Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen ByronWhat happens: A small-town Louisiana Cajun music festival draws a local girl turned reality TV/music star, so Maggie Crozet helps her parents prepare their B&B for the singer and her assistants. But it isn't long before someone is murdered, and Maggie, with help from her cop boyfriend, must sort it all out and keep a steady supply of pecan pralines ready to sell at her family's festival booth (recipes included).
Series alert: This amusing 5th Cajun country novel is a delightful cozy that'll please fans of the genre as well as Cajun music lovers.
The Long Call by Ann CleevesIntroducing: introspective DCI Matthew Venn of the Devon police, who grew up in a religious sect and is estranged from his family.
What happens: A murder victim with an interesting tattoo is found on a North Devon beach, and the case seems to be related to Venn's childhood church as well as his husband's job at a community center.
Read this next: William Shaw's Salt Lane or Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway mysteries -- both are evocative English mysteries that prominently feature police officers and are set near the coast.
The Vanished Bride: A Brontë Sisters Mystery by Bella EllisIntroducing: Emily, Charlotte, and Anne Brontë, three sisters in 1845 Yorkshire who love to write stories but have never been published.
What happens: A young wife and mother goes missing, leaving behind two small children and a large pool of blood, and the Brontë sisters, who live nearby, decide to investigate.
About the author: Bella Ellis is the pen name of British novelist Rowan Coleman; this is her atmospheric, well-researched first mystery and is a must for fans of the real-life Brontës.
Heaven, My Home: A Highway 59 Novel by Attica LockeWhat happens: African American Texas Ranger Darren Matthews has a troubled marriage, an estranged mother who's blackmailing him, and a dangerous new case in a small town involving the missing child of an imprisoned white supremacist leader.
Series alert: This is the well-wrought 2nd novel in the Highway 59 series following the Edgar Award-winning Bluebird, Bluebird.
Read it for: the evocative Caddo Lake setting in East Texas; the compelling look at race and politics.
The Truth Behind the Lie by Sara Lövestam; translated by Laura WidebergThe (rookie) detective: a young, undocumented Iranian refuge who's an expert at living and working off the grid.
His ad: "Private detective. If the police can't help, call me!"
The only respondent: a desperate single mother whose six-year-old disappeared in a Stockholm mall four days earlier and who has "her own, very specific reasons" for not calling the cops.
For fans of: well-developed characters; surprising twists and turns.
Vanishing in the Haight: A Colleen Hayes Mystery by Max TomlinsonIntroducing: tough-but-kindhearted Colleen Hayes, who served time for killing her abusive husband and now works as a security guard at an abandoned paint factory in 1978 San Francisco.
What happens: A wealthy dying man who wants answers about the unsolved murder of his 18-year-old daughter in Golden Gate Park 11 years ago asks Colleen, who recently found a missing girl, to investigate.
Read this next: For another mystery with a noir feel featuring a 1970s female ex-con turned detective, try Lisa Sandlin's Delpha Wade and Tom Phelan novels (the 2nd, The Bird Boys, came out in August).
If You Like: Deborah Crombie
Payment in Blood by Elizabeth GeorgeStarring: Scotland Yard Inspector Thomas Lynley, the Earl of Asherton; his prickly sergeant, Barbara Havers; and his forensic scientist friend, Simon St. James.
What happens: In this 2nd in a long-running series, the trio travels to Scotland to investigate the murder of a playwright at a snowbound manor, where one of the guests is the woman Lynley loves.
Why Deborah Crombie fans might like it: Elizabeth George's intelligent novels feature similar pacing and a fascinating (though very different) male-female Scotland Yard duo.
The Crossing Places by Elly GriffithsWhat happens: In Norfolk, England, 40-something forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway lives in the remote Saltmarshes and is asked by married DCI Harry Nelson to examine the bones of a child found there. Nelson thinks the remains might be a girl missing for ten years, and, when another girl goes missing, the two work together -- and grow close to each other.
Why Deborah Crombie fans might like it: the strong sense of place; the characters’ complicated personal lives and relationships, which grow and change throughout the series (this is the 1st of 11 books, so far).
The Case Has Altered: A Richard Jury Novel by Martha GrimesWhat it's about: Two women are murdered in the Lincolnshire fens and Inspector Richard Jury and his aristocratic pal, Melrose Plant, investigate when one of Jury's friends becomes the prime suspect.
Series alert: This is the cleverly plotted 14th entry in the popular Richard Jury series of police procedurals; the 25th book, The Old Success, is due in November.
Why Deborah Crombie fans might like it: Like Crombie, Martha Grimes is an American Anglophile who writes British police novels that follow a pleasing cast of characters over the course of many books.
Gallows View: The First Inspector Banks Novel by Peter RobinsonWhat happens: Yorkshire DI Alan Banks' small English village has a host of trouble: a serial Peeping Tom, several vandalism and robbery cases, and the suspicious death of an elderly woman.
Series alert: This is the 1st of more than 25 books in the award-winning DI Alan Banks series. The latest, Many Rivers to Cross, is out in the U.K. now and will be available elsewhere in January.
Why Deborah Crombie fans might like it: the well-described British setting and the focus on police detection.
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