What Else Is Hot?: Spring 2011 Mystery

For years, Prepub Mystery has been previewing titles four to five months in advance of publication. Handy, of course, but who really buys‚ or reads‚ mysteries by pub date? With that in mind, LJ is making Prepub Mystery a quarterly feature that sorts a season’s worth of mysteries into useful and maybe even entertaining categories‚ not just by subgenre but by theme, setting, character, or whatever else seems striking. Obviously, these categories can crisscross‚ who says a police procedural can’t also fit under international intrigue?‚ but that’s part of the fun. The 28 titles on this list will be published in February, March, and April 2011; look here for the next edition of Prepub Mystery in January 2011.

Authors with Trophies
If you don’t know why Julia Spencer-Fleming has won Agatha, Anthony, Barry, Dilys, Gumshoe and Macavity awards and been shortlisted for Edgar and Romantic Times awards as well, try her new work, One Was a Soldier: A Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Novel (Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Apr. 2011. ISBN 9780312334895. $24.99). Never mind what Police Chief Van Alstyne says, the Reverend Clare just does not believe that a troubled Iraqi vet was a suicide. Look for a tour to Houston, Austin, Phoenix, Maine, and somewhere in New York State.
Other big-name authors: In her 18th showing, best-selling Edgar Award winner Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak is reeling from a note left in Old Sam’s will that says Find my father (Though Not Dead: A Kate Shugak Novel. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Feb. 2011. ISBN 9780312559113. $25.99). Molly Murphy, star of her own Anthony and Agatha award-winning series by Rhys Bowen, is set to marry NYPD Capt. Daniel Sullivan‚ but not before she finds the missing bride of a rich Chinese immigrant (Bless the Bride: A Molly Murphy Mystery. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Mar. 2011. ISBN 9780312628109. $24.99). And after proving that an apparent suicide had some outside help, Annie Darling finds herself in danger in multiple Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Award winner Carolyn Hart’s Dead by Midnight (Morrow. Mar. 2011. Apr. 2011. ISBN 9780061914973. $24.99).

British Accent
Leading this season’s British charge, Cynthia Harrod-Eagles offers yet another mystery featuring Detective Inspector Bill Slider, who’s puzzled by the murder of a dashing doctor (Body Line. Severn House. Mar. 2011. ISBN 9780727869579. $28.95). In the second in a new series, retired Home Office pathologist Bernard Knight leaves behind his medieval Crowner John series for 1950s England, where Dr. Richard Pryor (yes, newly appointed Home Office pathologist) finds himself sorting through a tangle of cases in his small Welsh Borders town (According to the Evidence. Severn House. Apr. 2011. ISBN 9780727869869. $28.95).
Visit the Lake District in Martin Edwards’s The Hanging Wood (Poisoned Pen. Apr. 2011. ISBN 9781590588529. $24.95; pap. ISBN 9781590588543. $14.95), where Orla Payne tries to prove that the uncle who hanged himself did not murder her brother, missing for years. In Simon Tolkien’s King of Diamonds (Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Mar. 2011. ISBN 9780312539085. $24.99), more properly a thriller, a man convicted of murdering his former girlfriend’s lover escapes from prison on the very night she is found murdered. Enter Inspector Trave of the Oxford Police, set on finding the truth.

Historicals for Everyone
Fans of I.J. Parker (whose latest, The Masuda Affair, just received a starred LJ review) will dance on the tables when they hear that he’s back with another mystery featuring Sugawara Akitada novel, who’s suspected of murdering the nobleman who recently sacked him (The Fires of the Gods. Severn House. Apr. 2011. ISBN 9780727869890. $28.95). In The Curse-Maker (Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Feb. 2011. ISBN 9780312654191. $24.99), Kelli Stanley’s third book and second Roman workout after the witty and award-winning Nox Dormienda, Roman physician Arcturus and wife Gwyna are understandably perturbed to find a dead body in the pool when they arrive for vacation in Bath.
You can visit medieval times in Simon Beaufort’s A Dead Man’s Secret (Severn House. Mar. 2011. ISBN 9780727869722. $28.95), which sends former crusader knight Geoffrey Mappestone on a mission for King Henry, and Tony Hays’s The Beloved Dead (Forge: Tor. Apr. 2011. ISBN 9780765326287. $25.99). That’s the third in Hays’s Arthurian mystery series; the first, The Killing Way, got a starred LJ review. Moving up to the Roaring Twenties, you’ll find Dolores Gordon-Smith’s latest Jack Haldean mystery (Off the Record. Severn House. Mar. 2011. ISBN 9780727869746. $28.95)‚ perhaps the only mystery in which a gramophone inspires bloodshed. And an actor’s unsolved 1942 murder resurfaces in Bit Player: A Jeri Howard Mystery (Perseverance. Apr. 2011. ISBN 9781564744944. pap. $14.95) by Janet Dawson, whose first Jeri Howard Mystery (this is the tenth) won the St. Martin’s Press/PWA best first PI novel contest and some big nominations.

International Intrigue
You bet those Scandinavian authors are hot, and here come another. In Misterioso (Pantheon. Feb. 2011. 9780375425356. $24.95.), Arne Dahl‚ an award-winning crime novelist back home in Sweden‚ rifts on the Thelonius Monk classic of the title, which plays in the background as a killer who targets business leaders does his dirty deed. Prizing-winning Japanese author Keigo Higashino delivers a tale of complicity in The Devotion of Suspect X (Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Feb. 2011. ISBN 9780312375065. $24.99), as a neighbor helps Yasuko dispense with the evidence when she kills her ex-husband while defending her daughter. (Look for the starred review in LJ 11/15/10.) Finally, though Cara Black is homegrown, all her Aimée Leduc mysteries are set in Paris; visit the 16th arrondissement in Murder in Passy (Soho. ISBN 9781569478820. $23), which I’ve already deemed fun, absorbing, and well plotted (LJ 8/10).

It’s the Fuzz
A veteran of the Brooklyn criminal justice system, Lou Manfredo follows up his well-received debut, Rizzo’s War, with this story of a stressed-out, close-to-retirement Joe Rizzo puzzling over the murder of a reclusive shoe salesman and its possible connection to a famed Broadway producer’s demise (Rizzo’s Fire. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Mar. 2011. ISBN 978-0-312-53806-4. $24.99). In his fourth outing, Kirk Russell’s Redback (Severn House. Feb. 2011. ISBN 9780727869654. $28.95), John Marquez of California’s Department of Fish and Game is asked to help topple the very drug trafficker who, when Marquez was a border agent, killed his informant. There’s more border tension in Elizabeth Gunn’s Kissing Arizona (Severn House. Feb. 2011. ISBN 978 0 7278 6961 6. $28.95), another mystery centered on police detective Sarah Burke, this time focusing on illegal immigration.

A Few Journalists
A house fire in Newark. Two dead children. A mom with two jobs and no money for childcare. Investigative reporter Carter Ross makes it a front-page story in Brad Parks’s Eyes of the Innocent (Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Feb. 2011. ISBN 978-0-312-65419-1. $24.99), then finds that the truth might be a whole lot more complicated. Parks is following up a great debut, Faces of the Gone. In Mary Daheim’s The Alpine Vengeance (Ballantine. Apr. 2011. ISBN 9780345502575. $25), 22nd in a series, Advocate owner Emma Lord helps out Sheriff Milo Dodge when a letter arrives regarding a deathbed confession to murder.
Parks and Daheim are both former reporters, and what about this? Hallie Ephron, an award-winning mystery reviewer for the Boston Globe whose Writing and Selling Your Mystery got Edgar and Anthony consideration, returns with her second novel of psychological suspense, Come and Find Me (Morrow. Apr. 2011. ISBN 978-0061857522. $24.99). And don’t miss Dogs Don’t Lie (Poisoned Pen. ISBN 9781590588604. $24.95; pap. ISBN 978 1590588628. $14.95) from Clea Simon, a regular contributor to the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and many other venues when she’s not writing sharp nonfiction works or animal-based mysteries.

A Few Firsts
Alice Loweecey’s Force of Habit: A Falcone & Driscoll Investigation (Midnight Ink. Feb. 2011. ISBN 978-0738723228. pap. $14.95) is the first book in the publisher’s first P.I. series‚ and it stars an ex-nun named Giulia Falcone, who’s contending with a stalker. Agatha finalist Beth Groundwater’s Deadly Currents: An RM Outdoors Adventures Mystery (Midnight Ink. Mar. 2011. ISBN 9780738721620. $14.95) launches a new adventure mystery series aimed at attracting a young crowd, with white-water rafting the theme here. Alan Orloff’s Killer Routine: A Last Laff Mystery (Midnight Ink. Apr. 2011. ISBN 9780738723105. pap. $14.95) opens a series featuring the comedy club circuit, though the tone is anything but cozy.

And a Last
It’s all over for Tamar Myers’s Den of Antiquity series; after The Glass Is Always Greener (Avon. Feb. 2011. ISBN 9780060846619. $7.99), antiques shop owner Abigail Timberlake is calling it quits. But not before she goes to the wake of friend Rob’s wacky aunt, who’s actually not dead, but then she’s murdered and Abby becomes a suspect and‚Ķit gets really complicated.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (bhoffert@mediasourceinc.com, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.


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