Death Below Stairs by Jennifer AshleyIntroducing: Kat Holloway, the talented new cook at Lord Rankin's Mayfair mansion, who investigates when her young assistant is killed.
Series alert: This atmospheric series debut by a veteran romance author is followed closely by the 2nd entry, Scandal Above Stairs, in July.
For fans of: Emily Brightwell's Mrs. Jeffries mysteries (if you like the servant's point of view), and Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia Grey or Veronica Speedwell novels (for those who like romance with their Victorian-era mysteries).
Force of Nature by Jane HarperWhat it's about: Whistleblower Alice Russell disappears while on a corporate retreat with four other women in the Australian Bush. Federal agents Aaron Falk and Carmen Cooper, who were working with her on a money laundering case, uncover plenty of possible suspects, including a serial killer's son.
Series alert: This follow-up to the author's acclaimed debut, The Dry (Reese Witherspoon bought the movie rights), provides another suspenseful, vividly drawn tale but can be read as a standalone.
Darkness, Sing Me a Song: A Holland Taylor Mystery by David HousewrightWelcome back to: St. Paul, Minnesota private detective Holland Taylor, appearing in his 4th book and his first outing since the 1999's Dearly Departed. Don't worry newcomers, this is a great place to start.
What it's about: Taylor discovers that his client's potential daughter-in-law isn't who she says she is. When the young woman is murdered, his client, the doyenne of a rich, socially prominent family, is arrested. Though the evidence is stacked against the (quite unpleasant) woman, Taylor feels compelled to investigate.
Two Girls Down by Louisa LunaIntroducing: enigmatic young bounty hunter Alice Vega, who's also had stunning success finding abductees, and disgraced former cop Max Caplan, a loving father to a down-to-earth teenage girl.
What it's about: A single mom's two daughters disappear from a parking lot, and a rich relative hires Vega. The local Pennsylvania cops won't work with outsider Vega, but Max agrees to help.
For fans of: suspenseful mysteries featuring tough female detectives who don't mind working outside the law.
A Devious Death by Alyssa MaxwellWhat it's about: In 1919 England, Lady Phoebe and her sister Lady Julia (and their two maids) are visiting their cousin Regina, who's just purchased an estate with money inherited from her father. But it isn't long before a murder occurs, raising questions about the inheritance, a friend's socialist attitudes, the Russian housekeepers, and Julia's new lady's maid.
Who it's for: This 3rd entry in the charming Lady and Lady's Maid Mysteries will please those who enjoy Rhys Bowen's Royal Spyness mysteries or those missing Downton Abbey.
Down the River Unto the Sea by Walter MosleyIntroducing: PI Joe King Oliver, a former NYPD cop who was framed by someone on the force and spent months in the notorious Rikers Island jail.
What it's about: While he's helping a man wrongly accused of murdering two corrupt cops, Oliver receives a confession from the woman who helped set him up.
Try this next: If you like this gritty, compelling 1st in a new series by the author of the acclaimed Easy Rawlins mysteries, try Rachel Howzell Hall's LA-set Detective Elouise Norton novels or Chester Himes' classic Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones mysteries.
Murphy's Law by Rhys BowenWhat it's about: After accidentally killing a landowner's son who wouldn't take no for an answer, Molly Murphy flees turn-of-the-century Ireland. On a boat to New York, she's harassed by a fellow passenger, who's later murdered on Ellis Island. To clear her name, outspoken, intrepid Molly tries to find the real killer, with a bit of help from a handsome Irish-American cop.
Series alert: This is the opening entry in the richly detailed Molly Murphy mysteries, which now number 17 books; the latest, The Ghost of Christmas Past, came out last November.
Land of Careful Shadows by Suzanne ChazinWhat it's about: This 1st in the Jimmy Vega series finds the Latino homicide detective investigating the racially charged murder of a Hispanic woman found dead in the small town of Lake Holly, New York. Jimmy doesn't have many clues to work with, just the two items left in the dead woman's purse: a photo of a woman and baby, and a note that says, "Go back to your country. You don’t belong here."
Read it for: an intriguing mystery, multidimensional characters, and a compelling, thought-provoking plot.
The Letter Writer by Dan FespermanStarring: Woodrow Cain, a cop from rural North Carolina who's new to the NYPD, and polyglot Maximilian Danziger, who reads and writes letters for illiterate immigrants.
What it is: a complex historical mystery that examines the murder of an immigrant, and its connections to the cops and the mafia.
Read it for: the fish-out-of water story that incorporates real people and events, the vivid portrait of World War II-era New York City, and the many memorable characters.
Faceless Killers: A Kurt Wallander Mystery by Henning Mankell; translated by Steven T. MurrayWhat it's about: When an elderly Swedish couple is brutally killed at their rural farm in Skåne, troubled, opera-loving Inspector Kurt Wallander tries to find the killer amid a wave of anti-immigrant attitudes following the news that the woman's last word was "foreign." This is the engrossing 1st in a popular series.
Media buzz: There have been several page-to-screen adaptations of the Wallander books, including two Swedish series and a British one, Wallander, starring Kenneth Branagh.
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