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Gail Bowen, Author (Mysterious, $25 360p ISBN 0-8

Mysterious Press is celebrating 25 years of quality mystery publishing with The Mysterious Press Anniversary Anthology. Among the 18 contributors who have written stories especially for this book are such major authors as Donald Westlake, Marcia Muller, Ed McBain, Margaret Maron and Peter Lovesey. Mysterious Press editors Sara Ann Freed and William Malloy supply an introduction, while in his foreword Mysterious Press founder Otto Penzler provides a succinct inside history. Mystery aficionados will snap this one up. (Mysterious, $25 360p ISBN 0-89296-739-0)

In Closing Stages: A Phyllida Moon Mystery, the fifth in the series, Eileen Dewhurst's (Double Act) spunky heroine lands after gallbladder surgery in a convalescent home, where she investigates the allegedly natural deaths of several patients. Despite foregoing a vacation in pursuit of a love interest, actress-cum-PI Phyllida charms as she snoops on doctors, nurses, nuns and the bereaved. (Severn, $25.99 192p ISBN 0-7278-5698-7)Burying Ariel: A Joanne Kilbourn Mystery, by Canadian author Gail Bowen (A Killing Spring), enmeshes the series star in an unofficial investigation of the murder of a female university colleague. Grief, feminist retribution for male violence, the self-incriminating words of the victim's boyfriend and competing theories and theorists on the case all conspire, however unsuccessfully, to lead stoic Joanne astray. (McClelland & Stewart, $24.95 264p ISBN 0-7710-1490-2)

Shane Maloney (Nice Try) presents The Big Ask: A Murray Whelan Mystery, the fourth raucous adventure featuring the charming and reckless Australian political adviser. Murray makes dizzying, sleep-deprived leaps between high-stakes union infighting, his missing 13-year-old son, various love interests, his boss's potential public disgrace and his old friend's murder. (Arcade, $23.95 256p ISBN 1-55970-560-4) In What Now, King Lear?: A Gil Yates Private Investigator Novel, the sixth installment by Alistair Boyle (Ship Shapely), Yates sleuths and wisecracks his way through a privileged world of breathtaking inheritances, intra-family lawsuits, people who "marry rich" and a murdered patriarch. (Allen A. Knoll, $22 224p ISBN 1-888310-85-5) Set in 1950s Paris, Hannah Blank's Brave Man Dead: An Alphonse Dantan Mystery, the sequel to A Murder of Convenience, focuses on the young inspector's attempts to solve the murder of an American lieutenant in an Army administrative outfit also under investigation for fraud. Fans of Blank's debut novel should be pleased. (Hightrees [515 E. 72nd St., New York, N.Y. 10021], $24.95 224p ISBN 0-9652778-3-6) In Just Your Everyday People by Fred Yager and Jan Yager (Untimely Death), the friendship between two married couples begins to unravel when one of the wives seduces a stranger in a bar. Blackmail, betrayal and murder ensue, and the danger seems to come from all directions. (Hannacroix Creek, $14.95 paper 248p ISBN 1-889262-17-X) High school science teacher Will is accused of rape by a student whom he'd befriended, after he witnesses the strange relationship between the student and her brother. In Tom Eslick's Deadly Kin: A Will Buchanan Mystery, sequel to Tracked in the Whites, Will's bail is paid anonymously and his accuser skips town, leading Will on a convoluted and dangerous trail to clear his name. (Write Way, $24.95 280p ISBN 1-885173-59-8)