The Secret, Book & Scone Society by Ellery AdamsWhat it is: a book-centric cozy mystery featuring four women carrying scars from the past (some literal), including bookstore owner Nora, who can talk to people and somehow know what novel will help them. A visiting land developer to Nora's small North Carolina town asks her for recommendations, but before she can give him the books she's picked out, he's dead. Was it murder? Nora and three new friends try to find out.
Who it's for: This 1st in a new series is for mystery fans who like women's fiction and a bit of magical realism.
The Missing Guests of the Magic Grove Hotel by David CasarettWhat it's about: In this 2nd book in the engaging Ethical Chiang Mai Detective Agency series, hospital nurse ethicist Ladarat Patalung, who helps terminally ill patients have a "good death," and her friend, dependable police detective Wiriya Mookjai, once again team up: eight foreign travelers to Thailand have disappeared, and all they have in common is brief stays at the mysterious Magic Grove Hotel.
For fans of: Timothy Hallinan's and Colin Cotterill's mysteries set in Thailand and Alexander McCall Smith's No.1 Ladies Detective Agency books.
Murder in an English Village by Jessica EllicottIntroducing: boisterous American adventurer Beryl Helliwell, who's grown weary of change as she's gotten older, and prim and proper (but definitely not prosperous) British spinster Edwina Davenport. Beryl takes a room in Edwina's home, and when young ladies disappear or die in mysterious circumstances, the two old school friends of a certain age decide to solve the cases.
What it is: a historical cozy and charming series launch set in a rural 1920s English village.
Murder in July by Barbara HamblyFeaturing: amateur detective and free man of color Benjamin January, who was born a slave but studied and practiced medicine in France and now earns a living in 1830s New Orleans as a musician.
What it's about: In this 15th entry in an intricately plotted, well-researched historical series, January needs money in order to support his pregnant wife, their son, and open the boarding school for colored girls that's long been his wife's dream, so he agrees to help a British spymaster find some lost papers. The case involves a local murder that seems eerily like a Parisian killing some nine years earlier.
Beau Death by Peter LoveseyWhat it's about: In Bath, England, police detective Peter Diamond investigates after a demolition crew uncovers stylishly clad human remains, which could be the skeleton of famous 18th-century dandy Beau Nash. To boot, the irascible Diamond works a modern murder case.
Series alert: Though this is the 17th entry in a popular series, newcomers can start here.
For fans of: flawed yet entertaining protagonists and British police procedurals with a touch of humor.
2017 Books You Might Have Missed
She Rides Shotgun by Jordan HarperFeaturing: shy, smart 11-year-old Polly, who carries her beloved one-eyed teddy bear everywhere, and her newly released ex-con father.
What it's about: Nate ticked off the Aryan Steel gang leader in prison, and now there's a hit out on him and his daughter, whom he hasn't seen in years. Since the gang's already killed Polly's mom, Nate takes Polly with him as he wreaks havoc on the gang's businesses in this gritty, compelling debut crime novel.
August Snow by Stephen Mack JonesWhat it's about: Former Detroit police officer (and the son of one, too), August Snow reported corrupt cops and was fired. Having won a wrongful dismissal case worth millions, half-African American, half-Mexican August returns home to Detroit's Mexicantown, where he soon feels compelled to solve the murder of a wealthy woman who'd asked for his help.
Author alert: Stephen Mack Jones is a playwright and poet; August Snow is his atmospheric first novel.
Prussian Blue: A Bernie Gunther novel by Philip KerrWhat it's about: In 1956, cynical former Berlin cop Bernie Gunther, who's been lying low in the French Riviera, is discovered and ordered by a Stasi leader to kill a female agent, or die himself. The suspenseful events that follow cause Bernie to recall 1939, when he investigated a cunning murder at Hitler's private home in the Bavarian Alps.
Series alert: Richly detailed and thought-provoking, this is the12th Bernie Gunther mystery.
You might also like: Rennie Airth's John Madden mysteries, which also spans various time periods during and around World War II.
Take Out by Margaret MaronWhat it is: This 9th and final entry in the Sigrid Harald series features the loner NYPD homicide detective dealing with the estate of her artist lover, who died in a car accident a year earlier, as another possible heir appears. Meanwhile, the poisoning deaths of two homeless men have Sigrid and her team looking at the well-off neighbors who sometimes left take-out food for them, including a mafia don's widow and an opera star.
Author alert: Acclaimed, award-winning author Margaret Maron -- who also writes the Judge Deborah Knott mystery series -- has said this is her last novel, so make sure to savor it.
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