The Bitter Past by Bruce BorgosWhat it is: a debut novel combining mystery, history, and spy thriller that's set in Nevada's high desert during the 1950s and the present day.
Past and present collide: Nothing much ever happens in Sheriff Porter Beck's area until an elderly retired FBI agent is tortured to death in a complex case linked to the early days of the nuclear age.
Reviewers say: "Intelligent storytelling and well-drawn characters bode well for future series entries" (Publishers Weekly); "Riveting" (Library Journal).
An Evil Heart by Linda CastilloWhat happens: In Painters Mill, Ohio, Police Chief Kate Burkholder, who grew up Amish, investigates the violent death of a well-liked young Amish man...who maybe wasn't quite who he seemed.
Series alert: Longtime fans won't want to miss this entry as Kate's wedding approaches, but newcomers can still enjoy this gritty 15th in the acclaimed Kate Burkholder series.
Read this next: For other intricately plotted stories with complex characters in rural communities, try Julia Keller's Bell Elkins Mysteries or Samantha Jayne Allen's Annie McIntyre Mysteries.
A Newlywed's Guide to Fortune and Murder by Dianne FreemanEngland, 1900: American-born Frances, Countess of Harleigh, agrees to help a friend who thinks recently widowed Viscountess Wingate is being poisoned. Meanwhile, Frances' new husband, who works for the Home Office, also has a case involving the Wingate family.
Reviewers say: "Numerous plot twists, well-drawn characters, and immersive details...distinguish this historical cozy" (Booklist).
Series alert: Following A Bride's Guide to Marriage and Murder, this is the charming 6th Countess of Harleigh mystery. Readers who'd like to pick up the 1st entry will want A Lady's Gude to Etiquette and Murder.
Harlem After Midnight by Louise HareThe problem: Arriving in New York City in 1936, biracial British jazz singer Lena Aldridge is at a loss since the job she was promised is gone.
What happens: She stays in Harlem with friends of Will Goodman, the handsome bandleader she met on the ship over. As she gets to know Will better and learns more about her American family, she realizes both have secrets. Then, a woman who resembles Lena is murdered.
Series alert: Following Miss Aldridge Regrets, this character-driven 2nd novel starring Lena evocatively portrays Black life in 1930s Harlem.
Mrs. Plansky's Revenge by Spencer QuinnIntroducing: Mrs. Loretta Plansky, a wealthy 71-year-old recent widow; and Dinu, a Romanian teen whose violent uncle has him scam elderly Americans by pretending to be their grandson.
What happens: Mrs. Plansky gets taken in by Dinu, and her life savings are gone in a night. After the FBI says there is nothing they can do, Mrs. Plansky heads to a small village in Romania to get her money back.
For fans of: senior sleuths, like those in Richard Osman's Thursday Murder Club series, Dorothy Gilman's Mrs. Pollifax books, or Jesse Q. Sutanto's Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers.
A Most Agreeable Murder by Julia SealesWhat happens: In Regency-era Swampshire, England, known for its squelch holes and strict code of conduct, Beatrice Steele, the eldest of three sisters, must hide her obsession with true crime. But after a murder at a ball, she teams up with a detective to solve the case.
Why you might like it: This debut novel offers whimsical narration, witty banter, a twist on genre tropes, and a locked-room murder.
Reviewers say: "Irreverent, satirical, and oh so much fun!" (Kirkus Reviews); "exceptional...Jane Austen fans will be enthralled (Publishers Weekly).
If you like: James Ellroy
One Good Deed by David BaldacciIntroducing: Aloysius Archer, a young World War II veteran just released from prison in 1949 for a crime he didn't commit.
What happens: Needing work, he takes a job in Poca City to find a car and a girl, but his investigation soon leads to him being accused of a killing in this 1st in a series.
Why you might like it: One Good Deed features a hero to root for, 1940s-era dialog, and a fast-paced plot.
She Rides Shotgun by Jordan HarperFeaturing: shy, smart 11-year-old Polly (who carries her beloved one-eyed teddy bear everywhere), and Nate, her newly released ex-con father.
The problem: Nate ticked off an Aryan gang leader in prison, and now there's a hit out on him and Polly, who he hasn't seen in years. The gang has already killed Polly's mom, so Nate takes his daughter with him as he wreaks havoc on the gang's Los Angeles-area businesses.
Why you might like it: This action-packed 2017 crime novel won the Edgar Award for Best Debut and offers readers fascinating lead characters and a modern take on the gritty revenge novel.
A Little Yellow Dog by Walter MosleyNovember 1963: Easy Rawlins has been working as head custodian at a Los Angeles junior high school and staying away from trouble for two years. But an affair with a teacher who disappears (leaving behind her dog) has him fighting old enemies and investigating again.
Series alert: This is the 5th in the acclaimed Easy Rawlins mysteries; readers can start here or with the 1st book, Devil in a Blue Dress.
Why you might like it: "Like [Raymond] Chandler and [James] Ellroy, [Walter] Mosley's wry wit holds nothing sacred" (Detroit Free Press).
One-Shot Harry by Gary Phillips1963 Los Angeles: Black freelance photographer Harry Ingram takes pictures of a car crash that killed a white jazz musician, a guy Harry had served with in Korea. Despite what the LAPD says, Harry thinks it was murder and seeks justice for his friend in a city rife with racism as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Freedom Rally approaches.
Reviewers say: "a particularly satisfying, no-nonsense hero" (Booklist); "propulsive...crackles with authenticity" (Wall Street Journal).
Why you might like it: One-Shot Harry portrays an immersive, well-researched 1960s L.A. setting that's full of life.
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