The Last Passenger by Charles FinchLondon, October 1855: A first class passenger is found brutally murdered in an empty train car at Paddington Station, and his identification and clothing tags have been meticulously removed.
What happens: Facing society snobbery as he dabbles in private investigation, aristocrat Charles Lenox agrees to help a Scotland Yard inspector with the vexing case; meanwhile Charles' friends, including his favorite, Lady Jane, decide to find him a wife.
Series alert: This is the 3rd in a series of prequels and the 13th overall Charles Lenox mystery; all feature a strong sense of place and appealingly authentic characters.
Murder at the Capitol by C.M. GleasonThe setup: Just after Independence Day 1861, Washington, D.C. is full of Union soldiers awaiting the first large battle of the Civil War when a murder victim is found hanging in the under-construction Capitol building.
What happens: Presidential confidante Adam Speed Quinn, a former frontier scout who's missing an arm, once again works with journalist Sophie Gates and Dr. George Hilton, a free man of color, to solve a puzzling murder, while also dealing with a Confederate spy ring.
Series alert: This 3rd Lincoln's White House mystery offers fascinating history, an evocative setting, and appealing characters.
Death Comes to the Nursery by Catherine LloydWhat happens: Sir Robert and Lady Kurland's new nursery maid arrives in their English village in 1825 -- and she's gorgeous. After young men vie for her attention, a murder occurs, and Robert, the local magistrate, investigates with his pregnant wife's help, which finds them delving into London's theater world.
For fans of: compelling historical cozies with a bit of an edge that feature likeable detecting couples and atmospheric settings.
Series alert: Newcomers can start with this 7th Kurland St. Mary mystery, but those who want to see the couple's romance develop can pick up an earlier entry.
Murder at the Mena House by Erica Ruth NeubauerIntroducing: wealthy, young American widow Jane Wunderly, whose unhappy marriage left her never wanting another husband.
What happens: Arriving at the Mena House Hotel in Egypt in 1926 to tour the pyramids with her well-to-do matchmaking aunt, Jane is charmed by Redvers, a delightfully roguish banker, and makes an enemy of a British socialite, who's subsequently killed. Finding herself a murder suspect, Jane sets out to solve the crime with Redvers' help.
For fans of: traditional cozy mysteries in the vein of Agatha Christie; Kerry Greenwood's witty 1920s-era Phryne Fisher mysteries.
Firewatching by Russ ThomasIntroducing: Adam Tyler, a gay 29-year-old South Yorkshire Detective Sergeant based in Sheffield who doggedly investigates cold cases alone.
What happens: When a six-years missing man is found dead, Adam works on the high-profile case with DI Jim Doggett, who's known for his offensive "banter," and ambitious constable Amina Rabbani. Their main suspect? The victim’s son...who's also Adam’s recent one-night stand.
Why you might like it: Cleverly plotted with smart dialogue and believable characters, this debut police procedural combines multiple narrators and an unnamed villain's blog posts into a compelling tale.
Australian and New Zealand Authors
The Dark Lake by Sarah BaileyStarring: small-town Australian Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock, who has a messy personal life -- she lives with her young son's father but is having an affair with Felix, her married police partner.
What happens: A murdered high school teacher is found floating in a lake with roses around her. Gemma, who was a romantic rival of the victim in high school, unearths ties to that period in a case full of secrets.
Series alert: This leisurely paced, atmospheric 1st mystery featuring clever, troubled Gemma dips between the past and the present.
Crimson Lake by Candice FoxStarring: innocent former Sydney cop Ted Conkaffey, who was charged with the brutal rape of a teen and freed due to lack of evidence.
What happens: Ted's notoriety, the threat of rearrest at any time, and continual harassment send him north, to the crocodile-infested wetlands of Crimson Lake. There, he rents a shack and helps convicted killer turned PI Amanda Pharrell (who may also be innocent) with a case.
For fans of: cleverly plotted crime fiction or gritty, atmospheric mysteries peopled with intriguing characters.
Death at Victoria Dock by Kerry GreenwoodStarring: Melbourne-based Phryne Fisher, a wealthy, free-spirited, and fashionable flapper who grew up poor and dabbles in PI work.
What it's about: Against the backdrop of industrial unrest in 1928, someone shoots a young man at Victoria Docks, and he dies in Phryne's arms. This leads her and her eccentric group of helpers to hunt for his killer while dealing with anarchists and kidnappers.
Movie buzz: Fans of the books (this is the 4th of 20) and the glamorous TV series based on them, Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, will be thrilled that a movie, Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears, was recently released.
Scrublands by Chris HammerThe setup: On a hot but otherwise unremarkable Sunday morning in a small Australian town, well-liked Father Byron Swift suddenly opens fire in front of his church, killing five people before being killed himself.
One year later: Sydney journalist Martin Scarsden travels to Riversend for a story on how the town is coping, only to find contradiction, conflict, and maybe even a conspiracy tied to Father Swift's crime.
Try this next: For other gritty, complex books with evocative Australian settings, pick up Garry Disher's Bitter Wash Road, Jane Harper's The Dry, or Barry Maitland's Crucifixion Creek.
Photo Finish by Ngaio MarshWhat happens: Scotland Yard's DCI Roderick Alleyn and his artist wife, Troy, travel to a tycoon's New Zealand island. After an exclusive solo opera performance, Troy is supposed to paint the famous singer -- but a storm shuts them all off from the mainland and the diva is murdered.
Series alert: First published in 1980, Photo Finish is the 31st Roderick Alleyn book, and one of only four set in New Zealand.
About the author: A top Golden Age mystery writer alongside Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Margery Allingham, New Zealander Ngaio Marsh spent years living in the U.K., wrote from the 1930s until the 1980s and was heavily involved in the theater and the arts.
Contact your librarian for more great books!