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OFF THE RACK

MARY HIGGINS CLARK MYSTERY MAGAZINE is a mouthful of a title, but the magazine apparently also plans to pack a lot in its pages too. The premier issue of this Family Circle publication, out this month, includes 14 suspense stories by some of the top names in the whodunit business, including Elmore Leonard, P.

D. James, Walter Mosely, Ruth Rendell, Donald E. Westlake, Anne Perry and, of course, MHC herself (her novella is a pull-out booklet in the fold). Add interviews with Sara Paretsky, Elizabeth George and Tony Hillerman; a short story contest (Murder You Write); an article by Miami-based crime writer Edna Buchanan; and recommendations for the beach-chair detective, and you have a mysterious repast definitely worth the $3.95 cover price. Especially amusing are the dozens of brain teasers, laughable laws, mystery quotes and crime factoids sprinkled generously throughout. Personal favorite: a quote from Florida mystery writer John D. MacDonald's The Only Girl in the Game: "Life is the process of finding out too late, everything that should have been obvious to you at the time."

DOUBLETAKE is one of those magazines you hate to throw out. The photographs are stunning, but so is the written material _ poems, essays, fiction, reportage and reviews. In fact, the two are inseparable, which was the idea in the first place when editors Robert Coles and Alex Harris first launched this double treat last year. This summer's issue, with a cover price of $10, is as eclectic as usual. It opens with lines from Seamus Heaney's poem The Cure at Troy (. . .once in a lifetime/The longed-for tidal wave/ Of justice can rise up,/ And hope and history rhyme), accompanied by a photograph by Ernesto Bazan of a Cuban sugarcane cutter saying goodbye to his baby. Several pages later Bazan contributes a photo essay on Cuba. A never-before-published story by Flannery O'Connor, written when she was scarcely more than 20, is the first (and one of the last) times the Georgia writer addresses the problem of race. In a short story Tobias Wolff conjures up two boys building a jet plane. In a short essay Geraldine Brooks, author of Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women, ruminates on the decision by her town, located at the foothills of Virginia's Blue Ridge mountains, to refuse cable television. Personal favorite: a short by Alec Wilkinson, author of Big Sugar. Wilkinson recalls a moment in New York City when a young man jumps from an 11th-floor window, an "extraordinary and desperate act" that would go completely unacknowledged if it were not now frozen by his haunting words. The issue's finale is photo essay on New York's Central Park. Yup, this is definitely another keeper.

_ MARGO HAMMOND

BOOK EDITOR

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