Twelve Shots: Outstanding Short Stories About Guns, edited by Harry Mazer; Delacorte, 272 pages, $15.95 -- Twelve of the best writers of young adult fiction were commissioned to write short stories with guns as a theme for this book, and their efforts make for a diverse and wonderful collection of stories that have an underlying sober punch to them but avoid any kind of stereotypical anti-gun preaching. They vary in tone from the frightening look at inner-city violence in Walter Dean Myers' "Briefcase" to Chris Lynch's disturbing tale of adolescent friendship, "Cocked & Locked," to Kevin McColley's hilariously funny "Hunting Bear" and Mazer's own vivid and haunting World War II memoir, "Until the Day He Died." David Rice, Nancy Werlin, Frederick Busch, Richard Peck, Nancy Springer, Rob Thomas, Ron Koertge and Rita Williams-Garcia also contributed. -- Jean Westmoore
Agatha and the Murderous Marriage, by M.C. Beaton; St. Martin's, $5.50 -- A mistress of the cozy British village mystery offers another puzzle for Agatha Raisin, "a Miss Jane Marple with an attitude." Agatha's the irrepressible, romance-hungry lady who helps make Carsley the murder capital of the bucolic Cotswolds.
The King's Bishop, by Candace Robbs; St. Martin's, $5.99 -- From the murky Thames to the misty moors of northern England, murder stalks one-eyed Welsh soldier/sleuth Owen Archer and his dearest friend in this superlative medieval mystery. The year is 1367. -- Ed Kelly