"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), American poet, philosopher, and essayist
The Adventuress: A Lady Emily Mystery by Tasha AlexanderHistorical Mystery. Attending a friend's engagement party at a luxury hotel in the French Riviera, bookish Lady Emily and her husband (an agent of the Crown and a favorite of Queen Victoria), find death abroad. At first it appears to be an accident or suicide, but the circumstances are strange: the dead man was found in their friend Jeremy's room in the early hours of the morning when Jeremy wasn't there. Could Jeremy have been the intended victim? Will the killer try again? Lady Emily and her dashing husband sort it all out in this 10th outing. Fans of Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia Grey mysteries, which also feature a detecting couple, should appreciate this series.
Harbour Street: A Vera Stanhope Mystery by Ann CleevesPolice Procedural. Just before Christmas, snow is falling and people are celebrating -- and someone quietly stabs and kills an elegant elderly lady on a crowded Metro car. Single, overweight Northumberland DI Vera Stanhope is only too happy to leave her holiday shopping and launch an investigation with Sgt. Joe Ashworth, whom she thinks of as a surrogate son). They discover the victim lived in a guesthouse in a nearby town, and there they confront dark local secrets and a second killing. Harbour Street is the 6th book in the Vera Stanhope mysteries to be published in the U.S. (a 7th was just released in the U.K.). The particular book is also the basis for a season four episode of the British TV show Vera, which is based on the series. Fans of complex plotting, believable characters, and an atmospheric setting will adore Ann Cleeves' work.
Crucifixion Creek: A Belltree Mystery by Barry MaitlandMystery. In this gritty, fast-paced 1st in a new trilogy by the author of the Brock and Kolla mysteries, Sydney homicide detective Harry Belltree investigates a complex case...and he doesn't mind bending (or breaking) the rules to solve it. When reporter Kelly Pool theorizes that four recent deaths -- a meth-addicted biker, a suddenly down-and-out elderly couple, and Harry's own brother-in-law -- are linked, rough-and-tumble Harry, a veteran who served in Afghanistan, thinks she's right. When he finds something that might also connect the cases to the car crash that killed his mother and father three years earlier and blinded his wife, you know blood will be shed and that he won't stop until he gets answers.
Miss Ruffles Inherits Everything: A Mystery by Nancy MartinCozy Mystery. When Honeybelle Hensley, a woman who's as rich as Texas is big, unexpectedly dies, she leaves an unusual will behind. Not only does her son not get to be CEO of her oil company, but her three household employees will each get one million dollars -- provided they stay in her mansion for a year to take care of her irascible Texas cattle cur dog. This frothy debut entry in a new series introduces personal assistant/dog walker Sunny McKillip, an outsider to Mule Stop, Texas, who turns amateur detective when Miss Ruffles is dognapped and evidence comes to light suggesting Honeybelle may have been murdered.
The Whispering City by Sara MolinerHistorical Mystery. Set against the dangerous backdrop of Franco's Spain in 1952 Barcelona, The Whispering City finds young journalist Ana Martí Noguer finally covering hard news: an illustrious socialite has been strangled to death in her mansion. The political powers that be are eager to show that crime is not tolerated, and brutal but effective Inspector Isidro Castro is assigned to investigate. He believes the case was a violent burglary, but Ana uncovers evidence that may prove otherwise. With the help of her blacklisted cousin, she seeks the truth, but powerful people may be implicated by what she learns. This compelling debut mystery will please history fans who like strong heroines in evocative settings.
Books You May Have Missed
As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan BradleyHistorical Mystery. In her 7th outing, precocious English preteen Flavia de Luce is sent to Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in 1950s Canada. Though she misses home, it isn't long before excitement strikes: she's been at her mother's alma mater for less than a day when a corpse is dislodged from the chimney in her room. So not only does Flavia have to adjust to a new country, a new school, new teachers, and loads of unfamiliar girls, but she also needs to figure out if there is a killer among her new acquaintances. With her charming narrative voice, the intelligent young chemist and aspiring detective will entertain fans of Golden Age mysteries as well as readers who adore Mary Russell's narration in Laurie R. King's The Beekeeper's Apprentice. Those new to Flavia will want to start with the 1st book, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.
Bad Country: A Novel by C.B. McKenzieNoir Fiction. When he comes home from vacation, southern Arizona P.I. Rodeo Grace Garnet finds a man who's been shot to death in his driveway. No one's noticed the corpse because Garnet, who's Pascua Yaqui and former rider on the rodeo circuit, is the only person living in the remote neighborhood that was never finished. It turns out this is the latest in a series of deaths, and when the grandmother of one of the victims hires Garnet to discover who murdered her grandson, he finds himself trying to unravel a tangled mess that involves more deaths, threats, politics, and a missing manuscript. If you'd enjoy a "bleak but elegantly told story" (The New York Times) that makes you feel the sun on your back and grit in your teeth, pick up this Tony Hillerman Prize-winning debut.
The Body in the Birches: A Faith Fairchild Mystery by Katherine Hall PageCozy Mystery. It's a sweltering Fourth of July in beautiful Sanpere Island, Maine. Faith Fairchild, her minister husband, and their kids, 15-year-old Ben (who has a summer job for the first time) and 12-year-old Amy are staying with a friend while their small cottage is expanded. This puts amateur sleuth Faith in close proximity to family trouble at a neighboring estate, The Birches. Various relatives are gathering for the month of July in order for the elderly owner to decide who will inherit the coveted family home...and it isn't long before murder occurs. Readers who enjoy spending ample time with beloved characters will enjoy this recipe-complemented 22nd entry in a popular series, and newcomers can easily start here as well.
The Fifth Heart by Dan SimmonsHistorical Mystery. In this superior blend of fiction and fact, Sherlock Homes and American author Henry James happen upon each other in 1893 Paris, both at a personal crossroads. After meeting James, Holmes decides to go ahead with his investigation of the 1885 death of popular socialite Clover Adams, and he wants James, a friend of the family, to help. Though Clover supposedly committed suicide, her brother had been receiving notes saying she was murdered. Now that her brother is dead, Holmes feels compelled to sort out the truth...even if that involves matters of national importance and pits him against Moriarty. The Fifth Heart "isn’t just for Holmes’ fans -- it’s a solidly constructed, beautifully told mystery" (Booklist).
Plague Land by S.D. SykesHistorical Mystery. In 1350 Kent, England, the plague has killed many, including the Lord of Somershill Manor and his two eldest sons. That leaves his 18-year-old son, Oswald de Lacy, who's been away training to be a monk since he was seven, in charge of the mess the estate has become. While sorting through accounts, cleaning things up, and dealing with his overbearing mother and sour older sister, de Lacy must also -- since the constable and coroner are also dead -- investigate the murders of young girls. But there's trouble from the grasping new parish priest (everyone qualified is dead), who stirs locals up with talk of the devil's dog-headed beasts causing the killings. Fans of other intricately plotted medieval mysteries like Ariana Franklin's Adelia Aguilar series will want to try this well-executed debut.
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