Of the December-January crop, the following stood out as best bets:
PUZZLE FOR PLAYERSPatrick Quentin Simon & Schuster ($2). Murder interrupts the rehearsals of a Broadway show. Rich plot, crackling dialogue, authentic Broadway setting.
THE BIGGER THEY COMEA. A. FairMorrow ($2). Introducing fat, profane Detective Bertha Cool and her runty assistant Donald Lam. Slot-machine racketeers in a Southwestern locale, with a jackpot ending that turns on a neat legal trick.
FATAL DESCENTJohn Rhode & Carter DicksonDodd, Mead ($2). A meticulous Scotland Yard inspector and a theorizing police surgeon solve the shooting of a London...