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NOVELS New mysteries by well-known authors set to sizzle



Published: Sat, April 23, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Donald E. Westlake and Carolyn Hart both have new novels.

By RON BERTHEL

ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

All islands are surrounded by water -- but some are surrounded by trouble, too.

Crime is in season on the island locales of several new hardcover novels of mystery and suspense by such favorites as Donald E. Westlake, Carolyn Hart. Lyn Hamilton, Aaron Elkins and Sue Henry.

Two islands figure into "Watch Your Back!" (Mysterious), Westlake's 12th book in the series featuring that luckless larcenist, John Dortmunder. On a visit to a Caribbean resort island, Dortmunder's pal Arnie discovers that billionaire Preston Fareweather is also there, hiding from his angry former wives. When Arnie returns home to another island -- Manhattan -- he proposes to Dortmunder a plan to burglarize Fareweather's richly appointed and lightly guarded Fifth Avenue penthouse.

A mysterious death dulls the luster of South Carolina's Golden Silk Island in Hart's "Death of the Party" (Morrow). When the year-old death of a mean-spirited media mogul on his private estate begins to look less accidental and more like murder, his sister-in-law throws a party on the island and invites everyone who was present the day he died. Along to observe and investigate are Annie and Max Darling, in this 16th in the series featuring the bookstore owner and her private-eye husband.

Lara McClintoch returns

In "The Moai Murders" (Berkley Prime Crime), Hamilton provides another case for Lara McClintoch when the Toronto-based antiques dealer and her friend Moira vacation on Rapa Nui -- aka Easter Island. Their hotel is hosting a conference of experts on "moai," the island's mysterious giant antique stone carvings. Plenty of disputes and professional jealousies develop among the attendees -- enough to get one of them murdered.

Elkins' series about crime-solving forensics professor Gideon Oliver continues with "Where There's a Will" (Berkley Prime Crime). On Hawaii, a remote lagoon reveals a small plane that disappeared 10 years ago along with wealthy rancher Magnus Torkelson. When fragments of what appears to be Torkelson's skeleton turn up nearby, Oliver is called in to try to figure out what happened. The bones help uncover family lies and secrets that involve murder, a deadly business rivalry and a will with strange provisions.

Sled-dog owner Jessie Arnold temporarily parks her pooches in Henry's "Murder at Five Finger Light" (New American Library). Arnold's friends host a party at the lighthouse they have just acquired on Alaska's tiny Five Finger Island, asking guests to help restore the place. Arnold becomes a party-pooper when she stumbles upon a body whose death seems to have been accidental until it's discovered that the island's phone and radio have been vandalized.

Among other new mysteries, "Two-Dollar Bill" (Putnam) by Stuart Woods features series regular Stone Barrington, a New York cop-turned-lawyer whose new client, a wealthy Texan, carries a wad of $2 bills and turns out to be as phony as a $3 bill.

Amelia Peabody back at it

Egypt's Valley of the Kings in 1922 is the setting for "The Serpent on the Crown" (Putnam), Elizabeth Peters' 17th book about archaeologist Amelia Peabody and family, who investigate when a woman claims that her husband's death resulted from a curse carried by an ancient statuette stolen from a pharaoh's tomb.

Accidental deaths figure prominently in "No Place Like Home" (Simon & amp; Schuster) by Mary Higgins Clark, in which a man buys his new wife a house that turns out to be the childhood home where, at age 10, she had accidentally killed her mother; and in "The Innocent" (Dutton), Harlan Coben's story in which a series of events, including two murders, hinder a man's efforts to lead a respectable life after serving time for causing an accidental death.

The setting is 19th-century England in "Sick of Shadows" (St. Martin's Minotaur), Marion Chesney's tale of an heiress and her fianc & eacute; who investigate when a friend's body is found afloat in a river; and in "Long Spoon Lane" (Ballantine), Anne Perry's 24th book featuring Thomas Pitt, a Victorian London police detective who looks into the shooting death of a nobleman's son during a street riot.

Shopkeeping sleuths include Claire Malloy, a small-town Arkansas bookstore owner who housesits a mansion where a corpse keeps appearing and disappearing in "The Goodbye Body" (St. Martin's Minotaur), the 15th in Joan Hess' series; and China Bayles, a Texas herb-shop owner who looks for a connection between the discovery of human remains in a cave and the shooting death of a handyman by a wealthy, elderly townswoman in "Dead Man's Bones" (Berkley Prime Crime) by Susan Wittig Albert.

On the case are:

*U.S. Marshall Roland Larson, investigating a mob family's kidnapping of a computer expert who knows the codes for the witness protection program in "Cut and Run" (Hyperion) by Ridley Pearson.

*Retired FBI agent Gregor Demarkian, who searches for clues when a student rumored to have been involved with the headmaster's wife is found hanged in his room at a prestigious New England prep school in "The Headmaster's Wife" (St. Martin's Minotaur), 20th in the series by Jane Haddam.

*Yorkshire, England, crime-solvers Thackeray and Ackroyd, who look into the mysterious death of a part-owner of a mill beset by labor and racial strife, in "Dead Reckoning" (St. Martin's Minotaur), the 10th in Patricia Hall's series.

*And probably wishing he could be on the case is Nick Petrov, a top-notch private eye who was just beginning an important investigation when he awoke in a hospital room with no memory and in possession of several items he can't identify, in "Oblivion" (Morrow) by Peter Abrahams.




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