The Sicilian Method by Andrea CamilleriWhat happens: In Sicily, engaging Inspector Montalbano investigates the murder of an unpopular theater director and falls for a new woman.
Series alert: Author Andrea Camilleri sadly died in 2019 at the age of 93, but he left behind a few unpublished novels, including this amusing and delightfully atmospheric 26th Montalbano book. The 27th entry, The Cook of the Halcyon, is scheduled for publication in March 2021.
Did you know? These well-plotted books inspired two popular Italian TV shows, Inspector Montalbano and The Young Montalbano.
One of Our Own by Jane HaddamStarring: Gregor Demarkian, a brilliant former FBI agent and police consultant who's known as the Armenian American Hercule Poirot.
What happens: Demarkian investigates after a barely alive 72-year-old woman stuffed in a plastic sack falls out of the back of a van speeding through his beloved Philadelphia neighborhood.
About the author: Author Jane Haddam, whose real name was Orania Papazoglou, passed away in 2019, but this well-plotted 30th Gregor book is "a fitting coda to the career of one of America’s best contemporary fair play authors" (Publishers Weekly).
Murder in Old Bombay by Nev MarchIntroducing: Jim Agnihotri, an Anglo Indian man raised in a Poona orphanage who joined the British Indian army and, after a terrible battle, spent time in recovery reading newspapers and Sherlock Holmes stories.
What happens: In 1892, Jim, out of both the hospital and the military, and intrigued by news reports of two murdered women, visits the victims' well-to-do Parsee family in Bombay. Hired to investigate, he uses observations and disguises and seeks out information on a college campus, in a princely state, and in a war zone.
For fans of: Award-winning debuts; evocative combinations of mystery, romance, and adventure; Sujata Massey's Perveen Mistry mysteries; Abir Mukherjee's Wyndham and Banerjee novels.
Fortune Favors the Dead by Stephen SpotswoodIntroducing: Willowjean "Will" Parker, our tough young narrator who's a quick learner and a circus knife thrower; Lillian Pentecost, a famous New York City PI who's 40ish, smart, and in need of an assistant since her multiple sclerosis has started to more easily tire her.
What happens: Lillian hires Will, and they investigate the locked-room murder of a wealthy woman as Will falls for the victim's daughter.
Why you might like it: It offers a witty, fresh take on detective stories set in the 1940s and has fully realized characters you'll adore.
Murder by Milk Bottle by Lynne TrussWhat it's about: In 1957 Brighton, England, three people -- a patrolman, a beauty contestant, and a BBC radio celebrity -- die within hours of each other, all killed with milk bottles. Constable Twitten and his fellow cops look for a common link between the victims as well as why the unusual weapon was used.
Series alert: This is the 3rd in a quirky, funny series by author Lynne Truss, who wrote the bestselling grammar guide Eats, Shoots & Leaves.
Reviewers say: "In her ability to blend crime and farce, Truss is in a class of her own" (Publishers Weekly).
November Road by Lou BerneyWhat it is: An affecting, highly acclaimed road-trip crime novel that uses the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Jr. as a starting point.
Starring: Frank Guidry, who as part of his work for a New Orleans mob boss leaves a getaway car in a Dallas parking lot, not knowing why; Charlotte Roy, who leaves her no-good husband in Oklahoma and sets out for California with her two daughters and dog in tow.
What happens: After Kennedy is shot, Guidry goes on the run, where he meets Charlotte beside her broken down car and decides traveling with a family will help him evade a mob hitman cleaning up loose ends.
The September Society by Charles FinchWhat it's about: In 1866, gentleman detective Charles Lenox travels from London to Oxford at the behest of Lady Payson, whose son is missing. In the college town, Lenox discovers odd clues, as well as a link between the missing student, the secretive September Society, and an 1847 killing in India.
Series alert: Though A Beautiful Blue Death is the 1st in the Charles Lenox chronicles, this clever 2nd entry is also a good starting place for newcomers. Those who are already fans will be happy to know that the 14th novel, An Extravagant Death, is due in February.
August Snow by Stephen Mack JonesIntroducing: August Snow, the son of a Mexican American woman and a Black cop, who was once a police officer, too, until he reported corruption and was fired (later winning millions in a lawsuit).
What it's about: Living in Detroit's Mexicantown where he grew up, Snow turns down a Grosse Pointe woman who asks for his help -- but when she's killed the very next day, he sets out to solve her murder.
Series alert: August Snow, an award-winning first novel and series starter, features compelling dialogue and a fascinating look at Detroit; the 3rd August Snow book, Dead of Winter, arrives in May.
The Cruelest Month by Louise PennyCause of death: A woman seemingly dies of fear during an April séance in the quaint Canadian village of Three Pines.
What happens: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec investigates the death of the well-liked villager while also dealing with internal police politics that threaten his career and reputation.
Series alert: Though this is the 3rd book in a consistently award-winning series, newcomers can start here if they like traditional mysteries, charming villages, and delightfully eccentric characters.
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