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'The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived'

By Allan Lazar, Dan Karlan and Jeremy Salter

Harper, $13.95 (softcover).

Popular culture has given us numerous figures who never actually lived but who have had an enormous impact on our society. That's the conclusion of the authors.

These imaginary figures — such as Prince Charming, Sherlock Holmes, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, Dr. Frankenstein's Monster, Tarzan, The Great Gatsby, The Cat in the Hat, Hamlet, Sam Spade, Superman, Perry Mason and Kermit the Frog — have inspired real people to attempt the feats of the imaginary people. Or in many cases have become so real to our culture that some of us think they are not imaginary.

This book is a great pleasure to read as a serious reference work, or maybe an instrument to guide a fun group game or project. — Dennis Lythgoe


'The Speed of Trust'

By Steven M. R. Covey with Rebecca Merrill

Simon and Schuster, $26.

This book could be deceiving, for it is written by a Steven Covey, but not the Steven Covey. The author here is his eldest son, who is working in the family business at the Covey Leadership Center. (Another son, Sean Covey, also writes how-to books with similar titles and jackets.)

Covey advocates the importance of trust in business decisions as a learnable, measurable skill, not a soft social virtue. He tries to prove that as trust goes up, speed goes up and cost comes down. This produces a "trust dividend."

Showing that he is truly his father's son, Covey suggests 13 behaviors common to trustworthy leaders. — Dennis Lythgoe


'A Christmas Secret'

By Anne Perry

Ballantine, $16.95.

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Anne Perry, a New Zealander who has relocated to Scotland, is a member of the LDS Church who usually writes crime novels — at least two a year. But she has also written several holiday novels, the kind you get out each year and re-read.

In this book, Dominic Corde agrees to be substitute vicar for vacationing Rev. Wynter at his Cottisham village church. It is an exceptionally cold, snowy season as Dominic is welcomed by warm, hospitable neighbors.

Most worrisome to Dominic is how he will be received when he takes the pulpit. But it turns out there is something much more serious to worry about — where is Rev. Wynter? He is not on holiday at all, and it seems something sinister has happened to him. — Dennis Lythgoe