High Hand by Gary Phillips (Kensington, $22). Chainey knows Las Vegas, from the theme-park casinos after the family dollar to "black Vegas," where the first integrated casino was built. And the former showgirl moves easily through the city as a courier, transporting millions of dollars for owners who want to keep their profits under the table. But Chainey's latest job for a brother-and-sister team of mobsters may be her last when she is robbed by masked thugs who steal the $7 million she is carrying. Her employers don't believe she is the ambush's sole survivor and give her 72 hours to find the money. Chainey doesn't have to ask what might happen if she fails.
Sweet Georgia by Ruth Birmingham (Berkley Prime Crime, $5.99 paperback). Atlanta private eye Sunny Childs senses from the beginning a wrongness about country singer Georgia Burnett's kidnapping. Georgia's husband/manager/record mogul was more concerned about the fees Sunny and her boss, Gunnar Brushwood, would charge for delivering the ransom money. And when the press just happens to show up for the great rescue, Sunny senses a setup from the get-go. But it's no photo op when a few months later the case takes a fatal turn and Gunnar is accused of murder. Now Sunny has Georgia on her mind as she looks into country music's inner workings and a marriage's public facade and private pain.
Unbreathed Memories by Marcia Talley (Dell, $5.99 paperback). Cancer survivor Hannah Ives' thoughts are on her upcoming reconstructive surgery when her unstable sister, Georgina, draws her into a family crisis. Georgina, who has been seeing a therapist for her recurring depression, claims that their father sexually abused her as a child. Hannah refuses to believe her father was guilty of such a perversion when the therapist is murdered. Could her father be a sexual predator and a murderer? Or has Georgina's emotional instability taken a new turn?
-- Knight Ridder Newspapers