Runner by Tracy ClarkWhat it's about: Cass Raines, a Black police detective turned PI, looks for 15-year-old Ramona, who has run away from her seemingly loving foster home in the middle of a Chicago winter.
What happens: Hired by Ramona's now-clean addict mom, Cass finds there's more to the case -- and the people involved -- than it first appears.
Series alert: Though Runner is the compelling 4th book starring tenacious Cass, newcomers can easily start here (but those who like to start with 1st books will want to pick up Broken Places).
A Comedy of Terrors by Lindsey DavisRome, 89 CE: As the riotous Saturnalia celebrations approach, private informer Flavia Albia juggles holiday preparations as a wife and adoptive mother while helping her husband, a government magistrate, investigate bad nuts (possibly sabotaged and possibly related to organized crime) being sold as part of the December festivities.
Series alert: A Comedy of Terrors is the fun, clever 9th mystery starring Flavia. She's also appeared as a secondary character in Lindsey Davis' popular mysteries starring Marcus Didius Falco, who's Flavia's adopted father.
Clark and Division by Naomi HiraharaThe devastation: After Pearl Harbor, teenage Aki, her adored older sister Rose, and their first-generation Japanese American parents are forced from their middle-class Southern California home and incarcerated at Manzanar.
What happens: As part of a special program, Rose gets released early and is relocated to Chicago in 1944. Twenty-year-old Aki and her parents follow later, only to learn that Rose has been killed by a subway train. The police say suicide, but Aki knows better and vows to find the truth.
For fans of: richly detailed, well-researched historical fiction; mysteries featuring strong, young female sleuths; and evocative Chicago stories.
A Good Day for Chardonnay by Darynda JonesWhat it's about: Sunshine Vicram, sheriff of her small hometown and single mom to 15-year-old Auri, looks for the men responsible for a stabbing attack (which also injured Sunshine's long-time crush). Meanwhile, Auri thinks a senior citizen is a serial killer, so she and a friend investigate.
Series alert: Though this is only the 2nd banter-filled Sunshine Vicram novel, readers might want to start with the 1st entry, A Bad Day for Sunshine, to best appreciate plotlines and relationships.
Reviewers say: "A hilarious amalgam of mystery, hot sex, and comedy of errors" (Kirkus Reviews).
The Hollywood Spy by Susan Elia MacNealWhat it's about: In 1943 Los Angeles, American-born British intelligence agent Maggie Hope is staying at the Chateau Marmont with her English ballerina friend (who's dancing in a George Balanchine movie) and helping a former flame investigate his American fiancé's suspicious death.
Series alert: Like the other Maggie Hope books, this 10th entry offers evocative settings, fascinating history, and cameos by famous people. Those who want to follow all of the indomitable Maggie's ups and downs can start with her 1st outing, the delightful Mr. Churchill's Secretary.
Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-GarciaStarring: Maite, a lonely, romance-reading 30-year-old secretary; and Elvis, a 21-year-old member of a government-sanctioned paramilitary group who's getting tired of violence.
Mexico City, 1971: Against the backdrop of Mexico's Dirty War, Maite asks around about Leonora, her beautiful art student neighbor who has mysteriously disappeared. This leads to an encounter with Elvis, who's intrigued by Maite even as he looks for Leonora at the behest of his powerful bosses.
Reviewers say: "A noir masterpiece" (Kirkus Reviews).
The Plot Is Murder by V.M. BurnsIntroducing: widowed Samantha "Sam" Washington, an aspiring historical cozy mystery writer who's also opening a mystery bookstore.
What it's about: Preparing for her shop's grand opening in small North Harbor, Michigan, Sam finds the shady realtor who'd been bothering her dead in the garden. Since the cops seem to suspect her of murder, Sam, her Nana Jo, and Nana Jo's retirement village friends investigate.
Why you might like it: The Plot Is Murder begins the engaging Mystery Bookshop series, and since excerpts from Sam's current work-in-progress are interspersed throughout the novels, each book has a bonus mystery. (Note: Sam's 7th and latest outing, Killer Words, is due at the end of November.)
A Curious Incident by Vicki DelanyStarring: Gemma Doyle, a British expat in Cape Cod, who owns a Sherlock Holmes-inspired bookstore and is a bit like Sherlock herself (very logical with some social challenges).
What it's about: Though she is adamantly not a consulting detective, Gemma takes the case of 11-year-old Lauren's missing cat and dutifully finds Snowball. Then when Lauren's mother is accused of killing her garden club rival, the girl needs Gemma's help again.
Series alert: A Curious Incident is the 6th and most recent entry in the entertaining Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series. Readers who want to start with 1st novel should search for Elementary, She Read.
The Stranger Diaries by Elly GriffithsWhat it's about: Clare Cassidy, a high school teacher and single mom of a teenager, is shocked when someone kills a co-worker and the crime calls to mind one of the short stories that Clare always teaches.
For fans of: Gothic-inspired stories with multiple narrators; complex, cleverly plotted bookish mysteries.
Did you know? In addition to this 1st in a new series (The Postscript Murders is the only other entry so far), acclaimed author Elly Griffiths writes both the Ruth Galloway mysteries, starring a forensic anthropologist, and the Magic Men series, set in 1950s Brighton.
Magpie Murders by Anthony HorowitzThe frustration: While reading Alan Conway's latest mystery manuscript starring his popular Poirot-esque detective, his editor Susan Ryeland discovers that the final chapters revealing the killer are missing!
What happens: Conway has suddenly (and suspiciously) died, so Susan tries to piece together the book's ending by interviewing his friends and family -- which leads to her realization that his characters are stand-ins for real people, and the manuscript may be related to his death.
Why you might like it: The cleverly plotted Magpie Murders has suspense, a novel-within-a-novel, plenty of details that Golden Age mystery fans will relish, and a well-reviewed sequel (Moonflower Murders).
Contact your librarian for more great books!