Icy Clutches.Aaron Elkins.Mysterious Press.294 pages...

BOOK BRIEFS

October 14, 1990|By SUSANNE TROWBRIDGE Stone Heart. Luanne Rice. Viking. 322 pages. $19.95.

Icy Clutches.

Aaron Elkins.

Mysterious Press.

294 pages. $16.95.

Gideon Oliver, who solves crimes by studying bones, faces his most chilling case ever in Aaron Elkins' latest book. In search of peace and quiet, Gideon has accompanied his wife, Julie, to a forest rangers' conference in Glacier Bay, Alaska. Also there is Audley Tremaine, the scientist who led an ill-fated expedition to the area 30 years before, in which three graduate students were killed in an avalanche.

Audley has written a book about the incident, and he's in Alaska to review the manuscript with relatives of the deceased. The book contains plenty of juicy revelations about the victims, and it doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure out that Audley's days are numbered.

When the bones of two of the grad students turn up at the avalanche site, Gideon's examination proves that one was dead before the snow even hit. So much for his restful vacation; Gideon now finds himself with two crimes to solve -- one old, one new. "Icy Clutches" suffers a bit from an overreliance on coincidence, but on the whole, Mr. Elkins' light touch and his hero's slightly self-deprecating charm make this a marvelous mystery.

Luanne Rice promises much and delivers in this look at serious family problems that is handled in the best Hitchcock fashion. Maria Dark returns to her Connecticut home from an archaeological dig and a dissolving marriage only to find a disconcerting mood over her family.

Her sister, Sophie, has turned into a pathological liar. Maria's mother is more removed from reality than ever, and something dark is happening to Sophie's perfect marriage and to her young children. Maria becomes terrified when she comes across some evil events that she is powerless to stop.

Ms. Rice at once involves interest with her bright, precise descriptions and continues her hold with hints of suspicion that last to the end page, but characterization is not sacrificed for plot. While "Stone Heart" borders on being a thriller, it is mostly a psychological study of the evil that masquerades under the guise of respectability, which makes the book a fascinating story and good reading.

BARBARA SAMSON MILLS

*

Good Books, Good Times!

Selected by

Lee Bennett Hopkins.

Charlotte Zolotov/

Harper & Row.

32 pages. $12.95.

Ages 5-9.

There is that good feeling you have when you finish reading a great book, a feeling of elation, satisfaction and desire to talk about it with a friend. Lee Bennett Hopkins has found 13 poets who express their joy in reading books in poems that young people will share and read over and over again.

These fine poets invite young people to have fun with words, language, rhyme and rhythm. Mr. Hopkins has included Jack Prelutzky, who ". . . met a dragon face to face/the year when I was ten,/I took a trip to outer space,/I braved a pirates' den," and did all this, of course, ". . . in books I read/ when I was ten years old." David McCord writes, "Books fall open,/you fall in/ delighted where/you've never been," and Karla Kuskin tells about being lost in a book: "Being lost/Is the perfect way/To pass the time/On a sky blue day."

The detailed and bright watercolors by Harvey Stevenson will add to the pleasure of repeated readings. Mr. Hopkins, the ultimate anthologist, understands poetry, children and the fun and pleasure of reading.

JUDITH B. ROSENFELD

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