A couple of times a year, we devote considerable space to book previews – lists of coming titles and their plots, which authors are back on the literary scene and which ones are debuting, what trends are showing, and the season’s must-reads as predicted by industry insiders.

For a pre-preview of the spring lineup, we looked around and came up with this sampling:

• “Mistress Shakespeare,” by Karen Harper (Putnam, $24.95; Feb. 5): One of the great mysteries surrounding William Shakespeare was his marriages, or lack of same. Historical documents point to two possible marriages – one to Anne Hathaway of Stratford, the other to Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton. Here, the author imagines the intrigue and danger that surround the playwright’s “marriage” to Hathaway, as “narrated” by the woman herself. Rich in history and speculation.

• “The Renegades,” by T. Jefferson Parker (Dutton, $26.95; Feb. 10): Veteran mystery writer Parker takes readers on a ride-along with good cops and bad cops from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in settings that range from the California deserts to coastal Mexico. (see related story on this page)

• “August Heat,” by Andrea Camilleri (Penguin, $14; Feb. 24): The 10th title in the superb Inspector Montalbano series finds the Sicilian police detective stuck on a brutal, twisted murder case. Along the way, he estranges his girlfriend and raises the ire of the Mafia. The ending is sudden and unexpected.

• “Feelers,” by Brian M. Wiprud (St. Martin’s, $24.95; March 3): In this “humorous mystery,” Morty Martinez’s business is cleaning out the former residences of the dearly departed. At one apartment, he uncovers a hidden stash of $800,000. It’s not long before his “competition” comes looking for the loot.

• “Fault Line,” by Barry Eisler (Ballantine, $25; March 10): As a former covert CIA operative, technology attorney and Silicon Valley start-up player, Eisler (author of the compelling six-title John Rain series) is well-positioned to write this thriller. Two brothers – one in a high-tech law firm, the other an undercover operative – put aside their differences to recover a stolen “encryption application” that could mean world disaster if the bad guys figure out how to use it. Adding spin is a woman who is desired by one brother, mistrusted by the other. An international playing field keeps the action moving.

• “The Sacred Blood,” by Michael Byrnes (William Morrow, $17.95; March 24): Charlotte Hennessy, the tempestuous geneticist from “Sacred Bones,” returns in a thriller centered on the discovery of what could be the bones of Jesus. The DNA taken from the bones has miraculous powers of healing, she discovers. Strange hieroglyphics and codes, hidden tombs and the Ark of the Covenant are part of the ride.

• “The Dakota Cipher,” by William Dietrich (Harper, $26.99; March 24): The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist picks up where he left off in “The Rosetta Key,” with American expatriate-rogue Ethan Gage staying ahead of over-the-top, life-threatening adventures. This time, he is dispatched by Napoleon Bonaparte and newly elected President Thomas Jefferson on a “scouting” mission (with political undertones) in the unsettled American West. Gage has many of the same moves as the late George MacDonald Fraser’s irresistible anti-hero, Sir Harry Flashman.

• “Execution Dock,” by Anne Perry (Ballantine, $26; March 24): The British author has four series going. The new entry in her 16-title William Monk series, set in Victorian-era England, finds our hero (a commander in the river police) seeking to bust the owner of a floating brothel that plies the River Thames. His “helpers” are an unlikely crew.


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