IT’S RAINING CATS and dogs this month. Well, actually, just dogs. Most notably, Eileen Brady debuts her new veterinarian series, Muzzled: A Kate Turner, D.V.M. Mystery, which won Poisoned Pen’s 2013 Discover Mystery Contest. Beyond that, several authors give sidekick roles to their dog characters, such as Mitchell Scott Lewis’s Evil in the 1st House; Naomi Hirahara’s Murder on Bamboo Lane; and Peter Hayes’s My Lady of the Bog. Spoiler alert: dogs fall under the category of collateral damage in Frank Lentricchia’s The Dog Killer of Utica and R.N. Morris’s The Dark Palace.
Haunted by their own personal losses, several protagonists threaten to spiral out of control this season. How they work through their grief—although gut-wrenching—perhaps makes a form of bibliotherapy for readers, too. These complicated titles include: Daniel Friedman’s Don’t Ever Look Back; Deryn Lake’s Death on the Rocks; Patricia Skalka’s Death Stalks Door County, plus the aforementioned Lentricchia and Morris titles.
Traditional mysteries are doing well by their amateur and professional sleuths. The slate of cozy titles this month is particularly strong, featuring a sparkling infusion of new, young protagonists. Stop by the Cozy Corner to meet up with Beverly Allen’s florists, Hirahara’s bicycle cop, and Brady’s veterinarian. As always, Series Lineup showcases titles that library readers are hoping to find.
Brady, Eileen. Muzzled: A Kate Turner, D.V.M., Mystery. Poisoned Pen. Apr. 2014. 224p. ISBN 9781464201844. $24.95; pap. ISBN 9781464201868. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781615954797. M
Show dog business might be ruthless, but the shooting deaths of a local couple high in the industry’s ranks stuns not just Dr. Kate Turner, the veterinarian who finds them, but the whole community. The police quickly rule it murder-suicide, but Kate thinks that unlikely, mostly because the canines were loose in the house. When another dog breeder is shot and wounded at a regional show, Kate’s suspicions only deepen. The trouble is, she’s the newcomer in town and not sure whom she can trust—other than the animals—at this point. Consulting with her grandfather, a retired NYFD arson investigator, by phone, she picks up some investigative tips. But she needs to watch her back because someone is tired of her nosiness. VERDICT Winner of the Poisoned Pen Discover Writers Contest, Brady’s series debut is stellar. She weaves in details about the veterinary practice without overwhelming the plot, and the scenic Hudson River setting (think Rhinebeck) enhances the mystery. Recommend for Beth Groundwater readers: gentle but exciting, too.
Johnson, Craig. Any Other Name: A Longmire Mystery. Viking. May 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780670026463. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698163539. M
Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire and Lucian Connally, his former boss, travel to a neighboring county to look into the suicide of Det. Gerald Holman. The detective was a longtime friend of Connally, and his death raised many questions; Walt is the best person to find the solutions. Time becomes an issue for Walt, not only in tracing the clues of Holman’s last case involving missing women, but also in trying to get to Philadelphia in time for the birth of his first grandchild. In this 11th series installment (after Spirit of Steamboat), Longmire displays his usual down-to-earth charm and dogged determination asking questions of the local sheriff, his sister who owns the local strip club, a lonely clerk whose post office is facing eminent closure, and Holman’s wife and daughter, who seem to know more than they are telling. Walt grasps the connection between the vanished women and Holman’s death, and not even a herd of bison in Custer State Park can stop him. VERDICT Another well-crafted story from Johnson, filled with endearing characters and nonstop action that will appeal to series fans and readers of other Western mystery authors such as C.J. Box. [See Prepub Alert, 1/6/14; 15-city author tour.]
Lentricchia, Frank. The Dog Killer of Utica: An Eliot Conte Mystery. Melville House. Apr. 2014. 240p. ISBN 9781612193373. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781612193380. M
Explosive behavior, loyalty, and a love of literature define Utica’s Eliot Conte, a reforming alcoholic and part-time professor. A year after the murders of his two daughters, Eliot grapples with his newest challenges. Apparently, Homeland Security believes one of Eliot’s students, Mirko Ivanovic, is a terrorism threat. At the same time, someone has just tried to kill his cop friend, Bobby Rintrona. Paranoia might be Eliot’s middle name because he suspects Antonio Robinson, Utica’s police chief, owing to an earlier incident. Then Mirko’s parents are killed, and Eliot’s fury is redirected. Bobby lives but his dog is killed, execution-style. Eliot’s paranoia escalates as the body count, both human and canine, rises—and won’t be quelled until he can confront the villain. VERDICT The pages sizzle with intensity in this gritty, operatic, and wholly engaging tale. No matter if readers are new to the characters (introduced in The Accidental Pallbearer), Lentricchia’s crystal-clear prose spells it out. Reckless and passionate, his protagonist demands attention. I like partnering this densely woven mystery with crime thrillers by Ken Wishnia, Reed Farrel Coleman, and George Pelecanos.
Debut of the Month
Salvalaggio, Karin. Bone Dust White. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. May 2014. 300p. ISBN 9781250046185. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466846326. M
Seventeen-year-old Grace Adams goes into shock when she witnesses her mother’s murder just outside her home in remote northern Montana. Eleven years earlier Grace’s mom had skipped town during the tumultuous aftermath of a still-unsolved grisly sex trafficking murder case. No one understands why she came back, or what Grace knows. Grace struggles to recover, aided by an honest state detective named Macy Greeley, who’s been dispatched to run the investigation. Macy, eight months pregnant, worked the earlier case and believes the death of Grace’s mother is tied to that unsolved cold case. An increasingly desperate killer strikes again, attempting to get to Grace. With readers privy to Grace’s secrets, the suspense meter spikes dramatically. If only clever Macy can connect the dots before she goes into labor. VERDICT This complicated, peel-away-layers debut procedural intoxicates from the opening page and has word-of-mouth selling power. To the fine roster of pregnant protagonists (Elly Griffiths’s Ruth Galloway and Tess Gerritsen’s Jane Rizzoli), add Macy Greeley. Recommend for fans of Archer Mayor, Gwen Florio, and Craig Johnson. C.J. Box’s The Highway comes to mind, too.
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Weiss, Jan Merete. A Few Drops of Blood: A Captain Natalia Monte Investigation. Soho Crime. Apr. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781616953539. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616953546. M
QUOTABLE “The Strozzis were in the vanguard. With more mob men in jail, their women had moved up to take command. A Neapolitan innovation. The Sicilian mafia would never entertain the idea of having women dons. But Naples’ females often stepped in when their men were sent up. The Camorra took genuine pride in their ruthlessness.”—Jan Merete Weiss, A Few Drops of Blood
Check These Out
Blechta, Rick. The Boom Room: A Detective Pratt Mystery. Raven Bks: Orca. (Rapid Reads). Apr. 2014. 148p. ISBN 9781459805149. pap. $9.95; ebk. ISBN 9781459805163. M
Carter, Maureen. Child’s Play: A DI Sarah Quinn Mystery. Crème de la Crime: Severn House. Apr. 2014. 200p. ISBN 9781780290584. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9781780104935. M
Freedman, J.F. Turn Left at Doheny. Severn House. May 2014. 232p. ISBN 9780727883599. $28.95. M
Friedman, Daniel. Don’t Ever Look Back: A Mystery. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Apr. 2014. 280p. ISBN 9781250027566. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250027573. M
Hayes, Peter. My Lady of the Bog: An Archeo-Forensic Mystery. Permanent. Apr. 2014. 280p. ISBN 9781579623548. $28. M
Lake, Deryn. Death on the Rocks: A John Rawlings Mystery. Severn House. Apr. 2014. 200p. ISBN 9780727883544. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9781780104997. M
Lewis, Mitchell Scott. Evil in the 1st House: A Starlight Detective Agency Mystery. Poisoned Pen. Apr. 2014. 216p. ISBN 9781464201875. $24.95; pap. ISBN 9781464201899. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781615954582. M
Morris, R.N. The Dark Palace: A Silas Quinn Mystery. Crème de la Crime: Severn House. May 2014. 248p. ISBN 9781780290591. $28.95. M
Skalka, Patricia. Death Stalks Door County: A Dave Cubiak Door County Mystery. Terrace: Univ. of Wisconsin. May 2014. 256p. ISBN 9780299299408. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780299299439. M
Allen, Beverly. Bloom and Doom: A Bridal Bouquet Shop Mystery. Berkley Prime Crime. Apr. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780425264973. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781101609477. M
Hirahara, Naomi. Murder on Bamboo Lane: An Officer Ellie Rush Mystery. Berkley Prime Crime. Apr. 2014. 292p. ISBN 9780425264959. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781101609453. M
Brookmyre, Christopher. Bred in the Bone: A Jasmine Sharp and Catherine McLeod Novel. Atlantic Monthly. May 2014. 416p. ISBN 9780802122476. $24; ebk. ISBN 9780802192493. M
Goodwin, Jason. The Baklava Club. Sarah Crichton: Farrar. (Investigator Yashim). Jun. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780374294373. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781429949552. M
Haynes, Elizabeth. Under a Silent Moon. Harper. (Detective Chief Inspector Louisa Smith). Apr. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780062276025. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062276056. M
Knowles, Mike. The Buffalo Job: A Wilson Mystery. ECW. Jun. 2014. 312p. ISBN 9781770411715. pap. $12.95. M
Maxwell, Alyssa. Murder at the Breakers: A Gilded Newport Mystery. Kensington. Apr. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780758290823. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9780758290830. M
Trent, Christine. Stolen Remains: A Lady of Ashes Mystery. Kensington. May 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780758293244. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9780758293251. M
Bissell, Sallie. Deadliest of Sins: A Novel of Suspense. Midnight Ink. Apr. 2014. 312p. ISBN 9780738736228. pap. $14.99. M
While investigating hate crimes against gays in North Carolina, special prosecutor Mary Crow unearths other harrowing secrets when a child convinces her that his older sister has been kidnapped. Local authorities may be part of the problem in this sixth series entry (after Music of Ghosts).
Bourbon, Melissa. A Killing Notion: A Magical Dressmaking Mystery. Obsidian: NAL. Apr. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780451417206. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781101602744. M
Talented Harlow Cassidy, descendent of Butch, helps clear a high school football player who’s falsely accused of murder in this lightly paranormal Texas cozy. The series stands at five (after A Custom-Fit Crime); sewing tips and recipes included.
Cotterill, Colin. The Axe Factor: A Jimm Juree Mystery. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Apr. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781250043368. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466841697. M
The wait is over for fans of Cotterill’s witty, over-the-top south Thailand-based series. In this, number three (after Grandad, There’s a Head on the Beach), journalist Jimm must contend with a serial killer and a tropical storm just before Christmas.
DuBois, Brendan. Fatal Harbor: A Lewis Cole Mystery. Pegasus Crime. May 2014. 256p. ISBN 9781605985626. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781605985961. M
Lewis Cole, retired as an analyst for the Department of Defense, won’t back down when his friend is gravely injured during an antinuclear demonstration. DuBois’s eighth case (after Deadly Cove) promises plenty of fast-paced action for the vigilante hero.
Grace, Margaret. Madness in Miniature: A Miniature Mystery. Perseverance. Apr. 2014. 248p. ISBN 9781564745439. pap. $15.95. M
Summer gets lively when Gerry and her granddaughter Maddie deal with another murder, this one coupled with an untimely earthquake. Grace’s seventh cozy entry (after Mix-up in Miniature) combines a love of miniatures with traditional sleuthing. Pseudonym for retired physicist Camille Minichino, who pens two other series.
Hunter, Maddy. Fleur de Lies: A Passport To Peril Mystery. Midnight Ink. May 2014. 292p. ISBN 9780738737980. pap. $14.99. M
A river cruise down the Seine with a group of octogenarians could be magical for Emily’s tour group. Or it could mean murder for one of the passengers. Don’t miss the ninth trip (after Bonnie of Evidence) in this always entertaining series.
McKinlay, Jenn. Sugar and Iced: A Cupcake Bakery Mystery. Berkley Prime Crime. Apr. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780425258927. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780698138018. M
A beauty pageant goes awry when one of the judges is murdered, and Melanie and Angie’s friend is the number one suspect. As always, romance complicates the bakers’ lives, too. This sixth culinary entry (after Going, Going, Ganache) is a consistently rewarding cozy series set in Scottsdale, AZ. Mouthwatering recipes included, natch.
Rodriguez, Linda. Every Hidden Fear: A Skeet Bannion Mystery. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. May 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781250049155. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466850286. M
A local bad boy returns to town, reveals long-held secrets, which results in his murder. Police officer Skeet must unravel a complicated family drama to save a teenager’s life. This third engrossing title (after Every Broken Trust) is set in Missouri, near Kansas City.
Upson, Nicola. The Death of Lucy Kyte: A New Mystery Featuring Josephine Tey. HarperCollins. Jun. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780062195456. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062195463. M
Upson’s fifth title (after Fear in the Sunlight) in her historical series featuring mystery author Josephine Tey once again ratchets up the psychological suspense. This outing finds Tey in rural Suffolk.
In publishing Maigret is back! No more apologizing for your tattered Insp. Jules Maigret titles (by famed Belgian author Georges Simenon). A joint effort by Penguin and Penguin UK is breathing fresh life into the highly regarded series. The titles will be newly translated into English; the program includes some titles that have never been translated into English before. First out of the chute this year are Pietr the Latvian and The Late Monsieur Gallet, with eight titles expected in 2014 (there are 75 titles total).
Hard Case Crime, a part of Titan Publishing Group (titanbooks.com), recently announced that it will release Stephen King’s best-selling Joyland (an Edgar Award nominee) in two new editions this spring. The title will be available as a mass market paperback and as an ebook, in addition to 2013’s trade paperback edition. Now a decade old, Hard Case Crime has become known for its crime and thriller offerings, both new and vintage.
In libraries In February and March, Brookline P.L. (brooklinelibrary.org) hosted a dazzling array of activities revolving around William Landay’s Defending Jacob for the library’s 2014 “Brookline Reads” project. The library’s website is a good source of programming inspiration—I was quite taken by the film screening lineup.
Over in northern Illinois, Libertyville’s Cook Memorial Public Library District posts an admirable list of staff favorites every year. Their 2013 lists can be found at cooklib.org and a generous-sized selection of 26 mystery/thriller/suspense titles might be just what you need to help you with some fresh readers’ advisory suggestions.
TERRY’S READER RESOLUTIONS
Two of the authors I hit up for reading resolutions (see LJ 1/14, p. 76, for the full report) mentioned Patricia Highsmith, which seems timely with the new Highsmith-based movie, The Two Faces of January, coming out this spring. (Grove Atlantic is reissuing Highsmith titles in paperback this year, too.)
Meg Gardiner vowed to read Strangers on a Train. She declared in an email that it’s “shameful that I haven’t yet read the book” since the Hitchcock movie is one of her favorites. When I caught up with her in February, Gardiner attested that she had found the book “taut and insidious!”
A best-selling thriller writer who writes both series and stand-alones (The Shadow Tracer), Gardiner was the guest of honor for 2013’s Crime Bake conference, and is a strong library advocate. She’s recently moved back to the United States after several years in London. Her next title, Phantom Instinct, comes out in June.
Gardiner wants readers to try Zoë Sharp in 2014, noting, “Her Charlie Fox novels are fast-paced, gritty, and authentic.” With that endorsement, better check your catalog. A quick check of Sharp’s website (zoesharp.com) indicates ten Zoe Sharp thrillers are out there—just the ticket for your binge-readers.
Author Wayne Arthurson (A Killing Winter) has vowed to read Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley. Playing it close to the vest, the Canadian wasn’t divulging whether he’s cracked the book yet. He is emphatic in his endorsement of fellow Edmontonian Janice MacDonald’s mysteries. In his correspondence with me, he said, “They’re traditional amateur sleuth mysteries set in academic backdrops or on the fringes of academia because MacDonald’s protagonist, Miranda ‘Randy’ Craig, can’t get a tenure-track job. The books are quirky, funny but very smart.” See janicemacdonald.net for more. Give them a whirl.
Teresa L. Jacobsen, retired librarian, was a training coordinator for Solano County Library, and previous to that, a fiction evaluator/ reference librarian for Santa Monica Public Library. She has written occasional feature articles for LJ and reviewed fiction regularly since 2004. She is an unabashed mystery fan who enjoys bringing new readers into the fold