cover image Under the Gun

Under the Gun

. Plume Books, $10.95 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-452-26406-9

A few gems sparkle in this mostly mediocre omnibus. Bill Crenshaw's Edgar-winning ``Flicks'' brilliantly dissects a burnt-out cop on the trail of a serial killer who slashes his victims as they watch horror movies, and probes the psyche of an audience whose thirst for gore is unquenchable. Clark Howard's first-rate ``The Dakar Run'' makes a tense car rally the occasion for a strained father-daughter reconciliation, and an atheist meditates on the existence of an afterlife in Dean R. Koontz's lovely ``Twilight of the Dawn.'' But readers will solve Sara Paretsky's crime long before her PI V.I. (Victoria) Warshawski, and Simon Brett spins a trendy, dull yarn on AIDS. F. Paul Wilson offensively portrays a mentally retarded woman as a monster; the connection between his detective and a criminal who literally eats pretty faces is contrived and soppy. Gorman and Randisi are publisher and editor-in-chief of Mystery Scene magazine, where some of these stories first appeared. (Mar.)