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Books: Leisure reading

'Scene of Crime'

By Jill McGown

Ballantine, $22.95

The author, a native of Scotland, has written 11 psychological thrillers. This one stars her familiar detective inspectors, Lloyd and Hill, who happen to be colleagues, lovers and parents-to-be. They get caught up in the domestic lives of the Riverside Theatre Players during the Christmas holidays. When the players start rehearsing for "Cinderella," Estelle Bignall, the beautiful and neurotic wife of a wealthy doctor — and the company's aspiring playwright — is brutally murdered — by a thief.

The evidence suggests too many suspects: an elusive burglar, a sinister neighbor, the victim's secret lover, a scared kid. The detectives try to determine who was desperate enough to commit murder, but they know they have to do it before "Cinderella" becomes a bloody drama more on the order of "Macbeth." — Dennis Lythgoe


'The Florabama Ladies' Auxiliary & Sewing Circle'

By Lois Battle

Viking, $24.95.

This is a story of resilience. The novel is upbeat but not sappy. The plot revolves around one rich woman and a half dozen poor women — all of them older than 40, all of them making a comeback.

The main character, Bonnie, learns her husband is leaving her the same day she learns they are bankrupt. Bonnie's father is rich, but she wants to make it on her own. She finds a job at a community college, running the displaced homemakers program, trying to help garment workers who were laid off when their employer moved his plant. The women she meets don't have any choice — they have to make it on their own. — Susan Whitney


'How to Buy a Home Without Getting Hammered'

By David Weekly with Patrick Byers

Worthing Brighton Press, $24.95

One of the country's most successful homebuilders explains how to overcome red tape, avoid mortgage delays and finally end up with the home you've been dreaming about. Weekly has been building homes for 25 years — about 30,000 under his belt. Some of his chapter headings are "The 10 Biggest Mistakes in Home Buying," "The Secrets of Good Design," "Reading Between the Lines," "The Art of the Deal," "Show Me the Money," "Hidden Treasures and Hidden Costs," "Great Expectations," "Closing and Moving In" and a glossary of terms.

The author concludes that building a home is like riding a roller coaster of emotions. You hit the top and the bottom a number of times before you close the deal. This is a useful volume. — Dennis Lythgoe