Death of a Toy Soldier by Barbara EarlyCozy Mystery. After her police chief father, Hank, was shot in the line of duty, Liz McCall relocated to East Aurora, New York to help him. Not only does her father occasionally go on patrol, forgetting he isn't a cop anymore (much to the handsome new chief's consternation), he's also sunk all of his savings into a vintage toy shop that he can't run alone. Things go even worse for Liz's father when a corpse is found in the store just before Christmas, and he's unable to remember what happened. Though the new chief has to treat Hank as a suspect, likable Liz and her punny dad decide to investigate, too, making this 1st entry in new series a delightful holiday mystery.
Smoke and Mirrors by Elly GriffithsHistorical Mystery. It's a snowy November morning in 1951 Brighton, and two children -- shy 12-year-old Mark and creative 13-year-old Annie -- have been missing for 40 hours. DI Edgar Stephens and his team search everywhere, eventually finding a disturbing murder scene set up to look like the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale. When it appears the case may have a link to an old variety show, Edgar and Max Mephisto -- friends from their World War II special ops "Magic Men" days -- work together to outsmart a killer. Smoke and Mirrors, the atmospheric 2nd in a series, is a great pick for Golden Age mystery readers: Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie fans will appreciate the "dazzlingly tricky mystery" (Kirkus Reviews) and Ngaio Marsh fans will relish the accurate theatrical details.
IQ by Joe IdeCrime Fiction. Genius 20-something high school-dropout Isaiah "IQ" Quintabe lives in one of Los Angeles's toughest neighborhoods, where he uses his blistering intellect to solve local crimes that the LAPD can't or won't. He usually takes food or tires or some such for payment, but needing some cash, he agrees to investigate the attempted murder (via attack dog) of increasingly paranoid rap mogul Black the Knife. Balancing dual time lines (we learn about IQ's troubled teen years), author Joe Ide, who himself grew up in South Central, provides an appealing original detective and surrounds him with quirky characters in this witty and clever debut that's already been optioned for TV. IQ will especially appeal to fans of Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins and those who like fresh takes on Sherlock Holmes.
Coffin Road by Peter MayMystery. On Harris, in Scotland's Outer Hebrides, an amnesiac man washes ashore. He's recognized by a local woman and taken to his nearby cottage -- but as he learns about himself, he senses he's in danger and fears he may be a murderer. Meanwhile, a teenage Edinburgh girl investigates her scientist father's suicide two years earlier and learns that all isn't as it seems. Into all of this comes homicide detective George Gunn (whom fans will remember from the author's Lewis Trilogy, though this book isn't part of that series); he's sent to a small island to investigate a murder at a remote lighthouse. These three mysterious stories connect in surprising ways in this atmospheric, ecologically themed novel. "Flat-out fantastic," says Booklist.
Presumption of Guilt by Archer MayorMystery. During demolition at a decommissioned nuclear plant near Brattleboro, Vermont, a 40-year-old body buried in a concrete slab is uncovered. That answers where Hank Mitchell, a talented roofer whose family thought he'd run off, ended up, but it opens up a very cold murder case for Joe Gunther, head of the state's Bureau of Investigation. As Joe and his team dig into Hank's past, a new murder and an abduction occur. Blending police procedural with suspense in a beautifully plotted mystery, this 27th outing for Joe is as compelling as always.
A Most Novel Revenge: A Mystery by Ashley WeaverHistorical Cozy. A weekend party at an English country house sounds lovely -- unless the same guests were all there seven years ago in 1925 when a man died. Though the death was ruled accidental, Isobel Van Allen, who was at the party, wrote a salacious book accusing another guest of murder. Now they are all gathered again -- minus the accused man, who committed suicide -- and Isobel announces that she has new information and is penning a second book accusing someone else. Invited in case of trouble, socialite/sleuth Amory Ames and her playboy husband, Milo, watch the eccentric group...and, before long, find a body. This 3rd in the Amory Ames mysteries once again recollects Golden Age mysteries while amping up the romance.
Persona Non Grata: A Novel of the Roman Empire by Ruth DownieHistorical Mystery. Though witty Roman medical officer Gaius Petreius Ruso has been based in Britannia, he and his beloved Barbarian companion, Tilla, head to his family home in Gaul after Gaius receives a summons from his brother. It turns out that an important cargo ship has gone missing, his family is near ruin, and they hope to marry Gaius off to a wealthy local widow (Tilla, of course, receives a less than warm welcome). But things get oh-so-much worse when the family's chief creditor is poisoned and Gaius is the main suspect. This is the excellent 3rd installment in amusing, well-plotted series that now numbers seven; readers who want to watch Gaius and Tilla's relationship progress will want to start with the 1st book, Medicus.
Designated Daughters by Margaret MaronMystery. Who would want to kill a woman receiving hospice care? Someone who is afraid that the dying woman's ramblings would spill dangerous secrets, it seems. But since the elderly woman's niece is Judge Deborah Knott, who's married to Colleton County, NC Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant, an investigation ensues that digs into all sorts of unsavory family secrets. Meanwhile a crooked auctioneer is cheating locals out of their rightful due, and Deborah's determined to set him straight. Fans of this excellent series -- this is the 19th entry out of 20 books -- will learn even more about Deborah's relatives; newcomers may want to start with the 1st book, Bootlegger's Daughter.
The Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall SmithCozy Mystery. In beautiful Botswana, lady detective Precious Ramotswe has several problems to solve. First, she receives threatening letters from an anonymous writer. Then, she tries to find the biological family of a woman who doesn't know her own birthday, has no living family, and thinks she was adopted. Meanwhile, Precious' husband looks for a cure for their adopted daughter's health problems, and her ambitious assistant Mma Makutsi buys a new bed that's too big. Though this is the charming 9th book in a bestselling series, newcomers who like richly drawn characters, leisurely paced stories, and lyrical prose can start here. Fans who've read all of the Precious Ramotswe's books can pick up one of Agatha Christie's novels -- she is, after all, Precious's inspiration and role model.
The Godfather by Mario PuzoCrime Fiction. A classic saga (that was adapted into a classic movie of the same name), The Godfather examines the life and times of Vito Corleone, the Don of an Italian American mafia in New York City, as well as his relatives and associates, especially his college-educated son Michael, who wants nothing to do with the family business. The book starts in 1945, just after the end of World War II, at Corleone's only daughter's wedding. But even at that happy event, business happens, because Corleone is always ready to help a friend in need, even if that means violence and killing are involved. Now, we're going to make you an offer that's hard to refuse: check out this groundbreaking book (and maybe pick up a cannoli?)!
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