Among the Dead: A Rachel Carver Mystery by J.R. BacklundPolice Procedural. Rachel Carver quit North Carolina's SBI six weeks ago after her last case went bad. Called to a small mountain town by a friend and former colleague, the talented investigator finds herself consulting on a most peculiar crime: a murder in a town that never has them by someone who knows what he's doing. Though readers learn who one murderer is early on, those who like to figure out why (and who's behind it all) while reading a compelling story with a strong female detective will enjoy this accomplished debut novel and series starter.
Dog Dish of Doom: An Agent to the Paws Mystery by E.J. CoppermanCozy Mystery. Broadway's going to the dogs in this funny 1st in a new series. Kay Powell, an agent to talented pets, has discovered a star -- and doggie Bruno has just been cast in an Annie revival (he might even get the film role!). But there's a catch: the director forbids the obnoxious owners from the theater. When one of them is murdered and dognappers show up, Kay needs to solve the case to keep her client safe. If you enjoy Copperman's writing and like lighthearted stories featuring unusual detectives, try his Asperger's Mystery series; the 3rd, The Question of the Absentee Father, came out earlier this month.
Fast Falls the Night by Julia KellerMystery. In a 24-hour period, Raythune County, West Virginia faces a record number of overdose victims thanks to heroin laced with elephant tranquilizer. Sheriff's deputy Jake Oakes, other cops, and EMTs try to save who they can, but not everyone lives, and opinions vary among locals if an addict's death matters. Investigating the source of the tainted drug in her Appalachian hometown, prosecutor Bell Elkins learns more about her past and new secrets from her ex-convict sister. Critics love this atmospheric, gritty 6th in the Bell Elkins series. Looking for more beautifully written rural crime novels? Try Tom Bouman's Henry Farrell novels.
Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica LockeMystery. In a rural East Texas town of fewer than 200 people, the body of an African American lawyer from Chicago is found in a bayou, followed several days later by that of a local white woman. What's going on? African American Texas Ranger Darren Mathews hopes to find out, which means talking to relatives of the deceased, including the woman's white supremacist husband -- and Mathews soon discovers things are more complex than they seem. With fully realized characters and a timely look at race relations in the U.S., this book by award-winning novelist Attica Locke (who's also written and produced for TV's Empire) is the 1st in her Highway 59 series.
Lightning Men: A Novel by Thomas MullenHistorical Mystery. In this highly anticipated follow-up to last year's Darktown, African American police officers Tommy Smith and Lucius Boggs find themselves once again navigating volatile racial tensions in Atlanta. This time, it's 1950, and their attempt to stop the influx of illegal alcohol and drugs is complicated by the involvement of whites, whom they're not allowed to arrest. Meanwhile, neo-Nazis are in town stirring up trouble as black families move into formerly whites-only neighborhoods. Examining the cops' professional and personal lives, Lightning Men provides a well-rounded look at fascinating characters in an explosive setting.
The Amber Shadows by Lucy RibchesterHistorical Mystery. Walking to her billet after watching Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion, Honey Deschamps is given a package by a man she doesn't know. He claims to work at Bletchley Park like Honey, but since the package contains a small piece of amber from Russia, Honey can't help but wonder if she's being tested. Or is the amber some sort of coded message from someone? Maybe from her Russian father, who her brother claimed was custodian of the famous Amber Room? When more packages arrive, people go missing, and a murder occurs, Honey must decode what's going on and figure out whom to trust. This well-researched, suspenseful tale should please fans of Hitchcock and World War II mysteries.
Aunt Dimity and the Village Witch by Nancy AthertonCozy Mystery. After living in the Cotswold village of Finch for years, American Lori Shepherd thinks she knows the place. But she learns a lot more when famous artist Amelia Thistle moves to town incognito, hoping to discover information about a 17th-century relative...who might have been the village witch. With the otherworldly assistance of beloved Aunt Dimity, Lori and Amelia look for clues and dodge Amelia's very rabid fans. The delightful 17th entry will please series fans (who should know that the 22nd, Aunt Dimity and the Widow's Curse, came out in May). New to the series? You may want to start with the 1st book, Aunt Dimity's Death, to best appreciate the development of relationships.
The Fifth Petal: A Novel by Brunonia BarryMystery. It's Halloween, 2014, in Salem, Massachusetts, aka "Witch City," when a murder occurs. Alcoholic chief of police John Rafferty investigates the new death as well as its connections to a 25-year-old triple homicide involving three descendants of Salem Witch Trial victims and the Witch Trials themselves. Those who enjoyed the author's Lace Reader will find familiar faces here. The Fifth Petal mixes supernatural elements, crime, history, and multiple perspectives to make a perfectly haunting Halloween read. Prefer a more lighthearted Halloween mystery? Try Donna Andrews' Lord of the Wings.
A Kind of Grief: A Novel by A.D. ScottMystery. It's 1950, and newly married Joanne Ross no longer works at the Highland Gazette, but has taken to writing short stories and other pieces. Hearing about an artist on trial for being a witch, she thinks it might make an interesting story. But after Joanne visits the acquitted, the woman's found dead in her home on a remote Scottish glen. Unable to accept it was suicide, Joanne investigates and finds a secret government agency is somehow involved. If you'd like to visit 1950s Scotland, pick up this 6th Joanne Ross novel. Want to meet Joanne when she's trying to escape her abusive first marriage? Pick up the 1st book, A Small Death in the Great Glen.
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