Conviction by Julia DahlMystery. Ambitious Rebekah Roberts writes for a New York City tabloid, but longs for a more prestigious byline. So when she learns of an inmate who claims that his murder confession -- given as a teen -- was coerced, it could be a career-making story. As she digs deeper, she realizes she knows one of the original cops and that the case's prosecutor is set to be the new hotshot D.A. But no one wants to talk about the 1992 Brooklyn crime, which happened amid simmering racial tensions between Jewish and black neighbors. Featuring neat plotting, well-done characterization, and a fascinating look at tight-knit communities, this stellar 3rd in a series can be read on its own; if you want Rebekah's background details, start with the 1st book, Invisible City.
A Fever of the Blood by Oscar de MurielHistorical Mystery. An inmate, Lord Ardglass, escapes from Edinburgh's lunatic asylum, leaving a behind a fatally injured nurse before heading to town and attacking his elderly mother. Tracking down the escapee are eccentric Scot Adolphus "Nine-Nails" McGray and London dandy Ian Frey. The two mismatched investigators venture through the worst blizzard in memory while examining links between the Ardglass family and rumors of witches and black magic. A Fever of the Blood, the atmospheric follow-up to The Strings of Murder, is a "mad romp" (New York Times). Fans of Alex Grecian's Murder Squad books who've been looking for a gritty new Victorian mystery series peopled with fascinating characters will want to try these books.
Reservations by Gwen FlorioMystery. Though she's been a war correspondent, Lola Wicks now works for a small-town Montana newspaper. Together with her Blackfeet husband, Charlie, and her seven-year-old daughter, she visits Charlie's lawyer brother, who married a Navajo woman and lives with his family on an Arizona reservation. But a local coal mine's proposed expansion has everyone on the rez on edge, and then an eco-terrorist sets a bomb that accidentally kills a Navajo elder. From this set-up, things just get more intense as Lola faces her most difficult challenges yet. This timely 4th in the Lola Wicks series offers compelling plotting and realistic characters. Those who appreciate Tony and Anne Hillerman's compelling, richly detailed mysteries that focus on Native Americans will want to check out Reservations.
Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolás ObregónPolice Procedural. This notable debut novel by a British-Spanish writer introduces insomniac Tokyo police Inspector Iwata. Freshly reinstated as a cop, Iwata's new to the city and to its homicide department, where he's partnered with Sakai, a no-nonsense female officer who previously worked missing persons. A pair of outcasts, they are given a hot-potato of a case: a Korean family has been brutally murdered, with the father's heart removed and a strange black sun symbol left on a ceiling. Oh, and the experienced cop who was in charge of the case committed suicide four days earlier. With dark humor and atmosphere to spare, this slow-burning, gritty, layered whodunit should appeal to hard-boiled readers and fans of Keigo Higashino's Detective Galileo.
The Violated by Bill PronziniMystery. Using multiple points of view, this "masterly stand-alone novel" (Library Journal) by veteran author Bill Pronzini tells what happens to a small town when a registered sex offender -- thought to be responsible for four recent rapes -- is murdered. Though Martin Torrey had no prior assaults on his record, and no evidence linked him directly to the rapes, the police in Santa Rita, California thought he was their guy. Now, in addition to officially solving the rapes, police chief Griffin Kells (whom the power-hungry mayor is actively trying to get rid of) and brusque detective Robert Ortiz need to solve a murder, too -- but that's hampered when their tangled case grows even more complex in this fast-paced story that thoughtfully examines how crime impacts everyone it touches.
A Welcome Murder: A Novel by Robin YocumMystery. Meet Johnny Earl, a washed-up former professional baseball player and ex-con who is the best athlete Steubenville, Ohio has ever produced. He'd like to find the drug money he's hidden there and get out of town, but a Neo Nazi also wants the money...and the high-school friend and FBI informant who sent Johnny up the river has been murdered. Johnny's a suspect, of course, but he's not the only one. Turns out plenty of people are happy Rayce Daubner is dead, including Johnny Earl's high-school girlfriend, her current husband, the local sheriff, and his unhappy wife. Told from the first-person point of view of several people, this lively, violent, funny novel provides an intimate look at an eccentric cast of memorable characters.
If You Like: Nancy Atherton
The Tale of Holly How: The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter by Susan Wittig AlbertHistorical Cozy. In July 1906, Beatrix Potter lives in England's bucolic Lake District and works on getting Hill Top Farm, which she purchased a year earlier, up and running again. In The Tale of Holly How, the 2nd in a series, she also must make time to solve the murder of a well-liked local shepherd, who's found dead in a field. Nancy Atherton fans will find much to like here -- The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter offer a delightful blend of the supernatural (it features charming animals who talk among themselves), richly described settings, small-town intrigues, and a chaste but developing romance between Potter and her solicitor Will Heelis.
The Real Macaw by Donna AndrewsHumorous Mystery. What the mother of infant twins needs is sleep, not a living room full of stolen animals -- but that's what Virginia blacksmith Meg Langslow finds after a 2 a.m. feeding! And along with cats, dogs, hamsters, etc., she finds her animal-loving father, zoologist grandfather, helpful brother, and the local veterinarian. They've liberated the animals from the local shelter, which has repealed its no-kill policy -- but the fifth gang member, the one who was supposed to take custody of the critters, didn't show up. They're upset with him...until the chief of police shows up wondering why they've been calling the cell phone of his newest murder victim for hours. The Real Macaw is the 13th in this entertaining series, and Aunt Dimity fans will enjoy the family-centric tales and small town charm.
Death of a Gentle Lady by M.C. BeatonCozy Mystery. What's in a name? In Mrs. Gentle's case, it's an apt description of how the lady presents herself, but that's it. Scottish policeman Hamish MacBeth tries to tell his friends and neighbors this, but they think Lochdubh's newest resident is quite agreeable. However, Ayesha, Mrs. Gentle's Russian maid, knows the truth, since she's being threatened with deportation by her boss. Swayed by Ayesha's beauty and plight, perpetual bachelor Hamish asks her to marry him -- but before the nuptials can occur, Ayesha disappears...and Mrs. Gentle is murdered. Death of a Gentle Lady, the 24th in M.C. Beaton's popular series, includes a delightful look at village life as well as likable characters.
Ghost in Trouble by Carolyn HartCozy Mystery. Heaven -- in the ghostly form of Department of Good Intentions emissary (and rule-breaker) Bailey Ruth Raeburn -- must help headstrong Kay Clark stay alive. After years away, Kay's former boyfriend has come home to Adelaide, Oklahoma and died in what appeared to be an accident. But did someone push him down the long stairway at his family's mansion? Kay thinks so -- and now she's in danger. Readers who enjoy Nancy Atherton's Aunt Dimity series may want to try this funny and heartwarming supernatural series that's set in a small town.
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