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I think there's no finer lesbian crime writer than Val McDermid, but Karen Slaughter, a number 1 international best-selling author, is a close second. Many of Slaughter's 11 thrillers have hit the New York Times best-seller list, and her recent release, Fallen (Random House, $26), is no exception. It follows Special Agent Faith Mitchell, a tenacious cop in Georgia's Bureau of Investigations, whose personal and professional lives collide when she finds a hostage situation at her mom's home (even though mum is missing). She goes into overdrive combating police corruption, murder, and bribery as she searches for the truth to what is happening. Slaughter's books are relentless and bloody, and Fallen is as wonderfully provocative as her others. Even better, in real life Slaughter is passionately spearheading a new fund-raising initiative called Save the Libraries to help raise awareness and support for public libraries. --Diane Anderson-Minshall

The Wizard of Oz: A Scanimation Book

The enduring tale finds yet another incarnation -- this time in a book that brings 10 iconic scenes from the 1939 classic film to animated life. With The Wizard of Oz: A Scanimation Book (Workman Publishing Company,$15) Rufus Butler Seder uses technology he patented to create moving images from memorable scenes such as Dorothy's farmhouse sucked up into the sky by a giant "twister" and the Wicked Witch of the West meeting her match with a bucket of water. And it's all bound in a glittery ruby-red cover too. --Jeremy Kinser

An Emergency in Slow Motion: The Inner Life of Diane Arbus

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the suicide of photographer Diane Arbus, and William Todd Schultz's An Emergency in Slow Motion (Bloomsbury USA, $25) draws on new material and an exclusive interview with Arbus's psychotherapist Helen Boigon to offer a major reexamination of the legendary lens woman's troubled life. Arbus, who was a fan of those on the fringes of the LGBT community, put her lens on freaks, queers, and nudists, often laying bare her own psyche in the process. In Emergency, Schultz looks at that psyche and centers Arbus's sexuality at the intersection of her art and life. --Susan Hernandez


Ursula Le Guin fans rejoice: Kirsten Imani Kasai's Tattoo (Del Ray, $15) --her follow up to 2009's brilliant Ice Song -- tackles the same kind of paradigm-shifting worlds Le Guin did so well. Tattoo is set in an ecologically fragile world where human and animal genes combine, and individuals with a rare mutation can instantly switch genders. Those gender-benders are known as Traders. Sorykah is a Trader, a woman who is battling her male alter (Soryk) for dominance and the right to live her life fully female. Transgender readers will especially enjoy the parable inherent in the concept of Sorykah and Soryk as bitter enemies trapped beneath the same skin. The fact that there are addictive aphrodisiacal tattoos in the story is just a kinky bonus. Diane Anderson-Minshall

Wendy and the Lost Boys

The first female playwright to win a Tony Award, Wendy Wasserstein was a brilliant Pulitzer Prize-winning writer who used farce and comedy in her plays and films to mask incredibly powerful, modern women and, often, their complex, enduring relationships with gay men. Feminists and gay men intersect in much of her work, including her most renowned play, The Heidi Chronicles, and the Jennifer Aniston film TheObject of My Affection. Now Julie Salamon's Wendy and the Lost Boys (Penguin Press, $30) looks at this friendly, approachable Broadway titan -- who surprised many by having a child alone at 48 -- and untangles the myriad of mysteries around Wasserstein's private life. Wendy is also the only biography written with permission of the playwright's family, and Salamon conducted 300 interviews with Wendy's friends and relatives. --Chris Stratton

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