October Publications

Beatrix Potter fans will welcome the talented Susan Wittig Albert's The Tale of Hill Top Farm, the first in a new cozy series to feature Peter Rabbit's creator as sleuth. Newly arrived in Near Sawrey in 1905, the sensible and charming Beatrix, aided by an assortment of talking animals, looks into a suspicious death and several small happenings that mainly serve to introduce the residents of the Lake District village. Despite weak British dialogue ("By Jove" isn't enough), this promises to be a series with legs—and tails. (Berkley Prime Crime, $22.95 304p ISBN 0-425-19634-8)

In Aimée and David Thurlo's Blood Retribution, the second mystery to feature half-vampire Navajo lawman Lee Nez (after 2002's Second Sunrise), Lee and FBI agent Diane Lopez take on a shape-shifting pack of turquoise smugglers, among other supernatural foes. Fans of the authors' Ella Clah series may want to take a pass, but fantasy readers for whom implausibility isn't an obstacle should be satisfied. Agent, Elaine Koster.(Forge, $23.95 272p ISBN 0-765-30442-2)

Tough, smart Tamara Hayle makes her One World debut in Valerie Wilson Wesley's steamy, homespun Dying in the Dark: A Tamara Hayle Mystery . Haunted by the spirit of her recently murdered high school friend Celia Jones, the single mom and head of Hayle Investigative Services gets on the trail of a number of suspects in Celia's killing, including former classmates who are now a respected judge, a drugstore millionaire and a car dealer. Agent, Faith Hampton Childs. 6-city author tour.(Ballantine/One World, $22.95 240p ISBN 0-345-46806-6)