March Publications

Creature Cozies, an all-original anthology edited by Jill M. Morgan, gathers 11 tales featuring cats and dogs with uncanny crime-solving instincts. Contributors include J.A. Jance, Jan Burke, Carole Nelson Douglas and Gary Phillips. Agent, Martin Greenberg at Tekno Books.(Berkley Prime Crime, $23.95 336p ISBN 0-425-20127-9)

In Nancy Bell's charming Death Splits a Hair: A Judge Jackson Crain Mystery, the second in a new regional series from the author of the Biggie mysteries (after 2003's Restored to Death), the judge looks into the murder of the beloved barber of Post Oak, Tex. Credible characters, convincing dialogue, vivid local color and a surprising conclusion all make this a superior cozy. Agent,Vicky Bijur.(St. Martin's Minotaur/Dunne, $22.95 224p ISBN 0-312-32781-1)

In Joanna Fluke's witty Peach Cobbler Murder: A Hannah Swensen Mystery with Recipes, the fifth in her culinary cozy series (after 2004's Sugar Cookie Murder), the sleuthing proprietor of the Cookie Jar Bakery faces stiff competition from the upscale Magnolia Blossom Bakery, which is co-owned by Southern belle Shawna Lee and has opened across the street in Lake Eden, Minn. When Shawna is shot dead in the Magnolia Blossom's kitchen, Hannah finds herself a suspect in her rival's murder. (Kensington, $22 320p ISBN 0-7582-0154-0)

Joe Gores fans will welcome the reissue of his Edgar-winning first novel, A Time of Predators (1969), presented by Otto Penzler and the Mystery Writers of America. This violent story of revenge may be a bit dated, but it perfectly captures its time. Agent, Henry Morrison Inc.(Forge, $14.95 paper 224p ISBN 0-765-31051-1)

Rudolfo Anaya concludes his Sonny Baca series (Zia Summer, etc.) with Jemez Spring, in which the Albuquerque PI investigates the suspicious drowning death of New Mexico's governor. Considered the dean of modern Chicano literature, Anaya received a National Medal of Arts in 2002. (Univ. of New Mexico, $22.95 298p ISBN 0-8263-3684-1)

Inspired by the recent murders of young women near Juárez, Mexico, Alicia Gaspar de Alba's thriller, Desert Blood: The Juárez Murders, features a California academic, Ivon Villa, who gets on the trail of a serial killer. Despite the novel's lack of suspense and a less than compelling heroine, the interesting link to the actual horrific crimes, a blurb from James Crumley and a 10-city author tour all augur well for sales. (Arte Público, $23.95 352p ISBN 1-55885-446-0)