Who Speaks for the Damned by C.S. Harris1814 England: A nobleman who'd been convicted of murder and sent to Australia 18 years prior secretly returns to London and is murdered.
The investigation: The valet of Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin knew the dead man and asks St. Cyr to look into the matter. The more St. Cyr learns, the more it seems like that the convicted man was innocent -- so who killed him and why? And where is the missing half-Chinese boy he brought to England with him?
Series alert: This is the twisty, atmospheric 15th entry in the popular Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries.
Hard Cash Valley by Brian PanowichWhat it's about: A murder in a Jacksonville, Florida, motel room has ties to Georgia, leading Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Dane Kirby to team up with FBI Special Agent Roselita Velasquez. They deal with cockfights and Filipino gangsters while searching for a killer and a murder victim's missing young brother, who's on the autism spectrum.
What it is: gripping Southern noir that'll please fans of Wiley Cash and Daniel Woodrell.
Read it for: memorable characters, compelling prose, and the gritty return to rural McFalls County, Georgia, the setting of the author's Bull Mountain books.
The King's Beast: A Mystery of the American Revolution by Eliot PattisonWhat it's about: In the wilderness of 1769 Kentucky, at the behest of Benjamin Franklin, Scottish exile Duncan McCallum and his group (which includes Daniel Boone) retrieve an astonishing cache of oversize fossils. Duncan is to deliver the fossils to Franklin in London to help the Sons of Liberty's cause, but someone's willing to kill to stop him.
Reviewers say: This 6th Bone Rattler mystery is a "triumphant combination of whodunit and deeply researched history" (Publishers Weekly).
The Body in the Garden by Katharine SchellmanIntroducing: charming young widow Lily Adler, who, still missing her husband, returns to London in 1815 in hopes of creating an independent new life for herself.
What happens: At her first ball of the season, Lily overhears the murder of a blackmailer. When the magistrate is bribed to drop the case, intrepid Lily vows to investigate and gets help from Anglo-Indian naval captain Jack (her deceased husband's best friend), as well as from an heiress newly arrived from the West Indies.
Why you might like it: This 1st Lily Adler mystery offers well-researched details and diverse Regency-era characters.
Jane and the Waterloo Map by Stephanie BarronWhat happens: In November 1815, Jane Austen is in London to negotiate the publication of her novel Emma when a hero from the Battle of Waterloo is poisoned. The colonel's enigmatic final words spark Jane's hunt for a missing map and a murderer.
Reviewers say: "Barron deftly imitates Austen’s voice, wit, and occasional melancholy" (Library Journal).
Read this next: If you like this 13th series entry and want more atmospheric mysteries set in Regency England, try Anna Dean's Dido Kent novels.
Read and Buried: A Lighthouse Library Mystery by Eva GatesWhat it's about: While repairing the old Nags Head, North Carolina, lighthouse that's now used as a library, workers unearth an old metal box containing a red leather notebook and a coded, hand-drawn map.
What happens: The map is stolen and a historical society member is murdered, leading librarian Lucy Richardson to investigate.
Why you might like it: This 6th cozy Lighthouse Library mystery offers a charming coastal setting and likable characters.
The Last Equation of Isaac Severy: A Novel in Clues by Nova JacobsThe task: To honor her (possibly murdered) genius grandfather's last wish, failed bookstore owner Hazel must solve the clues he's left in her favorite novel and on a map in order to deliver his mathematical work into safe hands. But there are others who want his groundbreaking equation...and they might be willing to kill for it.
For fans of: literary mysteries, family dramas, inventive stories, and books dealing with big ideas, like chaos theory and free will.
Awards buzz: This delightful debut won an Edgar Award for Best First Novel and was one of The Wall Street Journal's Best Mysteries of 2018.
Broken Ground by Val McDermidWhat it is: a gritty, deftly plotted police procedural and the 5th DCI Karen Pirie novel by acclaimed Scottish writer Val McDermid.
What happens: In search of two American motorcycles hidden by her grandfather in a Highland peat bog in 1944, a woman finds a corpse wearing circa 1995 clothing. Persistent cold-case expert DCI Pirie digs into the past to find the killer and takes on an unusual domestic violence case.
Read it for: fascinating forensics, masterly plotting, and well-wrought characters.
A Great Reckoning by Louise PennyWhat happens: Thoughtful Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, now in charge of Quebec's police academy, searches for a killer when a corrupt instructor is murdered. Found near the body is an odd World War I-era map of Three Pines, the small village where Gamache lives.
Reviewers say: Penny's "work is rich with luminous prose, complex but uncluttered plots, and profound compassion" (The Seattle Times).
Series alert: Newcomers can start with this award-winning 12th Gamache mystery, but it's best enjoyed by those familiar with earlier entries.
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