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    Mysteries

    By KIKI OLSON

    © St. Petersburg Times, published August 27, 2000


    A pretty teenager is found missing in the inbred community and young, newly married Inspector George Bennett is hell-bent on discovering her whereabouts and if her disappearance is connected to the horrid "moors murders," which were actually occurring at the same time. The clues he discovers are enough to arrest her lascivious stepfather, an amateur shutterbug who'd photographed his sexual abuse of her. Although her body was never found, he was hanged. The scene shifts to the present and the case is to be the subject of a new book authored by journalist Catherine Heathcote. Bennett agrees to cooperate and is forced to look at a different picture created by the pieces of the original puzzle. McDermid's subtle weaving of the real and could-have-been, her elegant prose and her heart-stopping conclusion is what turns garden-variety whodunits into literary triumphs.

    Helen Hath No Fury, by Gillian Roberts (Ballantine, $23).

    Philadelphia school teacher Amanda Pepper would belong to a book group whose heated discussions revolve around the suicide of a fictional heroine. Next day, one of the members, Helen Coulter, falls to her death from her swank Delancey Street roof garden. The eternal question: Did she jump or was she pushed? Fans of cozies will enjoy this witty retelling of a classic plot.

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