Date with Death by Julia ChapmanCozy Mystery. Placed on indefinite leave, Met cop Samson O'Brien returns to his Yorkshire Dales hometown to open a detective agency. But no one's happy to see him, least of all Delilah Metcalfe, whose brother was Samson's best friend (Samson didn't come to the funeral after he died in Afghanistan). In spite of that, dating service owner Delilah needs money, so she rents part of her building to him. When several suspicious deaths connected to Delilah's business occur, the duo team up in this fun 1st book in an atmospheric, well-plotted series.
The Chalk Pit by Elly GriffithsMystery. Beneath Norwich, England lies a number of medieval and chalk-mining tunnels, and in one of them, a surveyor unearths recent human bones. Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway teams up with DCI Harry Nelson to investigate the bones amid reports of cults, cannibals, a man who vanished into thin air, and a missing homeless woman. Featuring complex characters and relationships (Ruth and the married Harry have a child together) combined with suspenseful plotting, this 9th in the Ruth Galloway mysteries will please fans of both Louise Penny and Julia Spencer-Fleming.
Song of the Lion by Anne HillermanMystery. Attending a high school basketball game, Navajo police officer Bernadette Manuelito hears a car bomb explode in the parking lot. It's thought that the owner of the car, a lawyer mediator working with land developers, the Hopi, and the Dani, was the target, so Bernie's husband, Sgt. Jim Chee, guards him. Meanwhile, Bernie works with retired Lt. Joe Leaphorn to uncover a link from the bomb to one of his earlier cases. While the late Tony Hillerman focused on Leaphorn and Chee, his daughter Anne places Bernie at center stage in her previous two books in the series and in this 21st entry. For another fascinating female lead, try Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak mysteries.
A Rising Man by Abir MukherjeeHistorical Mystery. Newly arrived in 1919 Calcutta, former Scotland Yard detective Sam Wyndham joins the Imperial Police Force and lands a big case: a murdered British official is found with a sinister note in his mouth. Working with likable Sgt. Banerjee and jealous sub-Inspector Digby, Wyndham travels through all levels of Colonial Indian society to find a killer. With atmosphere to spare, this delightful debut should please fans of other India-set historical mysteries, such as Barbara Cleverly’s Detective Joe Sandilands series, Miranda Carter's The Strangler Vine, and Laurie R. King's The Game.
Sidney Chambers and the Persistence of Love by James RuncieCozy Mystery/Short Stories. Like previous entries in this charming series, this 6th collection features clergyman-detective Sidney Chambers investigating cases big and small. First, while on a walk in the 1970s Cambridgeshire woods with his seven-year-old daughter, the archdeacon discovers a corpse. With his friend DI Geordie Keating sometimes helping, Sidney also aids a friend who's been raped, looks for a runaway teen, and tries to locate a missing medieval book. Slightly cozier than Grantchester, the TV series based on them, these leisurely paced novels are reminiscent of G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown mysteries.
What the Dead Leave Behind by Rosemary SimpsonHistorical Mystery. A spring blizzard hits 1888 New York City, taking the lives of many. Was lawyer Charles Linwood one of them? That's the way things appear, but his fiancée, strong-willed heiress Prudence MacKenzie, suspects foul play. With help from Charles' friend, former Pinkerton agent Geoffrey Hunter, Prudence gathers her courage and hunts for the truth. Want more richly detailed books set around this time period? Try Lawrence H. Levy's Mary Handley novels or Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily Ashton mysteries.
Focus on: Mysterious Russia
The Winter Queen by Boris Akunin; translated by Andrew BromfieldHistorical Mystery. It's a lovely spring day in a Moscow park when a university student -- the heir to millions -- unexpectedly kills himself while playing "American roulette." Though he's young and inexperienced, Erast Fandorin of Moscow Police's Criminal Investigation Division believes there's more to the story. Questioning the dead student's friends and an English Baroness opening a Moscow orphanage, Fandorin discovers the death may be related to a terrorist group. This fast-paced 1st in Russian author Boris Akunin's Erast Fandorin mysteries beautifully captures the feel of 1876 Russia and offers up a thoroughly entertaining mystery to boot.
A Man Without Breath by Philip KerrHistorical Mystery. The Nazis want evidence of a rumored Soviet massacre of Polish officers (Josef Goebbels hopes to use it as propaganda against the Soviets). To that end, Bernie Gunther of the War Crimes Bureau heads to Smolensk, where the former Berlin cop works with the Wehrmacht's Prussian aristocrats, interviewing people and sifting through the evidence. Though the truth is elusive, Bernie, an ethical man who doesn't like the Nazis, keeps at it, uncovering more crimes in the process. Enjoyed this excellent 9th in a popular series and want more World War II-era crime stories? Pick up Alan Furst's historical spy novels or David Downing's John Russell series.
The Twelfth Department by William RyanHistorical Mystery. In 1937 Moscow, Stalin is in control, corruption is rampant, and everyone is afraid; even loyalists like Captain Alexei Korolev of the city's Criminal Investigation Division don't feel safe. When party members want him to close a murder case before he's ready, Korolev's worries become reality: his 12-year-old son will be hurt if he doesn't comply. If you like Martin Cruz Smith's detail-rich Renko novels or Tom Rob Smith's gruesome Soviet books, you should check out this excellent 3rd in a trilogy. Want to start at the beginning? Pick up The Holy Thief.
Gorky Park: A Novel by Martin Cruz SmithPolice Procedural. Originally published in 1981, Gorky Park introduced honorable, persistent Russian investigator Arkady Renko to the world; more than 35 years later, there are now eight books in this bestselling series. In this 1st appearance by Renko, he investigates a creepy triple murder -- three faceless, frozen bodies wearing ice skates have been found in the middle of Moscow's popular Gorky Park -- but the case is complicated by a New York City cop, several KGB agents, and a woman who captures Renko's heart. For additional police procedurals set in Russia, try Stuart Kaminsky's Inspector Porfiry Rostnikov mysteries.
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