Arsenic with Austen by Katherine Bolger HydeCozy Mystery. After her dear aunt dies, leaving her millions in cash and property, widowed literature professor Emily Cavanaugh returns to the charming seaside village of Stony Beach, Oregon. She spent many youthful summers with her aunt there -- and fell in love with Luke Richards (whom she hasn't seen in 30 years). When Emily discovers that her aunt may have been murdered, Luke, now a local Sheriff's Lieutenant, investigates, and Emily reads Jane Austen's Persuasion, finding that the book sheds light on her beloved aunt's killing. This well-written 1st volume in a lighthearted new series combining mysteries with classic novels (and a dash of romance) is set to be followed by Bloodstains with Brontë.
The Strivers' Row Spy by Jason OverstreetHistorical Mystery. Recruited by a young J. Edgar Hoover to become one of the first African American agents in the Bureau of Investigation, recent college graduate Sidney Temple gives up long-held plans to become an engineer. Agreeing to the BOI's strict secrecy requirements (he can't even tell his artist wife and beloved mother where he works), Temple hopes to use his position and talents to bring about social change. Moving to Harlem as its Renaissance is beginning, he also wants to protect his hero, integrationist W.E.B. Du Bois, from both the Bureau and controversial Jamaican leader Marcus Garvey...but there's much danger afoot. Fascinated by historical Harlem? Try Chester Himes' classic crime novels featuring Coffin Ed Johnson and Gravedigger Jones, too.
These Honored Dead: A Lincoln and Speed Mystery by Jonathan F. PutnamHistorical Mystery. Abraham Lincoln has just moved to Springfield, Illinois in 1837 to practice law, and since beds are sparse, he ends up rooming with storekeeper Joshua Speed. When an orphaned girl from a neighboring town is found murdered and suspicion falls on her aunt (Joshua's former lover), Joshua makes it his mission to clear her name and calls upon Lincoln to help. This well-researched debut novel will especially please readers who like a bit of courtroom drama. Those who'd like another richly detailed mystery series set in 1830s America should try Barbara Hambly's Benjamin January series, which features an African American detective in the south.
Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy StewartHistorical Mystery. One of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs, Constance Kopp, returns in this eagerly awaited 2nd outing, following the acclaimed Girl Waits with Gun (both books feature ripped-from-the-headlines cases that the real Kopp worked on). This time out, the Bergen County, New Jersey lady cop is guarding a seemingly ill con man in 1915 while he receives medical attention. When the man escapes, Constance is demoted and her forward-thinking sheriff might be in trouble, too. Unwilling to be bested or let her sheriff suffer because of her error, Constance sets off for New York City, hoping to put the con man back in cuffs. For other historical mysteries featuring fun, feisty female investigators working in and around this time period, try Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody mysteries, Laurie R. King's Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mysteries, and Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher mysteries.
The Sixth Idea: A Monkeewrench Novel by P.J. TracyCrime Fiction. Killers don't take Christmas off, which means Minneapolis homicide detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth don't either. After someone murders two online friends several miles and hours apart, Leo and Gino need help from Monkeewrench cyber-geniuses Grace, Harley, Annie, and Roadrunner. A connection between the two dead people dates back 60 years and involves the atomic bomb -- and the investigators realize that other people with the same connection may also be targeted. Combining thriller elements with those of police procedurals and murder mysteries, The Sixth Idea (published as Cold Kill in the UK) is the 7th amusing, banter-filled entry in the award-winning Monkeewrench series, which is penned by a mother-daughter writing team.
Fall from Grace: A David Raker Mystery by Tim WeaverMystery. In an isolated part of Dartmoor where you can see for miles around, retired London DCS Leonard Franks goes out for firewood in his slippers. When his wife checks on him a few minutes later, he has disappeared, gone without a trace. Nine months on, Franks' daughter, DCI Melanie Craw, hires independent missing persons investigator David Raker, even though, as a cop, she has a bit of a caustic relationship with him. As Raker delves into the tricky case, he stirs up danger and surprising secrets. The New York Times says this 5th appearance by Raker is "a genuine puzzle" and lauds the "complicated plot with specious clues and untrustworthy characters."
If You Like: Alan Bradley
Flavia de Luce, Canadian author Alan Bradley's precocious 11-year-old chemistry-loving creation, has charmed mystery readers since her award-winning debut in 2009's The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
. In a small 1950s English village, clever Flavia tinkers around the chemistry lab in the large country home she shares with her eccentric widower father and quarrelsome older sisters -- and she occasionally solves a murder. The 8th and latest book in the series, Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd
, is out this month. While there isn't another sleuth quite like daring, droll Flavia, some of the books below might interest her smitten fans.
Murder at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah DennisonCozy Mystery. After quitting her job as host of TV's Fakes & Treasures in order to open a London antique store with her widowed mother (and get out of the public eye), Kat Stanford learns some shocking truths: not only does her mother not want to open the shop, but she's sold her London home and bought a carriage house on a rundown Devon estate -- and has already moved in! Visiting her at Honeychurch Hall, Kat discovers there's much more about her mother she doesn't know -- and that some of the eccentric locals aren't too fond of London interlopers. When things turn deadly, Kat is determined to sort everything out. If you enjoy the quirky characters, village setting, and humorous goings-on in the Flavia de Luce mysteries, you might be interested in this 1st in a leisurely paced contemporary cozy series.
A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. KingHistorical Mystery. On December 26, 1920, Mary Russell leaves the Sussex Downs to travel to London and Sherlock Holmes; she's just finished writing a scholarly essay, and is only a week away from 21 and her substantial inheritance. While in the city, Mary runs into a former Oxford classmate, who's now part of Margery Childe's inner circle (Childe's a supporter of women's rights and the charismatic leader of the New Temple of God). Unfortunately, several of Margery's followers have died in strange circumstances, and Mary -- and eventually Holmes -- tries to uncover a killer even as Holmes helps a heroin addict. This 2nd in a long-running series (the 14th, The Murder of Mary Russell, came out in April) will please those who like their settings English and their young heroines capable, fearless, and wickedly smart.
Wicked Autumn: A Max Tudor Novel by G.M. MallietCozy Mystery. Hallelujah -- there's a handsome new vicar in town! The ladies of Nether Monkslip are enchanted by former MI5 officer Rev. Max Tudor...well, when they aren't shooting daggers at Wanda Batton-Smythe, the quiet village's most overbearing woman. So when Wanda is found dead in suspicious circumstances at the Harvest Fayre (which she, of course, heavy-handedly planned), Max suspects foul play and wonders if one of his new parishioners is a killer. Fans of charming yet crime-ridden literary villages -- such as Alan Bradley's Bishop's Lacey and Agatha Christie's St. Mary Mead -- will surely want to visit Nether Monkslip. Wicked Autumn is the leisurely paced 1st in a fun series that now numbers five (the 6th, Devil's Breath, is due next spring).
A Fatal Grace by Louise PennyMystery. In late December, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Quebec is once again sent to Three Pines, a village south of Montreal. He's there to investigate the death of CC de Poitiers, an unpopular local woman improbably electrocuted while watching a Boxing Day curling match, and he learns that his question isn't who wanted her dead (which is everyone), but who would actually do it. Gamache's outstanding 2nd outing was originally released in Canada in 2006 as A Dead Cold. Like fellow Canadian Alan Bradley's Flavia novels, Louise Penny's Gamache series is leisurely paced, peopled with intelligent, literate characters, and delightfully harkens back to the Golden Age of mysteries.
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