OF 2002


The following is a list of 2002 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.

Looking for good recommendations for paperback purchases?   You may want to look at: 

Best Books of 2000

Best Books of 2001



A MURDER OF PROMISE, Andrews, Robert (Putnam $24.95). When legendary Washington Post reporter Mary Keegan is found murdered, homicide detectives Frank Kearney and Jose Phelps find that the killer is one step ahead of them. In a climactic nightmare chase, Kearney races to save the person dearest to him as he faces off against a cunning homicidal maniac. PW & DP

HUNTING SEASON, Barr, Nevada (Putnam $24.95). Tightly plotted and beautifully written, Hunting Season offers solid evidence that mankind can be as unpredictable and dangerous as the great outdoors. When Park Ranger Anna Pigeon answers a call to historic Mt. Locust on Mississippi's Natchez Trace Parkway, the last thing she expects to encounter is murder. But the man Anna finds in the stand's old bedroom is no tourist in distress. He's nearly naked, and very dead, his body bearing marks consistent with an S&M ritual gone awry. Kirkus, Booklist & DP

**SAVAGE RUN, Box, C.J. (Putnam $23.95). C.J. Box's debut novel, Open Season, hit the mystery-book world with the force of a speeding rifle bullet. Now Box returns with a gripping and suspenseful new novel, as dramatic and brutal as its Wyoming wilderness setting. Booklist, PW & DP

**THE EMPEROR OF OCEAN PARK, Carter, Stephen L. (Knopf $26.95). The Emperor of Ocean Park is as brilliant in its suspense as in its acute social observation. Set in the privileged world of New York-Washington-Martha's Vineyard upper-crust African-American society and the inner circle of an Ivy League law school, it tells the story of a complex family with a single seductive and dangerous link to the shadowlands of crime. Kirkus, Booklist, PW & DP

WITHOUT FAIL, Child, Lee (Putnam, $25.95). Reacher is approached by a Secret Service agent who needs a favor. "I want to hire you to assassinate the Vice President of the United States," she asks. She is the newly appointed head of the VP's security detail and wants Reacher to try to penetrate her team's shield. He has the skills and the stealth, and no one knows him. How else can she be sure her protection is truly effective? DP, PW, LJ, Booklist & Kirkus

GONE FOR GOOD, Coben, Harlan (Delacorte, $23.95). As a boy, Will Klein had a hero: his older brother, Ken. Then, on a warm suburban night in the Kleins’ affluent New Jersey neighborhood, a young woman – a girl Will had once loved – was found raped and murdered in her family’s basement. The prime suspect: Ken Klein. With the evidence against him overwhelming, Ken simply vanished, spending the next decade as the elusive subject of rumors, speculation, and an international manhunt. When his shattered family never heard from Ken again, they were sure he was gone for good. DP

CITY OF BONES, Connelly, Michael (Little, Brown, $25.95). When the bones of a 12-year-old boy are found scattered in the Hollywood Hills, Harry Bosch is drawn into a case that brings up the darkest memories from his own haunted past. The bones have been buried for years, but the cold case doesn't deter Bosch. Unearthing hidden stories, he finds the child's identity and reconstructs his fractured life, determined that he not be forgotten. DP, PW & Booklist

**SAVING ROOM FOR DESSERT, Constantine, K.C. (Mysterious $23.95). For former Air Force veteran and ex-mall security guard William Rayford, making the cut as Rocksburg's first African-American cop fulfilled one of his life's ambitions, even though it sometimes still gives him a case of the Steel City Blues. Rayford well knows this town's dark history of prejudice, but dealing with it is something else. Kirkus, Booklist & PW

THE INTERROGATION, Cook, Thomas H. (Bantam, $23.95). In this tight, suspenseful tale of a race against the clock to get a confession out of the chief suspect in the death of young Cathy Lake, every cop has his own private burden, his own reason for wanting to crack Albert Jay Smalls wide open and confirm him as the killer. DP

**RED RAIN, Crow, Michael (Viking, $25.95). When the Russian Mafia start moving heavy drugs into the Baltimore area, Narcotics cop Luther Ewing goes outside of the lines to put a stop to it. DP

**THE STONE MONKEY, Deaver, Jeffrey (Simon & Schuster $25.00). With THE STONE MONKEY, Jeffery Deaver revives his most beloved characters, Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs, and takes them to another level. The book abounds with Deaver's famous trademarks: deadlines every few hours, wholly unexpected plot twists, his breakneck pacing, and characters who are heartbreakingly real. LJ & DP

EUREKA, Diehl, William (Ballantine $25.00). In Diehl's thrilling new novel, the seamy past of glamorous California lies in the deceptively peaceful town of Eureka, a once lawless place from which young, rugged Thomas Culhane escaped to fight World War I. Now, two decades later in 1941, police detective Zeke Bannon investigates a death that seems a sad accident until he looks a bit closer. What he discovers just might threaten the ambitions of Sheriff Thomas Culhane, who is launching a bid to be California's next governor. PW & LJ

**HARD EIGHT, Evanovich, Janet (St Martins $25.95). In Hard Eight, Stephanie, Morelli, Ranger, Lula, Valerie, and Grandma Mazur are strapped in for the ride of their lives. This time, Stephanie is hired to find a missing child. But things aren't always as they seem and Stephanie must determine if she's working for the right side of the law. Booklist, PW & DP

**BLACK RIVER, Ford, G. M. (Morrow $23.95). Reporter Frank Corso, the only writer allowed to observe the high profile trial of a thug charged with 63 counts of murder, finds out that his close friend, photographer Meg Dougherty, is in the ICU after a run-in with a couple of hoods. It doesn't take long for Frank to realize there's a mysterious connection between the story Meg was chasing down and the courtroom spectacle he's witnessing. Kirkus & PW

**BLOOD OF VICTORY, Furst, Alan (Random $ 24.95). From "the greatest living writer of espionage fiction" (The Houston Chronicle) comes the story of I.A. Serebin, recruited in Istanbul in 1940 by an agent of the British secret service for a desperate operation to block Hitler's conquest of Europe. PW, Kirkus & Booklist 

**A WELL KNOWN SECRET, Fusilli, Jim (Putnam $ 23.95). A simple missing persons case draws Terry Orr--troubled father, reluctant private investigator--into a world of death and deceit in this sequel to the critically acclaimed Closing Time. PW & Booklist

**SEVENTH INNING STRETCH, Gunn, Elizabeth (Walker $23.95).Someone's cheating the citizens of Rutherford: a gang of scam artists has hit town and has Jake Hines and his team spinning, trying to follow a trail of dodging and deceit. When the grifters' leader turns up dead, the stakes start to rise. Booklist & PW

NORTH OF NOWHERE, Hamilton, Steve (St. Martin’s Minotaur $23.95). Alex McKnight is issued an ultimatum by his friend the Glasgow Inn's proprietor, Jackie: "Either I take you to the airport and put your ass on a plane to Moosehide or you play poker with me tonight." The other poker players are men Alex hardly knows, in a posh house near the water. In the middle of the game, masked robbers invade the premises, hold the players at gunpoint and proceed to rob the homeowner. DP & PW

CODE 61, Harstad, Donald (Doubleday $23.95). In Code Sixty-One, Harstad brings the offbeat, Fargo-esque style of his previous books to a stunning tale about modern-day vampires. Investigating the apparent suicide of a colleague's niece, Iowa deputy sheriff Carl Houseman comes to the chilling conclusion that the young woman was the victim of a 21st-century Dracula. BooklistPW & DP

**IN A TRUE LIGHT, Harvey, John (Carroll & Graf, $26.00). A master at the top of his form redefines the crime novel with a gripping neo-noir thriller that revisits the bohemian art scene of 1950s New York. PW, Booklist & DP

*LEARNING TO FLY, Henry, April (Minotaur $23.95). The chaotic scene of a huge chain-reaction car accident leaves Free Meeker in possession of a bag of money and a dead hitchhiker in the passenger seat. But when the owner of the money realizes that it didn't burn up in the fire, things get complicated. Booklist & LJ

DIALOGUES OF THE DEAD, Hill, Reginald (Delacorte $23.95). When Dialogues are submitted to a local literary competition, claiming responsibility for three deaths, Dalziel and Pascoe find themselves embroiled in a deadly duel of wits against a killer known only as the Wordman: a brilliant sociopath who leaves literary clues in his wake . . . and who hides in plain sight. PW & DP

**THE WAILING WIND, Hillerman, Tony (HarperCollins $25.95). Hillerman brings back Chee and Leaphorn in a twisting tale of murder, past and present. Legends of the Navajo Reservation's lost gold mines are an important part of the plot, but the tale also turns on obsessive love and memories of a missing woman's voice wailing in the darkness. Kirkus, Booklist & PW

THE ANALYST, Katzenbach, John (Ballantine $25.00). On the brink of a month-long August vacation, Dr. Frederick Starks, a New York psychoanalyst, receives a mysterious, threatening letter. The unknown tormentor then lethally begins demonstrating the potential of his (or her) threats. In a race against time, Dr. Starks suddenly finds himself at the mercy of a psychopath's revenge. Kirkus & LJ

MOBTOWN, Kelly, Jack (Hyperion $23.95). In the deceptively quiet neighborhoods of 1950s Rochester, New York, Ike Van Savage's latest case starts out simply enough: a threatening husband and a beleaguered wife. But before he knows it, he's pulled into a serpentine mystery that involves the town's most notorious gangster, a dead heiress, and one too many "accidents." Kirkus & DP

**DARK MATTER, Kerr, Philip (Crown $24.00). As Dark Matter opens in 1696, young Christopher Ellis is sent to the Tower of London--not as a prisoner, but as assistant to Sir Isaac Newton, renowned scientist. Newton has been appointed by the King to uncover a ring of counterfeiters. Ellis lacks Sir Isaac's erudite mind, but he is quick with a pistol and proves an invaluable sidekick to the great scientist/sleuth. PW, Booklist, LJ

TISHIMINGO BLUES, Leonard, Elmore (Morrow $25.95). Girls love Dennis Lenahan, he's cool and he's a daredevil. Dennis is performing in a Tunica, Mississippi casino, when he witnesses a murder and the local Dixie Mafia warns him, "You talk, you're dead." Along comes Robert Taylor, a black gangsta from Detroit. Robert has his own agenda for taking on the Cornbread Cosa Nostra and wants Dennis to come in with him. Readers will wonder: is Dennis hooked up with the bad guys or the really bad guys? Booklist, LJ & PW

ABSOLUTE ZERO, Logan, Chuck (HarperCollins $24.95). Absolute Zero begins with a white-knuckle rescue of a canoeing expedition, and comes to a stunning conclusion on the coldest night in Minnesota history. It's a story of love, manipulation, and revenge that puts Logan in the elite company of fictional-series-heavyweights. PW & Kirkus

DIAMOND DUST, Lovesey, Peter (Soho, $24.00). Peter Diamond battles internal restrictions to investigate the murder of his wife. DP

ONE STEP BEHIND, Mankell, Henning (New Press $24.95). An unknown killer is on the loose, but their only lead is a photograph of three dead young people in costume. Forced to dig more deeply than he'd like into the personal life of one of his colleagues, Wallander's investigation uncovers something he could never have imagined. One Step Behind is the fifth book to appear in English in what the Los Angeles Times Book Review calls the "exquisite" Kurt Wallander series. Kirkus & Booklist

**SLOW DOLLAR, Maron, Margaret (Mysterious, $23.95). For Judge Knott, the case before her seems to be an ordinary misdemeanor--except that the personal property that's been destroyed is an inflatable carnival ride. When the carnival comes to her own town a few weeks later, Deborah soon discovers there's nothing ordinary about this rag-tag collection of rides and games. PW & DP

**THE BIG GAMBLE, McGarrity, Michael (Dutton $23.95). When a fire reveals the body of a woman who vanished from Santa Fe years ago, Police Chief Kevin Kerney finds himself cooperating with his estranged son, a man he hardly knows. The Big Gamble is a multilayered, adrenaline-pumped novel of crime and punishment set against the beauty and pristine majesty of one of our country’s most magnificent landscapes. Kirkus & DP

*RESOLUTION, Mina, Denise (Carroll & Graf $25.00). Blending suspense, compassion, raw instinct, and grim wit, this powerful conclusion to the Garnethill trilogy returns to the seamy side of downtown Glasgow and the untidy world of Maureen O'Donnell. PW, Booklist & DP

**BAD BOY BRAWLEY BROWN, Mosley, Walter (Little Brown $24.95). Easy Rawlins is out of the investigation business and as far away from crime as a black man can be in 1960s Los Angeles. But living around desperate men means life gets complicated sometimes. When an old friend gets in enough trouble to ask for Easy's help, he finds he can't refuse. Kirkus, PW & DP

**DEAD MIDNIGHT, Muller, Marcia (Mysterious $24.95). From the author of Point Deception comes a new Sharon McCone mystery set in San Francisco. McCone throws herself into work so she can get past her brother's suicide, but the wrongful-death suit she is working on hits too close to home. PW & LJ **THE DREAM OF SCIPIO, Pears, Iain (Riverhead $27.95). From the author of An Instance of the Fingerpost comes this anticipated novel that is constructed around Provence in three different centuries, and each has at its heart a love story. Expertly imagined and perfectly realized, The Dream of Scipio is a feat of storytelling. Booklist, PW & Kirkus

**CRIME SCHOOL, O'Connell, Carol (Putnam $24.95).From "one of the most poetic yet tough-minded writers of the genre" ("San Francisco Chronicle") comes the eagerly awaited new Mallory thriller. Crime School begins with the discovery of a woman found hanging in a burning apartment with red candles scattered all around. The fire was set so the woman would be discovered, and New York City policewoman Kathy Mallory is certain the crime is identical to one committed 20 years ago. Kirkus & BL

**THE DREAM OF SCIPIO, Pears, Iain (Riverhead $27.95). From the author of An Instance of the Fingerpost comes this anticipated novel that is constructed around Provence in three different centuries, and each has at its heart a love story. Expertly imagined and perfectly realized, The Dream of Scipio is a feat of storytelling. Booklist, PW & Kirkus

HELL TO PAY , Pelecanos, George (Little Brown $ 24.95). Derek Strange and Terry Quinn, the team of private investigators who made their debut in Right As Rain, are hired to find a teenager turned prostitute and enter their most dangerous territory ever. PW, Booklist & DP

SOUTH HAMPTON ROW , Perry, Anne (Ballantine, $25.00). During a bitter election between Tories and Liberals, a late-night seance wounds one candidate's chances when the clairvoyant is found brutally murdered the next morning. This riveting new Thomas and Charlotte Pitt novel once again proves Anne Perry to be an absolute master of the people, mores, and politics of the Victorian era. PW & Booklist

PURSUIT, Perry, Thomas (Random House, $24.95). When 13 people are mowed down in a restaurant, a police consultant realizes that it's the work of a professional who's tried to make a contract hit look like a random mass killing. Enter Roy Prescott, an expert in hunting down criminals using methods generally frowned on by law enforcement. Prescott uses the national media and the unknown killer's ego to draw his attention, then plays a game of cat-and- mouse with him in which the stakes quickly grow higher. DP

BLEEDERS, Pronzini, Bill (Caroll & Graf $24.00). A simple case gets murderously complicated when "Nameless, " Bill Pronzini's seasoned private-eye, exposes a nasty scam that involves junior account executive Jay Cohalan, his unhappy wife, and a mistress with a serious drug problem. Booklist, PW & DP

ADAM AND EVE AND PINCH ME, Rendell, Ruth (Crown $25.00). This chilling novel about serial killer in contemporary London is penned by one of the most celebrated mystery writers of our time. As the story gets under way, readers have no idea how a series of vicious stabbings could connect to the colorful cast of interacting characters. Booklist, PW & DP

WINTER AND NIGHT, Rozan, S. J. (St. Martin’sMinotaur $24.95). From the award-winning author of Reflecting the Sky comes an explosive, breakout novel about the corrosive power of secrets and corruption in a small town. Booklist, Kirkus & DP

BAD SEED, Saulnier, Beth (Mysterious $23.95). Journalist Alex Bernier has her hands full investigating a breaking story for the Gabriel Monitor. A legion of activists has besieged Benson University to protest research on genetically engineered food. When Kate Barnett, a charismatic plant science professor and avid proponent of genetic engineering, is found beaten to death in her lab, the activists are the number one suspects. But is it really such an open-and-shut case? Kirkus & DP

**NO GOOD DEED, Scott, Manda (Bantam Doubleday Dell $ 22.95). From the award-winning author of Stronger Than Death comes a powerful thriller about a woman detective and a nine-year-old boy in danger after he witnesses an act of savagery by one of the most feared criminals in Europe. Kirkus & DP

THE ENGLISH ASSASSIN, Silva, Daniel (Putnam $25.95). Israeli intelligence operative Gabriel Allon (The Kill Artist) probes a murder in which he is implicated in the ingenious new espionage thriller by the bestselling author of The Unlikely Spy. PW, Booklist & DP

**KISSCUT, Slaughter, Karin (Morrow, $24.95). Slaughter's second novel picks right up where her acclaimed debut, Blindsighted, left off-with Grant County, GA, pediatrician/coroner Sara Linton fighting crime with Jeffrey Tolliver, her ex-husband and the chief of police. It all starts one hot night in the parking lot of a skating rink: teenager Jenny Weaver is threatening to shoot Mark Patterson, but before she can pull the trigger, Jeffrey is forced to kill her. Was Jenny the mother of the 23-week-old fetus that Sara finds in the skating rink restroom. DP

**DECEMBER 6, Smith, Martin Cruz (Simon & Schuster $26.00). As seen through the eyes of an American con man living in Tokyo days before the Japanese attack, December 6 is Smith at the top of his game. The #1 bestselling author of Gorky Park, Havana Bay and Rose returns with a brilliant novel. Kirkus, PW & Booklist

**BREAKOUT, Stark, Richard (Mysterious $23.95). Parker's back in jail, but not just any old jail; it's the correctional center, where people without bail wait before and during their trial. So Parker's first order of business is to build a network among these cons and break on through to the other side. DP, PW & Booklist

**THE LITTLE FRIEND, Tartt, Donna (Knopf $ 26.00). The hugely anticipated new novel by the author of The Secret History--"an elegant, edifying work of art" (Entertainment Weekly). Even more transfixingly suspenseful than its predecessor, this is a dark novel of lost childhood, rich in moral paradox, as a 12-year-old Mississippi girl sets out to find her brother's murderer. Kirkus, Booklist, PW & LJ

**REVERSIBLE ERRORS, Turow, Scott (Farrar Straus & Giroux $28.00). The best-selling author of Burden of Proofreturns with a supercharged, suspenseful novel about a vicious triple murder and the man condemned to die for it. Further complicating the situation is that the judge who originally found the man guilty is only recently out of prison herself, having served time for taking bribes. Kirkus, PW & LJ

MY BEST FRIEND, Wilson, Laura (Bantam, $22.95). 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. DP


SLEEPYHEAD, Billingham, Mark (Morrow, $24.95). A publishing success in the U.K. last year. Alison Willetts can't move or communicate, but she's aware. Her survival of a deliberately induced stroke convinces police her attacker made an error. But Detective Tom Thorne discovers that Alison is the psychopath's masterpiece; the three women he killed before her were mistakes. Thorne must find a criminal whose agenda is terrifyingly unique. Booklist & LJ

BLOOD JUNCTION, Carver, Caroline (Mysterious, $24.95). This excellent first novel was on the list last year under Best British. Now the U.S. edition puts it on the Best First Novel list. The cover says it all: "Her car broke down on this road. Then she's arrested." PW, LJ & DP

THE DEVIL’S REDHEAD, by David Corbett (Ballantine, $24.95). Dan Abatangelo is a good hearted man who chronicles his world with his camera and smuggles drugs on the side. Dan spends a week in Vegas, looking for nothing more than a good time, which he finds in the eyes of Shel Beaudry, a red-headed beauty who works a twenty-one table at Caesar’s. Then comes a ten-year stretch in prison and Dan’s search for Shel upon his release.

THE BLUE EDGE OF MIDNIGHT, King, Jonathan( Doubleday $22.95). Featuring Max Freeman, an ex-cop from Philadelphia, The Blue Edge of Midnight marks the debut of a powerful new crime series. PW & DP

THE DISTANCE, Muller, Eddie (Scribner $25.00). The demimonde of professional boxing resounds with echoes of film noir in this thrilling debut novel from an author renowned in both fields. Kirkus & DP

LAY THAT TRUMPET IN OUR HANDS, McCarthy, Susan Carol (Bantam, $23.95). The story is told through the eyes of 12-year-old Reesa McMahon, whose transplanted Yankee parents are relative newcomers in the 1951 Mayflower, Florida. The local Opalakee Klan terrorizes and murders young black citrus picker Marvin Cully, who works for the McMahons' growing and shipping company. Aware that the local police are corrupt Klan members, Reesa's McMahon’s father decides to contact the FBI. Soon, NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall is called in to the case, and barely escapes with his life when the Klan attempts to abduct him. DP

**BUCK FEVER, Rehder, Ben (Minotaur, $23.95) It’s the beginning of a crazy weekend in Blanco County as deer hunting season gets underway—and already a man in a deer suit has been shot. A sidesplittingly funny debut that does for Texas what Carl Hiaasen and Tim Dorsey have done for Florida. PW, Library Journal & DP

**OPEN AND SHUT, Rosenfelt, David (Warner $23.95). Defense attorney Andy Carpenter manages to sail through any tough situation, whether inside the courtroom or in his personal life. But this all changes when his marriage breaks up and his father suddenly dies, leaving him distraught--and 22 million dollars richer. Booklist & DP

**LOVELY BONES, Sebold, Alice (Little Brown $21.95). In the hands of a brilliant new novelist, and through the eyes of her winning new heroine, this tale of family, memory, love, and living is told by 14-year-old Susie Salmon, who is already in heaven. In the sweet, untroubled voice of a precocious teenage girl, Susie relates the awful events of her death and builds out of her family's grief the most hopeful and joyful of stories. Booklist, LJ, PW & DP

**IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER, Spencer-Fleming, Julia (St. Martin’s Minotaur $23.95). It's a cold, snowy December in the upstate New York town of Millers Kill. When a newborn baby is abandoned and a young mother is brutally murdered, newly-ordained Clare Fergusson has to pick her way through the secrets and silence that shadow the town like the ever-present Adirondack mountains. PW & DP

**JUSTICE DEFERRED, Williams, Len (Welcome Rain, $25.00). Revenge becomes a dish best served with plenty of legal scheming in Williams's fast-paced debut novel, as an escaped ex-con goes to amazing lengths to nail the two cops who use Alabama's third-strike rule to engineer an unjust life sentence. DP



KINGS OF MANY CASTLES, Freemantle, Brian (Allison & Busby, £18.99). In this, the latest in the longstanding Charlie Muffin series, Charlie is less of a spy and more of a murder detective. He digs deep into the background behind the attempted assassination of the President of the United States and the President of Russia.

**THE GRENADILLO BOX by Janet Gleeson (Bantam Press, £12.99). On New Year's Day, 1755, Nathaniel Hopson, an apprentice to the cabinet maker, Thomas Chippendale, has just completed the finishing touches on the library of Lord Montfort at his country estate. He soon finds himself embroiled in a conflict as Lord Montfort is discovered dead in that same library.

** THE FRONT, Heller, Mandasue (Hodder & Stoughton, £18.99). Four old friends decide to rob a small grocery store for a little extra cash. But they don’t realize that the store is a front for a criminal organization. So they find themselves being chased by both sides of the law. First novel.

**LITTLE GIRL LOST, Kelly, Susan (Allison & Busby, £17.99). The third in the series to feature Supt. Gregory Summers. A 3-year-old girl and her social worker both go missing. And when a body is found in a shallow grave a few days later various suppositions are blown to the winds. Gregory Summers is struggling with various people in the girl's past who all have an axe to grind. Combined with the foot-and-mouth outbreak in the countryside, his job becomes nigh impossible.

**THE BUSINESS OF DYING, Kernick, Simon (Bantam UK, £12.99, July 2002). Detective Sergeant Dennis Milne thinks he is doing some good by moonlighting as a hired killer of lowlifes. But things go dramatically wrong when he kills three reportedly violent criminals who turn out to be two customs officials and an accountant. First novel.

DIAMOND DUST, Lovesey, Peter (Little, Brown, £16.99). Peter Diamond battles internal restrictions to investigate the murder of his wife. A superb mystery.

**A WASTE OF STRANGERS , Lusby, Jim (Orion, £16.99). An old woman with no history is found murdered in a ramshackle house in a dying village of West Cork. DI Carl McCadden believes it is more than a bungled robbery. After all, what would she have had worth stealing?

**DISTURBING GROUND, Master, Priscilla (Allison & Busby, £17.99). Dr. Megan Banesto witnesses the body of Bianca Rhys being dragged from the local pond. Bianca was a paranoid schizophrenic who was known for her outrageous claims, one of her favorite being that women and children had been going missing from the village for years. When a ten-year-old child disappears, Megan begins to believe Bianca’s stories.

SNAKEHEAD, May, Peter (Hodder & Stoughton, £18.99). Li Yan, now based at the Chinese embassy in Washington, is dispatched to find out why his countrymen suffocated in a sealed refrigeration unit in southern Texas – only to find himself face to face with Margaret Campbell, forensic pathologist and former lover.

**DARKNESS FALLS, Murphy, Margaret (Hodder & Stoughton, £18.99). A high-powered criminal lawyer is snatched in front of her daughter and imprisoned, chained up in a damp cellar by a man who will not tell her why he has taken her.

**CHILL FACTOR, Pawson, Stuart (Allison & Busby, £17.99). Tony Silkstone comes home to find his wife raped and murdered, apparently by her lover. He goes to the lovers house and plunges a knife through his chest, then calls the police and gives himself up. He’s willing to plead guilty to manslaughter, but Inspector Charlie Priest wonders if he is guilty of more. Reminiscent of R.D. Wingfield at his best.

**RESURRECTION MEN, Rankin, Ian. (Orion, £17.99). When Rebus flings a mug of tea at his Chief Superintendent he is sent to Outer Slobovia for punishment. In this case Outer Slobovia is the Police College where he is to be "retrained" along with some other trouble makers. As a training exercise they are assigned an old, cold case. Well, you can tell where this is headed, can’t you?


**BLACK JACK POINT by Jeff Abbott (Onyx, $6.99). Texas Justice of the Peace Whit Mosely is involved with a woman named Lucy Gilbert. Her uncle Patch is missing, along with his lady friend, a Vietnamese woman. Lucy is frantic, and her concern is validated when the bodies are found.

**FATAL TRUTH, Burcell, Robin (Avon, $6.50). Police corruption and violence abound in Fatal Truth, Robin Burcell's second novel (after Every Move She Makes) starring San Francisco homicide inspector Kate Gillespie. On the way to meet with a snitch, Kate witnesses his murder. The culprit, a corrupt narcotics investigator, turns up dead several hours later.

**COLD SILENCE, Girard, Danielle (Onyx, $6.99). Cody O’Brien lives quietly with her eight-year-old son, R.J. Cody is a former FBI agent whose husband, R.J.’s father, was killed by the Russian mob, the same mob that has vowed to take its revenge on Cody and R.J. for the death of the son of its leader. Cody and R.J. have been failed by the witness protection program, and now Cody has taken matters into her own hands and created an anonymous life for herself and her son

**DEATH LURKS IN THE BUSH, Grilley, Kate (Berkley, $6.50). A dinner for the visiting Queen of Denmark is also an occasion for poison. Kelly Ryan wants to find out the who and why.

**THE BONE ORCHARD, Judson, D. Daniel (Bantam, $6.50). When sometime P.I. Declan MacManus witnesses a bizarre, single-car wreck on a deserted road, he knows he has witnessed a murder.

**THE POISONED ROSE, Judson, D. Daniel (Bantam, $6.50). In this somber sequel of sorts, Mac gets caught in the middle of a brutal homicide, which leads to double-dealing, multiple murders and an unusual missing-persons case. At the center of the action is a prominent local family Mac once knew well. As the lines between past and present blur, Mac has to choose between saving a childhood friend and saving himself.

**THE STRAW MEN, Marshall, Michael (Jove, $6.99). Ward Hopkins, a sort of ex-CIA type of guy with a shady past and his side-kick Bobby are investigating the suspicious death of Ward’s parents. There is also the hunt for a serial killer by ex-LA Homicide cop John Zandt, brought back into service by his former partner and lover Nina.