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  • You know the expression “dressed to kill”? You might not want to use it around any of the characters in these seven deadly books. Spring and summer fiction is packed with women who can do almost anything in cold blood. From wronged wives to a psychotic socialite, they would do well to stay away from anything sharp. (But, of course, they don’t.) Superstars like James Patterson and Charlaine Harris return with their latest, but there are also gripping works from newcomers, such as Canadian Holly Luhning, who weaves a story around the legend of sixteenth-century Hungarian countess Elizabeth Bathory, the most prolific female serial killer of all time. Bathory was bricked up in a castle as punishment for her crimes, and you might want to brick yourself up somewhere quiet to work through this killer reading list.

  • 'Love You More'

    By Lisa Gardner
    (Bantam)

    Lisa Gardner alternates between the detective and the accused in the story of a case that is more than it first appears. Massachusetts State Trooper Tessa Leoni has suffered a terrible beating, and her husband lies dead. But if this is a case of domestic violence, how does she explain the disappearance of her six-year-old daughter? Gardner lets Leoni narrate part of the book in her own words, yet keeps you guessing as to what really happened.

  • 'The Social Climber's Handbook'

    By Molly Jong-Fast
    (Villard)

    Daisy Greenbaum is an Upper East Side socialite with two adorable twin daughters and a husband who gets richer by the day. That is, until the recession looms. To keep her family afloat, Daisy will face-off against anyone who threatens her hubby’s job – even if that means dispatching a few folks with the poison she just happens to carry in her purse. Jong-Fast, daughter of Erica Jong and screenwriter Jonathan Fast, knows her way around the catty manners of the Manhattan elite.

  • '10th Anniversary'

    By James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
    (Little Brown)

    The latest installment in Patterson's Women's Murder Club finds Assistant District Attorney Yuki Castellano fighting the biggest case of her career – a woman accused of killing her husband in front of her two young children. The only snag: the mad mama may not be guilty. Can detective Lindsay Boxer make her friend Yuki see the truth?

  • 'Dead Reckoning'

    By Charlaine Harris
    (Ace)

    “True Blood” returns to TV this June, and fans of the series are gaga over Pam, the fabulously-lethal protege of vampire sheriff Eric. They’ll be thrilled that Pam gets to strut her stuff in Book 11 of the Sookie Stackhouse series, which hits shelves in May. She’s a babe with plenty of blood on her hands (and, um, her teeth), and now she and Eric are determined to get rid of their vampire master. Things could get monstrous.

  • 'The Guilty Plea'

    By Robert Rotenberg
    (Sarah Crichton Books/FSG)

    Sometimes when you are busy divorcing the man who cheated on you with a Hollywood starlet, you lose your cool, stab him over and over again, and leave him splayed on the floor of your exquisitely tasteful kitchen. At least, that's what the cops think happened in the Wyler household. Toronto lawyer Robert Rotenberg weaves a tale of a complex trial where even the attorneys are hiding affairs.

  • 'Quiver'

    By Holly Luhning
    (Pegsus)

    This dark debut thriller from Holly Luhning walks in the footsteps of the original female Dracula, a sixteenth-century countess who bathed in the blood of servant girls. In the present day, clinical psychologist Danica Winston stumbles upon a secret society that has set out to reenact the killings. When she is pursued by an archivist who promises her the countess’ diaries, Danica will have to fight for her life.

  • 'Thieves Get Rich, Saints Get Shot'

    By Jodi Compton
    (Crown)

    Hailey Cain is a fighter, but she’s faced a string of bad luck. She dropped out of West Point and now she's the second-in-command to a rising gangster, living on street smarts and not much else. When she's accused of the double murder of a wealthy widow and a cop, she will get the truth, even if it means tracking down the stranger who stole her identity.

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