Pandora's Boy by Lindsey DavisWhat it is: a richly detailed historical mystery set in first-century Rome that's narrated by clever, funny informer (i.e. detective) Flavia Albia and involves a love potion, a murder, a witch, and a missing husband.
Series alert: This is the 6th amusing Flavia Albia novel, though Flavia does sometimes makes an appearance in Lindsey Davis' 20 Marcus Didius Falco mysteries, which feature Flavia's adoptive father.
The first line: "When my husband's ex-wife came offering me work, I knew she was up to something."
The Corpse at the Crystal Palace: A Daisy Dalrymple Mystery by Carola DunnWhat happens: In 1928 London, Daisy Dalrymple -- royal relative, stepmother of a teen, mother of young twins, and wife of a Scotland Yard detective -- plans an outing to the city's breathtaking Crystal Palace. But it all goes awry when Daisy finds a nanny murdered in the ladies' room -- and then it turns out that the dead "nanny" is an impostor.
What sets it apart: This charming 23rd book in a British historical cozy series features more diverse characters than are often found in the genre.
A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne FreemanStarring: Frances, the wealthy 27-year-old American Countess of Harleigh, whose titled British husband married her for her money and then died in another woman's bed (a fact Frances hid to avoid scandal).
What happens: To the dismay of her greedy in-laws, Frances and daughter Rose go to London, where Frances' younger sister Lily arrives, ready for her first season -- but the police also appear, having gotten an anonymous letter indicating that Frances' husband was murdered.
For fans of: debuts, Downton Abbey, and witty Victorian romantic mysteries starring clever heroines, like those by Deanna Raybourn.
Murder at the Grand Raj Palace by Vaseem KhanStarring: retired cop Ashwin Chopra, who's a happily married, middle-aged PI...with a baby elephant for a sidekick.
What happens: An American businessman pays a record amount for a painting and is then fatally stabbed in his opulent room at the Grand Raj. Though the hotel managers and some of the cops prefer the suicide theory (it's easier), one detective hires Chopra as a consultant.
Who it's for: This 4th in a fresh, fun series will please fans of Tarquin Hall's lighthearted Vish Puri mysteries (also set in India) and Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books.
Salt Lane by William ShawFeaturing: Single mom DS Alex Cupidi (who left the London Met for Kent amidst some upheaval) and her likable new constable, Jill Ferriter.
What happens: An elderly woman's murder leads the cops to her shocked son, who says he'd only met his mother for the first time the day before...and forensics say she was already dead by then. Then, the horrific murder of an immigrant fruit picker occurs nearby.
For fans of: the author's The Birdwatcher (Cupidi appears, though Salt Lane is called the 1st in a series), and police procedurals featuring complex female detectives, like Susie Steiner's DS Manon mysteries.
White River Burning: A Dave Gurney Novel by John VerdonWhat happens: On the one-year anniversary of the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer, the Catskills town of White River finds itself hosting protesters and dealing with more death when a sniper kills a police officer. So the smarmy local DA calls in PI Dave Gurney, a former NYPD detective known for his logical crime-solving.
Series alert: This is the suspenseful 6th Dave Gurney novel.
Reviewers say: White River combines "the hard-boiled social observations of noir fiction with the inscrutable pleasures of classic 'whodunit' puzzle-solving" (Kirkus Reviews).
If You Like: William Kent Krueger
A Cold Day in Paradise: An Alex McKnight Novel by Steve HamiltonWhat happens: Now a PI in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, ex-Detroit cop Alex McKnight protects a wealthy scion with a gambling problem -- and receives messages presumably left by Maximilian Rose, who fired the bullet still lodged near Alex's heart...and who's still locked up.
Series alert: This award-winning debut is the 1st in a popular series; the 11th, Dead Man Running, is out this month.
Why William Kent Kruger fans will like it: you'll appreciate McKnight's sense of justice and the dangerous wilderness backdrop.
Spider Woman's Daughter by Anne HillermanWhat happens: Navajo Tribal police officer Bernadette Manualito witness the ambush of retired cop Joe Leaphorn. As he fights for his life, Bernie, her cop husband Jim Chee, and the FBI investigate.
Series alert: This is the 19th Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee mystery, but Anne Hillerman's first; she's ably continuing her father Tony's series.
Why William Kent Kruger fans will like it: evocative rural settings, Native American characters, and clever plotting.
What the Dead Leave Behind by David HousewrightWhat happens: Millionaire sometime-detective Rushmore "Rush" McKenzie investigates an unsolved murder as a favor to his lover's daughter, whose boyfriend's father was stabbed in the head a year ago.
Series alert: this is the 14th Rushmore McKenzie novel; the 15th, Like to Die, came out in June.
Why William Kent Kruger fans will like it: the Minnesota location, the ex-cop turned part-time PI, and the well-drawn characters.
Less Than a Treason by Dana StabenowStarring: Aleut detective Kate Shugak, who lives in a remote area of Alaska, and her trusty half-wolf, half-husky dog Mutt are both shot; as Kate recovers, she works a missing persons case that turns into a murder investigation.
Series alert: This is the "richly nuanced, highly entertaining" (Publishers Weekly) 21st in the Kate Shugak series.
Why William Kent Kruger fans will like it: the crisp writing, the beautifully rendered landscapes, and the importance of friends and family to Kate and the story.
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