January Publications

Patrick Chastel's The South Sea Vanishings, translated from the French by Vivien Schweitzer, sets out an intriguing premise: a private company is behind a number of mysterious maritime disappearances that were actually planned escapes by wealthy individuals. For his first novel, Frank, a professional writer, enlists a former lover to help research the suspicious deaths of such people as newspaper magnate Robert Maxwell. Frank later falls for an unhappily married woman seeking the company's services, but unfortunately a touch of romance isn't enough to redeem thin characterization, a silly plot twist and some writing that will cause eyes to roll ("It's one of the problems with being a bachelor, you can't be everywhere at once"). (Carnot USA, $21.95 216p ISBN 1-59209-036-2)

In Gary Gabelhouse's violent adventure thriller, Dreams of the N'dorobo: Mystery, Murder, and Mysticism in the Shadows of Africa, an American explorer returns to Kenya, where an aged tribal sage teaches him how to "dream," that is, teleport his body. This magical ability comes in handy when an assassin, who's also mastered the art, goes after the visiting U.S. Vice President. The author, a professional climber, knows his Africa, but he's still learning the ropes when it comes to pacing and dialogue. Since this is billed as the start of a new series, one hopes he'll improve on the fundamentals in the sequel. (Lyons, $22.95 304p ISBN 1-59228-066-8)

December Publication

Devotees of Ellery Queen and John Dickson Carr will embrace this reprint of a Theocritus Westborough Golden Age classic, Murder Goes Minoan, by Clyde B. Clason. Set on a private island designed to mimic a Minoan palace, this excellent fair-play whodunit nicely interweaves subtle clues, an engaging amateur sleuth and fascinating archeological and historical details. (Rue Morgue [Tomenid@attbi.com], $14.95 paper 224p ISBN 0-915230-60-7)