BOSTON — Deception on His Mind, Elizabeth George, Bantam, $24.95. This 613-page novel is the best George has written. Working-class Sergeant Havers is away from her aristocratic boss Lynley as she uncovers racism and murder in the killing of a Pakistani man at a British seaside resort. Superb characters, rich plotting and enough length let the reader become part of it all.
The Psalm Killer, Chris Petit, Knopf, $25. This intelligent, densely plotted novel of loyalty and betrayal is set in Northern Ireland. DCI Cross of the Belfast police is himself a double outsider, being both British and Catholic. Among the endless political killings, he suspects a serial killer is at work, but for which side, and why? Rich character study with some dazzling plot twists.
The Tenth Justice, Brad Meltzer, Weisbach/Morrow, $23. Wonderboy Ben Addison just won the big prize: a clerkship at the Supreme Court. But then he reveals a legal decision ahead of time to someone he thought was safe. As his hip, young, smart-talking friends try to help hip, young, smart-talking Ben, they realize they're way out of their league. Ben is too arrogant to really cheer for, but there's an undeniable energy and drive to the story. The dialogue rings absolutely true.
Stone Angel, Carol O'Connell, Putnam, $24.95. In just three novels, O'Connell has earned well-deserved praise for her series featuring Kathleen Mallory. Mallory, a former street orphan turned cop, is an intriguing and mysterious protagonist. Now, in "Stone Angel," we learn about her past, in a suspenseful blend of character, plot, and place. Advice: start with her first, "Mallory's Oracle."