Things are heating up in Alaska, with detectives hot on the trail of murderers in two new hardcover whodunits set in the 49th state.
"A Fine and Bitter Snow" (St. Martin's) is Anchorage resident Dana Stabenow's 12th in the series featuring Aleutian detective Kate Shugak, who investigates when a plan to drill for oil on a wildlife preserve leads to the murder of an environmentalist.
Another Anchorageite, Sue Henry, offers another case for Jessie Arnold, crime-solving sled-dog entrepreneur, in "Cold Company" (Morrow). Construction on Arnold's new cabin comes to a screeching halt when a skeleton is found on the property. Also found is a pendant identifying the remains as the victim of a long-ago serial killer who might be active again.
Murder and suspense
Alaska isn't the only setting for new mysteries. There are others with locales as diverse as New York's Long Island, San Francisco, the Louisiana bayou, the Soviet Union and Trenton, N.J.
In "The Beach House" (Little, Brown) by James Patterson and Peter de Jonge, law-school student Jack Mullen believes that his brother Peter's drowning in the Hamptons, Long Island's playground of the affluent, was no accident. Through his investigation, Jack learns that Peter was involved with some very wealthy people in ways Jack could not have imagined.
Water claims another victim in "Dead Midnight" (Mysterious) by Marcia Muller. In No. 22 in the series, San Francisco private eye Sharon McCone tries to escape the grief of her brother's recent suicide by immersing herself in work only to have to investigate the suicide of a man who leaped to his death from the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. McCone's investigation uncovers sinister goings-on at the dead man's workplace that might have helped "push" him off the bridge.
James Lee Burke offers another in his series about Dave Robicheaux, New Iberia, La., police detective, in "Jolie Blon's Bounce" (Simon & Schuster). Two savage murders one victim a teen-age honor student, the other a hooker and local mobster's daughter point to one suspect, Tee Bobby Hulin, a drug addict and petty criminal. Robicheaux thinks Hulin is also a talented R&B; musician and not the killer.
In "Fire Ice" (Putnam) by Clive Cussler and Paul Kemprecos, a billionaire mining tycoon who claims to have Romanov blood plots to overthrow the already shaky government of Soviet Russia. He plans to divert U.S. opposition with "fire ice," offshore deposits of methane hydrate that, if disturbed, would speed up global warming and destroy the environment.
Trenton, the Garden State's capital and home of Stephanie Plum, bounty hunter, is the setting for "Hard Eight" (St. Martin's), No. 8 in the series by Janet Evanovich. Besides chasing after her usual quarry of court-appearance-skippers, Stephanie searches for a 7-year-old girl and her divorced mom, whose disappearance could cause an elderly woman to lose her home.
Peter Diamond looks for his wife's murderer in "Diamond Dust" (Soho), Peter Lovesey's seventh book about the police detective in Bath, England. Regency England is the setting for "Don't Look Back" (Bantam), Amanda Quick's tale about a female hypnotist searching for a killer and for a priceless antique bracelet.
A rare cookbook is lost and plenty of people want to find it in "Roux the Day" (St. Martin's), Peter King's seventh mystery featuring New Orleans' Gourmet Detective.
Also missing are two ancient carved eagles, which, with a headless corpse, supply the mystery in "Vineyard Enigma" (Scribner), Philip R. Craig's 13th case for private eye J.W. Jackson, of Martha's Vineyard, Mass.
In New York, construction workers find the remains of 36 people, killed 130 years ago by an unknown serial killer, in "The Cabinet of Curiosities" (Warner) by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.
In preparation for a U.S. invasion, a military reconnaissance team enters Iraq to find and destroy Saddam Hussein's secret weapon, in David Poyer's military thriller "Black Storm" (St. Martin's).