A Trace of Poison by Colleen CambridgeWelcome to: Mallowan Hall, home of famed mystery writer Agatha Christie as well as housekeeper Phyllida Bright.
What happens: At a charity fete and amateur mystery writing competition, a guest drinks a poisoned cocktail--which might have been intended for someone else--and Phyllida investigates.
Don't miss: This fun 2nd Phyllida Bright novel following Murder at Mallowan Hall features cameos by G.K. Chesterton, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Anthony Berkeley.
Blue Like Me by Aaron Philip ClarkStarring: Trevor "Finn" Finnegan, an ex-LAPD detective turned private eye for a law firm focusing on policing the police.
Dirty cops? In November 2016, Finn reluctantly tails his former partner, whom he was once close to, and witnesses her getting shot and her partner killed. Had she really gone bad? And who wanted her dead?
For fans of: Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins books, which, like this gritty second novel in a series, offer a compelling look at a Black Los Angeles private detective.
A Death in Tokyo by Keigo HigashinoStarring: Unorthodox, persistent, and extremely observant Tokyo Police Detective Kyoichiro Kaga.
A strange death: Kaga investigates the murder of a businessman who, after being fatally stabbed, went to the historic Nihonbashi bridge to die. The obvious suspect is a young man who fled from the police and was found with the victim's wallet, but Kaga thinks there's more to the story.
Series alert: A Death in Tokyo is the intricately plotted 3rd Kyoichiro Kaga mystery, following Malice and Newcomer, though readers can start here.
No Strangers Here by Carlene O'ConnorIntroducing: Dimpna Wilde, a veterinarian who returns home after a wealthy racehorse owner is murdered, his body staged on the beach; DI Cormac O'Brien, who's sent to Dingle County, Kerry, to investigate the death.
What happens: When Dimpna's father, also a vet, is accused of the crime, she races against O'Brien to find the truth even as she takes over her dad's practice due to his memory issues.
Is it for you? Not cozy like Carlene O'Connor's other Irish mysteries, this first entry in her new County Kerry series retains the evocative setting, smart plotting, and appealing characters.
Secrets Typed in Blood by Stephen SpotswoodNew York City, 1947: Former circus performer turned PI Willowjean "Will" Parker and her boss, famed detective Lillian Pentecost, sign up to help pulp magazine writer Holly Quick figure out who's recreating her fictional murders in real life.
Series alert: Though this is the 3rd Pentecost and Parker mystery, newcomers can start here. Those who'd like to begin with the 1st book should pick up the Nero Award-winning Fortune Favors the Dead.
For fans of: Rosalie Knecht's Vera Kelly stories; atmospheric hardboiled detective stories starring strong women.
Books You May Have Missed
The Family Chao by Lan Samantha ChangThe setup: In small-town Wisconsin, locals have eaten at the Chao family's restaurant for decades, but there's trouble at home for patriarch Leo as his wife has finally left him and become a Buddhist nun.
What happens: Leo's three very different grown sons gather at the restaurant for a Christmas party. When Leo is murdered, his children fall under suspicion of the town and police, even as they reckon with the legacy of their father's outsized appetites.
Why you might like it: The Family Chao is a modern take on Fyodor Dostoevsky's classic The Brothers Karamazov and offers "a disruptive, sardonic take on the assimilation story" (Kirkus Reviews).
Death by Bubble Tea by Jennifer J. ChowIntroducing: Yale Yee, who's just lost her bookstore job and is helping out at her family's Los Angeles restaurant; Celine, Yale's rich influencer cousin from Hong Kong whom she hasn't seen in years.
What happens: Yale's dad has the cousins run a food stall at the Eastwood Village Night Market. All goes well and their bubble tea is a big hit, but then a customer turns up dead, fatally poisoned.
For fans of: fun series starters; cozy food-themed mysteries (recipes included) featuring vibrant young women sleuths, like Mia P. Manansala's Tita Rosie's Kitchen mysteries.
Fox Creek by William Kent KruegerWhat happens: Sometime-PI Cork O'Connor gets hired by a man who's not who he says he is. It's all related to Cork's wife, who accompanies a stranger to visit to her 100-year-old uncle, Ojibwe healer Henry Meloux, before all three go missing.
Series alert: Like other entries, this compelling 19th Cork O'Connor mystery has an intricate plot and a vividly described northern Minnesota.
Reviewers say: "A must for fans of beautifully written crime fiction" (Library Journal); the author "skillfully blends an evocative look at nature’s beauty and peril with Native American lore" (Publishers Weekly).
Real Easy by Marie RutkoskiMissing and dead: In 1999, a dancer at the Lovely Lady strip club outside of Chicago gives a co-worker a ride home. But they don't make it; the car is found with one woman killed and the other gone, her seatbelt cut.
What happens: The cops investigate, including Harvard-educated detective Holly Meylin, who recruits one of the other dancers to help with the case, which looks more and more like the work of a serial killer.
Why you might like it: Narrated by various characters, this gritty crime novel offers "moving portraits of desperate lives on both sides of the law" (Publishers Weekly).
Nine Lives by Peter SwansonWhat it is: A clever, modern take on Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None featuring nine people scattered across the United States who all receive a cryptic list of names that includes their own.
Among them is... a father, a professor, a nurse, and FBI agent Jessica Winslow. Though some dismiss it as a joke, bad things start happening to listees, prompting Jessica to search for the link that binds them all together.
Read this next: Yukito Ayatsuji's The Decagon House Murders, Gilly Macmillan's The Long Weekend, Rachel Howzell Hall's They All Fall Down, or Lucy Foley's The Guest List.
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