People associate best-selling mysteries and thrillers with the words "guilty pleasure," but it doesn't have to be that way. You just have to find excellent writers who don't condescend, like Iain Pears, the author of An Instance of the Fingerpost. Stone's Fall, his newest, is set in the high-rolling European financial world, just before World War I. Why did John Stone, a financier and arms dealer, fall to his death? The answer involves espionage, intrigue, and global conspiracies. It's a fun, intelligent thriller—minus the guilt. (Third Place Books, 17171 Bothell Way NE, 366-3333. 7 pm, free.)

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