Riccardino by Andrea CamilleriStarring: Sicilian police inspector Salvo Montalbano, who is tired of his work and unhappy about his fame (a writer penned bestselling novels about him, which in turn inspired a TV police drama).
What happens: Montalbano lands a confusing murder investigation involving four friends and -- in a metafictional spin -- is further frustrated by phone calls from the aforementioned novelist (a fictionalized version of Andrea Camilleri), who offers suggestions for solving the case.
Arrivederci: This bittersweet 28th and final book in the bestselling Inspector Montalbano mysteries was written by Camilleri in 2004-2005 and held for publication until after his death at the age of 93.
When Ghosts Come Home by Wiley CashOak Island, NC, 1984: A plane crashes at the small beach town's empty airport late one night. Although the pilot and the plane's cargo are nowhere to be found, a murdered local Black man is discovered nearby.
What happens: Sheriff Winston Barnes, who's up for reelection against a wealthy racist, works the complex case that involves the FBI, drug smuggling, and racial violence while also balancing troubles at home (his wife has cancer; his adult daughter is struggling after a stillbirth).
Why you might like it: When Ghosts Come Home is a haunting, leisurely paced story with three narrators (Barnes, Barnes' daughter, and the murder victim's 14-year-old nephew).
As the Wicked Watch by Tamron HallIntroducing: Jordan Manning, a smart, tenacious TV reporter with a degree in forensic science who's just moved to Chicago in this richly detailed debut novel by TV journalist Tamron Hall.
What happens: After a 15-year-old Black girl is murdered, Jordan, frustrated with the police's dismissal of the case, investigates the crime herself, leading her to believe that a serial killer is at work.
For fans of: Hank Phillippi Ryan, another Emmy Award-winning journalist writing suspenseful crime novels starring TV reporters; Tracy Clark, author of the compelling Cass Raines mysteries featuring a Black woman ex-cop turned Chicago PI.
What the Cat Dragged In by Miranda JamesStarring: Charlie Harris, an archivist/librarian at a small-town college in Mississippi, and his chirping Maine Coon cat companion, Diesel.
What happens: Charlie inherits his grandfather’s farm, property he thought had been sold decades ago. When Charlie and Diesel go to check things out, they find human bones -- and then the police arrive and find a more recent body. Since the cops aren't sharing information, Charlie digs into his genealogy and family history looking for clues.
Series alert: What the Cat Dragged In is the 14th entry in the charming Cat in the Stacks mysteries, but newcomers can still start here.
Marked Man by Archer MayorThe setup: A medical student in an anatomy class finds that a wealthy elderly man who died a year earlier was murdered.
What happens: Vermont Bureau of Investigation special agent Joe Gunther and his team learn that the victim was a mobster who lived on an estate with several sketchy relatives. Meanwhile, another Rhode Island mobster, fresh from prison, seeks the truth about the years-old murder he didn't commit but took the blame for.
Why you might like it: This excellent 32nd outing for Joe works for fans and those new to the books, plus the series is "one of the best American police procedurals going" (Booklist).
Wolf Point by Ian SmithWas it murder? Two years ago, Walter Griffin, a prominent Black Chicagoan, was found in a watery grave and his death ruled a suicide. But his children believe he was murdered and bring in PI Ashe Cayne to investigate in a case complicated by corruption and racial tensions.
Author buzz: This is the 2nd Ashe Cayne novel by Ian K. Smith, a bestselling fitness writer, physician, and host of TV's The Doctors.
Read this next: Stephen Mack Jones' gritty August Snow mysteries or David Housewright's banter-filled Rushmore McKenzie mysteries, both of which also feature ex-cops turned PIs who've come into money.
What Rose Forgot by Nevada BarrWhat happens: Rose Dennis, who was a healthy 68-year-old weeks ago, is shocked during a lucid moment to find herself in an Alzheimer's unit and her husband dead. After she stops taking her meds, she's less confused and manages to escape, teaming up with her reclusive sister and clever 13-year-old granddaughter to suss out who's out to get her.
Reviewers say: "Thrilling action, madcap humor, and a larger-than-life cast energize this cleverly plotted take on a traditional mystery" (Publishers Weekly).
Read this next: For another murder mystery about a grandparent in a memory-care unit and a grandchild trying to keep her safe, pick up Carolina Cooney's The Grandmother Plot.
Scarlet Fever by Rita Mae BrownWhat it's about: Jane Arnold, master of the Jefferson Hunt club in the Virginia mountains, and other foxhunters try to help a friend with dementia and question if another hunter's fatal fall was actually murder.
Don't miss: the detailed cast of characters list, the charming talking animals (horses, hounds, foxes, and more), the vividly described (no-kill) hunts, and facts about elder abuse.
Series alert: This 12th book in the Sister Jane Foxhunting mysteries will please fans, though newcomers may want to start with an earlier book.
Running Out of Road by Daniel FriedmanStarring: cantankerous Buck Schatz, a retired Jewish police detective in Memphis, Tennessee, who's nearing 90, dealing with dementia, and facing the loss of his beloved wife of 72 years, who has cancer.
What happens: In Buck's compelling 3rd outing, Carlos Watkins, a radio producer for a program about the justice system, wants to interview him...because he thinks Buck coerced a confession out of a man who's finally nearing his execution date after 35 years on death row.
Reviewers say: "Screamingly funny and achingly sad" (Kirkus Reviews).
The Survivors by Jane HarperTwelve years ago: A small coastal Tasmanian town is rocked after two drown during a storm while trying to rescue one of the men's 18-year-old brother, Kieran. A 14-year-old girl is also missing, presumed dead.
Now: Haunted by guilt, Kieran returns to his hometown with his girlfriend and new baby in tow in order to help his parents pack (his father has dementia and is going into a care home). But a day later, a murder occurs, causing memories, rumors, and long-held secrets to ebb and flow through the town as police detectives search for a killer.
Read it for: the atmospheric setting, realistically flawed characters, and slow-burning mystery.
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