May Publications

Animal torture, ritual murder, computer viruses and seemingly haunted underground caverns are the all part of the fun in Shades of Death, Aline Templeton's (The Last Act of All) densely plotted thriller with supernatural overtones set in and around the caves of Derbyshire, England. The discovery of an 11-year-old girl's skeleton in one of the caves, and the ensuing investigation, leave the normally world-weary Det. Sgt. Tom Ward contemplating the possibility of ancient, diabolical forces. (St. Martin's Minotaur/Dunne, $24.95 352p ISBN 0-312-29024-1)

Adventurer Josse d'Acquin and the sage Abbess Helewise return in The Tavern in the Morning: A Hawkenlye Mystery, a fourth medieval historical from Alys Clare (Fortune Like the Moon), this time to investigate the mysterious poisoning (by wolf's bane) of a guest at an inn d'Acquin frequents regularly. Though the dialogue is unmistakably contemporary, Clare's rich descriptions brings the English countryside to life and the fast-talking duo make a charming pair of sleuths. (St. Martin's Minotaur, $22.95 240p ISBN 0-312-26237-X)

Torrey Tunet, the American translator (and accidental sleuth) holed up in the Irish town of Ballynaugh, has more trouble on her hands when wealthy widow and affordable housing advocate Natalie Sylvester Cameron ("A darling. High heels. Spotless reputation") finds herself being blackmailed. The Irish Cairn Murder: A Torrey Tunet Mystery, Dicey Deere's follow-up to The Irish Manor House Murder, shows off some intricate plotting and a cast of eccentrics, including Jasper, Tunet's overweight gourmand boyfriend, and her rival, the inept and vengeful Inspector O'Hare. (St. Martin's Minotaur, $23.95 256p ISBN 0-312-27519-6)

Vampire aliens have settled in the North Carolina mountains, and they're stealing children! In spite of the premise and 1950s setting, The Aliens of Transylvania County, which comes on the heels of Patrick Bone's Melungeon Winter, is no campy period piece—it's more earnest-coming-of-age-tale meets SF-fantasy as high school senior Chess Cumberland sets off to find out what happened to a missing local girl and clear his own name in the process. (Silver Dagger/Overmountain, $23.95 160p ISBN 1-57072-174-2; $13.95 paper -175-0)

The acid-tongued Roman diva Claudia Seferius, wealthy widow and heroine of Dream Boat, is seriously ticked off when her bratty teenage stepdaughter is kidnapped on the eve of a huge festival—not only does it cut into her quality frolicking time, but Claudia is now broke and can't afford to pay the ransom. The ancient Roman detail clashes hilariously with the catfighting and hunk-worshipping in Marilyn Todd's latest Seferius mystery (after Virgin Territory) as Claudia chases after the mysterious kidnappers. (Severn, $26.99 256p ISBN 0-7278-5818-1)

An ex-con who accidentally kills his sister's creditor, lonely truckers and a down-on-his luck rural college professor whose classes are cancelled due to "weak enrollment" are some of the desperate characters populating John Salter's debut story collection, Alberta Clipper. Though some are mysteries, other stories are simply gritty slices of life from what's left of the wild West—the isolated, wintry small towns of the Northern Plains. (Livingston, $12.95 paper 152p ISBN 0-942979-89-3)

Ace defense attorney Bomber Hanson takes on a new client, a hotheaded young Communist accused of murdering his wealthy heiress employer, on the theory that the man is too obnoxious to be guilty. In David Champion's witty She Died for Her Sins: A Bomber Hanson Mystery, the attorney is again aided by his hapless, stuttering son, Tod, who chases after witnesses and falls in love with a bombshell violinist who might just help him solve the case. (Knoll, $23 277p ISBN 1-888310-51-0)

The proprietor of Oaxaca's Casa Colonial hotel, sensible, matronly Doña Milly, finds herself on the case of several recent murders, including that of a wealthy-looking person whose corpse showed up in her Zapotec neighbors' cornfield. The Dog on the Roof: A Casa Colonial Mystery, Mary Madsen Hallock's lighthearted debut, features an assortment of temperamental tourists, Zapotec farmers and Mexico City gangsters trying to coerce those farmers to grow marijuana. (Creative Arts, $14.95 paper 224p ISBN 0-88739-422-1)

From Eliza Moorhouse's story of an unscrupulous Hong Kong opium dealer to Crad Kilodney's sly send-up of noir conventions about a man who did not "awaken in a strange hotel room, with an empty bottle on the floor and beautiful woman asleep beside him," Iced: The New Noir Anthology of Cold, Hard Fiction showcases the best recent work in the genre. Edited by noir writers Kerry J. Schooley and Peter Sellers, the book features both established and up-and-coming Canadian writers. (Insomniac [], $15.95 paper 192p ISBN 1-894663-11-X)

Though several story collections came out after her death in 1957, popular mystery writer (and 1946 Time cover girl) Craig Rice (b. 1908) still had many uncollected short pieces, 12 of which are now anthologized in Murder, Mystery and Malone. Edited by Rice's biographer, Jeffrey A. Marks, these tongue-in-cheek screwball mysteries feature John J. Malone, an improbably successful lawyer with an eye for the (blonde) ladies. (Crippen & Landru [], $27 196p ISBN 1-885941-70-6; $17 paper -71-4)

April Publications

When an elderly friend of Thomas Martindale is found murdered, the vacationing journalism professor and amateur sleuth turns to a manuscript—a WWII memoir of her youth in occupied France—that the woman had given him. Murder at Yaquina Head, journalist Ron Lovell's debut mystery, follows the sardonic Martindale as he prowls the Oregon coast on the trail of former Nazis. (Sunstone, $22.95 184p ISBN 0-86534-345-4)

Frankie MacFarlane hasn't come to derelict Pair-a-Dice, Nev., for its 21 slot machines, or even its three bars or seven pool tables; she's there for the rocks—the ones she's surveying for her geology dissertation. But this heroine of a new series by geologist Susan Cummins Miller, inaugurated with the assured and erudite Death Assemblage, gets tangled up with the eccentrics of the truck-stop town when two recent murders seem tied to ancient violence that she's discovered in her geological research. (Texas Tech Univ., $23.95 216p ISBN 0-89672-481-6)