Hot, so to speak, off the presses comes Blood for Blood by Julian Gloag (Holt, Rinehart & Winston: $15.95), a damnably disturbing tale of murder, vengeance and--but I don't reveal plots. The title tells you all you really need to know, yet best that you prepare yourself--confess your sins, implore the mercy of whatever gods may be--and then, dear reader, risk your immortal soul with this preview of hell on Earth, a saga of money, passion and betrayal, vengeance and retribution, violence and insatiable guilt. All of that the book's jacket tells you--the details you will have to ferret out yourself, but weigh this warning: You may never sleep so peacefully, so trustingly, again.
Mystical, but not your usual mystery novel--murderous, but not a yarn of random killing, Fraternity of the Stone by David Morrell (St. Martin's/Marek: $16.95) takes you back in time to the year AD 381, and then jerks you forward again into the present. The less Old Bloody reveals herewith to you, the more you will shudder at your own discoveries. Its protagonist, guilty of atrocities performed in his career as a government agent but now secluded in a monastery, finds retribution catching up with him--and the woman he loves. Yep, this is terror, total terror, told as terrifyingly as you could wish.
And next for the battle of the titans of crime and its detection--the confrontation never before disclosed, between the incredibly evil Dr. Fu Manchu and the immortal Sherlock Holmes. Obviously, we are treading on sacred ground in Ten Years Beyond Baker Street by Cay Van Ash (Harper & Row: $14.95). One hesitates, for dread of seeming presumptuous, either to praise or to deplore this chronicle, but for me, who literally worshiped both of them--both Holmes and Dr. Fu, each spawned in separate brains--this evocaton of their ghosts is like a joy-ride once again to paradise.
You like it rough, and tough, and--oh, yes--homicidal? Then take a fling at Resort to Murder by William Krasner (Scribner's: $13.95). Its scene in Kahtaw County, a nasty little hell of Midwest violence. You know--Ku Kluxers, union wars, marauding gangsters, fils de joie --no place you'd like to raise the kiddies. But there's Sam Birge, homicide chief of the nearest metropolitan city, who detests that sort of nastiness. As you'd expect, there comes along this incident that is too much for Sam--lethal, in fact, and Birge is stuck with solving it. Solve it, of course, he does, but not before the naughtiness piles up.
And for those of you, dear readers, who can stomach the macho yarns while unraveling their psychopathic bent, risk your nerves next with Raven by Mike Lundy (Lyle Stuart: $15.95). This is police-blotter stuff--a rape that leads to murder, then to an erroneous accusation by the brave lads in blue. Expert plotting, yes--and maybe how life really is down there among the filth and fury of the metropolitan alleys. The twist is that sometimes the innocent are trapped in it, and like mad dogs, they sometimes die.
It's not every day that a poet pens a mystery, although some poetry reads like one. But Doug Hornig, Edgar nominee with his first novel, proves an exception to the rule. First with Foul Shot and now with Hardball (Scribner's: $13.95), soon to become available to you. It's nasty stuff, crime and politics (which do mix!) in my native state, Virginia, which I had never guessed could be like this!
With the publication (by Holt, Rinehart & Winston) of Newspaper Murders ($13.95), put the name of Joe Gash among the top ranks of mystery/action authors. The scene is Chicago, and yep, its action reads like a very up-dated version of The Front Page--as brutal as that, as cynical, as shocking in its depiction of the powers that be, including (of course! of course!) the press. The press?--oh, well, it's fiction, isn't it?