Mrs. Jeffries Delivers the Goods by Emily BrightwellWhat it is: the delightful 37th entry in a popular cozy Victorian mystery series that cleverly spins the upstairs-downstairs dynamic.
What happens: At the annual Lighterman’s Ball held at London's Wrexley Hotel, a much-disliked guest is murdered. Scotland Yard's Inspector Witherspoon is on the case, but it's his loyal staff, led by clever housekeeper Mrs. Jeffries, who once again uses their wits and connections to point Witherspoon in the right direction.
A Beautiful Corpse by Christi DaughertyStarring: Harper McClain, a 28-year-old Savannah Daily News crime reporter whose mother was murdered when she was a child.
What happens: When a law student and bartender is fatally shot on her way home from work, Harper looks at three suspects -- the victim's boyfriend, her boss, and her ex (who's the son of the district attorney). Harper also needs to figure out who's breaking into her own car and home and leaving virtually no trace.
Series alert: Newcomers can start with this 2nd in a new series, but to learn the story behind why the cops don't like Harper anymore, pick up the 1st book The Echo Killing.
An Artless Demise: A Lady Darby Mystery by Anna Lee HuberWhat happens: After leaving 1830s London when her late husband was found to be part of a murder and body snatching ring, pregnant Lady Kiera Darby returns with a new husband, investigator Sebastian Gage.
The problem: With her already suspect reputation, Lady Darby is alarmed when murders similar to the ones her ex was involved with occur and a blackmailer threatens to link her to the crimes.
Who it's for: This atmospheric, cleverly plotted 7th Lady Darby mystery features a bit of romance that will interest fans of Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia Grey books and Tasha Alexander's Lady Emily Ashton mysteries.
Smoke and Ashes by Abir MukherjeeWhat happens: Against the backdrop of protests for Indian independence in 1921 Calcutta, World War I veteran Captain Sam Wyndham of the British Imperial police battles a secret opium addiction and works with his friend, Sgt. "Surrender-not" Banerjee, to solve two grisly murders.
Read this next: If you like this evocative 3rd in an award-winning series and would like a contemporary look at a detective hiding a drug problem, pick up David Swinson's Frank Marr series. For more mysteries set in 1920s India, try Sujata Massey's Perveen Mistry novels.
The Blood of an Englishman by M.C. BeatonStarring: snarky curmudgeon Agatha Raisin, who runs a detective agency in the English Cotswolds and is always concerned about her love life (or lack thereof).
What happens: Someone kills the baker before the final curtain call of a pantomime production put on by local amateurs.
Series alert: Funny and fast-paced, this is the 25th novel in a popular series. Look for the 30th entry, Beating About the Bush, in November.
Dog Dish of Doom: An Agent to the Paws Mystery by E.J. CoppermanIntroducing: Kay Powell, an agent to talented pets who's discovered a doggie star who's just been cast in a Broadway revival of Annie.
What happens: The director forbids the dog's obnoxious owners from the theater, and when one of the owners is murdered and dognappers show up, Kay tries to solve the case to keep her client safe.
Read this next: If you enjoyed this humorous 1st in a new series starring a smart pup, try David Handler's Stewart Hoag mysteries.
Death Ex Machina by Gary CorbyFeaturing: Nicolaos, a private inquiry agent in Ancient Greece; his wife, Diotima, a high priestess of Athena; and Socrates, Nico's curious 15-year-old brother (and a future philosopher).
What happens: Just before a festival showcasing drama, actors refuse to enter the theater due to a "ghost." Nico is hired to solve the problem, and then a murder occurs in this amusing 5th Athenian mystery.
Read it for: the fair play mystery, the vibrant setting, the delightful humor, and the well-wrought historical figures.
Dead, to Begin With: A Dan Rhodes Mystery by Bill CriderWhat it's about: Jacob "Jake" Marley, a wealthy Texan recluse, spearheads the restoration of an old opera house in order to put on a version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol -- but he soon dies in a suspicious fall. Sheriff Dan Rhodes investigates and finds long-ago motives while he also deals with other local problems.
Read this next: If you like this 24th Dan Rhodes novel, try Terry Shames' Samuel Craddock mysteries, which also star a Texas lawman working in a small town peopled with eccentrics.
Stagestruck by Peter LoveseyWhat it's about: At Bath's Theatre Royal, a 30-something pop star is making her stage debut. But before she utters her first line, she grimaces and screams -- someone has poisoned her makeup, burning her face. To find the culprit, Det. Supt. Peter Diamond must deal with his own mysterious theater phobia.
Series alert: This is the pleasing 11th British police procedural starring the irascible Peter Diamond. His 18th outing, Killing with Confetti, comes out in July.
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