In The Bishop Goes to University: A Blackie Ryan Story, by the reliably entertaining Andrew M. Greeley, Bishop Ryan looks into a Russian Orthodox monk's murder at the divinity school of the University on Chicago's South Side. A locked-room mystery quickly turns into a tale of spies and international intrigue. (Forge, $24.95 256p ISBN 0-765-30333-7)
Chicago Sun-Times literary columnist Henry Kisor makes a solid mystery debut in Season's Revenge, a Christmas-themed yarn set in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. A bear kills experienced woodsman Paul Passoja in his sleeping bag at a forest retreat, but Lakota Deputy Sheriff Steve Martinez soon suspects that this animal attack is no accident. A blurb from Andrew M. Greeley and local publicity in Chicago should ensure a good start. (Forge, $19.95 224p ISBN 0-765-30666-2)
Louise Eldridge plans to cover the annual Bethesda Garden Club plant sale in Maryland for her TV show, but the shooting death of the club president, the attractive and well-bred wife of a Washington VIP, upsets the azalea cart in Death at the Spring Plant Sale: A Gardening Mystery, Ann Ripley's sixth entry (after 2002's The Christmas Garden Affair) in her appealing cozy series. Once again Louise must turn amateur sleuth in a story full of menacing incident and horticultural detail. Agent, Jane Jordan Browne.(Kensington, $22 320p ISBN 1-57566-779-7)
Legal and medical intrigue abound in Michael Biehl's Lawyered to Death: A Karen Hayes Mystery, the sequel to Doctored Evidence (2002), which will appear in a Berkley Prime Crime paperback simultaneously. Attorney Karen Hayes has to defend a client, the head of a Midwest hospital, first from a sexual harassment claim and then a murder charge after the client's sick wife takes a drug to which she's known to be allergic. (Bridge Works, $23.95 312p ISBN 1-882593-76-6)
Duke University Press makes available in two volumes four late Victorian mysteries of particular interest to scholars and feminist readers: The Dead Letter & The Figure Eight by Metta Fuller Victor, the first American author of a full-length detective novel ($21.95 paper 400p ISBN 0-8223-3165-9); and That Affair Next Door & Lost Man's Lane by Anna Katharine Green, the most prolific American author of detective fiction before Dashiell Hammett ($21.95 paper 440p -3190-X).