I was a devout acolyte of Faye Kellerman’s early Decker and Lazarus books. The Ritual Bath (1986) is, to me, one of the greatest first mysteries ever. In it, Peter Decker, an LAPD detective, encounters the orthodox Jewish Rina Lazarus after a rape and murder at her neighborhood mikvah, or ritual bath. Improbably, the two eventually get married and the series, now 26 books long, is a strong one. The early books were marked by intensity of character discovery, intensity of violence, and Kellerman’s propulsive narrative skill.
This is a delicious, funny, perfect book. Copperman, a seasoned series veteran (Haunted Guest House, Asberger’s, Mysterious Detective, Agent to the Paws, and, as Jeff Cohen, Aaron Tucker and Double Feature) brings all his writing expertise to the table in Inherit the Shoes. Lawyer Sandy Moss has just moved to California from New Jersey to start over. On her first day at her new law firm she’s told to sit still and be quiet (she’s new to defense, she’s come from the prosecutor’s side of the table), and, instead of being quiet, she speaks up.
This novel will be published December 29.
This novel is more of a village cozy than a war novel, though it’s set at the start of WWII in the tiny British village of Pipley. The heroine, Olive, longs to enlist as a FANY (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry), but she’s tethered to home, helping her father with her stepmother, who has MS, as well as with a young war refugee, Jonathon. She also has the responsibility of the family pigeon loft, a fine one, and one her bristly father hopes will meet with the approval of the NPS, or National Pigeon Service.
This is the second entry in Maureen Jennings’ Paradise Café series, set in almost wartime Toronto (1936). Detective Murdoch’s son, Jack, is now the “Detective Murdoch” in this series, which centers on young Charlotte Frayne, who has joined up with an older private investigator, Mr. Gilmore. Mr. Gilmore is out of town as the story opens.
Charlotte arrives to open the office and discovers two women waiting for her, both of them in heavy mourning. As Jennings lays her story parameters out in this first chapter, I think her rare capacity for both breaking a reader’s heart and reaching it have never been more strongly on display than they are here. The women relate the story of the suicide of Gerald Jessup, the son of one and the wife of the other.
This is the second book in Paige Shelton’s series about thriller writer Elizabeth Fairchild, now in hiding in tiny Benedict, Alaska as Beth Rivers, after being kidnapped by a crazed fan. Elizabeth/Beth lives in a halfway house and appreciates the privacy she finds in the Alaskan wild, a place that truly seems to be its own country, existing without a real nod to the rules and regulations more common in the lower 48. Shelton, the author of four other cozier series than this one, is a real pro at narrative, pacing, and character. These skills easily transfer to this series which is a bit darker in tone, and fits in more with work by writers like Ellen Hart, Dana Stabenow and Julia Spencer-Fleming.
Death, Diamonds, and Deception is the fifth book in Rosemary Simpson’s Gilded Age mystery series set in New York City in the 1880s. It’s the first I’ve read, but I enjoyed it so much that I will definitely look for the others. The two protagonists are heiress Prudence MacKenzie and ex-Pinkerton agent Geoffrey Hunter, who are partners in a detective agency. Prudence is the daughter of a wealthy judge, a prominent man in New York, who died about two years before this book begins. She is part of the city’s elite, the world of the Astors and Vanderbilts, even though she defies the standards of that society by becoming a detective. Geoffrey is a Southerner who came to New York around the time of the Civil War because he was anti-slavery. He is quite a bit older than she is. Prudence is around twenty, and, although Geoffrey’s age is not specified, it seems that he was already an adult at the time of the Civil War, so he must be in his early forties at least.
A Lady Compromised is the fourth book in the Regency mystery series by Darcie Wilde (a pseudonym for Sarah Zettel) featuring Rosalind Thorne, a gentlewoman living in reduced circumstances after a family scandal. To make a living for herself, Rosalind helps society ladies solve their problems, which, in this book and the others in the series, include murder investigation. At the beginning of this book, Rosalind travels to Cassell House, the country estate of Devon Winterbourne, who has recently, and unexpectedly, inherited the title of Duke of Casselmaine following the untimely deaths of his father and older brother. Rosalind and Devon had been close to becoming engaged before Rosalind’s father’s disgrace, at a time when Devon was a second son, with no prospects of inheriting the dukedom. Now his cousin, Rosalind’s friend Louisa, is getting married, and Rosalind is looking forward to attending the wedding and possibly rekindling her romance with Devon.
I had mixed feelings opening this book. Jane Haddam died in 2019, after completing this one last book, and I was reluctant to start it. I love this series and am sorry to see it end. Jane Haddam was a combination of a traditional detective fiction writer and a contemporary social issue writer. In her best books, the social issues didn’t overwhelm the story – in her worst books, they did. This book is a loving wrap up to her long, revered and beloved series, and if you are a fan of Gregor Demarkian I recommend it.
This book will be published on November 10, 2020.
This is every bit as delicious a reading experience as Magpie Murders (2018). I really wasn’t sure how Horowitz was going to manage a second book, as several of the main characters in the first one are dead or heading that way at the end of the novel. But Anthony Horowitz is one of the smartest writers working right now, and this sequel to his (in my opinion) classic Magpie Murders is every bit as good as the first one.
The main character is editor Susan Ryeland, who has given up her successful career to head to Crete and help her partner run a small hotel there. It’s not going well. The hotel is having trouble and it’s a mountain of work, so when Pauline and Lawrence Treherne appear asking for Susan’s help in locating their missing daughter back in England, she readily agrees, especially when they sweeten the pot by offering her £10,000. She’s tired of Crete, she needs the money, and she takes the offer.
This charming novel is the righteous winner of the Minotaur/MWA First Crime novel prize. Set in 1892 Bombay during the British Raj, this novel focuses on Captain Jim Agnihotri, who has left the military after a long stint in the hospital. The book has an excellent opening line: “I turned thirty in hospital…with little to read but newspapers.”
In said newspapers, Captain Jim reads the story of two Parsee women who plunged to their deaths from a University clock tower. One was a young bride, one, her younger sister in law. When Jim reads a plea in letter form in the newspaper from the young widower, he is sure that the details of the crime don’t add up. The husband pleads that this was not a suicide but the recently concluded trial leaves this stain and uncertainty on the family.