The Ghost of Christmas Past by Rhys BowenHistorical Mystery. Molly Murphy Sullivan has had a difficult 1906. Now, just before Christmas, she's struggling with depression in the aftermath of physical and emotional trauma that led to a miscarriage. When the semi-retired private detective's family plans for the holiday suddenly change, she, her police detective husband Daniel, and their two-year-old son end up at a Hudson River mansion. There, they become embroiled in a mystery when a 13-year-old girl appears on Christmas Eve, claiming to be their hosts' long-missing daughter. Readers who enjoy compelling stories featuring strong women will appreciated this 17th series entry.
Heaven's Crooked Finger by Hank EarlyMystery. In this gritty debut novel, the 1st in a new series, private detective Earl Marcus returns home to the North Georgia mountains, a place he never wanted to see again. He's there to visit "Granny," a dying black woman who took him in when his father, a fundamentalist Christian pastor fond of snake handling, kicked him out. But his visit unearths secrets and danger, as he learns his estranged brother now pastors his father's old church, hears rumors that his recently deceased dad has risen from the dead, and learns that local teenage girls have been disappearing, only to return with strange tattoos. Fans of John Hart will want to snag this richly described book set in a small southern town.
The Deep Dark Descending by Allen EskensMystery. After his wife died four years ago in a hit-and-run accident, Minneapolis police detective Max Rupert was devastated. When he receives evidence that she was murdered, he's stunned. Driven by the need for justice (and maybe vengeance), Rupert tries to find the men responsible (there are at least three) and wrestles with a decision that could change his life forever. Flipping back and forth between the present (where Max and a man fight in a frigid, snowy clearing) and the events of the previous three days, which lead up to that fight, this 4th Max Rupert novel features a suspenseful plot, complex characters, and an evocative setting.
The Shadow District by Arnaldur IndridasonPolice Procedural. When a 90-year-old man is smothered to death, retired Reykjavik police detective Konrad is asked to look into the case by an old friend on the force. He soon discovers that the death is linked to the murders of two women years ago, during the occupation of Iceland by Allies in World War II, and that some locals claimed the killings were the work of the "hidden people" of Icelandic folk tales. This fascinating 1st in the Reykjavik Wartime series by the bestselling author of the Erlendur Sveinsson mysteries is a good bet for fans of parallel storylines, evocative settings, and well-plotted tales.
Cast Iron by Peter MayMystery. In this stellar final book of six in the Enzo files, 56-year-old Scottish forensic expert Enzo Macleod once again investigates a cold case taken from a book written by his ambitious future son-in-law. In 1989 in western France, a wealthy young woman out for a walk disappeared; in 2003, her skeleton was found nearby. Digging into the woman's past in 2011, Enzo stirs up trouble; someone wants things left alone and might hurt Enzo's family if he doesn't. Readers who enjoy suspenseful, fair-play mysteries will want to pick up Cast Iron.
Dying to Live: A Detective Kubu Mystery by Michael StanleyMystery. In Botswana, the corpse of an elderly Bushman, whose organs appear to belong to a much younger man, is stolen from the morgue. Assistant Superintendent David “Kubu” Bengu investigates and finds that the stolen body might be connected to a witch doctor and a missing University of Minnesota researcher documenting the oral traditions of the area. If you enjoy the Botswana setting of The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency books and don't mind a less cozy feel, check out the engrossing Detective Kubu mysteries, of which this is the 6th entry.
Winter's Child by Margaret CoelMystery. Arapaho lawyer Vicky Holden witnesses her friend and fellow lawyer Clint Hopkins run down by a truck during a blizzard; while others think it was an accident, Vicky believes it was murder. Since she had just teamed up with Hopkins to help a Native American couple hoping to adopt an abandoned white child they've raised for five years, Vicky works that case and checks into the hit and run. Along with her friend, Jesuit priest Father John, she unravels a disturbing connection between the child, the lawyer's death, a missing Arapaho wanted by the cops, and very old secret. Though this is the 20th and last entry in the John O'Malley and Vicky Holden mysteries, newcomers can easily begin here.
The Ice Princess by Camilla LäckbergScandinavian Crime Fiction. With this atmospheric U.S. debut, which won France’s Grand Prix de Littérature Policière for Best International Crime Novel, Camilla Läckberg joined a long list of Scandinavian authors to watch. In this leisurely paced tale, biographer Erica Falck returns to her tiny hometown of Fjällbacka after her parents' unexpected deaths...and stumbles across the body of her childhood friend, Alexandra. It's unclear whether Alexandra's death was suicide or murder, but the town seems to be hiding plenty of deadly secrets. Joining Erica in her attempts to find the truth behind Alexandra's death is Detective Patrik Hedström in this 1st in a popular series.
A Fatal Winter by G.M. MallietCozy Mystery. A house party at an English mansion? Mystery fans know what's next: murder most foul! In A Fatal Winter, it's just days before Christmas when two suspicious deaths at Chedrow Castle cause Detective Chief Inspector Cotton to ask his friend Max Tudor, a former MI5 agent and current Anglican priest, to help with the investigation. He wants Max to observe the family while providing religious support and helping plan the funerals. During the holiday season, Max also grows closer to Awena Owen (who runs a shop called Goddessspell). This is the 2nd book featuring darling Max, and the "series shines for its wit, well-drawn characters, pitch-perfect dialog, and intricately structured puzzle" (Library Journal).
The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef PenneyHistorical Mystery. In 19th-century Canada, a local trapper has been viciously killed, his throat cut and his head scalped. A teenage boy who was friends with the dead man is missing, and his footsteps lead away from the cabin into the cold, unforgiving wilderness. The determined mother of the missing teenager sets out from her snow-covered settlement to find him, aided by a half-Indian trader. But they aren't the only ones interested in finding the boy; others are on the move, too. This amazing debut novel -- written by an agoraphobic author who had never been to Canada -- won Britain's prestigious Costa Book of the Year Award in 2006.
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