The Death of Kings: A John Madden Mystery by Rennie AirthHistorical Mystery. A year before Great Britain enters World War II, an actress is murdered at an English country house party; an itinerant farm worker confesses to her death and, though he later retracts his statement, is hanged. Now, in 1949, an anonymous letter and a jade necklace indicate the wrong person was convicted. Scotland Yard doesn't think there's enough evidence to reopen the case, but retired Inspector Madden investigates anyway, as a favor for a friend, hoping to find proof one way or the other. Though war raged during the intervening years, people still remember the case, and Madden digs up some curious facts. This atmospheric 5th entry in the John Madden mysteries should please fans of leisurely paced WWII-era mysteries.
A Rustle of Silk by Alys ClareHistorical Mystery. Queen Elizabeth I has died and King James I, the son of Mary Queen of Scots, has just taken the throne. As the king's official coronation approaches, former ship's surgeon Gabriel Taverner, who now works as a physician in Devon, is called by the coroner to help with a corpse. Realizing the dead man has been murdered, Gabriel investigates with the coroner's help, and finds the crime connected to the silk trade, people he holds dear, and the coronation. Filled with engaging personalities and fascinating history, this well-researched series debut by veteran author Alys Clare is sure to leave fans longing for the next Gabriel Taverner mystery; readers who can't wait may want to try Robin Blake's Georgian-set mysteries featuring Coroner Titus Cragg and Dr. Luke Fidelis.
The Cat Sitter and the Canary: A Dixie Hemingway Mystery by Blaize and John ClementCozy Mystery. In sunny Siesta Key, Florida, former-deputy-turned-pet-sitter Dixie Hemingway arrives on a job and finds a suspicious man in front of the house and a dead body inside. Even worse, there's a note on the body referring to Dixie. Is someone targeting her? Or trying to frame her? When another murder and note are discovered, Dixie needs to solve the crimes to avoid being arrested or killed. Meanwhile, Dixie's ex is getting married, and she's having a bit of trouble dealing with her feelings about that. This amusing 11th outing for Dixie provides a sunny getaway for readers.
The Dry: A Novel by Jane HarperMystery. In this highly acclaimed debut novel by an Australian journalist, Melbourne-based federal agent Aaron Falk receives a troubling note from the father of his childhood best friend: "You lied. Luke lied. Be at the funeral." Against a backdrop of the worst drought the small town of Kiewarra has seen in a century, which is causing financial problems for just about everyone, Falk returns to his hometown for the first time since he was a teen. Even though his expertise is in financial crimes and he hasn't talked to Luke in years, he agrees with his friend's dad: Luke didn't kill his wife and daughter and then himself. Teaming up with Raco, the newly arrived local cop, Falk confronts the fallout of 20-year-old false alibis and a long-ago death. Richly detailed and beautifully plotted, The Dry is set to catch fire (Reese Witherspoon's already snagged the movie rights).
A Perilous Undertaking: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery by Deanna RaybournHistorical Mystery. In September 1887, after a much-looked-forward-to research trip to Fiji is canceled, English adventuress and lepidopterist Veronica Speedwell finds herself called to a secretive meeting at a ladies-only club. There, she's engaged by Princess Louise, one of Queen Victoria's daughters, to find the real killer of a pregnant artist, one of the princess' dear friends. The police have arrested the dead woman's married lover, and he will hang in a week if Veronica and her dashing partner Stoker can't sort out the truth. Readers who enjoyed A Most Curious Beginning will appreciate this delightful follow-up, which has the same delicious humor and romantic tension.
And Only to Deceive by Tasha AlexanderHistorical Mystery. Tired of her overbearing mother, Emily accepts a dashing viscount's marriage proposal. So, when she's widowed mere months after the wedding, Lady Emily feels relief more than despair since she never wanted to marry at all. But as she learns more about her Greek antiquities-loving late husband and meets those who knew him well, including his handsome best friend, she finds herself intrigued by the man she married. Then she learns he may have been involved in illegal activities and been killed...or, stunningly, is possibly still alive. This 1st in the Lady Emily Ashton mysteries will remind readers of Deanna Raybourn's stylish Lady Julia Grey mysteries: both are lighthearted romantic mysteries set in the Victorian period featuring widows who investigate their husbands' deaths with a handsome new beau.
Aunt Dimity's Death by Nancy AthertonCozy Mystery. Lori Shepherd is down on her luck: she's divorced, broke, and still grieving over her mother's death. To comfort herself, she has a stuffed bunny and her mother's "Aunt Dimity" stories -- but Lori soon finds out from upper-crust Boston lawyers (including a young one, who seems more than a little interested in Lori) that the indomitable Dimity was real! A rich English lady and friend of Lori's mom, she's named Lori in her will. Leaving Boston for the Cotswolds (along with the young lawyer) and the house she's inherited, Lori discovers that even though Dimity has died, she has not exactly passed on to the other world entirely. Readers who enjoy English villages, sweet romances, and a touch of the supernatural will relish this charming series, of which this is the 1st entry.
Fast Women by Jennifer CrusieHumorous Mystery. Divorced and unemployed at 42, businesswoman Nell Dysart wonders if her life is ever going to turn around -- so when she lands a job as private investigator Gabe McKenna's secretary, Nell is determined to make the most of the opportunity. Sparks fly between Nell and Gabe, who clash over her attempts to clean up the disaster area that is Gabe's office as they fight their mutual attraction. But with an alphabet soup of crime to contend with -- including arson, blackmail, conspiracy, dog-napping, and embezzlement -- there's little time to think about love, especially once murder is added to the mix. This "entertaining romantic caper" (Publishers Weekly) boasts sharp dialogue, quirky characters, and a generous dose of screwball comedy.
Busman's Honeymoon: A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery with Harriet Vane by Dorothy L. SayersClassic Mystery. Swoon -- one of the world's most appealing sets of husband-and-wife detectives have gotten married and embarked on their honeymoon. But it turns into a working holiday for Lord Peter Wimsey and mystery writer Harriet Vane when they discover their new Hertfordshire home surprisingly unprepared for their arrival...and then they discover the previous owner's body. Originally published in 1937 with the subtitle "A Love Story With Detective Interruptions," Busman's Honeymoon, the 11th in a series, is a treasure for Dorothy L. Sayers' fans. Though this is a fantastic read for anyone who appreciates literate novels that examine strong relationships, newcomers should start with an earlier book, like Strong Poison, in order to follow the evolution of the couple's love.
I Shall Not Want by Julia Spencer-FlemingMystery. Opening with a tense scene in which a man holding women and children hostage in a rural New York farmhouse is shooting at police outside, I Shall Not Want follows the investigation of murders targeting the migrant community of the Adirondack mountains. In charge is recently widowed police chief Russ van Alstyne, who consults with Episcopal priest Clare Fergusson for help since she works with that community. But since Clare and Russ have complex, unresolved feelings for each other, that colors their time together as the case is plagued by media hysteria and a conflict within the police unit. This 6th of eight books in a superb series is fine for readers who don't mind jumping into something midstream, but those who want to see the slow burn of the romance slowly ignite can start with the initial entry, In the Bleak Midwinter.
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