Books: Who And Why

A CITY OF STRANGERS

by Robert Barnard

Scribner's; 287 pages; $18.95

BONES AND SILENCE

by Reginald Hill

Delacorte; 332 pages; $17.95

Classic British mysteries generally fit into one of three categories: the puzzle, or whodunit; the psychological study, or whydunit; and the comic jape. Robert Barnard and Reginald Hill have each written deft examples of all three. In their newest and most ambitious works, they adroitly fuse the subgenres together to paint rich, if characteristically jaundiced, social panoramas of decaying industrial towns. Both offer the teasing pleasures of suspense, sly misdirection and a breakneck climax as police seek to avert bloody...

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