Reviews of Tom Clancy's "Dead or Alive," Patricia Cornwall's "Port Mortuary" and other recent books.

-- Tom Clancy returns after a seven-year hiatus, this time with a co-author, Grant Blackwood, who also writes with Clive Cussler. "Dead or Alive" begins at the Campus, a secret compound of highly trained men and women who have carte blanche to remove any terrorist, anytime, anywhere by whatever means possible. They have in their sights a man called the Emir, a particularly tough villain with some deadly plans for America. Jack Ryan Jr. calls on his father for help as well as other notable Clancy regulars Ding Chavez, John Clark, and Mary Pat Foley.

-- Although she is now the director of the Cambridge Forensic Center in Massachusetts, Kay Scarpetta rolls up her sleeves to solve her latest case. A young man, dead for no apparent reason, displays evidence that he was alive when he was brought to the morgue. The revelation could ruin Kay's career and close down the CFC -- a joint operation between the federal and local governments and nearby universities Cambridge and MIT. Using 3-D virtual X-rays, Kay is shocked when she sees the damaged state of the man's internal organs, and she begins to fear a diabolical new killer is on the loose. Patricia Cornwell lets Kay do the telling in "Port Mortuary."

-- A lighted skid row made of milk cartons, a fireside sit-upon made from old newspapers, fashionable rings made out of rocks, rusty nails cleverly turned into wind chimes -- these not-so-ordinary crafts are just part of the fun in "Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People." Amy Sedaris, David's sister and a popular comedienne in her own right, has fashioned a chucklesome guide that may actually inspire you to make something.

-- Although she has recently announced she is no longer a Christian, Anne Rice intends to continue her Songs of the Seraphim series. The second book, "Of Love and Evil," finds hitman Toby O'Dare on his way back in time to 15th century Rome on the orders of the angel Malchiah. His mission is to save a Jewish doctor from being charged with witchcraft and murder. But the case is not so simple, and while evil surrounds Toby in Rome, danger waits for him as well in modern-day Manhattan.

-- Jeffrey Deaver sows the seeds of a potential new series in "Edge." Washington, D.C. metro detective Ryan Kessler has been targeted by Henry Loving, a "lifter" who extracts information by any means possible -- and no one can figure out why. Corte, a special protection agent with a clandestine U.S. agency, is assigned to protect Kessler's family while finding out what Loving is after and who wants it enough to hire him. For Corte, the challenge is as intriguing as the game theory analysis he loves -- and it gives him a chance to even the score with Loving who several years earlier had tortured and killed someone he loved.

-- In 1892, a former Baptist minister turned journalist with a distinct flair for marketing needed to promote the 400th anniversary of Columbus reaching the Americas. Francis Bellamy wanted to come up with something that would unify the country while stirring up patriotism and so he penned a 22-word oath that would become known as The Pledge of Allegiance. Journalists Jeffrey Owen Jones and Peter Meyer give us the lively and controversial history behind "The Pledge."