January Publications

Acting Detective William Murdoch, of Toronto's Number Four Station, must try to clear his own father of a murder change as the execution date draws near in Let Loose the Dogs, the fourth and perhaps darkest and most complex novel in this well-received Victorian series by Canadian author Maureen Jennings (Poor Tom Is Cold, etc.). Murdoch is understandably ambivalent, given that he and his sister Susanna, recently deceased in a nunnery, fled their violent, alcoholic father 22 years earlier. (St. Martin's Minotaur/Dunne, $24.95 320p ISBN 0-312-30751-9)

In British author Alan Dunn's (Die Cast) suspenseful U.S. debut, Payback, single dad and former cop Billy Oliphant and his teenaged daughter, Kirsty, are looking forward to a winter weekend at Forestcrag Village in the north of England. But a heavy snowfall that isolates Forestcrag, the discovery of the hanged body of the resort's payroll manager and reports of an escaped prisoner (whom Billy helped put behind bars) in the area, all make for a less than carefree holiday. (St. Martin's Minotaur/Dunne, $24.95 320p ISBN 0-312-31099-4)

The grimmer aspects of Elizabethan London come alive in Peter Tonkin's (The Point of Death) latest in his Master of Defence series, One Head Too Many. After saving a pretty girl in peril from football hooligans near London Bridge, Tom Musgrave (aka the Master of Logic) stumbles on a severed female head—but the headless woman's body he shortly discovers down the Thames doesn't match. (Severn, $26.99 256p ISBN 0-7278-5724-X)

When 12-year-old schoolgirl Helen Jones goes missing, it takes 23 years before a confession in a sealed envelope gives a clue to her fate in Jane A. Adams's (The Greenway) stark thriller, Mourning the Little Dead. It's up to Helen's best friend, Naomi Blake, now blind and an ex-policewoman, to ferret out the truth, aided by Helen's brother. (Severn, $25.99 224p ISBN 0-7278-5855-6)