Devlin’s Debut of the Month, Thrills & Chills from Bauer, Cooper, French, Hezroni, Classic Horowitz, Perry, Cleland | Mystery & Suspense Reviews

Debut of the Month

redstarDevlin, A.J. Cobra Clutch. NeWest Pr. (“Hammerhead” Jed, Bk. 1). Apr. 2018. 262p. ISBN 9781988732244. pap. $18.95; ebk. ISBN 9781988732268. M

“Hammerhead” Jed Ounstead has left pro wrestling behind, but a favor for a friend draws him back into that violent, sometimes ugly world. When Johnny Mamba’s pet python is kidnapped, he begs his former tag-team partner to find the snake. Why not? Jed is now a bar bouncer who occasionally does legwork for his cop–turned–private investigator father. A ransom note gives Johnny three days to come up with $10,000. Jed barely has time to investigate the connection to XCCW, X-Treme Canadian Championship Wrestling, before he finds Johnny and the reptile dead. Now, he’ll do anything to track down his friend’s killer, even if he’s beaten up, kidnapped, and nearly shot to death. Jed may be angry, flawed, and at times larger than life, but he’s loyal to his family and friends and commands attention in this compelling, almost over-the-top story. Despite the grittiness, there’s a great deal of dry humor. VERDICT Set in Vancouver, BC, this intriguing debut offers a fast-paced, graphically violent mystery that pairs well with Glen Erik Hamilton’s Past Crimes. Fans of pro wrestling will appreciate “Hammerhead” Jed.—Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

Check These Out

redstarBauer, Belinda. Snap. Atlantic. Jul. 2018. 352p. ISBN 9780802127747. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780802165589. THRILLER

Bauer’s (The Beautiful Dead) latest thriller to star DCI Marvel follows 11-year-old Jack, who is left in charge of his two younger siblings when their car breaks down along the highway and his pregnant mother goes in search of help. She never returns and is later found murdered. Three years later, their father, unable to cope with his wife’s death, abandons the family. Now 14, Jack turns to crime to support Joy and Merry, meticulously keeping up outside appearances while their home is slowly consumed by newspapers and filth. Meanwhile, Marvel is on the lookout for the notorious Goldilocks, a burglar who eats the food and sleeps in the beds of the people he robs. One morning a pregnant Catherine White wakes up to find a jagged knife next to the note, “I could have killed you.” What she can’t know is that the pearl-handled weapon may have been used to kill Jack’s mother. VERDICT This dark, twisty, and gripping tale is a must-read for fans of Nicci French and Sophie Hannah. Readers who know Bauer’s work will recognize the crotchety Marvel, though it’s not necessary to have read the author’s other books to enjoy this one.—Nanci Milone Hill, M.G. Parker Memorial Lib., Dracut, MA

Beaufort, Simon. Mind of a Killer. Severn House. (Alec Lonsdale Victorian, Bk. 1). Apr. 2018. 192p. ISBN 9780727887627. $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9781780109404. M

In 1882, Alec Lonsdale, an aspiring reporter for the Pall Mall Gazette, covers a fatal house fire, but the follow-up autopsy reveals that the victim’s cerebrum is missing. Although his editor finds the story too gruesome to print, Alec teams up with the paper’s only female reporter, Hulda Friederichs. Together, the two scour London, investigating other deaths that might be connected. They’re followed, attacked, and threatened, even by the police, but the duo are determined to find the culprits, even if their search uncovers shocking answers. The author of the Sir Geoffrey Mappestone medieval mysteries (A Dead Man’s Secret) launches a new historical series that delves into Victorian era figures, political and social conditions, and scientific and philosophical theories. While the large cast of characters confuses the story line at times, the moody atmosphere makes up for this flaw. VERDICT The story of two courageous reporters covering dramatic social issues and crime will appeal to readers of Anne Perry’s “Charlotte and Thomas Pitt” mysteries.—Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

Burrows, Steve. A Shimmer of Hummingbirds. Point Blank. (Birder Murder, Bk. 4). May 2018. 384p. ISBN . pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781786072344. M

CI Domenic Jejeune’s boss doesn’t believe that his trip to Colombia is only to watch birds. The detective’s brother was involved in the manslaughter death of four indigenous people, and now he’s on the run. While Jejeune is serious about his birding trip, he’s also looking for answers in the rain forest, where it’s easy to have an “accident.” Despite being on vacation, he keeps in touch with his team in Norfolk, England. In his absence, Marvin Laraby, Jejeune’s nemesis, takes over and steamrolls a murder investigation that involves a team of investors. It’s a complex case, made more difficult when Jejeune realizes Laraby is blundering toward the wrong conclusion. The Arthur Ellis Award–winning author (A Siege of Bitterns) casts his fourth “Birder Murder” mystery with characters whose secrets are not yet fully revealed, and the main plot is threaded with ongoing story lines, even at the conclusion of this mystery. The atmospheric, well-described settings will appeal to armchair travelers fascinated by the Colombian rainforest, the cold Norfolk coast, and birding details. VERDICT Readers don’t have to be birders to appreciate the two parallel investigations, and the solid police work in a mystery marked by well-developed characters and topical environmental issues. For aficionados of British procedurals.—Lesa Holstine, ­Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

Cameron, Stella. Whisper the Dead. Severn House. (Alex Duggins, Bk. 5). Apr. 2018. 256p. ISBN 9781780290997. $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9781780109411. M

Alex Duggins’s (Lies That Bind) curiosity about a new housing development in the Cotswold village of Folly-on-Weir takes her there just in time to rescue the owner before a work trailer goes up in flames, leaving one person dead. That simple act drags her into a dangerous firestorm of lies, deception, and murder. It isn’t enough that Alex becomes involved in another murder investigation. Even the customers at Alex’s pub, the Black Dog, notice that her mother, Lily, has become grim and appears to be hiding from someone. Could her strange behavior be connected to the phone calls she is receiving? While the police hunt for a vicious killer, Alex realizes her reckless behavior and her mother’s secrets have endangered them and their friends. VERDICT This traditional English mystery revolves around the secrets and deceptions that can crack the bonds of a small community. However, it may take time for series newcomers to sort out the characters and their histories. Readers are advised to start with the first book, Folly.—Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

Cooper, Ellison. Caged. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Jul. 2018. 368p. ISBN 9781250173836. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250173850. THRILLER

DEBUT A teenage girl found starved to death in a medieval torture cage, booby traps set to thwart rescue, a leak inside the investigation. For FBI Special Agent Sayer Altair, nothing in this case makes sense. But as a neuroscientist studying the brains of serial killers, she knows only too well how psychopaths can hide in the skins of normal people. As the pool of potential killers shrinks, Sayer has no idea who she can trust. Snares set by the killer wreak havoc on law enforcement during their pursuit, and casualties quickly multiply. Sayer must think outside the box to separate the real clues from those planted to deceive the team, while also dealing with her own demons—the loneliness she feels after her fiancé’s death and her disappointment in her flailing research. VERDICT Forensic mystery fans who enjoy deciphering clues while peeking inside the mind of a killer will be entertained by this pathologically twisted tale by a first-time author. A good choice for fans of Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs. [See Prepub Alert, 1/22/18.]—K.L. Romo, Duncanville, TX

French, Nicci. The Day of the Dead. Morrow. (Frieda Klein, Bk. 8). Jul. 2018. 416p. ISBN 9780062676702. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062676719. THRILLER

After the weekday-themed Frieda Klein crime novels, from Blue Monday through Sunday Silence, husband-and-wife team Nicci ­Gerrard and Sean French, under the French pen name, end the series with a return to the villain who has stalked the psychoanalyst from the start, the serial killer Dean Reeves. Will he finally succeed in murdering Frieda, driven into hiding by his obsessive pursuit? Complicating matters is a criminology student, scatterbrained Lola Hayes, who latches on to Frieda as the subject of her dissertation, the first step on a path into darkness. Reeves, meanwhile, has begun sending messages, placing murder victims in locations where Frieda likes to walk, using the many submerged rivers that flow beneath London. When Frieda, bedeviled by Lola, seemingly offers herself as a sacrifice to stop the killings, she faces betrayal after betrayal as she comes closer to a final encounter with the deadly master of disguise. VERDICT Fans of this acclaimed series will read with mounting dread as the end approaches. Others should start with the first book, otherwise Frieda’s behavior, always strange, might prove perplexing and Lola, who dominates the plot, simply annoying. [See Prepub Alert, 1/22/18.]— Ron Terpening, formerly of Univ. of Arizona, Tucson

Hezroni, Nir. Last Instructions. St. Martin’s. May 2018. 336p. tr. from Hebrew by Steven Cohen. ISBN 9781250097613. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250097620. THRILLER

The story of Agent 10483, a psychopathic former Israeli spy, continues in this sequel to Three Envelopes. The agent was responsible for three top-secret missions that resulted in significant collateral damage. After undergoing multiple “transformations,” an intensive hypnosis that can manipulate behavior, Agent 10483 was supposed to expire, but his suicide attempt was thwarted by a passing ambulance. Nine years later, the agent has emerged from a coma and begun his plan for revenge on the Organization that betrayed him. He abducts the wife of a top Organization official and then sets off to retrieve a nuclear warhead hidden in Bolivia with plans to detonate it and cause the most damage possible—physically and politically. Soon Agent 10483 has multiple assassins after him along with Carmit, the scientist who performed the transformations. ­VERDICT Hezroni, who draws on his years of working in military intelligence, writes a dark and suspenseful high-tech thriller. Alternating points of view, the novel portrays the sophisticated world of espionage while also delving into the mind of a conflicted scientist and disturbed but methodical killer.—Melissa DeWild, Spring Lake Dist. Lib., MI

Horowitz, Anthony. The Word Is Murder. Harper. Jun. 2018. 400p. ISBN 9780062676788. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062676818. M

In Horowitz’s second stand-alone adult novel (after Magpie Murders), the author plays a starring role, putting a real-world twist on a first-person narrative. Daniel ­Hawthorne, an unlikable private detective, has been called in by the London police to help solve the murder of Diana Cowper. The mother of an up-and-coming actor, Cowper was killed on the day she arranged her own funeral. Horowitz is invited by Hawthorne to write a book about the crime and, not incidentally, split money from the book with Hawthorne. Horowitz is reluctantly intrigued with both the case and Hawthorne, a curmudgeon who reveals nothing about his personal life. A series of missteps by Horowitz annoys Hawthorne as he meticulously untangles the threads of the mystery, offending people as he goes. VERDICT A classic whodunit with a metatwist, this mystery opens the door to the world of publishing, theater, and television. Fans of Dorothy Sayers and the BBC’s Midsomer Murders and Foyle’s War (both written by Horowitz) will enjoy this novel. [See Prepub Alert, 12/11/17.]—Terry Lucas, Shelter Island P.L., NY

redstarJohn, D.B. Star of the North. Crown. May 2018. 416p. ISBN 9780525573296. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780525573302. THRILLER

John (Flight from Berlin) weaves a twisty tale about North Korea, the most secretive country on Earth. Readers follow three characters: Jenna, a CIA agent whose twin was abducted while on vacation in South Korea; Mrs. Moon, a North Korean peasant who enters the black market, hoping to make a better life for herself and her husband, with goods illegally obtained from an international aid balloon; and the high-ranking Colonel Cho, who learns about a career-destroying family secret that could mean death for him. From the luxuries of power to the back-door political dealings to the torturous realities of a concentration camp, these three seemingly disparate plots are deftly woven, leading to an ending that is at once breathtaking and bittersweet. VERDICT Conceived on the author’s 2012 trip to North Korea, this well-researched, fast-paced, and pertinent thriller will keep readers’ attention from start to finish. Readers of all sorts—whether spy fiction fans, thriller aficionados, or book junkies looking for a fantastic read—will enjoy.— Laura Hiatt, Fort Collins, CO

King, Stephen. The Outsider. Scribner. May 2018. 576p. ISBN 9781501180989. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781501181016. THRILLER

When a young boy’s mutilated corpse is found in a public park, the evidence points to Little League coach and high school English teacher Terry Maitland. Despite his vehement claims of innocence, witnesses put him at the scene of the crime, and his fingerprints and DNA are found all over the murder scene. The police have an airtight case, except that other witnesses and video also confirm Terry’s alibi: that he was miles away at a teacher’s convention on the night of the murder. For Det. Ralph Anderson, it is simultaneously the most straightforward and frustrating case of his career. How can a man be in two places at once? After the success of his “Bill Hodges” series and Sleeping Beauties, coauthored with his son Owen, King’s latest feels somewhat flat and predictable. Followers of the horror master’s career will likely guess the outcome early on. Usually a maestro of character development, King casts his novel with tired and one-dimensional figures, including Anderson, whose emotional development is disappointingly nonexistent. An extended cameo from a favorite past King character does little to increase the enjoyment. VERDICT King’s fans may be dispirited by this latest disappointing thriller; however, his name alone will ensure it flies off the shelves. [See Prepub Alert, 12/1/17.]—Tyler Hixson, Brooklyn P.L.

Mario, Helaine. Dark Rhapsody. Oceanview. Jul. 2018. 368p. ISBN 9781608092925. $26.95. THRILLER

Set shortly after The Lost Concerto, Mario’s sequel picks up with Maggie O’Shea recovering at Michael Beckett’s Blue Ridge Mountains cabin. When Maggie finds herself playing Duke Ellington’s improvisational “Mood Indigo,” she realizes her life no longer resembles an ordered, classical composition; she must go with the flow, as uncomfortable as that may be. Maggie accepts an invitation from Carnegie Hall, choosing to perform Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody. What better way to transcend tragedy than with a piece written to express emotion, free of form, and with an air of improvisation. When someone fills Maggie’s Carnegie Hall practice room with roses and leaves a note alluding to her dead husband, she fears the worst. Several months ago, Dane tried to kill her, failed, vowed he would come for her, and then disappeared. This must be Dane…and he is coming. She turns to lifelong ­family friends for guidance and, like a passage of music, her summer theme repeats—stolen art, criminals, and family secrets. VERDICT Truly a sequel, this title depends greatly upon the reader’s experience of The Lost Concerto. As much about art as music, it reveals the transformative power of both.—Laura Cifelli, Fort Myers Regional Lib., FL

The Night of the Flood: A Novel in Stories. Down & Out. Mar. 2018. 318p. ed. by E.A. Aymar & Sarah M. Chen. ISBN 9781946502513. pap. $17.95. M

The town of Everton, PA, was warned. If Maggie Wilbourne is executed for killing the two men who raped her, a group of women called the “Daughters” will blow up the local dam. The result is a night when people discover the worst in themselves, and chaos runs rampant along with the flood waters. In 14 linked stories, contemporary crime writers tell of the violence and brutality that overtakes the town. No one is immune from the looters and violence—neither businesspeople and the wealthy living on high ground nor the police and the Daughters themselves. The poor and forgotten take the opportunity to avenge themselves. It’s a night never to be forgotten. VERDICT This unconventional novel-in-stories is gritty and intense in its disturbing examination of humanity’s darker side. Noir fans will discover authors of dark crime fiction such as J.J. Hensley and Gwen Florio.—Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

Pattison, Eliot. Savage Liberty: A Mystery of Revolutionary America. Counterpoint. May 2018. 224p. ISBN 9781619027213. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781619027374. M

The fifth installment of the “Bone Rattler” series (after Blood of the Oak) finds its hero Duncan McCallum hoping for release from his indenture and for commitment to his beloved Sarah. Alas, trouble follows the scrappy Scot like a shadow. First, a merchant ship explodes in Boston Harbor, killing most aboard. A sadistic British officer quickly arrives, seeking a mysterious ledger and blaming McCallum for its theft. Our man hustles out of town with friends and fiancée, but a rogue Abenaki warrior now stalks them, taking gruesome revenge here and there. A missing but legendary frontiersman and a cache of French gold also drive the chase and more killings. Add in some disaffected Jesuits, two French spies, and a conniving John Hancock, and here is a pell-mell story as twisty as a 1950s Cold War novel, except set in supposedly tranquil 1768 New England. VERDICT A bit overstuffed with characters and multiple story lines, this historical thriller is still worth the roller-coaster ride, for those who enjoy politics, history, and hairbreadth escapes swirled together.—W. Keith McCoy, Somerset Cty. Lib. Syst., Bridgewater, NJ

redstarPerry, Anne. Twenty-One Days: A Daniel Pitt Novel. Ballantine. Apr. 2018. 320p. ISBN 9780399179884. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780399179891. M

Daniel Pitt, son of the legendary Thomas and Charlotte Pitt, is a young barrister determined to save his client from execution. Biographer Russell Graves was convicted of killing his wife and setting her body on fire. Daniel and his colleague Kitteridge have 21 days to find evidence to overturn the conviction or Russell hangs. While ­Kitteridge looks for legal loopholes, Daniel investigates other suspects. Set ten years after Murder on the Serpentine, Perry’s excellent new series launch expertly takes the Pitts into a new century and makes use of the scientific advancements of the time, fingerprints and X-rays, to add fresh drama to the courtroom scenes. Daniel, having been so lovingly raised, is unused to the more complicated side of the law and life. Consequently, he comes across as a little ­naive. This innocence is mostly endearing, and he is surrounded by an exciting cast of hopefully recurring characters. VERDICT Fans of Perry’s long-running “Thomas Pitt” series will delight in following the adventures of a new generation. [See Prepub Alert, 10/16/17.]— Lynnanne Pearson, Skokie P.L., IL

Shepphird, John. Bottom Feeders. Blackstone. Apr. 2018. 238p. ISBN 9781538469200. pap. $16.99. M

When Sheila accepts the job as assistant camera operator on a quick two-week, made-for-cable Western, she recognizes everyone involved with the production, from the director to the animal handlers, as the bottom feeders of the film industry, just trying to scrape by. But once they are on the remote set, they discover that someone is using the entire crew as target practice. It’s a method the deputy sheriff has seen before, killing people with a powerful bow and metal-tipped arrow. The killer tracks and slaughters as many people as possible. Why is this production team targeted? VERDICT Although it starts out slowly, introducing all the players and their roles, this thriller quickly escalates into a violent, gory story with few likable characters. With the author’s (“Shill” trilogy) background in TV and film, this reads as a script for a violent horror movie. Reminiscent of Gina Wohlsdorf’s Security, it may intrigue fans of that novel.—Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

redstarStage, Zoje. Baby Teeth. St. Martin’s. Jul. 2018. 320p. ISBN 9781250170750. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781250170774. THRILLER

DEBUT In this deliciously creepy thriller, seven-year-old Hanna silently connives to kill her mother so she can have dear daddy all to herself. Stay-at-home mom Suzette longed for a little girl she could connect with and dote on. Instead, almost from birth, Hanna is emotionally detached and silent. After ruling out cognitive disabilities, autism, and a hearing disability, ­Suzette and Alex come to accept Hanna’s silence as a quirk she’ll one day outgrow. But while Hanna is all smiles and hugs when Alex comes home, during the daytime, it’s a ­battle of wills between mother and daughter. Alex fails to see or acknowledge Hanna’s vindictive, destructive, and increasingly violent behavior. Experiencing a mix of guilt, anger, and anxiety about her parenting, Suzette also struggles with the daily pain and unpredictability of Crohn’s disease, which is described with visceral authenticity. The author keeps the suspense taut by alternating chapters between Hanna and Suzette, offering a terrifying glimpse into the inner thoughts of a budding sociopath. VERDICT This twisty first novel has been aptly compared to The Omen and Lionel Shiver’s We Need To Talk About Kevin, which is especially apparent in Stage’s exploration of the dark side of modern motherhood. A first purchase where suspenseful and offbeat psychological thrillers circulate well.— Kiera Parrott, LJS

redstarSteinhauer, Olen. The Middleman. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Aug. 2018. 368p. ISBN 9781250036179. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250036162. THRILLER

Steinhauer (The Tourist) opens his new stand-alone with disappearances. Kevin Moore walks away from his life in what resembles a call to domestic terrorism. A man picks him up and proceeds to another scheduled pickup, making it clear that the call is coordinated, and the disappearance is collective. A heated political argument at a party escalates into a physical altercation; a marriage begins to crumble, and days later, the wife has become one of the hundreds of vanished. At the root of these disparate events is Martin Bishop—rumored to lead a leftist revolution dubbed Massive Brigade against America’s ruling elite. Special Agent Rachel Proulx, once tasked with keeping tabs on fringe groups, leads an investigation into Martin’s group. Rachel’s task force has meager resources until an astounding event on July 4 sends the FBI and the country spinning into another gear. ­VERDICT ­Steinhauer has written an unnerving and timely thriller with incredible pivots. From a perspective on activist/terrorist civilian organizations to an examination of Big Brother conspiracy plots, there’s something here for everyone to grip—with white knuckles. [See Prepub Alert, 2/1/18.]— Julie Kane, Washington & Lee Lib., Lexington, VA

Verdon, John. White River Burning: A Dave Gurney Novel. Counterpoint. Jul. 2018. 432p. ISBN 9781640090637. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781640090644. M

In Verdon’s sixth series outing (after Wolf Lake) featuring retired NYPD detective Dave Gurney, the upstate New York town of White River is reeling after a police shooting claims the life of an unarmed black man. During resulting protests, a police officer is murdered and the obvious suspect is a member of the Black Defense Alliance (BDA). An anxious district attorney brings a reluctant Gurney into the investigation, which has pit a law-and-order police chief and his department against the BDA. A plot line that includes motives of hate, ambition, justice, and power also addresses many issues of social concern today: dystopian media outlets, police corruption, a racial divide, and an economically distressed town doing its best to survive. Characters, especially that of Dave Gurney, are believable, if a bit static, and compelling. And while the story involves police corruption, it also includes several good, honest police officers who are disturbed by what is happening and will work to stop it. VERDICT Verdon’s gripping, fast-paced police procedural will appeal to crime fiction readers with an interest in current events who enjoy David Baldacci, ­Michael Connelly, and Carrie Smith.—George Lichman, Rocky River, OH

Walker, Martin. A Taste for Vengeance. Knopf.Jun. 2018. 352p. ISBN 9780525519966. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780525519973. M

In his 11th outing (after The Templars’ Last Secret), Benoit “Bruno” Courreges has just been promoted to chief of police for his region in southwestern France and must supervise two new colleagues, Juliette and Louis, as well as learn the scope of his new position. At the same time, he is asked to help locate a client who has failed to turn up for a friend’s cooking school course. Soon it is discovered that the missing British woman is a victim of what appears to be a murder-suicide. However the investigation takes a twist when it becomes a double homicide and the second victim was a former soldier living under a false name. Bruno gets caught up in a complex case reaching back decades to the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Reoccurring series characters add depth to the story and draw readers into the small, countryside community of St. Denis. VERDICT Vivid descriptions of the Perigord region and French cooking are an added treat for Francophiles. Recommended for fans of the series as well as readers of Donna Leon, Louise Penny, and anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries set in foreign locales. [See Prepub Alert, 12/11/17.]—Jean King, West Hempstead P.L., NY

Whittle, Tina. Necessary Ends. Poisoned Pen. (Tai Randolph, Bk. 6). Apr. 2018. 318p. ISBN 9781464209833. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781464209864. M

When PI Finn Hudson shows up in Tai Randolph’s Atlanta gun shop, neither she nor lover Trey Seaver are prepared for the invitation that borders on a threat. Former hotshot movie producer Nicholas Talbot swears he survived an assassination attempt by a sniper, and he suspects Trey. Four years earlier, as a SWAT sniper, Trey was second at the murder scene of Talbot’s wife. He had always suspected Nick, who now wants to meet with him. Once Trey is convinced of Nick’s innocence, he wants to find the actual killer. It’s a case that will draw Trey into a past he doesn’t fully remember because of a car accident. The investigation will change the direction of Trey and Tai’s lives. The sixth title, following Reckoning and Ruin, is the dramatic culmination of this series’ primary story arc with the two damaged protagonists, after struggling with family and personal demons, finding answers and moving on with their lives. While the mystery is filled with complex characters, it’s the uncertainty, pain, and awkwardness of the two leads that drives this intense story. VERDICT Karin Slaughter readers may enjoy this work, but it will be most appreciated by followers of this character-driven series.—Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

Cozy Corner

redstarCleland, Jane K. Antique Blues. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. (Josie Prescott Antiques, Bk. 12). Apr. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9781250148742. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250148759. M

Antiques expert Josie Prescott’s enjoyment of Mo Shannon’s party is spoiled when she overhears a conversation about the possible abusive relationship between Mo’s sister, Lydia, and her boyfriend, Cal Lewis. Josie becomes even more suspicious when she learns that Cal, who sold Mo a rare Japanese woodblock print, opposes Mo’s plan to have Josie appraise it. Then, Mo is murdered, and Cal disappears. Despite her ongoing wedding plans, Josie pitches in to talk to Mo’s friends and hunt for answers in the art world. VERDICT The 12th title (after Glow of Death) in Cleland’s character-driven series is as fascinating as its predecessors with plenty of details that capture the excitement of the hunt for the history and provenance of particular art objects. Also appealing are the engaging and sympathetic characters who bring warmth to this cozy mystery. [See Prepub Alert, 11/15/17.]—Lesa Holstine, Evansville ­Vanderburgh P.L., IN

Sennefelder, Debra. The Uninvited Corpse. Kensington. (Food Blogger, Bk. 1). Apr. 2018. 368p. ISBN 9781496715920. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781496715951. M

DEBUT Food blogger Hope Early turns amateur sleuth in this debut cozy. Hope’s sister, Claire, crashes Audrey Bloom’s book launch and spring garden tour, but it is Hope who finds the body of another uninvited guest, realtor Peaches McCoy. The investigating police detective focuses on Claire as the primary suspect because she and Peaches were professional rivals, and Claire had just threatened to “kill” Peaches. Even another murder doesn’t exonerate Claire, so Hope resolves to find the actual killer. Although Hope is run off the road and attacked in her own house, she remains unwavering. While the story line is formulaic, Hope is a lively addition to the field, offering an original background as a former magazine editor, an embarrassed reality baking show competitor, and, now, a lifestyles/food blogger. Unlike other detectives in this genre, she’s aware of her culpability in endangering herself as she pursues her investigation. The solid supporting cast shows promise for future mysteries. VERDICT Fans of Krista Davis’s “Domestic Diva” mysteries will appreciate another detective who specializes in cooking and lifestyle suggestions.— Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

Shelton, Paige. Lost Books and Old Bones. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. (Scottish Bookshop, Bk. 3). Apr. 2018. 320p. ISBN 9781250127792. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250127808. M

Delaney Nichols is enjoying drinks with a group of Edinburgh medical students who had come to the bookshop where she works to sell some antique medical texts. By the next morning, someone has tried to break into the Cracked Spine, and one of the students is found murdered in the alley. Delaney is sure the crime can be traced to the previous night’s conversation about scalpels owned by a notorious 19th-century doctor who had bought corpses for dissection from murderers ­William Burke and William Hare. When she finds the scalpels in the bookshop’s warehouse, she is determined to find the killer. Once again, as in Of Books and Bagpipes, Delaney is caught up in a mystery filled with Scottish history. The spirited unconventional amateur sleuth at times overshadows the other characters with her impulsiveness, rashness, and aggressiveness in inserting herself into the police investigation. VERDICT Shelton’s atmospheric Scottish bookstore lacks its usual charm in this weak third series entry. Fans of quirky bookstore cozies may want to try Vicki Delany’s “Sherlock Holmes Bookshop” mysteries.—Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

Collections & Anthologies

redstarTen Year Stretch: Celebrating a Decade of Crime Fiction at CrimeFest. Poisoned Pen. Apr. 2018. 366p. ed. by Martin Edwards & Adrian Muller. ISBN 9781464210549. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781464210556. M

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Bristol, England’s CrimeFest convention, 20 authors—including Lee Child, Sophie ­Hannah, Jeffery Deaver, Ian Rankin, and other authors who are considered premier writers in the crime fiction field—submitted previously unpublished short stories. Especially notable is the contribution from Scandinavian noir forerunner Maj Sjöwall, who hasn’t published a novel in 40 years. While anthologies often contain stories of varying quality, readers will not be disappointed in these short accounts of crime and misadventure. Simon Brett pays tribute to traditional locked-room mysteries with “The Last Locked Room.” Deaver’s “Blind Date” is surprising and creepy. Rankin brings back a retired Rebus. Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s “Road Trip,” set entirely in and around a car, stands out as a terrifying piece. VERDICT A remarkable compilation of fresh and unexpected stories from the best in the genre.—Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

 

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