Mysteries Sept.-Dec. 2012: 13 Historicals, 11 International Tales, and Three Mysteries with Meow

Historical Mysteries
In Alys Clare’s The Song of the Nightingale (Severn House. Nov. 2012. 240p. ISBN 9780727881946. $28.95), another in the popular Hawkenlye series, former abbess Helewise leaves Sir Josse D’Acquin’s household to return to her cell near Hawkenlye Abbey and minister to the poor even as Sir Josse examines the bodies of three men, one of whom has the symbol of vengeance carved into his chest. In Blood Lance (Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Nov. 2012. 336p. ISBN 9781250000187. $25.99), fifth in Jeri Westerson’s terrific new “Medieval Noir” series, traitor/Tracker Crispin Guest witnesses the suicide of an armourer who, he later learns, had promised one of Guest’s old friends a weapon said to be the Spear of Longinus‚ the spear that pierced Christ’s side on the cross.

Cora Harrison’s Laws in Conflict (Severn House. Sept. 2012. 192p. ISBN 9780727881786. $28.95) opens in February 1512, as Mara, brehon of the Burren, finds herself in the English-run city-state of Galway, where the mayor’s son has just been accused of a nasty crime. An author of historical fiction for children, Harrison here makes the leap into the adult market. Laura Joh Rowland’s The Incense Game: A Novel of Feudal Japan (Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Sept. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9780312658533. $25.99) takes place in 1703 Japan, when the murder-by-incense of a nobleman’s daughters will do more than the recent earthquake to force the regime’s collapse unless Sano Ichir≈ç can find the killer.

Set in 1783 England and third in the series featuring Mrs. Harriet Westerman and solitary anatomist Gabriel Crowther, Imogen Robertson’s Island of Bones (Pamela Dorman Bks: Viking. Oct. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9780670026272. $26.95) reveals Gabriel’s past. Having conducted his forensic studies far from home, Gabriel is compelled to return to his family estate when an extra body is found inside a crumbling tomb. Short-listed for the 2011 Crime Writers’ Association Ellis Peters Historical Award.

Charles Finch’s A Death in the Small Hours (Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Nov. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9781250011602. $24.99) stars Charlie Lenox, rising politician and new father, who gave up on investigating crime in Victorian London but finds himself pursing a criminal wreaking havoc at his uncle’s estate in Somerset. William Monk reappears in Anne Perry’s A Sunless Sea (Ballantine. Sept. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9780345510648. $26), in which he investigates the bloody Limehouse Pier murder of a woman who, some evidence to the contrary, just doesn’t seem like a prostitute.

Next in Laurie R. King’s best-selling series starring Sherlock Holmes and wife Mary Russell, Garment of Shadows (Bantam. Sept. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780553807998. $26) puts Mary in Morocco, where she awakens alone with her mind blank, her hands bloody, and her skills at navigating the city’s underworld surprisingly strong. Distraught over his wife’s disappearance, Sherlock must still manage growing tensions among the French, the Spanish ,and the people of the Rif, who have broken away from both Spanish and Moroccan rule.

In 1880s San Francisco, the setting of Shirley Tallman’s Death on Telegraph Hill (Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Oct. 2012. 352p. ISBN 9781250010438. $24.99), lawyer Sarah Woolson goes after whoever fired at her brother one night in the relentless fog. In 1890s Paris, bookseller and amateur sleuth Victor Legris is drawn into a mystery involving a killer who vows to avenge events that happened decades before during the Commune in Claude Izner’s In the Shadows of Paris: A Victor Legris Mystery (Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Sept. 2012. 336p. ISBN 9780312662165. $25.99).

Agatha and Anthony Award winner Rhys Bowen’s The Twelve Clues of Christmas (Berkley Prime Crime. Nov. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780425252789. $24.95) continues her Royal Spyness series starring Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, 34th in line for the throne. Here, Georgie has taken the position of assistant to the hostess of a Christmas house party in Tiddleton-under-Lovey. Even with her actress mother close by with Noel Coward, disaster strikes as dead bodies start accumulating.

Joanne Dobson, winner of an Agatha for best first novel, and multiple Derringer finalist Beverle Graves Myers join forces for Face of the Enemy: It’s a Helluva War (Poisoned Pen. Sept. 2012. 250p. ISBN 9781464200311. $24.95; pap. ISBN 9781464200335. $14.95). In December 1941 New York, tensions run high as a Japanese artist is accused of murdering her art dealer. James R. Benn continues his Billy Boyle World War II mysteries with Death’s Door (Soho Crime. Sept. 2012. 350p. ISBN 9781616951856. $25), as Boyle goes undercover at the Vatican when an American monsignor is found murdered.

International Settings
When Detective Erlender takes a leave to cope with personal angst, his female assistant, Elinborg, is responsible for tracking a serial rapist in Glass Key and CWA Gold Dagger Award winner Arnaldur Indri√∞ason’s Outrage (Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Sept. 2012. 00p. ISBN 9780312659110. $24.99). In Keigo Higashino Salvation of a Saint (Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Oct. 2012. 336p. ISBN 9780312600686. $24.99), Detective Galileo is called in to solve a puzzling case. A man about to abandon his marriage is done in by arsenic-laced coffee, and the obvious suspect‚ his wife‚ dies simultaneously hundreds of miles away. Higashino is Japan’s best-selling author.

In M.L. Longworth’s Murder in the Rue Dumas (Penguin. Oct. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780143121541. pap. $14.), set in Aix-en-Provence, Judge Antoine Verlaque and sometime paramour Marine Bonnet, a law professor, investigate the murder of the university’s director of theology. Timothy Williams’s Another Sun (Soho Crime. Oct. 2012. 350p. ISBN 9781616951566. $25) features French judge Anne Marie Laveaud, who contends with culture clash and murder when she is assigned to the tiny French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe.

Det. Max Cámara is back in Jason Webster’s A Death in Valencia (Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Sept. 2012. 224p. ISBN 9780312581848. $24.99), contending with the death of a paella chef as townsfolk argue over an abortion clinic and the possible demotion of El Cabanyal, the local-color seafront fishermen’s quarter. When police rule the death of a Tuscan vineyard owner and his wife a murder-suicide, Skeleton Detective Gideon Oliver intervenes in Edgar Award winner Aaron Elkins’s Dying on the Vine (Berkley Prime Crime. Dec. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780425247884. $25.95).

In Paul Johnston’s The Green Lady (Crème de la Crime. Severn House. Oct. 2012. 256p. 9781780290348. $27.95), half Greek, half Scots PI Alex Mavros looks for the missing 14-year-old daughter of one of Greece’s richest men while recognizing that an old nemesis is back in town. (A charred corpse here and a headless body there are dead giveaways.) There’s bad news in Morfi, a Greek island village, where a bride is abandoned, a doctor is attacked, and revenge is in the air. Fortunately, Hermes Diaktoros is on the case in Anne Zouroudi’s The Doctor of Thessaly: A Seven Deadly Sins Mystery (Little, Brown. Dec. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9780316217873. $24.99).

James Church’s previous mysteries have frequently featured Inspector O, but now O’s nephew Bing takes the stage. In A Drop of Chinese Blood (Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Nov. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9780312550639. $24.99), Bing, the director of state security along China’s border with North Korea, believes that the disappearance of a beautiful woman and his mission to bring an agent across the border are related. Edgar Award winner Eliot Pattison’s Mandarin Gate (Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Nov. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780312656041. $25.99) features Shan Tao Yun, a former Beijing inspector living in Tibet with outlawed Buddhist monks after his release from a work camp, who investigates evidence of murder found in a rededicated temple.

Finally, in The Beautiful Mystery (Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Sept. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9780312655464. $25.99), next in four-time Agatha Award winner Louise Penny’s best-selling Chief Inspector Gamache series, Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir of the S√ªreté du Québec visit the monastery Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, deep Quebec’s wilderness. The choirmaster has been murdered, and there’s obviously dissonance beneath the monastery’s placid surface.

Mysteries with Meow
After a car crash waylays tortoiseshell Kit and her humans, Lucinda and Pedric Greenlaw, thieves steal the car, which hides a secret treasure. When one of the thieves ends up dead, Joe Grey enters the fray (Shirley Rousseau Murphy’s Cat Bearing Gifts. Morrow. Dec. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780061806940. $19.99). In Clea Simon’s True Gray (Severn House. Dec. 2012. 224p. ISBN 9780727882158. $28.95), ghost cat Mr Grey and kitten Esmé dole out advice gingerly as Dulcie Schwartz investigates the murder of a scholarly rival. In multi-award-winner Carolyn Hart’s What the Cat Saw (Berkley Prime Crime. Oct. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9780425252741. $25.95), Nela Farley uses her special talent for understanding the thoughts of cats to figure out how a woman died.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @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.


  1. Stan Ulrich says:

    “Cora Harrison’s …. An author of historical fiction for children, Harrison here makes the leap into the adult market.” Hmmm, we have this title — Laws in Conflict — as her 8th title in the Burren mystery series, so I think she leapt some time ago.