New book: Huge, By James W. Fuerst ’94 (Crown)

The author: Fuerst, a first-time novelist, earned a Ph.D. from Harvard's Department of Government and an M.F.A. from the New School. At Princeton, he majored in politics and played on the sprint football team.

The story: Eugene "Huge" Smalls is a precocious 12-year-old detective who idolizes Philip Marlowe and aims to solve crimes in his New Jersey hometown. He's also an angry, lonely, foul-mouthed boy looking to find his place in the frightening world of junior high school. Fuerst's novel blends classic detective fiction with coming-of-age themes in this story of an eventful suburban summer.

Opening lines: "It was one of those lurid August days, all haze and steam, the sun hidden and stewing like a shameful lust. I dropped the kickstand, locked the Cruiser to the NO PARKING sign, and wiped the glaze of sweat off my face and neck."

Reviews: Booklist said Huge is "always engrossing," and People gave the book four stars, calling it "a hugely entertaining novel" with "a winning protagonist (who needs to have his mouth washed out with soap)."