What You Break by Reed Farrel ColemanHardboiled Fiction. In a part of Long Island far removed from the Hamptons, ex-cop Gus Murphy lives at a motel and works as its late-night van driver/bouncer/house detective. Still adjusting after the death of his son, divorced Gus does a favor for a friend and investigates why someone killed a rich businessman's adult granddaughter (the cops have the killer, but no motive). Gus also learns that a co-worker, bellman Salva, isn't who he seems and has a darker past than Gus'd imagined. Navigating a minefield of secrets, street gangs, and Russians with ties to heinous crimes committed decades earlier, this follow-up to Where It Hurts provides a dark, twisty tale for those who like their mysteries hardboiled.
A Cast of Vultures by Judith FlandersMystery. London book editor Sam Clair sets off to do her Saturday morning trip to the farmers' market and finds herself in the middle of a neighborhood mystery. Her elderly friend Viv's upstairs neighbor has disappeared, and feisty Viv wants help finding out what happened to him (a little breaking and entering might be involved). Then a series of arsons grows closer when a nearby house inhabited by squatters is torched and a body is found inside. With some help from her police detective boyfriend Jake, Sam tries to unravel what's going on. Third in a series, A Cast of Vultures features a sassy, relatable heroine, eccentric secondary characters, and a lively look at modern London and book publishing.
Snowblind by Ragnar JonassonMystery. Despite his live-in girlfriend's wishes, Ari Thor Arason, who previously studied philosophy and theology, accepts his first police job: a posting in a remote village in Northern Iceland near the Arctic Circle. Accessible by tunnel, it's also completely cut off part of the year. His boss informs him that things are done differently here -- you try to avoid giving people tickets and such. But when a suspicious injury and a murder occur, Ari Thor starts to examine everything, including small town secrets. Everyone from Agatha Christie fans to Arnaldur Indridason readers will want to try this debut novel, which was a bestseller in Europe and is the stunning 1st in the Dark Iceland series.
The Dime by Kathleen KentPolice Procedural. When Betty "Riz" Rhyzyk, a tough, red-haired, nearly six-foot-tall police detective, relocates from Brooklyn to Dallas, Texas with her long-term girlfriend, she doesn't expect to fit in with the locals. Working in narcotics, Betty does find a friend in her partner Seth; after an operation goes south, the two of them realize the case is bigger than a drug bust and try to sort out what's going on...and if it's related to Biz's stalker and an older case. Gritty and violent but leavened with humor, this scorching 1st in a new series is perfect for readers who like strong female protagonists, realistic characters, and tight plotting.
The Ripper's Shadow: A Victorian Mystery by Laura Joh RowlandHistorical Mystery. In 1888 London, times are certainly tough, and photographer Sarah Bain has started (illegally) taking "boudoir pictures" of prostitutes and splitting the earnings from their sale with her subjects. After the recent murders of two of the women she's photographed, Sarah and a motley crew of friends (including a Lord, a Jewish immigrant couple, and a street urchin) investigate the Jack the Ripper killings to see if they are connected to Sarah, even if it means drawing the attention of the killer and getting into hot water with the cops. Debuting this 1st in a new series, veteran author Laura Joh Rowland leaves 18th-century Japan but retains atmospheric writing and fine character development.
An Unsettling Crime for Samuel Craddock: A Samuel Craddock Mystery by Terry ShamesMystery. Circa the early 1980s, on the outskirts of Jarrett Creek, Texas, a fire in "Darktown" leaves five African Americans dead, including four young people. A racist highway patrolman in charge of the case arrests African American Truly Bennett, even though inexperienced police chief Samuel Craddock believes Truly's innocent. Craddock, an honorable hometown boy, must also sort out a troublesome drug problem at the local high school. This timely 6th in an atmospheric series is a prequel that examines race and crime; it also provides a fascinating look at a young Craddock and offers a good entry point for newcomers.
If You Like: Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs
Murder in the Afternoon: A Kate Shackleton Mystery by Frances BrodyCozy Historical. When a young girl and her little brother sneak away from home to visit their stonemason dad at work, they find his corpse. They tell an adult, but when the authorities arrive, the body is gone. Their worried mother, Mary Jane, calls on PI Kate Shackleton and asks for help...and tells Kate that they are sisters. Adoptee Kate sets aside news about her biological family and investigates, but soon has a growing suspicion that Mary Jane is harboring a dangerous secret. Fans of post-World War I mysteries set in the United Kingdom and featuring complex characters, such as those by Jacqueline Winspear, will want to try the Kate Shackleton series. This 3rd entry was chosen by Library Journal as one of its five best mysteries for 2014; the 7th in the series, A Death in the Dales, was released in the U.S. last month.
The Moor: A Mary Russell Novel by Laurie R. KingHistorical Mystery. In Dartmoor, 20 years after Sherlock Holmes' famous Baskerville case, a ghostly carriage and dog have been seen by more than one person...and a murder has occurred. Called to investigate by his ill, elderly friend Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould, Holmes and his redoubtable young wife Mary Russell stay at Baring-Gould's fascinating house, tramp over the moors, talk with locals, and meet the new owner of Baskerville Hall as they puzzle out the complicated truth. Highly intelligent, courageous, and working during and after World War I, Mary Russell has much in common with Maisie Dobbs; also, like Maisie, Mary was apprenticed to an older and more experienced detective who taught her his methods. The Moor is the 4th in an excellent series; readers who haven't read the 1st, The Beekeeper's Apprentice, may want to start there.
A Deadly Measure of Brimstone: A Dandy Gilver Mystery by Catriona McPhersonHistorical Mystery. In September 1929, Dandy Gilver's family is already sick with complications from the flu when scarlet fever arrives in their Scottish village. Decamping to a health spa, Dandy hopes to ensure the convalescence of her teenage sons and husband Hugh, while investigating, along with her close friend police detective Alec Osborne, the suspicious death of an elderly widow and ghost-like figures in the Turkish baths. This is the 8th entry in an Agatha Award-winning series; Maisie Dobbs readers who enjoy smart, spirited heroines, 1920s and '30s U.K. settings, and leisurely pacing will want to meet Dandy.
An Impartial Witness: A Bess Crawford Mystery by Charles ToddHistorical Mystery. In the summer of 1917, British nurse Bess Crawford accompanies a group of badly wounded soldiers home from the battlefields in France. She recognizes the wife of one of them (he always kept her photo pinned to his tunic) at a London train station -- but she's clinging closely to another soldier. When the woman is murdered, Bess finds herself hunting a killer, especially once the police arrest a soldier she believes to be innocent. An Impartial Witness is the atmospheric 2nd in a series. Those who appreciate strong, independent nurses living during World War I should enjoy spending time with Bess.
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