Jane Casey: The Killing Kind

This stand alone from Jane Casey is whip smart and terrifying.  I am a big fan of her Maeve Kerrigan series, with its combination of character, complex plotting and nuanced look at police work.  In this standalone, the central character is not a policewoman but a barrister, youngish Ingrid Lewis, happily involved with Mark.

As Ingrid goes through her court routine in the opening scene, which sets up not only the legal surround but some of the relationships and events that carry through the book, she lends a colleague her umbrella.  As she’s hurrying out later to another case, she sees that the umbrella borrower has been a victim of a hit and run.  As she is interviewed by a police officer about her colleague, she mentions a stalker from her past.  She’s afraid the man saw her umbrella and pushed the wrong woman under a bus. read more

Hank Phillippi Ryan: Her Perfect Life

This book will be published on September 14.

Hank Phillippi Ryan’s story telling style is so smooth, her books fly through your reading fingers faster than you can think, almost.  This novel may be the most emotional, heart felt story in all of Ryan’s books.  It’s the alternating story of big sister, Cassie, and little sister, Lily.  While the book opens with Lily telling the reader how perfect her sister is, it fast forwards in time to Lily’s life, which does seem actually perfect. read more

Craig Johnson: Next to Last Stand

While waiting for Craig Johnson’s new Longmire novel, Daughter of the Morning Star (available Sept. 21), I couldn’t resist re-reading last year’s novel, Next to Last Stand.

What do a million in cash and a small study piece of Cassily Adams’s famous painting Custer’s Last Fight have in common? Both are found in the footlocker of veteran Charley Lee Stillwater after he dies of an apparent heart attack at the Wyoming Home for Soldiers and Sailors. Did Charlie have a connection to the famous painting which burned in 1946? read more

James R. Benn: Road of Bones

This book will be published on September 7.

For new readers, the Billy Boyle books are set during WWII and feature an army captain, Billy, who investigates the murders that occur on the edges (or directly inside of) the war. It’s now 1944, and after giving Billy a bit of a break in the last book, The Red Horse, author James Benn plunges Billy and his sidekick Big Mike directly into the action.  Road of Bones begins and ends with two bravura action scenes, a type of writing at which Benn excels.  Action scenes can easily become dull or repetitive (to this crime reading veteran, anyway), but Benn is specific, descriptive in a concise way, and the pacing of his action scenes is perfection.  The more I read, the more I think pacing is all, and Benn has the gift. read more

Ann Cleeves: The Heron’s Cry

This novel will be published on September 7.

The second in Ann Cleeves’ Detective Mathew Venn series finds Matthew investigating a case on the grounds of an artist’s colony and farm.  The book opens with a party attended by a very drunk Detective Jen Rafferty, who meets the victim at the party, but didn’t talk to him for long because of her condition – something she comes to regret.

The dead man, Nigel Yeo, was a doctor who worked with people who had complaints about National Health.  He is discovered with a huge shard of glass in his neck, glass created by his glassblower daughter, Eve.  This incredibly fabulist method of death is carried forward. Ann Cleeves, the most careful and meticulous of writers, nevertheless includes this almost gothic flight of fancy as a murder method.  It suits her updated golden age style of storytelling. read more

Anna Lee Huber: Murder Most Fair

This book will be published on August 31.

The fifth novel in Anna Lee Huber’s Verity Kent series finds Verity surprised by the appearance of her German great aunt, Ilse.  She’s surprised for one thing because it’s 1919, and in England, Germans weren’t especially beloved; and for another, she knows her aunt is elderly and fragile and wonders why she’s made the arduous journey to her niece’s side.

The two have always been close, and during the war, when Verity worked for British Intelligence, she even placed a German deserter at her aunt’s home for a time.  Verity is still wracked with guilt over this.  Her aunt has appeared with a new and beautiful young maid, as her long time maid has died of the Spanish flu. read more

Hannah Dennison: Danger at the Cove

This is the second installment in the charming Island Sisters series, set in Britain’s Scilly Isles.  Sisters Evie and Margot have taken over an old hotel and are managing it for the owner, though they are on the hook for repairs, which are turning out to be massive.  As the book opens, they are a few days out from their grand re-opening, and they are working full tilt to get everything ready in time.

Because the books are set on the tiny island of Treggarick Rock, accessible only by boat and at certain times because of high or low tide, every story is going to be essentially a locked room mystery.  Because the décor of the hotel calls back to the 30’s, this adds a decidedly golden age feel to the proceedings. read more

Chevy Stevens: Dark Roads

If you know Chevy Stevens you know Dark Roads will be a great read because, well, all her books are great reads. No one does the kind of contemporary suspense, rooted in the fabric of the way we live now (pre-covid anyway) like Chevy. She’s kind of a female Harlan Coben, but to me she writes with more compassion and greater depth.

The titular dark road is Cold Creek Highway, a lonely, desolate stretch where many women have disappeared over the years and not quite as many bodies have been found. Hailey McBride moves into the town of Cold Creek to live with her aunt after her father dies, only to find that this refuge has a decided drawback in the form of her aunt’s new husband, the menacing cop Vaughn. read more

David Bell: Kill All Your Darlings

Nobody does a great set-up for a thriller like David Bell, which is not to say he’s shabby at the execution either. His latest, Kill All Your Darlings, is no exception, starting with an irresistible premise — English professor Connor Nye is on the wrong side of publish or perish when a great novel lands in his lap. It was written by one of his students who turned it in as her thesis and then promptly disappeared. He polishes it up and publishes it under his own name. Unfortunately, it contains details about an unsolved murder that only the murderer would know. And then the student shows up in disguise at one of his readings. read more

Naomi Hirahara: Clark and Division

This book is a knockout.  Hirahara, author of three different series set in contemporary Los Angeles and Hawaii, has turned her eye to 1944 and the plight of American born Japanese, as well as first generation immigrants, right after Pearl Harbor.  It is still shocking to me that we created internment camps for Japanese citizens who were simply going about their daily lives.  Hirahara brings it home by focusing intimately on one family, the Itos.

The Itos – parents and daughters Rose and Aki – are hardworking, successful citizens.  Mr. Ito manages a produce market and Rose and eventually Aki work there too.  Rose is the star, the center of the family.  Aki looks up to her and wishes she had her strength.  This book could simply be the story of Aki discovering that strength in herself, but it is so much more. read more