Mystery Reviews | June 1, 2013

While strong women protagonists are always popular in the mystery genre, male/female sleuth teams are irresistible to many readers. There’s no shortage of that combination right now. For a diverse sampling of time frames and moods, try Imogen Robertson’s Har­­­­­riet Westerman/Gabriel Crowther duo (Circle of Shadows), Andrew Vachss’s Dell/Dolly couple (Aftershock), Chuck Greaves’s law partners MacTaggart/Suarez (Green-Eyed Lady), or Beth Groundwater’s outfitters Mandy Tanner/Rob Juarez (Fatal Descent).

An abundance of debuts means new characters to meet. Think about introducing your readers to Susan Spann’s ninjas in Claws of the Cat: A Shinobi Mystery, Shelley Costa’s restaurant crew in You Cannoli Die Once, and Edith Maxwell’s dedicated farmers in A Tine To Live, A Tine To Die. And once the characters become real to readers, we have to be ready to offer the whole series. Make room in your carts for Karin Fossum’s first Inspector Sejer title, Eva’s Eye, and the late Milton T. Burton’s final Sheriff Bo Handel book,These Mortal Remains. Both are listed in Series Lineup.

School Library Journal starred reviews Wortham, Reavis Z. The Right Side of Wrong: A Red River Mystery. Poisoned Pen. Jul. 2013. 308p. ISBN 9781464201462. $24.95; pap. ISBN 9781464201486. $14.95. M

An ambush by unknown assailants almost kills Constable Cody Parker one winter night in his rural east Texas district, but he is rescued by Tom Bell, a mysterious older stranger who exudes a lawman’s confidence. Fast-forward a few months, and Cody is healing, but a crime wave has hit Red River. The year is 1966, and a series of incidents indicate that the burgeoning marijuana trade is looking for a toehold upstate. A local who stole a bag of dope is killed. Eager to catch the killers, Cody chases them in a foolhardy drive to a more treacherous river, the Rio Grande, and Tom may need to rescue him again. VERDICT Wortham’s third entry in his addictive Texas procedural set in the 1960s (after Burrows and The Rock Hole) is a deceptively meandering tale of family and country life bookended by a dramatic opening and conclusion. C.J. Box fans would like this title; for the Texas storyteller frame, pair it up with Milton T. Burton (see Series Lineup below).

Rowson, Pauline. Undercurrent: A DI Andy Horton Mystery. Severn House. Jun. 2013. 216p. ISBN 9780727882684. $28.95. M

Shortly after naval historian Douglas Spalding gives a lecture, his corpse is found in the dry docks of Portsmouth. While his colleagues seem awfully quick to label the death a suicide, DI Andy Horton can’t shake the feeling that this is a homicide. Spalding had been lying about his whereabouts, and then a second death with a similar MO reinforces an Irish connection that puzzles Horton. While finally catching on that something larger is at work (think Interpol), Horton realizes that he can’t let go. Concurrently, he’s absorbed with his ongoing personal investigation into his mother’s disappearance during his childhood. VERDICT Those seeking an outstanding British police procedural will devour the ninth entry in Rowson’s sea-oriented series (afterDeath Lies Beneath). Rowson’s plotting is deftly layered, and she successfully captures the mood of her protagonist’s tortured journey while creating abundant tension for the main plot of political intrigue.

School Library Journal starred reviews Robertson, Imogen. Circle of Shadows: A Westerman/Crowther Mystery. Pamela Dorman: Viking. Jun. 2013. 376p. ISBN 9780670026289. $27.95. M

Just when life in 1784 Sussex is settling down for Harriet Westerman, she learns that brother-in-law Daniel Clode (honeymooning in the Duchy of Maulberg with Rachel) has been accused of murdering the host country’s own Lady Martesen. For political reasons, he is not executed immediately, giving Harriet and her close colleague, anatomist Gabriel Crowther, time to investigate. They step into a scenario in which odd bits of culture matter; opera, potions, and automata all play parts. Soon they realize that a string of seemingly unrelated deaths are really homicides, and the body count is mounting. The race is on to find the killer before the Duke of Maulberg’s upcoming and long-anticipated wedding. VERDICT Dramatic intrigue and painstaking detail combine smoothly in this robust historical thriller. While this is the fourth series entry (after the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award nominee Island of Bones), Robertson does a particularly good job of filling in the backstory for new readers. Sure to be a treat for Anne Perry fans; try also with forensic investigation readers who like an ensemble cast.

The following titles are reviewed in the June 1 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.


Groundwater, Beth. Fatal Descent. Midnight Ink. (RM Outdoor Adventures Mystery). Jun. 2013. 280p. ISBN 9780738734828. pap. $14.99. M


Bradshaw, Mel. Fire on the Runway: A Paul Shenstone Mystery.Dundurn, dist. by Midpoint Trade. Jun. 2013. 272p.ISBN 9781459703353. pap. $17.99; ebk. ISBN 9781459703377. M

Christie, Pamela. Death and the Courtesan. Kensington. Jun. 2013. 220p. ISBN 9780758286406. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9780758286413. M

Greaves, Chuck. Green-Eyed Lady. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Jun. 2013. 276p. ISBN 9781250005243. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250034533. M

Kuhns, Eleanor. Death of a Dyer. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Jun. 2013. 344p. ISBN 9781250033963. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250033970. M

Lamanda, Al. Sunrise: A John Bekker Mystery. Five Star: Gale Cengage. Jul. 2013. 292p. ISBN 9781432827144. $25.95. M

Vachss, Andrew. Aftershock. Pantheon. Jun. 2013. 368p. ISBN 9780307907745. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307907752. M


Costa, Shelley. You Cannoli Die Once. Pocket: S. & S. 2013. 312p. ISBN 9781476709352. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781476709376. M

Maxwell, Edith. A Tine To Live, a Tine To Die: A Local Foods Mystery. Kensington. Jun. 2013. 264p. ISBN 9780758284617. $24; ebk. ISBN 97807582846311l M


Davis, Lindsey. The Ides of April: A Flavia Albia Mystery. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Jun. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9781250023698. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250023704. M

Vargas, Fred. The Ghost Riders of Ordebec: A Commissaire Adamsberg Mystery. Penguin. Jul. 2013. 368p. tr. from French by Sian Reynolds. ISBN 9780143123125. pap. $15. M

Winters, Ben H. Countdown City. Quirk, dist. by Random. (The Last Policeman, Bk. 2). Jul. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781594746260. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781594746277. M