‘P’ is for peril, Peters, ‘Prey’ and pseudonym

By Ron Berthel Associated Press Writer
Tuesday May 29, 2001

“P Is for Peril” in Sue Grafton’s latest alphabet mystery, but “P” plays a pivotal part in other new mysteries, too. 

“P” stands for Peters, as in Elizabeth Peters, who has a new whodunit; for the latest “Prey” novel by John Sandford; and for “pseudonym,” as in Rosamond Smith — aka Joyce Carol Oates — author of a new thriller. 

The books are among the latest hardcover novels of mystery and suspense. 

Private eye Kinsey Millhone is put into a particularly perplexing and precarious predicament in “P Is for Peril” (Putnam), No. 16 in the series featuring the Southern California sleuth. 

She’s looking for the highly respected administrator of a nursing home who has been missing for nine weeks. The police can’t find him so Fiona, his former wife, seeks Millhone’s help. Everyone has a theory. Fiona thinks her ex has run away from his new wife, Crystal, who thinks he’s dead. His colleagues think he has been kidnapped. And his daughter, after consulting a psychic, thinks he’s trapped in an unspecified “dark place.” (On sale June 4.) 

In “Lord of the Silent” (Morrow), Elizabeth Peters offers a 13th mystery starring Amelia Peabody, the intrepid and resourceful English archaeologist and amateur crime-solver. 

It’s autumn of 1915 and the world is at war when Amelia and family arrive in Egypt for their annual archaeological dig. Amelia is doing her best to keep son Ramses from being pressed into service by the War Office, but other concerns soon loom: One is the all-too-fresh corpse unearthed in an ancient tomb. Before it’s over, there are more bodies, an assault and a kidnapping. 

James Qatar is the latest villain tormenting erstwhile Minneapolis police investigator Lucas Davenport, in “Chosen Prey” (Putnam), Sandford’s 13th “Prey” book. 

Qatar is a suave professor of art history who is also a writer, thief and murderer. His hobby is to secretly take photos of women who have angered him and turn them into pornographic pictures, which he anonymously mails to the women. One day, his displeasure goes too far, so he just has to kill the woman. Unexpectedly, he enjoys it — so he does it again and again. 

The psychological thriller “The Barrens” (Carroll & Graf) is the eighth book Oates has written as Rosamond Smith. 

When Matt McBride was in high school, the body of a teen girl Matt knew slightly was found in New Jersey’s desolate Pine Barrens. For some reason, Matt had always felt a sense of guilt about the murder, as if he could have prevented it. Now, 20 years later, a local artist named Duana Zwolle has disappeared. Matt knew her, too — slightly better than the married man cares to admit. Since Matt’s name appears throughout her diary, the police want to question him. 

Other new mysteries include: 

—“Warrior Class” (Putnam) by Dale Brown. A U.S. Air Force general locks horns with the Russian army when it invades several countries to build an oil pipeline. 

—“Dead Hand” (Forge) by Harold Coyle. An asteroid crashes into Siberia, threatening to set off a Cold War-era nuclear device stored there. 

—“A Finer End” (Bantam) by Deborah Crombie. Scotland Yard officers Kincaid and James investigate when an ancient document leads to a violent attack. 

—“The Blue Nowhere” (Simon & Schuster) by Jeffery Deaver. A computer hacker lures his victims to their deaths. 

—“The Cold Six Thousand” (Knopf) by James Ellroy. A Las Vegas police officer unwittingly becomes involved in a cover-up conspiracy surrounding JFK’s assassination.