cover image Mom, Apple Pie, and Murder

Mom, Apple Pie, and Murder

Various. Berkley Publishing Group, $13 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-425-16890-5

The former president of Sisters in Crime serves up 16 original stories that involve mothers and apple pies, plus 10 recipes featuring apples. One of the best entries is Margaret Maron's haunting ""Growth Marks,"" in which a woman and her married son reconcile an old sorrow when she moves to a new home. Ed Gorman also makes a notable contribution, with ""Mom and Dad at Home,"" an eerie story about a boy who discovers the grim secret behind his parents' difficult marriage. A lonely, handicapped woman becomes phone pals with a charming killer in Angela Zeman's magical ""Hello?"" and Pickard herself pens a poignant tale about a nurse's aide who suspects a patient's family of foul play in ""Out of Africa."" A few of the stories, however, such as Joan Hess's lackluster ""The Maggody Files: Death in Bloom,"" slip below par, and many of the tales rely more on trick endings than on smart suspense. This isn't the sweetest showing, then, but the recipes--including for Mom's Brandied Apple Babies--provide a nice bonus. (May)