June Publications

In C.L. Grace's A Feast of Poisons: A Kathryn Swinbrooke Mystery, the engrossing seventh entry in this 15th-century historical series (after 2003's A Maze of Murders), England's Lord Henry is in delicate negotiations with emissaries from the French king, Louis XI. The mysterious death of the lord's wife, as well as the fatal poisonings of a blacksmith and his wife, provide a challenge that will test Kathryn's sleuthing skills to their limit. Grace is the pseudonym of British author Paul Doherty. (St. Martin's Minotaur/ Dunne, $23.95 256p ISBN 0-312-30714-5)

Set in late 19th-century New York, Victoria Thompson's cleverly plotted Murder on Marble Row: A Gaslight Mystery, the sixth in the series (Murder on Astor Place, etc.), provides abundant fair play and plenty of convincing period detail. At the request of Teddy Roosevelt, one of the city's three police commissioners, Det. Sergeant Frank Malloy and midwife and do-gooder Sarah Brandt pursue a bomber whose infernal device has killed an influential industrialist. This light, quick read engages the readers' emotions. Agent, Nancy Yost.(Berkley Prime Crime, $21.95 320p ISBN 0-425-19610-0)

In Leslie Meier's Star Spangled Murder: A Lucy Stone Mystery, the 11th in this holiday-themed cozy series (after 2003's Father's Day Murder), her intrepid reporter sleuth has to worry about only some nudists frolicking in the local pond and an endangered species of lichen putting off the Tinker's Cove Fourth of July fireworks, until the hit-and-run death of a difficult neighbor. As in the TV series Murder She Wrote, no characters are developed sufficiently to provide clues to the culprit's identity, and the solution to the crime relies largely on coincidence and a sudden confession, but fans should be pleased to revisit many old friends. Agent, Meg Ruley at Jane Rotrosen Literary Agency.(Kensington, $22 240p ISBN 1-57566-836-X)

Set in Cairo in 1909, Michael Pearce's Death of an Effendi: A Mamur Zapt Mystery, the 12th in this well-received historical series, finds Gareth Owen, the head of the secret police force tasked with maintaining political calm, entering the murky world of the Egyptian Russian community after the seemingly accidental fatal shooting of a Russian financier. Though the whodunit's resolution doesn't measure up to the intriguing opening, the author's trademark wit and humor are as much in evidence as ever. (Poisoned Pen, $24.95 186p ISBN 1-59058-066-4)