The Grave's a Fine and Private Place by Alan BradleyFeaturing: delightful 12-year-old chemist and sleuth Flavia de Luce.
Series alert: This 9th entry in a charming series set in 1950s England finds Flavia and her two older sisters at a crossroads even as Flavia once again sets out to solve a murder. Newcomer? Start with the 1st book, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.
You might also like: For another mystery series with a village setting, eccentric characters, and an intelligent, likable detective (though one older than Flavia), try Louise Penny's Armand Gamache mysteries.
The Mitford Murders by Jessica FellowesIntroducing: Louisa Cannon, a down-on-her-luck young Londoner who finds work as a nursemaid to the (real-life) Mitford family.
What it's about: When a retired military nurse is killed on a train, Louisa, teenage Nancy Mitford, and a handsome railway cop investigate.
For fans of: Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs mysteries, which are also set in the inter-war period and examine the upstairs-downstairs dynamic, or Downton Abbey (author Jessica Fellowes is the niece of its creator and has written several nonfiction books about the show).
Wild Chamber by Christopher FowlerWhat it's about: Arthur Bryant, John May, and the rest of London's Peculiar Crimes Unit investigate the baffling case of a woman murdered in one of London's locked private parks.
Why you might like it: You love quirky characters, locked-room mysteries, and English settings.
Series alert: Originally published in the U.K. a few months ago, this 14th book in the consistently excellent Bryant and May series is now available in the U.S.
by Peter Helton
When his life drawing model disappears without trace, painter-sleuth Chris Honeysett uncovers evidence of a dangerous conspiracy. Henry Blinkhorn drowned when his boat capsized in the Severn estuary. So how come his photograph appears on the front cover of The Angler six years later? The insurers who paid out a small fortune on his death have asked private investigator Chris Honeysett to track down the elusive Mr Blinkhorn and prove he's still alive. But Honeysett is sidetracked from the investigation by the sudden disappearance of his life drawing model, Verity Lake. Commandeering a narrowboat and heading down the Kennet & Avon canal, he hopes to kill two birds with one stone, by tracking down Henry Blinkhorn and also discovering what's happened to Verity. But it soon becomes clear that someone else is on Honeysett's trail. Who are they ... and what are they really after?
Dark Dawn Over Steep House by M.R.C. KasasianWhat it's about: In the summer of 1884, someone is assaulting young women in London. When the brilliant but rather disagreeable detective Sidney Gower is hired to find out who's attacking the women, his ward and goddaughter, independent-minded March Middleton, assists him.
Is it for you? This 5th in the Gower Street Detectives series is the darkest entry yet; like previous entries, it's intricately plotted, has a cast of eccentric characters, and doesn't shy away from violence and gruesome details.
If You Like: Charles Finch
A Crimson Warning by Tasha AlexanderWhat it's about: Lady Emily, who's fond of port and cigars, isn't exactly conventional. So when her husband, a sometime spy, investigates why someone's splashing red paint on London townhouses and then exposing surprising secrets about the inhabitants, Emily has to check things out, too...especially when a murder occurs.
Why you might like it: With their atmospheric Victorian London settings, appealing characters, and delightful romantic couple, the Lady Emily Ashton mysteries should please fans of Charles Finch.
The Cater Street Hangman by Anne PerryWhat it is: bestselling author Anne Perry's debut, the 1st in a series now numbering 32, and the richly detailed story of Inspector Thomas Pitt's investigation into a series of 1881 London killings of young women.
Is it for you? If you like the leisurely pacing, Victorian England setting, and touch of romance in Charles Finch's books, try the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt mysteries, though they have a slightly bleaker tone.
Don't miss: Anne Perry's latest, Twenty-One Days, will be out this spring; it's the 1st in a new series starring Daniel Pitt, son of Thomas and Charlotte.
A Curious Beginning by Deanna RaybournIntroducing: Veronica Speedwell, a smart, unorthodox young woman who was orphaned as a child and raised by two spinster "aunts"; after almost being abducted, she partners with mysterious Revelstoke "Stoker" Templeton-Vane to sort out why.
Why you might like it: You enjoy witty prose, intricate plots, romantic elements, and lush depictions of Victorian England.
Series alert: This is the 1st of three books (so far) in the Veronica Speedwell series; Deanna Raybourn also writes the similarly pleasing Lady Julia Grey mysteries.
Whose Body? A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery by Dorothy L. SayersWhat it's about: First published in 1923, this 1st in the classic Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries has Wimsey working with Inspector Charles Parker to sort out where a millionaire has disappeared to while also dealing with Inspector Sugg to uncover how and why another man's corpse was deposited in an architect's bathtub.
For fans of: witty, charming aristocratic sleuths who clean up crime in a bygone England and find romance in unexpected places.
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