Sophie Hannah and Michael Genelin

British crime writer Sophie Hannah doubles the thrills today when she signs and reads from Little Face and Hurting Distance, her two newest mystery novels. In Little Face, Alice, a timid and repressed woman, has just given birth to her first child, Florence. But there's a problem: It's not her baby in the crib. No one, not even her husband, believes there has been a kidnapping. (After all, kidnappers don't usually leave behind a substitute baby.) Detective Constable Simon Waterhouse wants to give Alice the benefit of the doubt, but his judgment is clouded by his attraction to the fragile woman.

When her grande dame of a mother-in-law arrives, Alice is looking for an ally. A few things support her claim, such as the photos of baby Florence mysteriously disappearing from both Alice's and her mother-in-law's cameras. But her husband insists this is their baby. To punish her for causing such an unwarranted fuss, he starts playing some excruciatingly painful mind-games with Alice (think making her eat her dinner off the floor). And then there's that bit about his first wife's grisly death. How are all these things connected? Hannah offers up a well-crafted and completely unexpected ending.

Hannah's Hurting Distance is just as chilling. This time, Detective Constable Simon Waterhouse is after a serial rapist, who, because there just isn't enough evil in the world already, sells tickets to live rape parties.

Appearing with Hannah is Michael Genelin, who was formerly with the L.A. District Attorney's Office but is now living in Paris. He'll sign and discuss his debut crime thriller, Siren of the Waters. The novel follows Jana, a commander in the Slovak police force, as she tracks the head of an international human trafficking operation. 6:30 p.m. Murder by the Book, 2342 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-524-8597 or visit www.murderbooks.com. Free.
Thu., Oct. 16, 6:30 p.m., 2008

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Olivia Flores Alvarez