Trace of Evil by Alice BlanchardIntroducing: tenacious, likable 30-year-old rookie detective Natalie Lockhart, whose teen sister was murdered 20 years ago, and whose upstate New York town contains a higher-than-average number of people into the occult due to the area's history of witch burning.
What happens: Assigned to the cold cases of nine transient people who disappeared over the last 25 years, Natalie also works on the disturbing recent murder of a fellow cop's pregnant wife.
For fans of: compelling, atmospheric mysteries with surprising endings.
The Body on the Train: A Kate Shackleton Mystery by Frances Brody1929 England: Scotland Yard hires investigator Kate Shackleton to assist in finding out the identity of a man murdered on a cargo train.
What happens: Kate learns of a second similar murder, one where she believes an innocent man has been arrested. Working both crimes, Kate's unexpectedly called off by the Yard and faces danger.
Who it's for: This well-plotted 11th outing for independent Kate has plenty of interwar period details that'll please fans of Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs and Charles Todd's Bess Crawford.
Nothing More Dangerous by Allen EskensStarring: misfit 15-year-old Boady Sanden, an only child in 1970s Missouri whose widowed mom sends him to the Catholic high school after he's caught smoking (and who, as an adult, appears as a secondary character in The Life We Bury and The Heavens May Fall).
What happens: When a black family from Minnesota moves in across the street, white Boady becomes friends with their son. The two deal with bullies, a missing person, a murder, and a white supremacist group.
Why you might like it: Evocative and peopled with complex characters, this mystery offers up a coming-of-age story that thoughtfully examines racism and classism.
Laetitia Rodd and the Case of the Wandering Scholar by Kate SaundersStarring: sensible Laetitia Rodd, a 53-year-old widow in 1851 England, who earns money by doing private investigations for her lawyer brother.
What happens: A dying gentleman hires Laetitia to find his missing young philosopher brother, last seen living in the wild; while doing so, she uncovers secrets and murder in Oxford's countryside.
Read this next: If you like this charming, vividly described 2nd in the Laetitia Rodd series, try Charles Finch's Charles Lenox mysteries, Jennifer Ashley's Below Stairs mysteries, or Bella Ellis' The Vanished Bride, starring the Brontë sisters as detectives.
Lethal Pursuit by Will Thomas1892 London: Private enquiry agents Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn work for the prime minister to deliver an explosive religious document to France. While preventing the valuable papers from falling into the hands of others, including the Germans, they also investigate the murder of the Foreign Office agent who died protecting it.
Series alert: This compelling 11th in the Barker and Llewelyn mysteries features a strong sense of place, dark humor, and secret societies. Newcomers can start here or pick up the 1st book, Some Danger Involved.
Books You May Have Missed
A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself by William BoyleWhat it is: a masterful road-trip caper featuring three generations of female characters on the run; there's also stolen mob money, dark humor, and delightful dialogue.
Who's in the car: Rena Ruggiero, a mob widow, who's lived on the same Brooklyn block her entire life; Lacey “Wolfie” Wolfstein, a retired porn star and grifter; and Lucia, the 15-year-old granddaughter Rena hasn't seen in years due to her estranged relationship with her daughter.
For fans of: Elmore Leonard, Donald E. Westlake, Carl Hiaasen, Tim Dorsey, Joe R. Lansdale, and the film Thelma and Louise.
One Small Sacrifice by Hilary DavidsonWhat happens: Convinced that Alex Traynor got away with murder when his friend's death was ruled an accident, NYPD detective Sheryn Sterling keeps her eye on the troubled war photographer, who has PTSD and memory lapses. So when his doctor fiancée goes missing, Sheryn and her new partner immediately check things out.
Series alert: This 1st in the Shadows of New York mysteries by an Anthony Award-winning author features several points-of-view and intricate plotting; it's followed by Don't Look Down, out in February.
Something Read, Something Dead: A Lighthouse Library Mystery by Eva GatesWhat happens: Librarian (and maid of honor) Lucy Richardson helps her favorite cousin, Josie, plan a simple wedding -- but after Josie's overbearing relatives arrive in North Carolina's Outer Banks to upgrade the wedding plans, someone says "I do" to murder.
Series alert: This is the 5th Lighthouse Library mystery; the well-reviewed 6th, Read and Buried, came out in October.
For fans of: Miranda James' Cat in the Stacks mysteries -- like those books, this is a cozy series with Southern small-town charm, a pleasing cast of characters (including a cat), and a librarian detective.
The Stranger Diaries by Elly GriffithsWhat it's about: Clare Cassidy, a high school teacher and single mom of a teenager, is shocked when someone kills a co-worker and leaves behind a quote from the Gothic author who is Clare's special interest.
For fans of: Gothic-inspired stories, Willkie Collins, and cleverly plotted bookish mysteries, like Anthony Horowitz's Magpie Murders series.
About the author: Though this is her first standalone novel, acclaimed author Elly Griffiths writes both the Ruth Galloway mysteries, starring a forensic anthropologist, and the Magic Men series, set in 1950s Brighton.
The Lost Man by Jane HarperWhat it's about: In Australia's isolated Outback, Cameron Bright lies dead near an old tombstone, miles away from his car and hours away from his home and that of his nearest neighbor, his brother Nathan. As Nathan deals with his loss, he tries to figure out what happened to Cameron in this slow-burning, twisty tale that deals with loneliness, abuse, and family secrets.
Try this next: For another Australian mystery set in a rural area, try Candice Fox's Crimson Lake, or, though it's not a mystery, Tim Winton's The Shepherd's Hut, which does feature a death, a troubled family, a person on the run, and a vividly depicted harsh Australian setting.
Contact your librarian for more great books!