FICTION

Trinity's Child, by William Prochnau (Berkley, $3.95). A Russian missile has landed in Northwest Washington and a dazed president in the ruins of the White House battles for the survival of the human race. The weapons jargon is just right in this Doomsday thriller, which knowingly tours the American military commands as they fight a nuclear war. In case you didn't know, the title stems from the name of the first atomic explosion, that of the test device detonated at Alamogordo, New Mexico, in 1945. The Tin Angel, by Paul Pines (Charter, $3.50). Pablo Waitz, proprietor of the Tin Angel jazz club, is in trouble. His partner has been shot to death. His club has been the target of arsonists (unsuccessful) and robbers (successful). His mother is dying of cancer, and his lady friend is unhappy with him. Yet he can't seem to cut his losses. Despite ominous warnings from the cocaine-dealing types with whom his partner was involved, he is obsessed with finding the murderer and retrieving the $35,000 missing since Ponce's death. This is a tough, plausible thriller, short on gore, long on street wisdom.

Mrs. Miniver, by Jan Struther (Harper & Row, $3.95). Forget Greer Garson's emoting and let yourself dip into this wholly pleasurable collection of short pieces which inspired the classic 1942 film. Published originally on the court page of The Times of London, these are character, place and mood sketches of upper-middle-class British life in an era when tea (honey sandwiches, brandy snaps and crumpets) was always laid in the library. Mrs. Miniver (the name is taken from a kind of white fur used to decorate royal robes) is a reflective woman, highly appreciative of the amenities of her life yet able, also, to view them with gentle irony. Struther's prose is charming, causing the reader's breath to catch every so often with the joy of a particularly well-turned phrase.

Virgins, by Caryl Rivers (Pocket, $3.50). Peggy Morrison is a Nice Catholic Girl in the 1950s who brazenly admits how much she enjoyed "playing doctor" at age 5. By the time she's a student at St. Malachy's she's independent-minded enough to refuse to stand up for the League of Decency pledge. Meanwhile, on the road to defloration, she and her friends resist the Call to the religious life, canonize Leon Trotsky and keep up a rivalry with the nearby Baptists. Never wildly funny but always gently amusing, this is familiar territory to Rivers and will be to anyone who shares her background.

The Survivor, by Thomas Keneally (Penguin, $5.95). Forty years before this novel opens, Alec Ramsey went on a fateful Antarctic expedition. He returned, but the trek's leader -- and his great friend -- did not. Ever since Ramsey has been plagued by doubtsas to whether he did all he could do to save his friend. Now another expedition -- to exhume and retrieve his friend's body -- is being mounted. In addition to prize-winning Australian writer Thomas Keneally's surefire plot, this 1969 novel features his keen sense of human psychology. Example: "The question again angered and harrowed him as would any preposterous accusation that happens to be a fraction of an inch wide of the preposterous truth." NONFICTION

Mountaineers to Main Streets: The Old Dominion as Seen Through the Farm Security Administration Photographs, by Brooks Johnson and Peter Stewart (University Press of Virginia for the Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, $10). These haunting, strangely affecting images depict a Virginia locked in a poverty that was only beginning to be dented by World War II defense spending. It is a place where folks work hard, for not very much, and the strain of their toil is recorded in their eyes. This excellent collection of 160 black-and-white photographs was selected from among thousands preserved in the Library of Congress.

Colette, by Joanna Richardson (Laurel, $4.95). Who does not have a warm spot in his heart for France's most famous woman writer, the creator of Ch,eri and Gigi and all those other passionate and sometimes naughty lovers. Colette herself, it seems, lived a tumultuous, almost mythic life. This stylishly written biography is based on previously unpublished correspondence and on interviews with Colette's two stepsons.

The Neighborhood of Baseball: A Personal History of the Chicago Cubs, by Barry Gifford (Creative Arts, $7.95). It was the best of teams, it was the worst of teams, but it was Barry Gifford's team and why not? He was born in 1946, one year after the Cubs last won the National League pennant. This affectionate memoir of the Cubs recollects many sunny afternoons at Wrigley Field from the early 1950s to mid-1960s.

Asquith, by Stephen Koss (Colbia University Press, $10). Herbert Henry Asquith, the last Liberal prime minister of Great Britain, presided over the most brilliant cabinet of this century: Lloyd George at the Exchequer, Grey at the Foreign Office, Haldane at the War Office, Churchill at the Admiralty. Yet in 1916 Asquith was hounded out of Downing Street and his party never held power again. Was Asquith the victim or the agent of the Liberals' decline? The question has never ceased to fascinate historians. This life by a young American historian (whose untimely death shocked the profession) is widely regarded as the best in a long line of political biographies.

Mirror Makers: A History of American Advertising and Its Creators, by Stephen Fox (Vintage, $4.95). An exuberant, fact-filled history of that quintessentially American industry, advertising, from its founding in the early years of this century by such pioneers as J. Walter Thompson and Albert Lasker to its enshrinement on Madison Avenue, under such mogul hucksters as Raymond Rubicam and David Ogilvy and, more recently, Jerry Della Femina and Shirley Polykoff.

Queen Victoria's Little Wars, by Byron Farwell (Norton, $6.95). "Over the scud and the palm-trees an English Flag was flown," wrote Kipling, and here are stirring tales of the soldiers of the queen who went forth to paint the map pink. No American knows more about the Thin Red Line than the author, whose investigations into the labyrinth of British military customs are always carefully researched and forthrightly presented.

The Black Death: Natural and Human Disaster in Medieval Europe, by Robert S. Gottfried (Free Press, $8.95). "The Black Death," Rutgers historian Gottfried writes in his introduction, "was a combination of bubonic, pneumonic, and septicemic plague strains." Even in the classifying, this sounds ghastly, and in four short years (1347-1351), as much as half of Europe's population may have died from it. The transmitting agent for the disease was the rat flea; never, perhaps, has anything so measly caused so much devastation. Scholarly and crisply written, this is a book for students of epidemiology, history, or even what might be called disasterology.

Sheridan's Troopers on the Borders: A Winter Campaign on the Plains, by De B. Randolph Keim (University of Nebraska, $7.95). In 1868 the New York Herald sent DeBenneville Randolph Keim, one of its ace war correspondents, to cover Major General Philip Sheridan's winter campaign against the Cheyenne Indians. Although Keim's judgments are marred by the prejudices of his era, his descriptions of battle and of Indian customs provide an invaluable historical record. He could also rise to a colorful occasion, as in this account of a foiled scalping. "The warrior was seen standing over the lifeless form of a Cheyenne warrior. He had discovered the murderer of his squaw. Stooping, knife in hand, he was about to take the scalp, when he discovered it was gone. Such an expression of fiendish disappointment he probably never exceeded. Frantically gesturing, he fell upon the body with the ferocity of a beast of prey, and severed the throat from ear to ear." MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE

The Cape Cod Mystery, by Phoebe Atwood Taylor (Foul Play/Countryman, $4.50). "What ever's the matter, Snoodles? You look as though you've seen a corpse." Thus does murder rear its unlovely head in this first Asey Mayo mystery, which appeared originally in 1931 and gave rise to a series of more than 20 other titles featuring the "codfish Sherlock." Taylor, who also wrote the Leonidas Wetherall stories under the name Alice Tilton, here introduces her folksy Yankee hero by saying "Asey was the kind of man everybody expects to find on Cape Cod and never does."

The Book of the Lion, by Elizabeth Daly (Bantam, 2.95). Critic Anthony Boucher once called Henry Gamadge, Elizabeth Daly's bibliophilic amateur sleuth, "a man so well-bred as to make Lord Peter Wimsey seems a trifle coarse." With that comparison in mind, it's also worth noting that Daly was Agatha Christie's favorite mystery writer. In this, his 13th case, the ever-sedate Gamadge solves the puzzle of a lost Chaucer manuscript, meanwhile encountering blackmailers, poisoners and falling bodies along the way. POETRY

Parts of a World: Wallace Stevens Remembered -- An Oral Biography, by Peter Bazeau (North Point, $12.50). Stevens (1879-1955) was the greatest and least known American poet of his generation. As lawyer and vice president of the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Co., he was the opposite of the conventional image of poet, and only now are biographers piecing together the pieces of his personality: canny executive, unhappy husband, diffident artist, intensely private man. In this oral biography, many people who knew the poet set down their impressions. Poet L,eonie Adams recalls that, "Every Consultant (in Poetry at the Library of Congress) wrote and asked him to make a recording. I remember this letter on file. He had said, 'Even if I'm the only Eskimo who doesn't like snow, I wouldn't make a recording.' "