It isn't news when Kinky Friedman is left holding the bag. But in his latest mystery, he is left holding a real bag -- a pink vinyl cosmetics case that makes up plenty of trouble for the "Kinkster" and his pals.
The tale unfolds in "The Mile High Club," No. 13 in Friedman's series of comic mysteries starring himself as a detective in New York's Greenwich Village.
It's among the latest hardcover novels of mystery and suspense, which include works by Sidney Sheldon, Dick Francis, Peter Lovesey, Sharyn McCrumb and Andrew Vachss.
"The Mile High Club"
(Simon & Schuster)
By Kinky Friedman
On a flight to New York, Kinky meets Khadija, an exotic young woman who vanishes as the plane lands. He takes her cosmetics bag home for safekeeping, but it disappears, too. A parade of visitors come looking for it, including federal officials, Khadija's angry brother and Khadija herself. While Kinky and his pals, the Village Irregulars, try to figure things out, Arab terrorists attempt to kidnap Kinky, and a dead Israeli shows up in Kinky's bathroom.
"The Sky Is Falling" (Morrow)
By Sidney Sheldon
The glamorous and charitable Winthrops are America's most distinguished family. Within a year, all five are dead, victims of separate "accidents." Dana Evans, 27, news anchor at a Washington, D.C., TV station, becomes suspicious and investigates a trail that takes her to several nations. Just as she closes in on a suspect, she becomes his quarry.
By Dick Francis
When jockey Martin Stukely dies from a fall, he inadvertently puts a friend's life in jeopardy. The friend is Gerard Logan, an artist in glassblowing on the verge of widespread fame. Stukely left behind a videotape that a vicious gang believes contains valuable information. The gang is also convinced that Logan knows where the tape is. He doesn't know, but he has to find it to save his life.
"The Vault" (Soho)
By Peter Lovesey
The discovery of the skeleton of a human hand under the house where Mary Shelley wrote "Frankenstein" provides a fifth case for Peter Diamond, detective superintendent of police in Bath, England. Entering the picture is Joe Dougan, an American college professor whose search for a book that Shelley owned leads him to an antiques dealer. The dealer is murdered, Dougan's wife disappears, more bones turn up and Diamond's deputy is knocked cold and left for dead.
"The PMS Outlaws" (Ballantine)
By Sharyn McCrumb
No. 9 in the series featuring amateur sleuth and former anthropologist Elizabeth MacPherson begins when her brother Bill buys a mansion to use as his law office. The house comes with a codger-in-residence, a charming 90-year-old whom the MacPhersons are sure is harmless. Meanwhile, Bill's law partner is concerned about the PMS Outlaws, an escaped con and her rogue attorney who rob men looking for a pickup -- not the four-wheeled variety.
"Dead and Gone" (Knopf)
By Andrew Vachss
In another adventure for Burke, the career criminal and man-for-hire agrees to be middleman in the ransom of a long-missing kidnapped child. The meeting proves to be a setup to assassinate Burke, whose would-be killers believe they succeeded. Burke sets out for revenge, starting with the Russian gangster who set him up. Aided by a Russian-speaking Cambodian woman and a wartime buddy, Burke uncovers an international gang that has escaped punishment by establishing its own nation on a remote island.
-- "Driving Lessons" (Carroll & Graf) by Ed McBain. A teen-age student driver hits and kills the instructor's wife.
-- "Pagan Babies" (Delacorte) by Elmore Leonard. In Detroit, a suspect priest teams with a female ex-con in a fund-raising scheme.
-- "The Book of Kills" (St. Martin's) by Ralph McInerny. At The University of Notre Dame, a series of pranks turns serious when they involve kidnapping and murder.
-- "Hong Kong" (St. Martin's) by Stephen Coonts. Jake Grafton's wife is kidnapped while visiting Hong Kong.
-- "Day of Absolution" (Scribner) by John Gardner. A retired spy is approached by a man who claims to have ancient scrolls about Jesus.
-- "The Bottoms" (Mysterious) by Joe R. Lansdale. A series of racially motivated murders plagues Depression-era East Texas.
-- "An Enigmatic Disappearance" (St. Martin's) by Roderic Jeffries. Inspector Alvarez of Mallorca, Spain, investigates the murder of a wealthy man's attractive, unfaithful wife.
-- "Nothing Gold Can Stay" (Dutton) by Dana Stabenow. An Alaska State Trooper hunts for a serial killer.
-- "Fall of a Cosmonaut" (Mysterious) by Stuart M. Kaminsky. A Moscow police inspector searches for a missing cosmonaut, a "kidnapped" film and a scientist's killer.
-- "Last Puzzle & Testament" (Bantam) by Parnell Hall. A woman's greedy heirs must solve a crossword puzzle to claim their inheritance.
-- "Wild Justice" (HarperCollins) by Philip Margolin. A surgeon suspected in a series of gruesome murders disappears.
-- "Buried Evidence" (Hyperion) by Nancy Taylor Rosenberg. A district attorney who committed murder is being blackmailed by her former husband.
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