Desolation Flats by Andrew HuntHistorical Mystery. Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats are the preeminent location for those looking to break the land speed record. In the summer of 1938, the men hoping to do so are Hank Jensen, a local inventor; Clive Underhill, a wealthy English motorist; and Rudy Heinrich, a German who may be involved with the Nazis. When Clive goes missing, Art Oveson of the Salt Lake City Missing Persons' Bureau (Hank's cousin) investigates the Brit's disappearance -- and soon needs to figure out who's killed the man's younger brother. Following a murky trail that might implicate his best friend and former police partner, Oveson plunges ahead, looking for the truth. Meanwhile, Oveson's wife is depressed and his eldest daughter announces she's leaving the LDS Church. For another look at Mormon life via character-driven crime fiction, try Mette Ivie Harrison's The Bishop's Wife.
Inherit the Bones by Emily LittlejohnMystery. A 19-year-old clown from a traveling circus has his throat slashed in small Cedar Valley, Colorado. Why? Unmarried and six months' pregnant, police detective Gemma Monroe investigates the denizens of the traveling circus to answer that question -- but when she discovers that the victim is actually the presumed-dead son of a prominent local family, she traces the new crime back to a chain of events that began nearly 40 years ago and involves the murders of two boys. This atmospheric, lyrical debut novel -- hopefully the 1st in a series -- is a good choice for fans of both James Lee Burke and Karin Slaughter.
The Hollow Men: A Novel by Rob McCarthyMystery. Juggling his jobs as a hospital physician and a London police surgeon, former Afghanistan army medic Dr. Harry Kent lives and breathes work (he gets by with minimal sleep and pharmaceutical help). Nevertheless, he adds a bit of detecting to his work load not long after he's called to an active police scene, where ill teenager Solomon Idris, who's coughing up blood, has taken hostages in a fast-food place. The hostage situation ends with an unnecessary bullet almost killing Idris, and after a medical mistake threatens Idris' life again, Kent wants to know who wants the hostage taker dead so badly that murder is an option...and what it all has to do with Idris' dead girlfriend. With some pulse-pounding moments and a tight plot, this debut by a UK medical student may please fans of medical thrillers.
Out of Bounds: A Karen Pirie Novel by Val McDermidMystery. A group of teen joyriders crash a stolen Land Rover; the driver ends up in a coma, but a routine DNA test reveals a link to a two-decade-old cold case. DCI Karen Pirie, head of Police Scotland's Historic Cases Unit, hopes to spin this info into a conviction but things get complicated quickly. Meanwhile, she feels that a recent suicide is a murder and investigates, even though the case isn't hers, and on one of her insomniac night walks, she encounters Syrian refugees who need help. If after reading this 3rd outing for Pirie, you're looking for more gritty, suspenseful, and realistic novels featuring female police officers, try Jane Casey's London-set Maeve Kerrigan novels or Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series.
The Reek of Red Herrings: A Dandy Gilver Mystery by Catriona McPhersonHistorical Cozy. Something's dead in a Scottish businessman's fish barrels, and it isn't just the herring. Not wanting the grisly discoveries to ruin his business or the local fishing industry, he hires Dandy Gilver and her bachelor partner Alex Osborne. To catch a killer, the duo pose as sibling folklorists at a small fishing village on the Banffshire coast, learning all about the local dialect, while encountering a variety of interesting characters. First published in the UK in 2014, this well-plotted 9th in the Dandy Gilver murder mysteries, is, like other entries in the superb series, a delight for Golden Age mystery fans as well as those who adore Scotland.
A Study in Scarlet Women: First in the Lady Sherlock Series by Sherry ThomasHistorical Mystery. Sherlock Holmes is a woman. Let us explain. In author Sherry Thomas' exhilarating take on the Holmes story, young Charlotte Holmes, facing social ruination, reinvents herself as a male detective, calling herself Sherlock. She's always been astute, and uses this to her advantage when Victorian London is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths, and suspicion falls on her sister and her father. Fans of Deanne Raybourn's romantic historical mysteries will appreciate the touches of romance and the Victorian London setting found here. Sherlockians who appreciate bold, new takes on the great detective should snap this up (for another Sherlock-inspired novel, pick up Joe Ide's recent debut, the excellent South Central Los Angeles-set IQ).
Dodgers: A Novel by William BeverlyCrime Fiction. East, a Los Angeles gang member who works as a lookout, is only 16 when he's sent to Wisconsin as part of a group to kill a witness hiding out there. Along with three other teens (including his younger brother), he traverses an entirely alien America, where as young black men they stand out far more than they did in L.A. Observant and cautious, East is a complex character, one who is good at what he does but not entirely hardened by his life. Recommended for fans of Richard Price, this debut is a "searing novel about crime, race, and coming-of-age" (Booklist).
The Life We Bury: A Novel by Allen EskensMystery. Minnesota college freshman Joe Talbert has been assigned to write a biography of a stranger. He's chosen Carl Iverson, jailed for 30 years for rape and murder, now dying of pancreatic cancer and living in a nearby nursing home. The more Joe comes to know Carl (a hero in Vietnam) the harder it is for him to believe that he's guilty of the crimes for which he was imprisoned. Along with Lila, a neighbor and fellow college student, and later, police detective Max Rupert, Joe searches for the truth, but he is hamstrung in his efforts by his needy, alcoholic mother, his responsibilities as caregiver to his 18-year-old autistic brother, and a dangerous someone who doesn't want him digging up the past. This finalist for the 2015 ITW Best First Novel award is the 1st in a series featuring Max Rupert that now numbers three.
A Murder of Magpies by Judith FlandersMystery. Wry, likable middle-aged London book editor Samantha "Sam" Clair is visited by Inspector Fields, CID; a courier has been killed and all of his packages taken, including one for Sam. At first, Sam has no idea what might have been in the delivery, but when gossipy author Kit Lowell goes missing after her scandalous new manuscript indicates a Spanish fashion designer was murdered, Sam has an idea. This propels her into a criminal investigation where she discovers that someone will stop at nothing, not even murder, to see that Kit's latest does not get published. This witty, funny debut novel, the 1st in a series, features entertaining characters and an insider's look at the publishing world.
Murder at the Brightwell: A Mystery by Ashley WeaverHistorical Mystery. In 1932 England, while her playboy husband Milo swans around Europe, unhappily married Amory Ames helps her friend and ex-fiancé, Gil, in an effort to save his sister from a similar fate (the young woman's beau reminds Amory a lot of Milo). Staying at the Brightwell Hotel, near Brighton, with Gil, his sister, her fiancé, and others, Amory's shocked when a member of the group is murdered, and Gil is accused. She investigates to save her friend, and her husband, surprisingly, shows up to help. With a nicely evoked 1930s setting and droll humor, this stylish first novel (and 1st in a series) should please fans of Golden Age writers and romantic comedies.
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