Although this issue starts coverage of April 2013 titles, I am backtracking one month to make sure you are alerted to the wealth of mystery titles appearing in March. You’ll find a good number of award winners, including folks like Brad Parks and Erin Hart who started out with a bang. Police procedurals, gritty tough stuff, cozier fare, and historicals follow. Then check out the April titles, from best sellers to political works to my considered Picks.
A claimant of the Herodotus Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Historical Mysteries, given by the Historical Mystery Appreciation Society, and also on Time’s 1998 “100 Masters of Crime” list, veteran Paul Doherty puts Brother Athelstan in danger again with The Straw Men (Crème de la Crime: Severn House. Mar. 2013. 224p. ISBN 9781780290379. $28.95). In 1381, with Sir John Cranston, he is attending the performance of a mystery play by the Straw Men, regent John of Gaunt’s personal acting troupe, when the severed heads of two important guests appear onstage as part of the scenery. Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Award winner Rhys Bowen returns with another Molly Murphy mystery, The Family Way (Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Mar. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781250011633. $24.99). Our heroine, now Molly Sullivan, may be pregnant, but she can’t keep from investigating when she finds that five babies have been kidnapped.
Five authors whose debuts won awards resurface this March. Brad Parks, who won the Shamus and Nero awards for Faces of the Gone, offers his third mystery starring Newark Eagle-Examiner reporter Carter Ross. In The Good Cop (Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Mar. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9781250005526. $24.99), Ross refuses to believe that a policeman’s death—which he’s suddenly asked not to cover, after having interviewed the widow—is suicide. Tricia Fields, who won the Hillerman Prize for The Territory, gets small-town police chief Josie Gray out in the Texas sun again in Scratchgravel Road (Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Mar. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9781250021366. $24.99). Here, Josie investigates the murder of a Mexican immigrant, found in the desert next to Cassidy Harper, who’s been felled by heatstroke.
Anthony Award winner Hilary Davidson (for The Damage Done) returns with Evil in All Its Disguises (Forge: Tor. Mar. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780765333520. $25.99), which takes us to Mexico on an all-expenses-paid trip with travel journalist Lily Moore. Lily is bothered that her fancy Acapulco hotel is nearly empty and even more bothered when a colleague vanishes. In A Dying Fall: A Ruth Galloway Mystery (Houghton Harcourt. Mar. 2013. 240p. ISBN 9780547798165. $26), Mary Higgins Clark Award winner Elly Griffiths (for The Crossing Places) sets forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway the task of investigating a friend and colleague’s murder by arson.
Finally, Erin Hart, whose Haunted Ground won the Romantic Times Best First Mystery and the Friends of American Writers awards, brings back pathologist Nora Gavin and archaeologist Cormac Maguire for another go at Ireland’s bogs. In The Book of Killowen (Scribner. Mar. 2013. 302p. ISBN 9781451634846. $26), our intrepid pair finds a ninth-century corpse—in a car trunk with the body of Benedict Kavanagh, a philosopher familiar to TV viewers for systematically destroying his opponents in coruscating debate.
Going farther afield, we meet Åke Edwardson, three-time winner of the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy Award, whose Room 10 (S. & S. Mar. 2013. 464p. ISBN 9781451608526. $25.99) features two inexplicable events—a young woman’s disappearance and another’s suspicious hanging, years apart—in the same room of a Gothenburg hotel. Then there’s Cara Black—a San Francisco Library Laureate, member of the Paris Société Historique in the Marais, and winner of the Médaille de la ville de Paris—who takes her Aimée Leduc series in a whole new direction with Murder Below Montparnasse (Soho Crime. Mar. 2013. NAp. ISBN 9781616952150. $25.95). For one thing, sidekick René has gone to Silicon Valley (the series is set in the 1990s). Check out the amazing contest.
In Elizabeth Gunn’s Eleven Little Piggies (Severn House. Mar. 2013. 192p. ISBN 9780727882363. $27.95), a Minnesota farm family’s tough decision—do they sell their beloved land to a mining concern for the money they need?—gets tougher when Chief of Detectives Jake Hines, out goose hunting, finds one family member murdered. For Ben Raveneau, the discovery of bones in a San Francisco bomb shelter brings back a frantic phone call he missed a decade before from historian Ann Coryell in Kirk Russell’s One Through the Heart (Severn House. Mar. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9780727882400. $28.95). And what about the dark mutterings of Coryell’s online followers, now out for revenge?
Over in England, Detective Inspector Monika Paniatowski gets too personally involved in a case; she saw the victim, about her daughter’s age, looking upset hours before her death (Sally Spencer’s A Walk with the Dead. Severn House. Mar. 2013. 208p. ISBN 9780727882424. $27.95). Meanwhile, in Jo Bannister’s Deadly Virtues (Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Mar. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9781250023445. $24.95), Norbold’s chief superintendent prides himself on his tough-on-crime stance, and new police recruit Hazel Best might get herself in trouble by following up on a prisoner’s last words: “I had a dog once. Othello.”
In the latest from Edgar and Anthony award finalist Jane Haddam, retired FBI profiler Gregor Demarkian returns to investigate a puzzling case: an Alwych, CT, debutante, who disappeared after being outed as a bank robber and murderer, is spotted in town decades later—and then found murdered in the old family home (Hearts of Sand: A Gregor Demarkian Novel. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Mar. 2013. 368p. ISBN 9781250012340. $25.99). Chief of Police Samuel (“Coop”) Cooper gets a distraction from his job as the only officer in little Gulf Front, FL, when he’s asked to serve as bodyguard for glam movie star Cherry Page in Gary Ruffin’s The Cherry Pages (Overlook. Mar. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9781590202357. $26.95).
Even as Jon Mallory approaches his ex-CIA brother Charles with concerns about the murder of seven prominent scientists, Homeland Security Secretary Catherine Blaine contacts Charles herself; an anonymous hacker claims that several worldwide natural disasters were manufactured and that more are coming America’s way unless she does as she’s told (James Lilliefors’s The Levianthan Effect. Soho Crime. Mar. 2013. NAp. ISBN 9781616952495. $25.95).
In Veronica Heley’s False Alarm (Severn House. Mar. 2013. 224p. ISBN 9780727882370. $28.95), sleuth Bea Abbot must figure out who booby-trapped the apartment of international businessman Sir Lucas Ossett, the powerful head of an international company, as violence and death wait around the corner. In Margaux Froley’s debut, Escape Theory (Soho Crime. Mar. 2013. NAp. ISBN 9781616951276. $17.99), 16-year-old Devon has always felt out of place at Keaton, her prestigious prep school—and now she has her hands full as a peer counselor when a popular student apparently commits suicide.
Poor Josh, the soldier–turned–small-time con artist who stars in Michael Guillebeau’s Josh Whoever (Five Star: Cengage. Mar. 2013. NAp. ISBN 9781432826840. $25.95). The Russian mob takes him for a private eye and demands that he find missing media starlet Kiev Romanov, a task complicated by his love affair with crime writer manqué Marci. Genealogist Sophie McClure, who creates eye-popping archival scrapbooks for clients with the help of her business partner, a medium named Esme, is accused of murder when a client ends up dead in Brynn Bonner’s Paging the Dead (Gallery: S. & S. Mar. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9781451661866. pap. $15).
Caroline Taylor’s Jewelry from a Grave: A P.J. Smythe Mystery (Five Star: Cengage. Mar. 2013. NAp. ISBN 9781432826871. $25.95) shows that you have to be careful about roommates: P.J. Smythe’s newest, Yolanda, claims that her two former roommates, who both loved antique jewelry, died under suspect circumstances. And now Yolanda has disappeared. In the latest Cat DeLuca mystery by K J Larsen (actually sisters Julianne, Kristen and Kari Larsen), a man in a Santa suit charging in and out of a bar turns out to be one of Cat’s old high school classmate, who’s investigating a murder witnessed by a former bartender years ago. Soon Cat gets involved in the investigation, too (Some Like It Hot. Poisoned Pen. Mar. 2013. 250p. ISBN 9781464200960. $24.95; pap. ISBN 9781464200984. $14.95).
In Bruce Macbain’s The Bull Slayer (Poisoned Pen. Mar. 2013. 250p. ISBN 9781464201080. $24.95; pap. ISBN 9781464201103. $14.95. lrg. prnt.), the second Plinius Secundus mystery, Pliny, newly appointed governor of far-off Bithynia, must deal with the murder of a high-up Roman official even as his own wife threatens to upend his career by falling in love with a dashing young provincial. In a new series opener from John Pilkington of Thomas the Falconer fame, Elizabethan intelligencer Martin Marbeck must uncover a spy before Spain launches a second armada against England (Marbeck and the Double-Dealer. Severn House. Mar. 2013. 192p. ISBN 9780727882394. $27.95).
Finally, for Annabelle Blue, it’s bad enough that there’s flooding in 1923 Rosedale, NM, worse that she finds a corpse floating in the water, even worse that it’s the president of the Rosedale Farmer’s and Rancher’s Bank, and worst of all that her brother-in-law becomes a murder suspect (Alice Duncan. Pecos Valley Rainbow. Five Star: Cengage. Mar. 2013. NAp. ISBN 9781432826901. $25.95).