I'VE BEEN shopping for a thriller to read on a plane trip next week. My criterion is, as usual, size - both the physical size of the book and the size of the author's advance. Spending six hours on a US$3 million book means I'm reading $500,000 worth of material an hour, or $8,333 worth of words each minute. That's time profitably spent. I'm taking six books, each weighing two kilograms or more, all by authors who didn't need the seven-figure cheques they cashed before typing the first word. At first glance, I was amazed at how these prolific authors keep coming up with new stories. But now I'm not so sure. I could swear I've seen these plots before ... John Grisham: The Bruin Brief. Heather Goldilocks, a young up-and-coming lawyer, visits the Bear family, protected witnesses in the trial of a high-profile Mafia figure. The Bears are being hidden deep in a forest but when Goldilocks arrives the family has vanished and she finds herself under arrest. Fingerprints on a porridge bowl and a child's bed implicate her in the kidnapping. After escaping, Goldilocks has to find the witnesses, evade the Mafia and clear her name. 'Taut, gripping, convoluted and extremely taut. Wait, did I say that already?' Putney Courier. John Le Carre: The Spy Who Blew The House Down. At the height of the Cold War, the three Porkovitch brothers have defected to the West. They are being held in houses of straw, wood and brick for security reasons. One of them, however, is actually a spy planted by the Soviets. It's up to the hero, B.B. Wolfe of British Intelligence, to find out which is the traitor. 'A gripping tale of espionage, counter-espionage, counter-counter espionage, and counter-counter-counter espionage.' Yarmouth Shopper's Weekly. Tom Clancy: Watch Out Little Red. A US Air Force captain nicknamed 'Little Red' Riding, despite warnings from his commander, strays from the flight path while delivering a special diplomatic basket of secrets to a friendly power. He is forced down in a forest in North Korea and taken to an interrogation area known by the CIA as 'Grandma's House'. A covert US tactical force codenamed Hunter is sent to rescue him. 'An astounding blockbuster of a read, whatever that is.' Publisher's Hyperbole. Michael Crichton: Beanstalk. A genetic engineering company has been experimenting with a new strain of beanstalk that will grow to immense size to provide protein for developing countries. The experiment goes out of control, and beanstalk XC-2834 won't stop growing. Evil company executives insist there is no danger but Jack, an employee, climbs the beanstalk and discovers a trail of murder, lies and danger. 'High-tech excitement with a pace that will take your breath away and refuse to give it back.' Waco Religious News. Robert Ludlum: The Dwarf Contingency. The fate of the free world is again threatened by a conspiracy in this latest Ludlum opus. A group of seven evil dictators of small but strategic nations known as the Seven Dwarfs are planning to destablilise Nato by getting their leaders hooked on a new and deadly type of cocaine called Snow White. 'Once again, Ludlum takes an unbelievable premise and makes it preposterous.' Reviewer's Cliche Service. Stephen King: Omelette Of Fear. Dr Kingsmen gets an unusual patient in the emergency room: a rotund man named Dumpty who has fallen to his death from a wall. He manages to revive him, only to find he is a homicidal zombie, bent on revenge for his own death. Realising his patient is cracked, Kingsmen nevertheless eggs him on to more death and destruction. 'Plenty of chills. I was glued to the book. I mean literally. Probably one of those neighbourhood kids . . .' Lamma Financial Times.