—but this time Beryl plays a central role as her breakup with Earl takes a series of bizarre twists and turns. With warmhearted narrative and lively dialogue Mapson has created another good curl-up-by-the-fireplace-with-a-cup-of-cocoa book. Agent, Deborah Schneider. (Jan.)