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The Ice Harvest by Scott Phillips (Ballantine, $19.95). "The Ice Harvest" is a short noir novel that's brutish, bitter and grimly ironic. First-time novelist Phillips, who obviously has read his Jim Thompson, has a good eye for small, telling details -- a bar's red Naugahyde booths and plastic holly, a gas station's spinning rack of cheap toys made in Taiwan, a garage's cold cement floor, a frozen lake layered with luminous snow and the way a footlocker shoved off the end of the dock instantly tears "a long rectangular hole in the ice." Any guesses as to what's in the footlocker?

The First Counsel by Brad Meltzer (Warner, $25.95). White House lawyer dating the president's daughter becomes a murder suspect.

Blood Lure by Nevada Barr (Putnam, $24.95). Anna Pigeon is back West finding death in bear country.

A Darkness More Than Night by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown, $25.95). LAPD's Harry Bosch and ex-FBI agent Terrence McCaleb tackle a case involving ritual killings.

-- Knight Ridder

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