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In Shelly Reuben’s latest mystery, "The Skirt Man" (Harcourt, $24), it becomes tragically clear that a man should not be judged by his sartorial choices but by his actions.

The riveting novel by this Bay Ridge fire investigator hits bookstores on June 5. As in her previous works, Reuben puts to work her decades of experience sleuthing - and slogging through - fire scenes.

She also sets the action in the same small town as last year’s "Tabula Rasa." (That said, it certainly isn’t necessary to have read the prequel in order to follow the action in her latest effort.)

It’s up to Sebastian, a state police inspector; his wife Annie, a reporter for the local paper who seems to do more snooping than typing; and Annie’s visiting brother Billy, a fire marshal from New York City, to solve the mystery of how the title character came to be cooked in his living room.

Reuben’s book is both a charming look at small town life and its quirky characters (important clues are gleaned by the chatty manicurist from Brooklyn who was "as inconspicuous as a chorus girl doing high kicks in the Vatican"), as much as it is an eye-opening look at arson investigations.

It’s hot stuff, indeed.

Shelly Reuben will give an author talk, demonstration of "spontaneous human combustion" and booksigning at A Novel Idea [8415 Third Ave. at 84th Street in Bay Ridge, (718) 833-5115] on June 9 at 7 pm and at the Park Slope Barnes & Noble [267 Seventh Ave. at Sixth Street, (718) 832-9066] on June 22 at 7:30 pm.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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