Stephanie Graves: Olive Bright, Pigeoneer

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. read more

Maureen Jennings: November Rain

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. read more

Rosemary Simpson: Death, Diamonds and Deception

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. read more

Darcie Wilde: A Lady Compromised

This novel is reviewed by our occasional and gifted reviewer, Vicki Kondelik.  It will be available November 24.

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. read more

Nev March: Murder in Old Bombay

This novel will be published November 10, 2020.

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. read more

Libby Fischer Hellman: A Bend in the River

Libby Hellman is known for her slightly gritty mysteries set in Chicago, often reaching back into the past.  Her first novel, An Eye for Murder (2002) looked back to the holocaust; she’s ventured to Cuba, to the 60’s in the United States, to WWII, and to Iran.  This is her first novel, however, that’s straight up history. She sets it in Vietnam in 1968, during the war.  As someone who came of age in the late 70’s, the Vietnam War wasn’t history.  It was news.  It was classmates wearing POW and MIA bracelets.  It was on TV and in the newspapers almost every day. read more

A Bouquet of Historical Mysteries

To my mind, historical mysteries are some of the best mysteries being written at the moment.  They combine classic elements of detective fiction, unmarred by cell phones or computers, and combine it with fascinating time periods and characters.  These wonderful books are now all available to order on our website, along with many other historical mysteries (have a browse!) Kathleen Marple Kalb’s first novel came out this April, a difficult time for a first novel, with no bookstore events or conferences to attend.  I am not a fan of the cover art, but I am a huge fan of this charming debut.  My review ran in Mystery Scene, and you can read it here.   The main character, Ella Shane, is a “trouser diva”, an opera singer who sings men’s roles in 1899.  At the time, opera was a travelling proposition, as the Met was new.  If you enjoy books by C.S. Harris, Anna Lee Huber or Dianne Freeman, check this one out. read more

James R. Benn: The Red Horse

This book will be published September 1.

James R. Benn continues to explore all the nooks and crannies of the mystery genre, keeping things fresh even in book 15 of this long lived and now beloved series.  Main series character Billy Boyle started as a beat cop in Boston, learning the “job” from his father and uncles, who get him a (supposedly) soft wartime post with “Uncle Ike”.  As any reader of this series knows, Billy becomes an investigator, finding the smaller crimes within the larger confines of WWII.  Sometimes the war is front and center but Benn is always a meticulously detailed pure mystery writer, making his books a real pleasure to read. read more

Rhys Bowen: The Last Mrs. Summers

Every year, for many years now, I’ve set aside a day.  If I’m lucky, and there are no distractions, it’s a whole delicious day devoted to Rhys Bowen.  This year that day came August 4, when I cracked open the new Lady Georgie mystery, The Last Mrs. Summers, Rhys Bowen’s take on the classic Rebecca.

Georgie is a newlywed with her own house to run – Queenie making scones in the kitchen and starting (hardly any) fires – and life with Darcy to enjoy.  Unfortunately, in the first chapter Darcy is off on assignment and when the lonely Georgie goes up to town her friends and even her grandfather are all busy.  Dejected, she heads back home, only to run into her buddy Belinda, who has just inherited a place in Cornwall.  She and Georgie decide to head to Cornwall to check it out together in quick order. read more

Dianne Freeman: A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder

This delightful series continues to enchant.  The first book introduced the widowed Frances, Lady Harleigh, rich and on the loose in 1890’s London for the first time.  By this third installment, she’s engaged, is busy with her daughter, Rose, and is supervising the wedding plans for her sister Lily, who is inconveniently pregnant.

Frances is nothing if not practical, and she and her fiancée George quickly arrange for Lily to be married from George’s family seat while George’s brother is abroad. The wedding party is smallish, but for a house party – and a pool of murder suspects – plenty big enough.  Combining the classic British house party whodunnit with a lighter, funnier version of an historical cozy, Freeman is a deft hand with both narrative and character, and she keeps things percolating. read more