The Decent Inn of Death by Rennie AirthFeaturing: John Madden, a World War I veteran and happily retired Scotland Yard inspector, and his elderly friend, Angus Sinclair, a former chief inspector with heart problems.
What happens: In post-World War II England, the widow of an anti-Nazi German preacher falls to her death. When her friend convinces Sinclair to investigate, he and Madden end up stuck in a snowed-in manor house with an unknown killer.
Series alert: This deftly plotted 6th John Madden mystery will please fans of country house mysteries, British police procedurals, and older detectives. Newcomers might start with the 1st entry, River of Darkness, which takes place just after World War I.
The Killing Tide: A Brittany Mystery by Jean-Luc BannalecWhat it's about: In a fishing village on a French island that's said to have been home to witches, two local women are murdered. Commissaire Georges Dupin (who suffers from seasickness) and his team must go over to investigate.
Who it's for: Readers who appreciate evocative tales that balance crime with time in cafés will best enjoy this deftly plotted 5th Commissaire Dupin mystery.
Try this next: Martin Walker's Bruno Courreges mysteries, which are also set in France and offer a delightfully detailed setting.
The Burn by Kathleen KentWhat it is: the searing follow-up to The Dime, which introduced recently relocated, tough-as-nails Dallas narcotics detective Betty Rhyzyk, who grew up in a Brooklyn family of cops.
What happens: Back on the force after medical leave (her last case left her with a problem ankle and PTSD), Betty struggles at work and at home with her girlfriend, whose infinite patience is wearing thin. Unhappy with desk duty, Betty decides to track down a killer, who may be a crooked cop, and gets help from unorthodox friends.
Why you should read it: Betty is an appealing, stand-out character; it offers a fascinating look at urban Texas.
The Hocus Girl by Chris NicksonFeaturing: thief-taker Simon Barstow, who finds stolen goods for owners and resides in Leeds with his wife and two sons, and Jane, Simon's capable assistant, who lives with the family, carries a knife, and has secrets.
1822 England: During a time of unrest, an old friend who sheltered Simon when he was young is falsely charged with sedition by an ambitious magistrate. Simon and Jane work to free the man while investigating a "hocus girl," who drugs people to steal from them.
Reviewers say: a "historical tour de force" (Kirkus Reviews).
The Course of All Treasons by Suzanne M. WolfeWhat happens: Working for Queen Elizabeth I's spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham in 1586 England, Nicholas Holt tries to figure out who's attacking his fellow spies and teams up with others, including Annie, an Irish spy with a talent for disguise.
Why you might like it: This sequel to A Murder By Any Name offers a large cast of characters, a clever plot, and a vividly depicted London.
Read this next: For other Elizabethan mysteries, try Karen Harper's Elizabeth I mysteries or C.J. Sansom's Matthew Shardlake novels; for general historical fiction, pick up Alison Weir's The Lady Elizabeth.
Dying in the Wool by Frances BrodyIntroducing: Kate Shackleton, a cop's daughter and war widow with a talent for finding the missing.
What it's about: Wealthy mill owner Joshua Braithwaite mysteriously disappeared five years ago from the peaceful town of Bridgestead, near Leeds. Now it's 1922, and his daughter hires Kate, whom she knew during the war, to find him before her upcoming wedding -- but Kate uncovers dangerous secrets that cause a killer to act.
Series alert: Evocative and cleverly plotted, this 1st in series that now numbers 11 should please fans of post-World War I mysteries, like Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs, as well as cozy readers.
The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay FayeStarring: Alice "Nobody" James, whose Mafia past in 1920s Harlem has her nursing a bullet wound on a train headed to Portland, Oregon.
What happens: Alice, who is white, finds an unexpected home at the black-owned and operated Paragon Hotel. But the KKK is on the rise in Portland, and when a mixed-race boy goes missing, Alice and her new friends try to find him.
Read it for: the distinctive and lively inhabitants of the hotel, such as glamorous and mysterious cabaret singer Blossom Fontaine; the frank depiction of Oregon's often-forgotten history with racist violence.
The Monogram Murders: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery by Sophie HannahWhat happens: Hercule Poirot, the legendary Belgian sleuth, investigates a triple homicide in 1929 London.
Did you know? This 1st Poirot mystery by Sophie Hannah marked the first time that Agatha Christie's estate authorized someone to write an entirely new book using her characters. The 4th in the series, The Killings at Kingfisher Hall, comes out later this year.
Further reading: other Golden Age writers (Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Margery Allingham, etc.); Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series, which features a clever girl detective in 1950s England.
Metropolis: A Bernie Gunther Novel by Philip Kerr1928 Berlin, Germany: Against the backdrop of the rise of Nazism, newly promoted police detective Bernie Gunther investigates a violent wave of murders, presumably by two different serial killers, that target the city's prostitutes and its disabled World War I veterans -- and he does so while trying out a new investigative technique, going undercover.
Series alert: This Bernie Gunther origin story is the 14th and final book in the acclaimed series; author Philip Kerr sadly passed away in 2018
Reviewers say: "one of Kerr's most congenial, beautifully controlled, and entertaining works" (Kirkus Reviews); "a perfect goodbye -- and first hello -- to its hero" (The Washington Post).
The Widows of Malabar Hill: A Mystery of 1920s India by Sujata MasseyIntroducing: Perveen Mistry, Bombay's first woman solicitor and the daughter of a respected Zoroastrian family, who recently obtained her law degree from Oxford and joined her father's firm.
What it's about: In 1921, Perveen unearths problems while executing the will of a wealthy Muslim who left three widows and several small children behind...and then someone is murdered. In a second storyline, it's 1916, and Perveen deals with sexism, falls in love, and faces danger from an unexpected source.
Why you might like it: This atmospheric, critically acclaimed series starter offers a poignant backstory for an appealing feminist heroine.
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