Justice is harder to mete out when hate crimes factor into the story. Nonetheless, our mystery authors persevere and tackle the tough issues, often using historical context. James R. Benn’s latest Billy Boyle World War II entry, A Blind Goddess, doesn’t pretend to have all the answers about racism and segregation, but maybe Billy can rectify a few wrongs. Don’t miss James W. Ziskin (Styx & Stone) and Patricia Hall (Dressed To Kill), who both use early 1960s scenarios to showcase villains who haven’t yet lain to rest their World War II agendas. Mix in a little conspiracy with that hate, and you have David O. Stewart’s 1900-set The Lincoln Deception. But peruse this month’s offerings for lighter fare, too. While historical mysteries are running particularly strong, current and even one futuristic tale (Frankie Y. Bailey’s The Red Queen Dies) will tempt your selecting tastes.
Limón, Martin. Nightmare Range: The Collected George Sueño & Ernie Bascom Stories. Soho Crime. Sept. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9781616953324. $25. M
Stationed in Korea in the early 1970s, these two army detectives have covered a lot of ground. Korean-speaking Sgt. George Sueño and his mismatched partner, the fiery Sgt. Ernie Bascom, make military detecting captivating. At times dark and brusque, the tales nonetheless demonstrate an empathy with the Korean people. Consider “The Mysterious Mr. Kim,” in which Sueño and Bascom reopen a case of a murdered U.S. doctor, solely on the basis of a tearful mother whose Korean son has been wrongfully convicted of the crime. VERDICT Snap up this volume immediately. All 17 stories have been published over two decades (dating back to 1993), and they provide a superb introduction to Limón’s stellar series (The Joy Brigade). Limón effectively stirs compassion into his military procedurals and never loses sight of his characters’ humanity.
Peterson, Linda Lee. The Devil’s Interval. Prospect Park. Sept. 2013. 344p. ISBN 9781938849114. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781938849121. M
Once again, Maggie Fiori, a San Francisco magazine editor, finds herself tangled in a crime case. Friends in a defense group for death row inmates want her to meet a prisoner, Travis Gifford, also known as the Limousine Lothario, who is appealing his sentence. Convicted for murdering a high-society client (and lover), Travis nonetheless maintains his innocence. Maggie’s curiosity gets the better of her, and soon she’s investigating, under the auspices of writing a magazine feature about the victim. Maggie’s last foray into detecting almost got her killed, so this time her husband gets involved, too. They learn that Grace Plummer, the victim, was no ordinary socialite. As Maggie’s team research and interview (including a steamy couple of segments in an exclusive sex club), they acknowledge the familiar maxim: the rich are different. And some of them have no compunction about killing again. VERDICT This sophomore entry featuring journalist-sleuth Maggie Fiori (after Edited to Death) is impossible to put down. Sparkling dialog, references both musical and literary, and an offbeat cast of believable characters make the pages fly by. Peterson’s secondary plot about Maggie’s family is balanced, never overwhelming the mystery.
Grafton, Sue. W Is for Wasted. Marian Wood: Putnam. Sept. 2013. 496p. ISBN 9780399158988. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101636459. M
Grafton’s 23rd Kinsey Millhone mystery (after V Is for Vengeance) features a strange twist in the life of the popular private detective, as she’s drawn into the investigations of two murders: the first, of a fellow PI with a shady reputation; the second, of a homeless man who has her name and phone number in his pocket. Her inquiries lead to a maze of troubles involving a bank, a will, a large amount of money, and a new connection with her long-lost relatives. Grafton has lost none of her ability to bring her character vividly to life: Kinsey is as witty and engaging as ever, although somewhat more subdued and thoughtful owing to the emotionally charged tasks she has to perform. VERDICT As Grafton nears the end of her long-running alphabet series, readers of mystery and suspense and Grafton’s many fans will delight in and savor this latest addition.
DEBUT OF THE MONTH
Yu, Ovidia. Aunty Lee’s Delights: A Singaporean Mystery. Morrow. Sept. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9780062227157. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062227164. M
Widowed Aunty Lee has two passions: the news and food. Her café is a popular Singapore institution, and she graciously supports her stepson Mark’s vintner aspirations by hosting tasting dinners with ticketed guests, including some Aussie tourists. But Mark’s scheming wife is not to be trusted, nor perhaps Laura, his hired assistant. When Laura doesn’t show up to work the latest dinner, Aunty suspects Laura might be the unidentified dead woman found on the beach (it’s on all the local news channels). When her hunch is confirmed, Aunty moves into full-on amateur sleuth mode, dragging her loyal assistant Nina into the investigation. Thankfully, Salim Mawar, the lead detective on the case, finds Aunty and Nina irresistible—and startlingly prescient. Then, when a mysterious stranger arrives from the United States, looking for Laura, the killer becomes more desperate. VERDICT Using a slightly fussy and gossipy tone, Yu has created a winning traditional-style series that’s sure to go over big with fans of Tarquin Hall, Anne Zouroudi, and Alexander McCall Smith. Her protagonist, a Singaporean Miss Marple, is marvelous.
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Coleman, Reed Farrel. Valentino Pier. Raven: Orca. (Rapid Reads). Sept. 2013. 140p. ISBN 9781459802094. pap. $9.95; ebk. ISBN 9781459802117. M
CHECK THESE OUT
“But the downside was that every crime had its victim. And if you were a cop, you didn’t just play Sherlock Holmes. You had to deal with victims who had been hurt by offenders who were sometimes victims themselves…. Justice, McCabe thought, is a difficult commodity to come by.”The Red Queen Dies
Bailey, Frankie Y. The Red Queen Dies. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Sept. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780312641757. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250037176. M
Benn, James R. A Blind Goddess: A Billy Boyle World War II Mystery. Soho Crime. Sept. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781616951924. $25. M
Elkins, Aaron & Charlotte Elkins. A Cruise To Die For. Thomas & Mercer: Amazon. Sept. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781477805077. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781477855072. M
Gorman, Ed. Flashpoint: A Dev Conrad Mystery. Severn House. Sept. 2013. 188p. ISBN 9780727883001. $28.95. M
Hall, Patricia. Dressed To Kill: A Kate O’Donnell Mystery. Crème de la Crime: Severn House. Sept. 2013. 204p. ISBN 9781780290461. $28.95. M
Miley, Mary. The Impersonator. Minotaur: St.
Martin’s. Sept. 2013. 356p. ISBN 9781250028167.
$24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250028174. M
Stewart, David O. The Lincoln Deception. Kensington. Sept. 2013. 264p. ISBN 9780758290670. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9780758290687. M
Ziskin, James W. Styx & Stone: An Ellie Stone Mystery. Seventh St: Prometheus. Oct. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9781616148195. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616148201. M
Dawson, Janet. Death Rides the Zephyr: A Mystery. Perseverance. Sept. 2013. 228p. ISBN 9781564745309. pap. $15.95. M
Price, Cate. Going Through the Notions: A Deadly Notions Mystery. Prime Crime: Berkley. Sept. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780425258798. pap. $7.99. M
Ross, Barbara. Clammed Up: A Maine Clambake Mystery. Kensington. Sept. 2013. 376p. ISBN 9780758286857. pap. $7.99. M
Faye, Lyndsay. Seven for a Secret. Amy Einhorn: Putnam. Sept. 2013. 464p. ISBN 9780399158384. $26.95. M
Bouchercon (bcon2013.com), the World Mystery Convention, calls. From far and wide, mystery fans will descend this year on Albany, NY, September 19–22. Pay special attention to the Anthony Awards, given on September 22.
2013 ANTHONY AWARD NOMINATIONS
Dare Me, Megan Abbott
The Trinity Game, Sean Chercover
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
The Beautiful Mystery, Louise Penny
The Other Woman, Hank Phillippi Ryan
BEST FIRST NOVEL
Don’t Ever Get Old, Daniel Friedman
The Professionals, Owen Laukkanen
The Expats, Chris Pavone
The 500, Matthew Quirk
Black Fridays, Michael Sears
BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
Whiplash River, Lou Berney
Murder for Choir, Joelle Charbonneau
And She Was, Alison Gaylin
Blessed Are the Dead, Malla Nunn
Big Maria, Johnny Shaw