The theme for this year's offering (Perfectly Criminal, 1997, etc.) of 16 nearly-new stories from the Crime Writers' Association (the only reprint is Ruth Rendell's 1994 "Expectations") is historical crime. It's not exactly a novel approach, yet several of the talesâ€”Gillian Linscott's Socratic dialogue, H.R.F. Keating's how-prove-it, Amy Myers's playful casting of Aphrodite as the detective investigating the murder of Adonisâ€”are notable for their originality. Though the usual British settings naturally predominateâ€”especially WWI (Anne Perry) and II (Eileen Dewhurst, Tony Wilmot, editor Edwards) and its aftermath (Andrew Taylor)â€”readers will also be treated to a French Renaissance intrigue (Alison White), a Victorian magician (Edward D. Hoch), a murder within the besieged city of Mafeking (Marjorie Eccles), a bold reworking of the General Strike of 1926 (Mat Coward), and a glimpse of the Healer of Galilee (Edward Marston). The biggest surprise: a holiday from the ubiquitous Middle Ages. Top marks for ingenuity go to Myers and Edwards; honors for literacy and atmosphere are shared among all comers.