Verse and Vengeance by Amanda FlowerFeaturing: community college professor Violet Waverly, who owns Charming Books near Niagara Falls, New York, and secretly takes care of the store's magical birch tree; Daisy, Violet's grandmother who used to run the shop; Emerson, the shop cat; Faulkner, the shop crow.
What happens: A pesky PI is murdered during a bicycle race, and Violet, guided by the works of Walt Whitman, tries to find the killer.
Who it's for: This 4th Magical Bookshop Mystery will especially please those who like cozy mysteries that mix village life, bits of magic, and quirky characters, as Nancy Atherton's Aunt Dimity series does.
Lady of Perdition by Barbara HamblyWhat happens: Risking his freedom to help a young woman sold into slavery, Benjamin January, a free man who trained as a doctor in France, leaves his home in New Orleans in 1840 to go to another country: the Republic of Texas. Posing as the slave of a white friend traveling with him, January navigates racism, searches for the woman, and works to prove the innocence of a murdered landowner’s widow.
Series alert: This is the compelling, vividly drawn 17th entry in a consistently well-researched series; newcomers can start here.
Read this next: For a series that combines crime and race relations in contemporary Texas, pick up Attica Locke's Highway 59 novels.
Long Bright River by Liz MooreWhat it is: An intense, evocative mystery about Mickey, a single mom and Philadelphia cop trying to find her sister Kacey, a troubled prostitute and addict.
What happens: Mickey's search becomes urgent with a killer on the loose in a novel that alternates between Mickey's investigations and the girls' childhood in the same area.
Read this next: Julia Keller's atmospheric, West Virginia-set Bell Elkins mysteries, which deal with the opioid crisis and the relationship between odd-couple sisters; Matt Burgess's Uncle Janice, about a female undercover narcotics cop in Queens.
All That's Bright and Gone by Eliza NellumsStarring: precocious six-year-old narrator Aoife Scott, whose mother had a breakdown at a Detroit mall; Aoife's imaginary friend, Teddy; and her neighbor, eight-year-old budding detective Hannah.
What happens: With her mom hospitalized and her Uncle Donny staying with her, Aoife's determined -- with help from Teddy and Hannah -- to sort out the mystery of her older brother's disappearance years ago.
Who it's for: This first novel is a delight and will please fans of young detectives, like Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce, as well as juvenile narrators in general fiction novels, like Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Emma Donoghue's Room.
Treachery: A Giordano Bruno Thriller by S.J. Parris1585 Plymouth, England: Sir Francis Drake should be heading for the New World on a secret expedition against the Spanish, but one of his officers is murdered before he can set out. Not keen on sailing with a killer, he calls on spy and former monk Giordano Bruno to investigate.
Reviewers say: "a masterful work" (Booklist); "historical mystery fiction at its finest" (Publishers Weekly).
Series alert: Published in the U.K. in 2014, this 4th entry in the Giordano Bruno series has finally been released across the pond.
The Missing American by Kwei QuarteyIntroducing: Ghanaian Emma Djan, who finds work at a private detective agency after her dream of becoming a homicide detective like her deceased dad ends when a police superior sexually assaults her.
What happens: An American widower goes to Accra, Ghana, to meet a woman he met online, discovers he's been scammed, and goes missing. His son hires Emma to find him in a case that includes internet scams, a fetish priest, a helpful reporter, and a political assassination.
Is it for you? If you like gritty, atmospheric novels, try this series starter by Kwei Quartey, a physician who grew up in Ghana who also writes the Darko Dawson mysteries.
Whiskers in the Dark: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery by Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie BrownWhat it is: the history-rich 28th entry in character-driven cozy mystery series that takes place in the present day as well as 18th-century Virginia and features anthropomorphic animals.
What it's about: A massive nor'easter on the eve of a National Beagle Club benefit for war veterans finds Harry Harristeen and her crime-solving animals, including cat Mrs. Murphy, discovering a link between the recent murder of a foreign services officer and a centuries-old unsolved killing.
Fever in the Dark by Ellen HartWhat it's about: A year into their marriage, a video of stage manager Fiona asking law student Annie to marry her goes viral -- which charms Fiona, infuriates Annie (who's hiding secrets from her past), and brings journalists, strangers, and Annie's estranged family to their door. When things turn deadly, and the couple are suspects, they turn to Minnesota private investigator Jane Lawless, who has her own problems, for help.
Series alert: This 24th entry in the Lambda Award-winning series reads fine as a standalone and is followed by A Whisper of Bones and Twisted at the Root.
In the Dark Places: An Inspector Banks Novel by Peter RobinsonWhat happens: In North Yorkshire, the stolen tractor of a gentleman farmer and a fresh bloodstain in an abandoned World War II airport hangar lead DCI Alan Banks, DI Annie Cabbot, DS Winsome Jackman, and others to a disturbing murder case that involves the local slaughterhouse.
What you should know: This compelling, cleverly plotted 22nd book in the Alan Banks series has also been published under the title Abattoir Blues.
A Shot in the Dark: A Constable Twitten Mystery by Lynne TrussWhat it's about: In 1957 Brighton, England, someone murders a theater critic who's about to reveal new details about the long-ago bank robbery he witnessed, and enthusiastic rookie Constable Twitten investigates.
About the author: Lynne Truss wrote the grammar bestseller Eats, Shoots and Leaves; though Constable Twitten has appeared on BBC Radio in her Inspector Steine series, this is the witty 1st novel to feature him (the 2nd is The Man That Got Away).
Read this next: For another intriguing look at crime in 1950s Brighton, pick up Elly Griffiths' acclaimed Magic Men mysteries.
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