Self-promotion is very difficult for me. Just doesn't come naturally. While it's true I was once compared to Shakespeare by the New York Times, I am far too self-effacing to mention it. Still, I want to plug a couple of new book titles, one available and one forthcoming, that I'm especially proud of. Examples of thirty years' worth of mystery fiction reviewing are contained in A Shot Rang Out: Selected Mystery Criticism, published by Surinam Turtle Press, which is Richard A. Lupoff's new Ramble House imprint. This needs to be ordered directly from ramblehouse.com or lulu.com. The other one won't be out until next year. Though not myself a lawyer, I'm an avid reader of courtroom fiction, devouring the work of Erle Stanley Gardner, Scott Turow, John Mortimer, John Grisham, Lisa Scottoline, and many other specialists. My 1984 reference book Novel Verdicts: A Guide to Courtroom Fiction won an Edgar Award. (Its enlarged second edition, published in 1999, is still inprint from Scarecrow Press). Probable Claus, which Five Star will publish in February, is a comic novel in which I twit the conventions of the Big Trial novel. An unnamed city's beloved community Santa Claus goes on trial for the murder of his Scrooge-like brother, and the prosecution and defense teams rush to get the trial over by Christmas. The tagline I invented for it, not used by the publisher, is "the perfect Christmas gift for legal thriller lovers and those who hate them." Of course, given the publication date, the Christmas in question will have to be 2009, but keep it in mind for the lawyer or legal buff on your list. For more information, watch this space.