Magpie Murders by Anthony HorowitzMystery. Readers can imagine the frustration of book editor Susan Ryeland: the final chapters are missing from author Alan Conway's latest mystery manuscript starring his Poirot-esque detective! Conway’s sudden, suspicious death means that Susan must piece together the ending by interviewing his friends and family; then she realizes that the novel’s characters are stand-ins for real people and that the book may be related to the author’s death. Containing a novel-within-a-novel, suspense, and plenty of details that Golden Age mystery fans will relish, the cleverly plotted Magpie Murders has something for everyone. On the hold list? Read some of the original Golden Age authors, like Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, or Margery Allingham.
Random Road: A Geneva Chase Mystery by Thomas KiesMystery. Journalist Geneva Chase struggles with a drinking problem and a penchant for dating the wrong men (the current one is married). Working at her small hometown paper, she is the only reporter at the scene when six bodies are found naked and mutilated in a gated Connecticut community. Hoping to get to the truth as well as help her flagging career, she juggles drinking, court-mandated AA visits, and her love life while digging up secrets and trying to uncover a cruel killer. Readers who enjoy character-driven stories with strong female leads should pick up this fast-paced debut novel.
The Play of Death: A Hangman's Daughter Tale by Oliver Pötzsch; translated by Lee ChadeayneHistorical Mystery. In 1670, healer Simon Fronwieser takes his seven-year-old son to a boarding school; it's the only place that will educate a bright lower-class boy. When someone crucifies the actor playing Christ in the local Passion Play, Simon acts as the town healer for a while in order to investigate. He needs all the help he can get, so it's good that his hangman father-in-law shows up. Meanwhile, witchcraft accusations at home trouble his wife and her sister. Fans of intricately plotted medieval mysteries such as this detail-rich 6th in the Hangman's Daughter series may want to try S.D. Sykes Somershill Manor mysteries.
The Right Side: A Novel by Spencer QuinnMystery. Sgt. LeAnne Hogan has one eye, a scarred face, PTSD, and short- and long-term memory issues (no matter how hard she tries, she can't remember what happened in Afghanistan). When Marci, her roommate at Walter Reed Hospital, suddenly dies, LeAnne takes off for Marci's Washington state hometown. There, LeAnne bonds with a stray dog and learns that Marci's eight-year-old daughter is missing. While trying to heal and remember, LeAnne hunts for the missing girl. Readers who adore Spencer Quinn's humorous Chet and Bernie novels will find this nuanced mystery grittier and more serious but just as good.
The Birdwatcher by William ShawMystery. As the son of a homicide victim and a self-professed murderer, William South of the Kent Community Police has steered clear of murder investigations. Until now. Teamed with the new DS (the single mother of a troubled 15-year-old girl), South finds himself at the murder scene of a friend, neighbor, and fellow birder. South works to find out who killed his friend even while trying to keep his own secrets hidden and teaching his new partner's daughter about birding. Alternating between South's childhood troubles and his current ones, The Birdwatcher offers readers a strong sense of place, nice plotting, and well-drawn characters.
Love & Death in Burgundy by Susan C. SheaCozy Mystery. Hoping for acceptance from her Burgundy, France village, American expat painter Katherine Goff organizes a local fête, which will include performances by her former rock star husband and a country music star. Meanwhile, the owner of the local chateau dies after a fall down the stairs and rumors abound that it was murder. Katherine can't help but nose about, and teenager Jeannette, the daughter of a local thief who's got a talent for spying, helps out. Fans of village mysteries peopled with eccentric characters should pick up this 1st in a new series. For another cozy series featuring an expat detective, pick up Elizabeth Duncan's Wales-set Penny Brannigan mysteries.
If You Like: Lindsey Davis
The Pericles Commission: A Mystery of Ancient Greece by Gary CorbyHistorical Mystery. In 461 BC, 20-year-old sculptor's son Nicolaos sees the body of democratic reformer Ephialtes land at his feet. An arrow has found its mark and toppled him from a building, but who shot it? Hired to find the assassin by the dead man's powerful political friend, Nicolaos sees an opportunity to leave sculpting behind. With the help of a priestess of Artemis and his younger brother Socrates (yes, that one), Nicolaos just might solve the crime before the assassin finds him. With its historical details, first person narration, and a few hardboiled elements, this 1st in a series should please Lindsey Davis fans.
Terra Incognita: A Novel of the Roman Empire by Ruth DownieHistorical Mystery. Together with his outspoken slave/housekeeper Tilla and the Twentieth Legion, Roman Army doctor Gaius Petrius Ruso heads to the uncivilized north border region of Britannia in 118 AD. Tilla is from the area and quite happy to be home, but the recently divorced Ruso finds himself wondering what he's agreed to, especially when he's tasked with figuring out who beheaded a soldier and why. Those who enjoy Lindsey Davis' mysteries will appreciate the amusing Ruso and Tilla as well as Ruth Downie's dry wit and character-driven style; Terra Incognita is the 2nd of seven books.
Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana FranklinHistorical Mystery. In 1171 Cambridge, England, someone is killing Christian children. The locals are blaming the Jews, who have taken refuge in a protected castle. King Henry II thinks the Jews are innocent (and he needs their tax revenue), so he requests the best master of the art of death (medical examiner) from a famous Sicilian school to examine the bodies -- but what he gets is a mistress of the art of death. For her part, the engaging, intelligent Adelia Aguilar struggles with life in less-civilized England as she tries to catch a killer. Lindsey Davis fans who appreciate forensic details should like this atmospheric award-winning series debut.
The Seven Wonders: A Novel of the Ancient World by Steven SaylorHistorical Mystery. In this excellent prequel to Steven Saylor's popular Roma Sub Rosa series, 18-year-old Gordianus embarks on a round-the-ancient-world journey. Celebrated Greek poet Antipater of Sidon, Gordianus's tutor, accompanies him on his 92 BC quest to see the Seven Wonders...but Antipater travels under a pseudonym since he and Gordianus' father have faked his death. Along the way the poet and the boy encounter murder, human sacrifice, love, and more. If you like the rich historical details and Ancient Roman setting of Lindsey Davis' books, try The Seven Wonders as well as the 14 other books in the series.
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