Murder knows no boundaries. In this month’s mysteries, killers strike in small towns in Maine (Sarah Graves’s Winter at the Door), Missouri (Loretta Ross’s Death & the Redheaded Woman), and New York (Suzanne Chazin’s Land of Careful Shadows), along with Canada (Ausma Zehanat Khan’s The Unquiet Dead), Denmark (Sara Blaedel’s The Forgotten Girls), and France (Gary Inbinder’s The Devil in Montmartre).
In the Cozy Corner we have two excellent British historicals: Downton Abbey fans will love Tessa Arlen’s Edwardian debut, Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman (and should see also the Downton Abbey Collection Development feature on p. 46), while Laurie R. King readers will delight in the return of Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes in their 13th adventure, Dreaming Spies, which illuminates their time in Japan. There are no genteel manor houses in sight in the other two cozies, which feature a florist–turned–amateur sleuth (Beverly Allen’s For Whom the Bluebell Tolls) and an ex-nun who’s become a private eye (Alice Loweecey’s Nun Too Soon).
Blaedel, Sara. The Forgotten Girls. Grand Central. Feb. 2015. 320p. tr. from Danish by Signe Rød Golly. ISBN 9781455581528. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781455581504. M
This is Blaedel’s fourth Det. Louise Rick and journalist Camilla Lind mystery (after Farewell to Freedom) to be released in the United States, although this is actually the fifth in the series. Hoping she hasn’t made a huge mistake with her career, Louise Rick now heads the new Special Search Agency, which investigates missing-person reports. The job isn’t off to the best start when Louise has to retrieve her new partner Eik Nordstrom from the bar where he is passed out. Their first case is an unidentified woman found dead in a forest near where Louise grew up, and scans show the victim was mentally disabled. Heading to the forest to investigate, Louise and Eik encounter another body. As the danger mounts, the case forces Louise to confront the reasons she left her hometown while she tries to find the killer before he strikes again. VERDICT Already an international best seller, this outing by Denmark’s “Queen of Crime” offers trademark Scandinavian crime fiction with a tough detective and a very grim mystery. Blaedel is incredibly talented at keeping one reading even as one wants to look away from the graphic scenes. Recommend to fans of Camilla Läckberg and Liza Marklund. [See Prepub Alert, 8/22/14.]
Graves, Sarah. Winter at the Door. Bantam. Jan. 2015. 272p. ISBN 9780345535016. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780345539052. M
In this series launch featuring Boston homicide detective Lizzie Snow, first introduced in 2014’s A Bat in the Belfry, the latest in Graves’s long-running “Home Repair Is Homicide” series, Lizzie has accepted a job as a neighborhood liaison officer in the remote Maine town of Bearkill after she receives a tip that her missing niece may be nearby. However, Sheriff Cody Chevrier has ulterior motives in offering her the job: he’s convinced some area suicides of retired cops are actually murders and hopes Lizzie’s homicide experience will help his off-the-record investigation. VERDICT Darker in tone than Graves’s previous series, this is a superbly suspenseful mystery with likable tough cop Lizzie and a town full of character. It’s bound to appeal to readers who enjoy Jenny Milchman’s books.
Debut of the Month
Khan, Ausma Zehanat. The Unquiet Dead. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Jan. 2015. 336p. ISBN 9781250055118. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466858312. M
In Toronto, Det. Esa Khattak and Sgt. Rachel Getty work for the community policing section and are called in when there may be a sensitive aspect to a case. Investigating the supposedly accidental death of Christopher Drayton, the two officers soon uncover details that lead them to believe the man may have actually been a Bosnian war criminal involved with the Srebrenica massacre of 1995. With a large Bosnian refugee community in Toronto, the case is especially touchy. Mysteriously threatening letters that appeared on the victim’s doorstep and the presence of a gold-digging fiancée add to the suspicion. As Khattak and Getty interview imams and neighbors and sort out what justice really means, they are forced to navigate the lingering effects of a horrible conflict and their own broken lives. VERDICT Flashbacks to the Bosnian War and glimpses into the personal tragedies of Khattak and Getty make this debut by a former law professor with a specialty in Balkan war crimes even more compelling and hauntingly powerful. Readers of international crime fiction will be most drawn to the story, but anyone looking for an intensely memorable mystery should put this book at the top of their list.
QUOTABLE “A lot of the Latin American men Rodrigo knew hated the geography of suburban New York. Such cold winters. All those bare trees and gray skies and icy winds that whipped through your clothes like you weren’t wearing any. But Rodrigo liked the landscape, liked the way the hills rose and fell in little puckers and swells, soft like a quilt on an unmade bed.”— Land of Careful Shadows
Axelrod, Steven. Nantucket Fivespot: A Henry Kennis Mystery. Poisoned Pen. Jan. 2015. 352p. ISBN 9781464203428. $24.95; pap. ISBN 9781464203442. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781464203459 M
In the second Henry Kennis mystery (after Nantucket Sawbuck), the summer tourist season on Nantucket is under way when a threat to bomb the Boston Pops concert disrupts the holiday feeling, although the poetry-writing police chief suspects this may be a distraction to cover up a much bigger and more dangerous conspiracy.
Bannister, Jo. Perfect Sins. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Dec. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781250054203. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466857223. M
Former British government agent Gabriel Ash and police constable Hazel Best are back in this sequel to Deadly Virtues. Ash pursues a lead that’s given him some hope that his sons, who were abducted by Somali pirates, may still be alive, while Best investigates a burial mound at an archaeological site that isn’t so ancient.
Coyle, Cleo. Once upon a Grind: A Coffeehouse Mystery. Berkley. Dec. 2014. 416p. ISBN 9780425270851. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698137387. M
In her 14th adventure (after Billionaire Blend), Clare Cosi, coffeehouse manager–turned–amateur sleuth, is getting ready to participate in a Fairy Tale Festival in Central Park when she has a vision that helps her find a young model’s body in the park woods. Can she catch the killer and prevent another unhappy ending? Includes wicked good recipes.
Hall, Parnell. Puzzled Indemnity: A Puzzle Lady Mystery. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Jan. 2015. 272p. ISBN 9781250027177. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250027184. M
Puzzle Lady Cora Felton investigates a liquor store robbery and a cheating husband who may be plotting to murder his wife for the insurance money in the 16th series installment (after NYPD Puzzle). Includes six crosswords and a sudoku puzzle by Will Shortz that help you solve the mystery.
Kasasian, M.R.C. The Curse of the House of Foskett. Pegasus Crime. Jan. 2015. 320p. (Gower St. Detective, Bk. 2). ISBN 9781605986692. $25.95. M
In his second adventure (after The Mangle Street Murders), private detective Sidney Grice, depressed by his last case, perks up when a visitor dies in his study; finally he and his ward, March Middleton, have a new mystery to solve that will draw them to an eerie house in Kew and the enigmatic Baroness Foskett.
Lourey, Jess. February Fever: A Murder-by-Month Mystery. Midnight Ink. Feb. 2015. 264p. ISBN 9780738742144. pap. $14.99. M
Librarian, reporter, and PI-in-training Mira James, along with her octogenarian sidekick Mrs. Berns, heads to Portland, OR, to attend the Private Investigator Conference. Mrs. Berns booked their excursion on the “Valentine Train” route, a trip for singles to meet and mingle, and they’re just beginning to enjoy themselves when someone is murdered in this tenth series title (following January Thaw).
Muller, Marcia & Bill Pronzini. The Body Snatchers Affair: A Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery. Forge. Jan. 2015. 224p. ISBN 9780765331762. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781429997232. M
The third Sabina Carpenter and John Quincannon historical mystery (The Spook Lights Affair) has the detecting duo in San Francisco’s Chinatown searching for a missing husband and a corpse while a tong war brews. There’s also an ambiguous Englishman who calls himself Sherlock Holmes lurking in the shadows.
Myers, Amy. Classic Cashes In: A Case for Jack Colby, Car Detective. Severn House. Dec. 2014. 208p. ISBN 9780727884381. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9781780105925. M
Jack Colby, who runs a car restoration business and freelances for the Police Car Crime Unit in Kent, England, makes his sixth appearance (after Classic in the Pits). He’s commissioned to purchase a classic 1930s Packard saloon, which should be a simple job, but the car’s history proves to be dangerous.
Oust, Gail. Kill ’em with Cayenne. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. (Spice Shop, Bk. 2) Dec. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781250011053. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466834293. M
Piper Prescott’s spice shop in Brandywine Creek, GA, is flourishing, and the town is gearing up for the annual barbecue festival. Things are great until the body of Becca Dapkins is found bludgeoned by a brisket, and Piper has to investigate to clear her friend’s name in this sequel to Rosemary and Crime.
Williams, Timothy. The Honest Folk of Guadeloupe. Soho Crime. Jan. 2015. 336p. ISBN 9781616953850. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616953867. M
It’s 1990, and the West Indian island of Guadeloupe is finally starting to recover from Hurricane Hugo when a French tourist is found murdered on the beach. Judge Anne Marie Laveaud (Another Sun) is under pressure to solve the case before tourists panic and take their money elsewhere.
To log in to your account, click here. To view the new subscription options, Get Started With Book Verdict Pro Today.
Don't know if you have an account with us? It's easy to check and verify your email, or create a new account.
Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.
Check These Out
Chazin, Suzanne. Land of Careful Shadows. Kensington. Dec. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9781617736339. $24; ebk. ISBN 9781617736346. M
Inbinder, Gary. The Devil in Montmartre: A Mystery in Fin de Siècle Paris. Pegasus Crime. Dec. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9781605986470. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781605987316. M
Ross, Loretta. Death & the Redheaded Woman: An Auction Block Mystery. Midnight Ink. Feb. 2015. 264p. ISBN 9780738743936. pap. $14.99. M DEBUT
Allen, Beverly. For Whom the Bluebell Tolls: A Bridal Bouquet Shop Mystery. Berkley Prime Crime. Jan. 2015. 304p. ISBN 9780425264980. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781101609484. M
Arlen, Tessa. Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Jan. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9781250052490. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466854277. M DEBUT
King, Laurie R. Dreaming Spies: A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes. Bantam. Feb. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9780345531797. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780345531803. M
Loweecey, Alice. Nun Too Soon: A Giulia Driscoll Mystery. Henery. Jan. 2015. 272p. ISBN 9781940976655. pap. $15.95. M
Verne, Deirdre. Drawing Conclusions: A Sketch in Crime Mystery. Midnight Ink. Feb. 2015. 312p. ISBN 9780738741314. pap. $14.99. M
Hannah, Sophie. The Carrier. Putnam. (Zailor & Waterhouse, Bk. 8). Jan. 2015. 480p. ISBN 9780670785865. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698157286. M
Round, Jeffrey. The Jade Butterfly: A Dan Sharp Mystery. Dundurn. Mar. 2015. 342p. ISBN 9781459721852. pap. $11.99; ebk. ISBN 9781459721876. M
Melissa DeWild is Collection Development Manager, Kent District Library, Comstock Park, MI. She is a 2014 LJ Mover & Shaker