Except for one entry, a thin and obvious divorce-anecdote by Ted Allbeury, this slight installment in Britain's Winter's Crimes series (nine stories in all) offers sturdy, polished work from reliable veterans. Three entries are primarily amusing, secondarily mysterious: Simon Brett's ""Don't Know Much About Art"" is narrated by a supposedly-dumb, truly shrewd thief--who declines to become the patsy in an art-heist scare; Michael Z. Lewin charms with ""The Reluctant Detective,"" about an American-in-England who calls himself a private-eye for tax reasons only; and Ellis Peters, taking a sprightly vacation from Brother Cadfael, blends a robbery-scheme with the doomed efforts of an English couple to dispose of a hideous gift from rich Aunt Filomena. The more serious items--a bad-seed psycho-confession by Lionel Davidson, a San Diego murder-procedural by James McClure (whose non-fiction account of San Diego's Cop World arrives in March), a strong slice of police entrapment by Michael Gilbert--are only a bit less satisfying. And the collection closes with two crisp, modest items from Miles Tripp (an escaped prisoner torn between decency and safety) and David Williams (revenge-murder with prep-school roots). Nicely varied, always professional: a better-than-average Winter Crimes assortment.