CRIME

Dear Hannah, by Thomas Hauser. New York: Tor Books (dist. by St. Martin's Press). 254 pp. $14.95. While New York City Police detective Richard Marritt is stalking a serial killer who is murdering young women, an attractive ballet teacher named Hannah Wade finds herself increasingly alarmed by the unwanted attentions of a former classmate and the beheaded rose stems that arrive regularly in the mail. Hauser, author of ``Missing,'' has written a tight, scary, suspenseful thriller with interesting characters and authentic details of life in New York. In the Long Run, by N.J. Crisp. New York: Viking. 317 pp. $16.95.

British writer N.J. Crisp provides a new twist on the spy thriller: Stephen Haden, the hero of ``In the Long Run,'' is a Fluchthelfer, literally an ``escape-helper,'' who smuggles people out of Iron Curtain countries. Haden is wounded in an assassination attempt, and after he recovers he tracks down both the assassin and the man who hired him. Although the potentially interesting characters are not fleshed-out enough and the atmosphere of the European locales is thin, the plot is strong and suspenseful. Only When I Laugh, by Len Deighton. New York: The Mysterious Press. 241 pp. $16.95.

Originally published in England in 1968 (and made into a motion picture starring Richard Attenborough and David Hemmings), ``Only When I Laugh'' is a mildly amusing caper novel about three con artists, two men and the woman they both love, and their final scam. Most of the humor - as well as some confusion that will slow the reader down - is generated by their differing points of view, presented in alternating chapters. The publisher claims that this is ``Deighton's own personal favorite among his thrillers,'' but it doesn't live up to his fine reputation. Poison: An 87th Precinct Novel, by Ed McBain. New York: Arbor House. 262 pp. $16.95.

McBain, a grand master of the Mystery Writers of America, is also a master of the police procedural. ``Poison'' is the 38th novel in his 87th Precinct series, set in Isola, a fictional city much like New York. Homicide detectives Hal Willis and Steve Carella, investigating a nicotine poisoning, find themselves in conflict over Willis's affair with their prime suspect, Marilyn Hollis, a beautiful former prostitute with a sordid past. The characters are sympathetic and the murderer's method is quite ingenious, but the reader may be as shocked by Marilyn's past as Willis is. Sideswipe, by Charles Willeford. New York: St. Martin's Press. 292 pp. $15.95.

``Sideswipe'' is Willeford's third mystery novel featuring his offbeat hero, Miami homicide detective Hoke Moseley. Recovering from a breakdown, Hoke decides to leave police work and live a simpler, less stressful life managing an apartment building. Meanwhile, a retiree named Stanley Sinkiewicz spends a night in jail on a false charge and meets a hardened criminal named Troy Louden. These two stories run along parallel lines that suddenly converge with shocking results when Troy and Stanley rob a grocery store. Willeford writes very well, his characters talk and act like real people, and his Miami is a place where people wear polyester leisure suits and count their change at the 7-Eleven store. The Traveler, by John Katzenbach. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. 413 pp. $18.95.

Katzenbach's first novel, ``In the Heat of the Night,'' was a Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award nominee and the inspiration for the movie ``The Mean Season.'' His second novel, ``The Traveler,'' is really two novels in one: a psychological thriller about a psychotic killer who kidnaps and terrorizes a college student, and a police procedural about the Miami police detective (the aunt of one of his victims) who tracks down the killer. The detective is an interesting and sympathetic character, but the killer and his warped viewpoint are distasteful. Katzenbach tries to do too much; the novel is overlong and would have benefited from more editing and a sharper focus. There's a truly horrific torture sequence that should have been left on the cutting room floor. -30-{et

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