Books: Murder in Midsummer

The best of modern mysteries equal or outrank the run-of-the-rental-shelf "straight" novel in almost every department—plotting, characterization, background. They are novels of emotional conflict, in unusual settings, books that wrestle with the problems of frustration or greed or success. The traditional hole in the victim's head is often added as a sort of casual dividend. Seasonal items:

NOT ME, INSPECTOR, by Helen Reilly (207 pp.; Random House; $2.95), the author's 32nd published novel, is peopled with stylish, upper-middle-class Manhattanites who yearn for just those few extra thousands a year. This sort of...

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