Headlongby Cynthia Harrod-EaglesWhat happens: DCI Bill Slider and his team investigate when a famous literary agent dies -- and even though his superiors want it to be an accidental death and not suicide, Slider realizes it's actually a murder.
Series alert: Though this is the 21st entry in this witty London-set police procedural series featuring delightful dialogue (complete with British slang) and appealingly believable characters, newcomers can still start here.
You might also like: Christopher Fowler's Bryant & May mysteries (which are quirkier).
The Widowsby Jess MontgomeryStarring: Lily Ross, a pregnant mother of two whose Ohio sheriff husband was recently murdered; Marvena Whitcomb, a coal miner's widow, a labor organizer, and the mother of a missing teenage girl.
What it's about: In this debut novel, it's 1924, and Lily and Marvena team up to find the sheriff's killer and Marvena's daughter.
Did you know? Lily and Marvena are based on Ohio's first female sheriff Maude Collins and labor organizer Mary Harris "Mother" Jones.
For fans of: Amy Stewart's Kopp sisters novels.
The Reckoningby Yrsa Sigurðardóttir; translated by Victoria CribbWhat happens: Newly demoted Reykjavik police detective Huldar teams up a second time with child psychologist Freyja (see The Legacy for their 1st outing). After a school's time capsule is opened, an anonymous letter inside indicates several people, identified only by initials, will be killed -- and then the first victim is found.
Read it for: The Icelandic setting; the clever, fast-paced plot; vivid characters; and tons of atmosphere.
For fans of: Scandinavian crime novels, Tana French, and Ragnar Jonasson.
The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crownby Vaseem KhanStarring: Former police inspector Chopra, now a PI after retiring due to health problems, and Ganesh, his baby elephant sidekick.
What happens: At a special exhibit in Mumbai, India, a daring thief steals part of the British Crown Jewels in what appears to be an impossible crime. Chopra, who was there at the time, agrees to help an old friend, who oversaw security and is now a suspect.
Series alert: This 2nd charming outing in the series for Chopra won a Shamus Award and evocatively describes modern India; look for book 5, A Bad Day at the Vulture Club, later this year.
Bluebird, Bluebirdby Attica LockeWhat it's about: In a rural East Texas town, the body of a black lawyer from Chicago is found in a bayou, followed several days later by that of a white woman. African American Texas Ranger Darren Mathews investigates and finds a complex case of love and hate.
Why you should read it: With fully realized characters and a timely look at race relations in the U.S., this powerful book by Attica Locke (who's written and produced for TV's Empire) is the 1st in a planned series.
Winner of: Both an Edgar and an Anthony Award for Best Novel as well as a Dagger Award.
Sleeping in the Ground: An Inspector Banks Novelby Peter RobinsonWhat happens: A wedding at a picturesque Yorkshire church is interrupted by gunfire, leaving five dead. DS Alan Banks and his team work with Banks' ex, profiler Jenny Fuller, to unravel the killer's identity and figure out a motive.
Series alert: This well-plotted 24th Inspector Alan Banks mystery slowly builds tension until the surprising conclusion. The 25th entry in the series, Careless Love, was recently released.
Winner of: An Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel.
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