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THE WOMEN STAND OUT

One of our favorite mystery story anthologies offers impressive new evidence of the booming popularity of women writers: Half of the 14 entries in editor Edward D. Hoch's "The Year's Best Mystery and Suspense Stories 1990" are by female authors.

The collection's standout is Lady Antonia Fraser's "The Moon Was to Blame," a disquieting, coolly understated, sexually charged offering about the role of four jaded, vacationing London sophisticates in the violent death of a young woman on a Greek island. There's more wallop in this subtle 10-pager than in many novels ballyhooed as psychological thrillers.

Ruth Graviros' contribution gets inside the tortured psyche of a mass murderer's parent as his son faces execution. The title: "Ted Bundy's Father." Marcia Muller's female PI, Sharon McCone, seeks her runaway nephew in a heavily sentimental "Silent Night."

The Year's Best Mystery and Suspense Stories 1990. Walker. 253 pages, $18.95