"Venice is really just a small village," cautions John Berendt's host upon his arrival in the city. The implicit warning is that it's a place where everyone knows everyone else's business—ripe territory for the author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. In The City of Falling Angels (Penguin; $26), Berendt exquisitely presents a Venice that teems with heiresses and mafiosi. · Out next month: Gone to New York (Farrar, Straus & Giroux; $22), Ian Frazier's 30-year paean to the Big Apple. His collection of essays includes an illuminating account of Manhattan's frenetic Canal Street and of his own Quixote-like fight to save trees from rogue plastic bags. —AMY FARLEY
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