No, he hasn't escaped from anywhere, but James Patterson has put aside his megaselling mystery series to write a love story. (For disbelievers out there, we quote from Little, Brown's TV ads: "Yes, James Patterson.") It seems that not long ago, Patterson told a group of LB staffers the story he had always wanted to write—and when he finished, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. So Patterson wrote his story, and Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas has snagged our top fiction spot, with 780,000 copies in print after four trips back to press. The author's in the midst of a 15-city tour, which kicked off on pub date (July 16) with a Today appearance. According to L-B publicity director Heather Rizzo, "The events have been drawing crowds of 300 or more, even at the lunchtime signings." Booksellers, she reports, have been "very creative" in their promotions—one store displayed Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas tissue boxes; another provided lunch, cake and sun tea (all mentioned in the book) for a noontime signing.

With reporting by Dick Donahue.