Among new thrillers are those that feature an assistant district attorney, a mobster and an undercover FBI agent, and the head of Britain’s Security Service – not as characters, but as their authors.

Linda Fairstein, Bill Bonanno and Joe Pistone, and Stella Rimington – all of whom have since left their respective professions – have written books that are among the latest hardcover novels of mystery and suspense, which also include works by John Grisham, Lilian Jackson Braun, Ed McBain and W.E.B. Griffin.

For 25 years, Fairstein was an assistant district attorney in Manhattan’s sex-crimes unit, the same post held by the fictional Alexandra Cooper in “Entombed” (Scribner), seventh in Fairstein’s series. Old crimes resurface when workers dismantling a 19th-century brownstone find the body of a young woman who was buried alive in a brick wall, and a long-inactive serial rapist resumes his crime spree.

“The Broker” (Doubleday) in Grisham’s story is Joel Backman, former Washington, D.C., attorney serving a long sentence in federal prison for attempting to broker a deal to sell a top-secret satellite surveillance system on the international marketplace. Six years into his sentence, though, Backman is unexpectedly pardoned by the outgoing president and is whisked away to Italy. Once the CIA has set him up with a new identity, it leaks Backman’s whereabouts to see if any of his potential “customers” make contact.

Braun’s 27th novel featuring newspaper columnist Jim Qwilleran and his curious Siamese cats, Yum Yum and Koko, is “The Cat Who Went Bananas” (Putnam). All seems well in small-town Pickax, as Qwilleran writes a book and the townspeople anticipate the opening of a new bookstore and the premiere of the theater club’s next play. The mood changes quickly, though, when a rare book is stolen and one of the club’s actors dies in a car crash that appears suspicious.

In a departure from his “87th Precinct” series, McBain offers “Alice in Jeopardy” (Simon & Schuster). Alice is a recent widow and single mother expecting a $250,000 life-insurance settlement for her husband, who disappeared in a boating accident and is presumed dead. When her children are kidnapped for $250,000 ransom and the official investigation gets nowhere, Alice does some investigating of her own.

Other new mysteries

In “Survivor in Death” by J.D Robb, a 9-year-old girl is the only witness to the murder of her family; and in “Killing a Unicorn” (Thomas Dunne) by Marjorie Eccles, a 9-year-old boy vanishes after his mother is found murdered.

“Forests of the Night” is James W. Hall’s story of a police officer’s search for her teenage daughter, who ran away from their Florida home with a drifter; and a defense attorney in Florida is summoned home to Toronto when she learns that her mother has murdered a stranger in Joy Fielding’s “Puppet.”

In “The Mayday” (Justin Charles) by Bill Eidson, a DEA agent and a repo boat contractor investigate when a man’s story about losing his wife and children at sea off the Rhode Island coast doesn’t hold water; and on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., lawyer Brady Coyne and private eye J.W. Jackson join forces when they suspect the motives of a fund-raising concert in “Second Sight” (Scribner) by Philip R. Craig and William G. Tapply.

“That Way Murder Lies” (St. Martin’s Minotaur) is Ann Granger’s 15th book about British foreign consul Meredith Mitchell and police detective Alan Markby, who investigate a hate-mail campaign aimed at a woman who had been acquitted of murder 25 years earlier.

The recent murder of a San Francisco socialite and his fiancee are investigated in “The Motive” (Dutton), John Lescroart’s latest entry in his series featuring Glitsky and Hardy, police detective and lawyer, respectively.

“The Widow’s Tale” (Berkley Prime Crime) by Margaret Frazer, 14th in the series set in medieval England, finds nun Dame Frevisse helping a recent widow whose brother-in-law is trying to gain control of her estate.

Femme fatales are afoot in “Dangerous Women” (Mysterious Press), edited by Otto Penzler and featuring 17 new stories by Joyce Carol Oates, Walter Mosley, Anne Perry, Elmore Leonard and others.


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