The following is a list of 2001 titles which have garnered excellent reviews from critics, booksellers and library journals.
The purpose of the list is to make available to you, the reader, current information of what books are generally considered to be among the best of the year. If you are so inclined to vote for fan awards such as the Barry Awards, the Anthonys, the Agathas and the Macavitys, then this list will give you a head start.
If any of the following novels received a glowing review in Deadly Pleasures, or a starred review in Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist or Library Journal, it is indicated at the end of each entry with the abbreviations of the periodicals which gave such reviews.
Most of the books listed have been reviewed in Deadly Pleasures. To see the review click on the book title if it indicates a link. Ones without a review have two ** in front of them.
The year 2001 is shaping up to be one of the best years for crime fiction in recent memory.
Best U.S. Crime Novels
Best U.S. First Crime Novels
Best U.K. Crime Novels
Best U.S. Paperback Originals
BEST U.S. CRIME NOVELS 2001
BLOOD LURE, Barr, Nevada (Putnam $24.95) The laws of nature take a murderous turn in this spellbinding addition to the best-selling series featuring Park Ranger Anna Pigeon. Anna returns to the West, where she is sent on a training assignment to study grizzly bears in Waterton Glacier National Peace Park. But when daybreak finds a boy missing and a camper dead, Anna must track the beast stalking the trails as she becomes involved in a gripping wilderness life-or-death mystery. PW & DP
FLIGHT, Burke, Jan (Simon & Schuster, $24.00). Flight is really the story of two men, Harriman and Philip Lefebvre. Ten years ago, when businessman Trent Randolph and his daughter were murdered, Lefebvre was the officer in charge of the case. Moody and isolated, he became not only investigator but guardian angel to Randolph's young son Seth, left clinging to life after the attack. His colleagues and the community were convinced Whitey Dane, a local mobster with grand ambitions, was behind the murders, but when Seth was killed in his hospital bed and both Lefebvre and all the evidence against Dane disappeared, the department was left reeling in the wake of crooked-cop iniquity. But now Lefebvre's apparently sabotaged plane has been discovered in the mountains, along with his bones. Frank Harriman must ease through a maze of anger and recrimination as he pursues the possibility of Lefebvre's innocence. But if this cop was innocent, that means another one wasn't--and that individual will stop at nothing to protect his guilty secret. DP
ECHO BURNING, Child, Lee (Putnam, $18.95). Jack Reacher is hitchhiking and is picked up by a beautiful (what else?) Hispanic woman who wants him to kill her abusive husband who is just getting out of prison. Vintage Lee Child. Kirkus, PW and DP
TELL NO ONE, Coben, Harlan (Dell, $22.95, Orion, £12.00). Dr. David Beck has still to get over the death of his beloved wife some eight years before. Suddenly he begins getting cryptic emails that indicated by their language that they are coming from his deceased wife. But what scenario could one conjure up to explain how she could still be alive and why she hasn't contacted her husband (whom she loved as much as he loved her) in all of these years? DP & LJ
ANGEL IN BLACK, Collins, Max Allen (NAL $21.95). The newspaper dubbed her The Black Dahlia. Nathan Heller knew her--intimately--as Elizabeth Short. To discover the identity of the fiend who destroyed her, Heller must lay bare the terrifying truth behind Hollywood's make-believe facade. Booklist & DP
A DARKNESS MORE THAN NIGHT, Connelly, Michael (Little Brown $24.95) Terrence McCaleb, the retired FBI agent featured in the bestselling Blood Work, is asked by the LAPD to help them investigate a series of murders. They are the kind of ritualized killings that McCaleb specializes in solving, and he is reluctantly drawn from his peaceful new life back into the excitement of tracking down a homicidal maniac. More horrifying still, the suspect who seems to fit the profile that McCaleb develops is someone he has known and worked with in the past: Detective Harry Bosch. Kirkus, PW & DP
HOSTAGE, Crais, Robert (Doubleday, $24.95). Small-time crooks attempt to rob a convenience store and the robbery goes bad. Attempting to flee the area, their truck breaks down. They go on foot to a near-by upscale neighborhood and attempt to steal a car, but before they can even get out of the garage, police are approaching the house. Escape is thwarted so they take a family hostage, but they aren't aware that the dad is the accountant for a big-time crime boss. Talk about a gang with bad luck!
A FINER END, Crombie, Deborah (Bantam $23.95).
A tale of mysteries--one old, one modern. Worker Jack Montford's office overlooks a mysterious castle and graveyard. He begins hearing cries of help from a monk who died 1,000 years ago. He appeals to Scotland Yard for help, and unleashes a fatal chain of events. PW & DP
**UNDERCURRENTS, Fyfield, Frances (Viking $23.95). For 20 years, Henry Evans has been haunted by a blurred but shining memory of his lost love, Francesca Chisholm. Now this shy American has come looking for her in her hometown on the English coast. What he finds there is not what he expects. Kirkus, LJ & PW
THE SURGEON, Gerritsen, Tess (Ballantine, $24.95). Murdering women in the most obscene way imaginable, a sadistic killer--called "The Surgeon"--terrorizes Boston. A victim of a similar crime, Dr. Catherine Cordell, has created a careful facade that is about to crack as the unknown killer cuts ever closer. "Deep, dark, and very disturbing".--Tami Hoag. Kirkus & DP
SIX-POUND WALLEYE, Gunn, Elizabeth (Walker $23.95) Jake Hines is back on the case, only this time there are two cases that may--or may not--be connected when a child is shot in his front yard at the same time a brawl breaks out at the high school. DP, Kirkus & PW
THE HUNTING WIND, Hamilton, Steve (St. Martin's Minotaur, $23.95). It's April in Paradise, a small town in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Alex McKnight is contacted by an old baseball minor league teammate--Randy Wilkins--who is on a quest to find Maria, his old true love. The only problem: Randy walked away from her in 1971 and hasn't seen or heard from her since. Booklist, PW & DP
DEATH IN HOLY ORDERS, James, P.D. (Knopf $ 25.00). Commander Dalgliesh, P.D. James's great detective, returns after four years. An untimely death brings him to the East Anglian coast where a young man has fallen from a cliff at the small theological college of St. Anselm's. He agrees to investigate, but no sooner does Dalgliesh arrive than he finds himself drawn into the labyrinth of a violent mystery. DP, Kirkus & PW
PURGATORY RIDGE, Krueger, William Kent (Pocket, $23.95) The story centers around the wealthy owner of a lumber mill Karl Lindstrom. Someone is trying to sabotage his operations because he is seeking to cut down an area of forest held sacred by the Anishinaabe Indians. A native American is found dead in a blast that was meant to stop Linstrom's operations. Former police chief Cork O'Connor doesn't believe that the dead man had anything to do with sabotage and looks into the matter out of curiosity. Events start to spin out of control and the last 100 pages give the reader a wild ride. DP
**THE CONSTANT GARDNER, LeCarre, John (Scribner $28.00) Featuring his strongest heroine since The Russia House, Le Carre's The Constant Gardener combines the international suspense of his Cold War thrillers with the exotic romanticism of The Little Drummer Girl. This is a masterful novel by one of the most compelling and elegant storytellers of our time. PW & Booklist
MYSTIC RIVER, Lehane, Dennis (Morrow $22.00) When Jimmy Marcus's daughter is found dead, his childhood friend Sean Devine is assigned the case. Sean's personal life begins to unravel as his investigation takes him back into a world of violence and pain he thought he'd left behind. His quest also leads him on a collision course with Marcus--a man with his own dark past--and David Boyle, a man who hides monstrous secrets beneath a bland facade. Booklist, PW, LJ & DP
**THE REAPER, Lovesey, Peter (Soho $23.00) Otis Joy is the handsome young rector of St. Bartholomew's Church in Foxford, England. His bishop has just accused him of embezzling church funds and ordered him to resign. But before that can happen, the bishop commits suicide. How opportune. One sudden death seems to lead to another. But then Otis Joy finds his soul mate. PW & DP
THE CHALON HEADS, Maitland, Barry (Arcade, $24.95). Detectives Brock and Kolla are summoned to Cabot’s, a store in the Strand that specializes in rare stamps, on what they assume is a routine matter. There they encounter Sammy Starling, an old nemesis of Brock. It seems that Starling’s beautiful young wife has been kidnapped. The ransom demanded is the rarest of Chalon Heads, which is going to be auctioned at Cabot’s in a few days. Nominated last year for Barry Award for Best British Novel. Kirkus & DP
UNCOMMON CLAY, Maron, Margaret (Mysterious $23.95). Judge Deborah Knott of Seagrove, North Carolina, must unearth a local family's tragic past to find a vengeful killer in the eighth installment of the award-winning mystery series by Maron. PW, Booklist & DP
UNDER THE COLOR OF LAW, McGarrity, Michael (Dutton $23.95) Kevin Kearney has recently been hired as police chief of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Working with a skeptical staff, he tries to solve the murder of the wife of a U.S. ambassador. He smells cover-up when a team of antiterrorist FBI agents attempt to shut the local police out of the investigation. Kirkus & DP
**MURDER ME NOW, Meyers, Annette (Mysterious $23.95) Greenwich Village is decked with snow and mistletoe in December of 1920. Prohibition may be the law, but the speakeasies are crowded with writers and artists, friends and lovers. In the midst of all this conviviality, poet-sleuth Olivia Brown once again finds herself drawn into murder; this time it is the mysterious death of a young nanny, who is employed by one of Olivia's friends. PW & Booklist
FEARLESS JONES, Mosley, Walter (Little Brown $24.95). Mosley returns to mysteries at last with his most engaging hero since Easy Rawlins. When Paris Minton meets a beautiful new woman, before he knows it he has been beaten up, slept with, shot at, robbed, and his bookstore burned to the ground. He's in so much trouble he has no choice but to get his friend, Fearless Jones, out of jail to help him. Kirkus
SMOKE-FILLED ROOMS, Nelscott, Kris (St. Martin’s Minotaur $23.95). Leaving behind Memphis and the aftermath of Dr. King's murder, Nelscott's complicated hero, Smokey Dalton, has resurfaced a few months later in Chicago as he protects a young boy who knows the assassins' true identities. Kirkus, Booklist & DP
MUTE WITNESS, O'Brien, Charles (Poisoned Pen $23.95) Set in 1787, the novel relates the adventures of a young actress and aerialist, Anne Cartier. Working in England, she becomes interested in teaching the deaf. By chance she halts a crime and is herself arrested and charged. Freed by friends, she decides to go to France to study new methods of teaching the deaf. There she tries to find the truth about her father’s recent death, he being presumed a murderer and suicide. PW & DP
SILENT JOE, Parker, T. Jefferson (Hyperion $23.95) In an intelligent mystery that will satisfy the mind as well as the heart, the bestselling author of Red Light and The Blue Hour returns with a moody, sexy, suspenseful novel about a scarred man, the father he idolized, and the secret he uncovered. LJ, PW & DP
**PROTECT AND DEFEND, Patterson, Richard North (Knopf $26.95) In a compelling new novel, Patterson makes a major departure that confirms his place among the most important writers at work today. A newly elected president faces the unexpected chance to nominate a new chief justice of the Supreme Court, but the Senate majority leader is determined to thwart the nomination for reasons that cross the boundary between the political and the personal. What results is the definitive novel of politics and law at the dawn of the 21st century.
Kirkus, PW & Booklist
PARALLEL LIES, Pearson, Ridley (Hyperion, $23.95) Pearson's latest novel brings together all his incomparable talents and more in a riveting story about a grieving man's mission to bring down the railroad company he blames for his wife and children's deaths--no matter who else dies in the process. Tyler, the ex-cop who is looking to redeem himself after being suspended from the force, will stop at nothing to catch the perpetrator. LJ & DP
RIGHT AS RAIN, Pelecanos, George (Little Brown $24.95) Derek Strange, a private detective, is hired to clear the lingering doubts about a young black police officer killed in the line of duty. After Strange interviews Terry Quinn, the officer who pulled the trigger, Quinn joins the investigation and helps seek answers in the darkest sectors of Washington, D.C., where racism and ruthless capitalism create a lawless world. Kirkus, Booklist, PW & DP
**THE WHITECHAPEL CONSPIRACY, Perry, Anne (Ballantine $25.00) Bow Street Superintendent Thomas Pitt and his wife, Charlotte, return in an intricately plotted and highly atmospheric novel of murder and political conspiracy that moves from elegant drawing rooms to the most desperate slums in late Victorian London.. PW & Booklist
DEATH BENEFITS, Perry, Thomas (Random $24.95) With writing that is "sharp as a sushi knife" ("Los Angeles Times"), Perry crafts a story of insurance fraud that explodes and overtakes the life of John Walker, a young data analyst who has no idea what he's getting into when he joins a deadly investigation Booklist, PW & DP
LORD OF THE SILENT, Peters, Elizabeth (Morrow $25.00) In the newest "Amelia Peabody Mystery", the intrepid Egyptologist risks life, limb, and her second-best hat in 1915 Cairo. Amelia and her handsome archeologist husband defy German submarines and warring Senussi to embark on another season of exploration and crime solving. PW & DP
RING OF TRUTH, Pickard, Nancy (Pocket $23.95) From the award-winning author of The Whole Truth comes a chilling new story featuring her gutsy heroine, Marie Lightfoot. This time Lightfoot can't make the pieces of a Florida murder--involving a priest and his lover--fit together. And the missing piece could be fatal. PW & DP
FATAL VOYAGE, Reichs, Kathy (Scribner $25.00) World-class forensic anthropologist and bestselling author of Deja Dead and Deadly Decisions, Kathy Reichs goes behind the scenes of a devastating plane crash in an electrifying new thriller starring Dr. Temperance Brennan. LJ & DP
REFLECTING THE SKY, Rozan, S.J. (Minotaur $24.95) Lydia Chin is hired by Grandfather Gao, one of the most respected figures in New York City's Chinatown, for what seems to be a simple task. Lydia, along with her professional partner Bill Smith, is to fly to Hong Kong to deliver a family heirloom to the young grandson of a recently deceased colleague. They arrive in Hong Kong safely, but before they can deliver the heirloom, the grandson is kidnapped and two separate ransom demands are made. While the family of the kidnapped boy tries to freeze them out, Lydia and Bill must quickly learn their way around a place where the rules are different, the stakes are high, and the cost of failure is too dire to imagine. Kirkus, Booklist, PW & DP
NATURAL LAW, Schanker, D.R. (St. Martin's, $2 ). The sequel to the Edgar and Barry Award-nominated A CRIMINAL APPEAL. Public defender Nora Lumsey (self described as "big boned") is hired by a drug-addicted young prostitute to defend her on the charge of murder of a well-known law professor. As evidence accumulates Nora catches wind of a police cover-up. DP
UNFINISHED BUSINESS by Barbara Seranella (Scribner, $24.00). Munch’s quiet life is shattered when one of her limousine customers is found murdered and a patron at the gas station where she works is viciously raped. When she starts looking into these matters in order to help her cop friend Mace St. John, she is ominously warned to stop. And of course she doesn’t, which leads to danger for herself and Asia. DP
**THE ORANGE CURTAIN, Shannon, John (Carrol & Graf $24.00). Former aerospace engineer Jack Liffey tracks down lost children, and the case of a missing young woman takes Jack deep into Los Angeles' Vietnamese community where he must contend with the realities and complex alliances of Little Saigon, and a sad young man named Billy, who likes to watch people and has a very strange relationship with his mother. Booklist & PW.
THE KILL ARTIST, Silva, Daniel (Random, $25.95). The bestselling author of The Unlikely Spy and The Mark of the Assassin returns with a new hero and a thrilling story of Middle East political intrigue and terrorism that covers three continents and shows the peace process in jeopardy. The story, by an author who was praised by Newsday for "bringing new life to the international thriller", features a colorful supporting cast and fascinating background detail about the Palestinian situation and the cutthroat art world. PW & DP
IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR, Spring, Michelle (Ballantine, $23.00; Orion, £9.99). A four-year-old boy disappears on a Norfolk beach and is never found. Twelve years later the mother sees a young man on a street in Cambridge and she becomes convinced that he may be her long-lost son. Laura Principal is hired by the Cable family to find out if Liam is theirs. But Laura may not specifically confront Liam for fear of his running off. So she has to go about it surreptitiously. As she spends more time at the Cable home, strange happenings occur. The handyman’s hand is slashed by a booby-trapped door handle and one of the rooms is completely turned over. Laura finds herself going back over the original investigation of the disappearance and turns up surprising facts not found by the police. DP
THE SINGING OF THE DEAD, Stabenow, Dana (Minotaur $23.95). The heady gold rush days of Alaska's past are reborn on the present-day campaign trail in Stabenow's new Kate Shugak mystery. The Aleutian PI must delve into the past--in particular, the grisly murder of a "good-time girl" during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1915--to track a modern killer. PW & DP
DEAL WITH THE DEAD, Standiford, Les (Putnam $24.95) Attempting to resurrect the Miami building firm that his late father ruined, John Deal is elated to be awarded part of a major project, only to find that the project has strings. The result: Deal's life is immediately torn apart, as he is caught in the middle of a vicious personal vendetta, his family threatened, his friends hunted, his own existence hanging by a thread. PW & Booklist
HEAT OF LIES, Stone, Jonathan (St. Martin's Minotaur $23.95). The sequel to last year's THE COLD TRUTH. And just as the titles are the exact opposites of each other, the author, early on in the second book, turns the reader's universe completely upside down with a revelation that bears on what happened in the second book. This series must be read in order. PW & DP
**BLACK WATER TRANSIT, Stroud, Carsten (Norton $24.95). Acclaimed nationally best-selling author Stroud pens a novel of suspense that draws on the NYPD and that city's meanest streets. A tough, gritty look at what happens when a pretty good guy takes on the really bad ones. Kirkus & PW
SHAPE OF SNAKES, Walters, Minette (Putnam $24.95) November, 1978 – a Mad Annie, an eccentric black woman is found dead in the gutter not far from her home. No one seems to care except a neighbor – a young woman who believes that Annie was murdered. It isn’t until many years later that the truth is revealed. Kirkus, PW , LJ & DP
BAD NEWS, Westlake, Donald (Mysterious $23.95) John Dortmunder doesn't like manual labor. So when he gets the offer of money to dig up a grave, he balks . . . then he wonders why Fitzroy Guilderpost, criminal mastermind, wants to pull a switcheroo of two 70-years-dead Indians. Kirkus & PW
**THE DEATH OF SWEET MISTER, Woodrell, Daniel (Putnam $23.95)A southern gothic tale of the events that tear at a dysfunctional family whena slick stranger comes to visit. Booklist & PW
BEST FIRST U.S.CRIME NOVELS
A MURDER OF HONOR, by Andrews, Robert (Putnam, $23.95). Two long-time D.C. cops get a drive-by murder case dumped in their laps. The victim is a popular priest, Father Robert O'Brien. As they dig deeper, they find warring drug lords, dishonest politicians and self-serving media. Kirkus & DP
IN THE FOREST OF HARM, Bissell, Sallie (Bantam, $21.95). Mary Crowe is an Assistant District Attorney in Georgia. She has just won a difficult murder case. To unwind, she and two of her friends go to her home town, Little Jump Off, North Carolina. Mary wants to visit her mother's grave. Her mother was a victim of a vicious murder that has haunted Mary most of her life: If she had come directly home from school the day of the murder, could she have prevented the slaughter? Following Mary and her friends is the brother of the man she just convicted for murder. He is seeking revenge for what he perceives to be the lack of justice his brother received. DP
OPEN SEASON, by Box, C.J. (Putnam, July 2001, $23.95). Joe Pickett is a Wyoming game warden. Someone is killing hunters (poachers?) and he takes it upon himself to find out who is responsible. Kirkus, Booklist & DP
THE FOURTH ANGEL, by Chazin, Suzanne (Putnam, 2001). THE FOURTH ANGEL is another debut featuring a female protagonist, Georgia Skeehan, a fire marshal in the Fire Department of New York. It is the story of this rookie fire-marshal’s role in attempting to solve a string of arsons involving fires that are very unusual in that they burn much hotter than should be possible. Central to the story are the hierarchy and politics defining the upper echelon of the FDNY, the trials and tribulations of a female fire marshal entering the realm of what traditionally has been an all-men’s affair, and, of course, a budding and unlikely romance. DP
THIRD PERSON SINGULAR, Erickson, K. J. (St. Martin's Minotaur $24.95) What appears to be a homicide of a homeless drunk turns out to be much more for Minneapolis Special Detective Mars Bahr. PW & DP
PERHAPS SHE'LL DIE, Preston, M.K. (Intrigue Press, $23.00) Chantalene Morrell returns to Tetumka, Oklahoma to face the demons of her past and confront her father's killers. DP
HOLLOWPOINT, Reuland, Rob (Random $24.95). It's been a year since his daughter died, but the loss carves away at him still. Then, a case much like others crosses the desk of Assistant District Attorney Andrew Giobberti: young girl, dead from a gunshot wound, crackhead mother, very guilty looking boyfriend. Something in this ordinary if tawdry case uncovers a vast well of grief and rage in him, and it's unclear who will be the target of his urge to avenge a pointless death. PW & DP
BOY STILL MISSING, Searles, John (Morrow, $25.00) A typical night in the life of 15-year-old Dominick Pindle would find him and his mother searching for his father's truck and then dragging his drunken father home. One night his father's truck is nowhere to be found - until they look for it at the father's girlfriend's place. What happens when Dominick goes into the house to retrieve his father sets this coming-of-age story in motion. DP
BLINDSIGHTED, by Slaughter, Karin (Morrow, September 2001) Dr. Sara Linton is a pediatrician and part-time coroner in a small town in rural Grant County, Georgia. Her ex-husband, Jeffrey Tolliver, is the town’s chief of police. One afternoon, Sara runs from her office to the local diner to meet her sister for lunch. When Sara goes into the diner’s bathroom to wash her hands, she finds Sibyl Adams, a local resident, raped and bleeding to death from knife wounds. Sara’s efforts to save Sibyl are futile. Sara’s ex-husband, Chief Tolliver, leads the murder investigation, which is particularly sensitive given that his only female detective, Lena Adams, happens to be the victim’s sister. DP
**GRIFT SENSE, Swain, James (Pocket $ 23.95) With a knack for sly sucker punches in the tradition of Elmore Leonard, Swain makes the scene with a comic, crackerjack debut mystery set in Las Vegas, the first in a series starring ex-cop Tony Valentine. Kirkus & DP
OVER TUMBLED GRAVES, by Walter, Jess (Regan Books--HarperCollins, 2001, $25.00). Spokane, Washington police detective Caroline Mabry is in search of a serial murderer known as the Southbank Strangler. But while she is hunting the killer, he may be hunting her. DP
BEST BRITISH CRIME NOVELS
DANCING WITH THE VIRGINS, Booth, Stephen (HarperCollins, £16.99). The sequel to the highly-acclaimed BLACK DOG finds the troubled Detective Sergeant Diane Fry and DC Ben Cooper forced to work together in the murder investigation of a young woman found propped up (in a dancing pose) on the Nine Virgins, a ring of legendary stones in the Peak District.
BLOOD JUNCTION, Carver, Caroline (Orion, £9.99). The cover says it all: "Her car broke down on this road. Then she's arrested for murder..." The Australian Outback is the setting, the pace is non-stop, the protagonist is investigative reporter India Kane. The writing is excellent.
ECHO BURNING, Child, Lee (Putnam, $18.95). Jack Reacher is hitchhiking and is picked up by a beautiful (what else?) Hispanic woman who wants him to kill her abusive husband who is just getting out of prison. Kirkus, PW and DP
THE KILLING KIND, Connolly, John (Hodder & Stoughton, £12.99). Did Grace Peltier commit suicide? When a mass grave in northern Maine reveals the final resting place of a religious group that disappeared almost forty years earlier, private detective Charlie Parker, hired to investigate the circumstances of Grace's death, realizes that their deaths and the death of Grace Peltier are a part of the same mystery.
COLD TOWN by Diamond, Sarah (Orion, 2001, £ 9.99). Tony Fielding has a troubled past and a troubled future. As a child, he found his younger four-year-old sister dead. It is an episode that continues to haunt him and has affected his own life and relationships since then. Now married to Marie, he works for an advertising agency but sees little future in it. He seeks solace in a bordello with a beautiful "hostess", Rosina. As his relationship with Rosina progresses, his marriage to the hapless Marie deteriorates. Tony’s behavior becomes increasingly self destructive as his past begins to overwhelm his future.
THE TREATMENT, by Hayder, Mo (Bantam Press [UK], July, 2001)DI Jack Caffery becomes involved in an investigation in which the Peaches, a family of three, has been held captive for days in their own home. When a shopkeeper comes to the home and notices that something is awry, the police are summoned. What they find: the mother, locked in a small closet, dehydrated, and far beyond the ability to provide any coherent information about the crime or the person responsible; the father, lying on the floor in a coma, his head battered in; and the young son of the family missing from the home.
DIALOGUES OF THE DEAD, Hill, Reginald (HarperCollins, £16.99). A man drowns. Another dies in a moterbike crash. Two accidents -- yet in a pair of Dialogues sent to the Mid-Yorkshire Gazette, apparently as entries in a short story competition, someone seems to be claiming responsibility for the deaths. It takes a while for Dalziel and Pascoe to take the Wordman seriously. Reginald Hill is nothing short of brilliant.
**RIPTIDE, Lawton, John (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £16.99). John Lawton takes his series back in time to about three years before the setting of the first book in the series, BLACKOUT. Murder Squad Sergeant Frederick Troy gets involved in a chase of an Abwehr officer and a British spy. Worth buying for the cover alone, but the writing is solid as well.
EAGER TO PLEASE, Parsons, Julie (Macmillan, £16.99). Rachel Beckett has just been released from prison for a murder she claims she didn’t commit. Will she seek revenge on the man who she testified was the murderer?
THE FALLS, Rankin, Ian (Orion,£16.99). A student has gone missing in Edinburg. Not just any student, but the daughter of an influential banker. And DI John Rebus has the gut feeling that there's more to this than just another rebel, high on daddy's money and more. To find her, Rebus and his team must enter the cyberspace and learn all they can about a roll-playing game run by a mysterious cyber guru.
MY BEST FRIEND, Wilson, Laura (Orion, £ 9.99). This is a narrative told through the eyes of several people. Principal among them is Gerald Haxton, who, as a young teenager in 1944, finds the body of his beloved older sister in a shallow grave. A U.S. service man is hanged for the crime. But for Gerald, already disturbed and unpopular, this event proves a defining moment in his life and he sinks into a hard shell where he regards his still-born brother Jack his only true friend. Skip forward to 1995. By chance, Gerald spies a young girl who bears a remarkable resemblance to his dead sister. He sees her walking about at night and decides to find out about her and become her protector. She turns out to be Mel, the daughter of a co-worker Jo (the big coincidence of the book) and Gerald's interest in Mel is misinterpreted by Jo and her boyfriend. Then Mel disappears.
THE COMPANY OF STRANGERS, Wilson, Robert (HarperCollins, £12.99). From the Gold Dagger Winner of last year, comes this tale (also set in Lisbon, Portugal). Andrea Aspinall, a fledgling spy for Britain, is sent to Lisbon to ingratiate herself with the movers and shakers there and keep her ears open to what the Germans are doing. There she meets and falls in love with a German, who unbeknownst to her is a double agent. Events come to a boil about half-way through the book and then the time switches to several years later. Some day Wilson will be considered a master, if he isn't already.
BEST U.S. PAPERBACK ORIGINALS
RODE HARD, PUT AWAY DEAD, Browning, Sinclair. P.I. and rancher Trade Ellis returns in her 3rd adventure. June in Arizona is hot, and you really get the feel of the heat reading Browning. Trade is called upon to investigate the death of wealthy Abigail Van Thiessen by her husband, J. B. Calendar. J.B. is much younger than Abigail, but he professes to have married for love. He is the major suspect in her death when it is found to be murder rather than an accident.
DEATH RIDES AN ILL WIND, Grilley, Kate. Kelly Ryan returns in her second adventure. Kelly, to those of you who haven't yet read Grilley, is a radio station manager on the Island of St. Chris. The weather is sweltering and Kelly and her gang are trying to keep cool. One thing sure to make tempers boil is the return to St. Chris of Leila Mae Turner. Leila caused havoc everywhere she went in her previous stay on St. Chris. Now she returns, claiming to be married to a Danish Baron. Her husband has business on the island, but is it monkey business? The other catastrophe to hit the island is Hurricane Gilda, reeking havoc and destruction all over, much like Leila. A body is found after the worst of the storm, a homeless woman nicknamed the spitter.
THE FOURTH WALL, Saulnier, Beth.The pending demolition of the historic Starlight Theater in the college town of Gabriel, New York brings out the S.O.S. (Save Our Starlight) contingent. The group gains some unexpected publicity when Barry Marsh, the head of the Gabriel Arts Coalition, meets an untimely end. His passing causes dissension among the ranks but S.O.S. continues to fight the good fight. Reporter Alex Bernier is assigned this less-than-thrilling story, but soon finds herself in the middle of a couple of murder investigations when supporters fail to raise the cash to preserve the historic past and a skeleton is uncovered when the building is razed.
STRAW MEN, Smith, Martin J. (Jove, $6.99). He is a madman known as the Scarecrow. For eight years he has languished in prison, convicted of a vicious attack that left a rookie cop near death – and unable to remember her past. When DNA evidence surfaces that frees him, Teresa Harnett must face the possibility that her flawed memory put the wrong man behind bars.