By CLEA SIMON  |  June 9, 2009

She has, she admits, been fortunate with her publisher. "With Knopf," which publishes her thrillers in hardcover, "they give you the very annoying instruction to write the best book you can. If that takes two or three years, they're very patient." The result, she acknowledges, "is very frustrating for mystery readers, I know that!"

Her process contributes to a long lag time. "My books are very complicated," she says. "They're layered, they require research. I could write them faster if I wasn't doing television, but they'd still take me 18 months to two years to write."

Impatient fans will be happy to hear that a new book in the series is nearly finished, and the trade paperback reissue of the second Ana Grey thriller, Good Morning Killer, should coincide with its publication. The untitled work picks up where Judas Horse leaves off, says Smith, with Grey teaming up with the enigmatic cowboy Sterling, whose own agenda was revealed toward the end of the latest work. "She and Sterling are cast into an adventure in Europe, and it has an international scope to it." Asked about the tension between the still-single Ana and the rugged cowboy, Smith laughs. "Of course," she says.

"She's taking over even more," Smith continues. "In the book I'm writing now, she's really creating her own world, more than just being an instrument in a story."

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