There's a drought in Moose County, but it isn't a crime drought.
An arsonist is on the loose in the town of Pickax, taking advantage of the parched landscape caused by Moose County's long, dry summer. And when arson turns to murder, who better to investigate than ...
... a couple of cats?
Koko and Yum Yum, those extraordinary crime-solving Siamese, are on the case -- with help, as usual, from their human, journalist-philanthropist Jim Qwilleran -- in "The Cat Who Smelled a Rat" (Putnam), the 23rd in the series by Lilian Jackson Braun.
It's among the latest hardcover books of mystery and suspense fiction, which include works by Jack Higgins, Anne Perry, Andrew M. Greeley and Ruth Rendell.
"Edge of Danger" (Putnam)
By Jack Higgins
The U.S. president is the target when siblings Paul and Kate Rashid, oil empire billionaires, hire an assassin. It's part of their revenge against the United States for excluding them from an oil exploration deal with the Sultan of Hazar. Blake Johnson, head of "The Basement," a clandestine White House operation, senses that the Rashids are up to no good, but lacks the specifics. Helping him search for clues is Sean Dillon, a special operative for the British secret police.
"The Whitechapel Conspiracy"
By Anne Perry
The Pitts are pitted against none other than Jack the Ripper in this 21st in the series featuring Police Superintendent Thomas Pitt and his wife, Charlotte. Spring 1892: Victoria reigns, and in the London slum of Whitechapel, a serial killer is targeting prostitutes. Thomas Pitt's "reward" for delivering key testimony in a murder trial is reassignment to the Special Branch, where he works undercover in Whitechapel.
"Irish Love" (Forge)
By Andrew M. Greeley
In this latest adventure for psychic and singer Nuala Anne McGrail, she and her husband Dermot abandon Chicago for some R & R in Nuala Anne's native Ireland. Their welcome is hardly a warm one: The houses around theirs explode and someone shoots at Nuala Anne while she water-skis. A clue might lie in an old diary describing the 1882 murder of five family members and of a corrupt trial that unjustly sentenced an Irish folk hero to death.
"Piranha to Scurfy" (Crown)
By Ruth Rendell
This collection has eight short stories and one novella, "High Mysterious Union," a tale of erotic obsession and bloodless violence set in remote rural England. The title story -- named for an encyclopedia volume the protagonist is reluctant to consult -- is about a man who immortalizes his mother (she's buried in the garden) by obsessively writing blistering letters to authors in which he points out their spelling, grammatical and historical errors.
-- "Domain" (Forge) by Steve Alten. Doomsday looms, and the only one who can prevent it is a Miami mental patient.
-- "Blood Lure" (Putnam) by Nevada Barr. Park Ranger Anna Pigeon is in Montana studying grizzly bears when she comes across a grisly murder.
-- "Gangster" (Ballantine) by Lorenzo Carcaterra. The 90-year epic of a New York mob soldier's rise to mob boss.
-- "The Courage Tree" (Mira) by Diane Chamberlain. A single mother searches for her missing 8-year-old, whose serious illness requires regular medical treatment.
-- "Hunting Season" (St. Martin's) by P.T. Deutermann. A retired FBI agent looks for his daughter, who disappeared in the Virginia woods while hiking with friends.
-- "The Merchant of Venus" (St. Martin's) by Ellen Hart. A guest at a celebrity wedding investigates when the wealthy, 80-year-old groom disappears.
-- "Buelah Hill" (Simon & Schuster) by William Heffernan. In 1930s rural Vermont, a black man is suspected of the pitchfork murder of a white racist.
-- "Right as Rain" (Little, Brown) by George P. Pelecanos. A Washington, D.C., private eye investigates the murder of one police officer by another.
-- "Reflecting the Sky" (St. Martin's) by S.J. Rozan. When a New York private eye goes to Hong Kong to deliver a family heirloom, she learns that the intended recipient has been kidnapped.
-- "Deal With the Dead" (Putnam) by Les Standiford. In No. 6 in the series, Florida builder John Deal is awarded a major project with a catch -- he has to also work secretly for a government agency.
-- "The Program" (Doubleday) by Stephen White. The identity of a woman in the Witness Protection Program might have been compromised by someone within the program.
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