By Zane Grey (Tor/Forge, $19.95)
This collection includes three works by Zane Grey, all set in the U.S. Western frontier of the 19th century. “To the Last Man” tells the story of Arizona’s Pleasant Valley War, a historic brutal family feud that ended in a bloody slaughter. Bent Wade, a good man with a violent temper, is introduced in “The Mysterious Rider,” and the final work, “The Lone Star Ranger,” is the thrilling tale of a youth turned gunman turned Texas Ranger. Few writers were able to capture the Old West quite like Grey and these three novels are among his best.
‘Lucky Billy: a novel about Billy the Kid’
By John Vernon (Houghton Mifflin, $24)
Digging deeply into the historic record, authentic newspaper accounts, and personal correspondence, Vernon, a Colorado-based writer, crafts a highly readable story about one of the West’s most infamous characters, William H. Bonney, aka Billy the Kid. Vernon takes readers into the mind of Bonney, reconstructing his childhood in New York City, the troubled relationship he had with his dying mother and the desperate encounters he triggered with sweethearts and señoritas from Fort Sumter to Santa Fe. This character-rich saga is both gripping and engrossing.
‘Murder Inside the Beltway: A Capital Crimes Novel’
By Margaret Truman (Ballantine Books, $25)
Margaret Truman died earlier this year, shortly before her final book went into production. In “Murder Inside the Beltway,” her 24th Capital Crime novel, Rosalie Curzon, a Washington, D.C., call girl, is found bludgeoned to death in her Adams-Morgan apartment. When a videotape is found at the bloody crime scene, it raises the question of whether the murdered woman taped some of her clients during their sexual liaisons. The murder, a bitter presidential campaign, a kidnapping and a heart-stopping conclusion make this book exciting reading and a fitting end to Truman’s successful writing career.
‘The Ecco Anthology of Contemporary American Short Fiction’
Selected by Joyce Carol Oates and Christopher R. Beha (Harper Perennial/Ecco, $18.95)
Joyce Carol Oates is the living master of the American short story. She and her co-editor, Christopher R. Beha, have selected a dazzling collection of contemporary short stories featuring the work of such authors as Rick Bass, Greg Johnson, Tobias Wolff, Lorrie Moore, Lydia Davis and Ann Beattie. This is an essential addition to any fiction lover’s library and is an anthology that is highly recommended.
‘Still Waters: A Mystery’
By Nigel McCrery (Pantheon, $23.95)
When Detective Chief Inspector Mark Lapslie and Sergeant Emma Bradbury arrive to investigate a fatal automobile crash, they discover a decaying corpse half-buried near the accident victim’s body. The body, wrapped in shredded plastic sheeting, is missing the tips of the fingers of the right hand, cut by someone with a deadly knowledge of greenhouse shears. Razor-sharp prose, an innovative plot, and interesting characters make this a nonstop nail-biter.
‘The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday: An Isabel Dalhousie Mystery’
By Alexander McCall Smith (Pantheon, $23.95)
In the fifth installment in the Isabel Dalhousie series, the ever-curious woman is asked to help a doctor who has been disgraced by allegations of scientific fraud surrounding a new drug and the death of a patient. Would the doctor risk his reputation for financial gain, what caused the tragic accident, and what role did the pharmaceutical company play? Only a thorough investigation can reveal the truth so once again Isabel sets out to track down the elusive answers.
‘Salmonella Men on Planet Porno: Stories’
By Yasutaka Tsutsui (Pantheon, $21.95)
In this American debut of one of Japan’s most popular authors, Yasutaka Tsutsui presents 13 of his short stories, which are off-kilter and marvelously entertaining. In Tsutsui’s world, the fantastic and the mundane collide, throwing the lives of ordinary men and women into disarray. For example, in the title story, a group of hapless research scientists discover just how obscenely absurd the environment is on Planet Porno. After our recent nasty election season, this is just what the doctor ordered.