The Outcast Girls by Alys ClareStarring: Lily Raynor, the proprietor of World's End enquiry agency in 1880s London and a former nurse in India, where she experienced a troubling event; Felix Wilbraham, her dedicated assistant.
What happens: Lily goes undercover at a girls’ boarding school in the English Fens to investigate why three students have recently run away. Meanwhile, Felix digs into the school's connection to a shadowy group of powerful men.
For fans of: Victorian mysteries by Anne Perry, E.S. Thomson, and Sherry Thomas; The Woman Who Spoke to Spirits, the atmospheric 1st outing for Lily (though newcomers can start with this 2nd book).
Murder Comes to Call by Jessica EllicottWhat it's about: When their new Irish gardener is blamed for the death of a judge and a series of strange thefts (including that of the village's completed census forms), American adventuress Beryl and her practical English friend Edwina set out to find the truth.
Series alert: Murder Comes to Call is the engaging 4th in the Beryl and Edwina mystery series, which began with Murder in an English Village.
For fans of: village mysteries; lighthearted whodunits set in post-World War I England, like Frances Brody's Kate Shackleton mysteries or Alyssa Maxwell's Lady and Lady's Maid mysteries.
The Night of the Fire by Kjell Eriksson; translated by Paul NorlenWhat it's about: Police inspector Ann Lindell has left the Violent Crimes Unit to retire to a village and make local cheese. But she's linked to her old job when an anonymous caller to headquarters will only speak to her. Locally, there's also strange goings-on, including a fatal fire at a refugee shelter (possibly linked to neo-Nazis) and a dead badger left on Ann's bed.
Series alert: This slow-building Swedish police procedural is the 8th in a series and offers fascinating characters, smart plotting, and an insightful look at timely issues.
The War Widow by Tara MossIntroducing: Billie Walker, a smart, stylish former war correspondent whose photojournalist husband went missing in Europe during the war.
What happens: In 1946 Sydney, Australia, Billie has reopened her late father's private inquiry business and agrees to find the missing teenage son of Jewish immigrants, which sees her swept up in a dangerous case involving a ritzy nightclub, Nazi war criminals, treasure, and the mistreatment of Aboriginal people.
For fans of: Kerry Greenwood, Sulari Gentill, or Charles Todd's Bess Crawford mysteries.
The Art of Violence by S.J. RozanThe premise: Talented artist Sam Tabor, who medicates mental health problems with alcohol, wants PI Bill Smith to prove he's guilty of killing two women, even though he can't recall doing so. Wondering if troubled Sam really did commit the killings, Bill and his partner Lydia Chin delve into the cutthroat art world to try to paint a picture of what happened.
Read it for: intricate plotting, clever prose, and amusing characters, like Lydia's formidable mother, Mama Chin.
Reviewers say: "Rozan brilliantly inverts a whodunit trope" (Publishers Weekly) in this 13th in an award-winning series.
Books You May Have Missed
What You Don't See by Tracy ClarkWhat happens: While guarding a celebrated magazine publisher who's receiving anonymous threats, a police detective friend of Chicago PI Cass Raines is badly injured and lands in the hospital. Now, Cass wants answers about who hurt him and what the secretive celebrity is hiding.
Series alert: This is the engrossing 3rd mystery featuring independent Cass; her 4th outing, Runner, comes out in June.
For fans of: Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky, or Rachel Howzell Hall.
The Case of the Reincarnated Client by Tarquin HallStarring: Vish Puri, the amiable middle-aged owner of India's Most Private Investigations, who's always ready for good meal.
What happens: Vish investigates a woman claiming to be a reincarnated murder victim, deals with an unhappy customer (a potential husband whom Vish had checked out prior to an arranged marriage turned out to be a snorer), and to his dismay, learns his daughter wants a love-match marriage.
Series alert: Like the earlier entries, this delightful 5th and most recent Vish Puri mystery works as a standalone. Those who prefer to start with Vish's 1st outing can pick up The Case of the Missing Servant.
And the Killer Is... by G.A. McKevettWhat it's about: When an elderly movie star is murdered in her clutter-filled California mansion, plus-sized PI Savannah Reid and her cop husband search for answers as Savannah juggles caring for a child she's temporarily taken in.
Series alert: This is the 25th Savannah Reid mystery; the 26th, A Few Drops of Bitters, comes out in July. Murder at Mabel's Motel, the 3rd book in the author's spinoff Granny Reid mysteries -- which includes a spunky young Savannah growing up in Georgia -- is out this month.
Cartier's Hope by M.J. RoseWhat happens: Intrepid, well-to-do journalist Vera Garland investigates possible misdeeds around jeweler Pierre Cartier’s recently acquired (and supposedly cursed) Hope Diamond. A facet of Vera's article will also, she hopes, provide revenge against her late father's blackmailer.
Why you might like it: Painting a vivid picture of gilded age New York, Cartier's Hope includes history, mystery, and romance.
Did you know? M.J. Rose's next historical novel, The Last Tiara, comes out in February and deals with a missing Romanov treasure.
Broken: Six Short Novels by Don WinslowWhat's inside: six wide-ranging, gritty crime novellas featuring lively, compelling prose and a few familiar characters, like surfer Boone Daniels from The Dawn Patrol and The Gentlemen's Hour.
Don't miss: The San Diego Zoo, a humorous homage to Elmore Leonard that begins, "No one knows how the chimp got the revolver."
Reviewers say: Broken "will keep readers entertained with wit, humor, and occasional sadness" (Kirkus Reviews).
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