New mystery fiction
An Advancement of Learning, by Reginald Hill. Woodstock, Vt.: The Countryman Press/A Foul Play Press Book. 254 pp. $14.95. This is the first American publication of the second mystery featuring the boorish Superintendent Andrew Dalziel and the dapper Sgt. Peter Pascoe of the mid-Yorkshire Criminal Investigation Department. The discovery of a five-year-old corpse brings the detectives to a local college where Pascoe is reunited with an old girlfriend, Ellie Soper, who in a later novel in the series will become Mrs. Peter Pascoe. The Hill hallmarks -- suspenseful plot, good characterization, social awareness, and humor -- are
all here. Fletch Won, by Gregory McDonald. New York: Warner Books. 265 pp. $14.95.
Mystery and humor are given equal time in this eighth novel in the Fletch series, which recounts Fletch's first case as a rookie reporter for the News-Tribune. Fletch is assigned to investigate a suspicious escort service; he chooses instead to investigate the shooting death of attorney Donald Habek. Fletch's forte is never doing what he is expected to do. The results, especially the crazy conversations he has with various weird characters, are hilarious. Chevy Chase played Fletch in a recent movie base d on another Fletch novel, and it's easy to see him playing Fletch in this episode also. Fraternity of the Stone, by David Morrell. New York: St. Martin's/Marek. 375 pp. $16.95.
The hero of this thriller by the author of ``First Blood'' (the basis for the two Rambo movies) and ``The Brotherhood of the Rose'' is a Carthusian monk and a former agent of Scalpel, a US government antiterrorist unit. While Drew MacLane has been secluded in a monastery for six years, a killer who could be his double has been murdering members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. The Fraternity of the Stone, a secret order of assassin priests established during the Crusades, wants to recruit Drew. Well wri tten, fast paced, violent, and often disturbing, this novel makes compelling reading. One for the Money, by Dick Belsky. Chicago: Academy Chicago Publishers. 191 pp. $14.95.
This first novel by the city editor of the New York Post features a sleuth-heroine named Lucy Shannon. The 33-year-old Lucy, a reporter for the New York Blade, has brains, guts, looks, and a smart mouth that gets her into trouble. Her assignment to cover the murder of aspiring actress Nancy Kimberley is complicated by the deaths of Nancy's fellow employees at Stereo Heaven, the machinations of a crime boss, Lucy's relationship with a city cop, and the interference of her crazy editors at the Blade. Asi de from an ending that manages to be both obvious and slightly confusing, this is an enjoyable mystery novel. The Road to Paradise Island, by Victoria Holt. Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday & Co. 368 pp. $16.95.
Holt's 24th Gothic suspense novel, set in 19th-century England and Australia, is her best in a long time. Young Annalice Mallory discovers some family ``skeletons,'' including a boarded-up room in her family home, a diary, and an old map that takes her halfway around the world to Australia, where she searches for her missing brother and an uncharted island and falls in love with a dashing hero who rescues her from a madman's scheme. The appealing main character and the intriguing plot make up for the of ten ponderous writing.
Jane Stewart Spitzer reviews popular fiction for the Monitor.