Sarah Stewart Taylor: The Drowning Sea

The third novel in Sarah Stewart Taylor’s Maggie D’Arcy series finds Maggie at a crossroads.  Formerly a Long Island cop, she’s now unemployed, and in Ireland with her daughter, on holiday with her boyfriend, Connor and his son. The first novel was Maggie’s journey backwards: she looked for the killer of her cousin, who had disappeared in Ireland twenty years before.  The second novel finds her investigating a crime that begins on a Long Island beach but has roots in Ireland.  This third novel finds her firmly in Ireland, planning to move there, and deciding what she should do as far as a new career.  As the book makes obvious, she very much misses police work and hates being on the outside looking in (this is a clue to her eventual decision, but it’s hardly a spoiler). read more

Brian Klingborg: Wild Prey

This is the second novel about Inspector Lu Fei, who works in a small town outside of Harbin, China.  The charm of the first novel, Thief of Souls, were the inner workings of a small town Chinese police department and the lives of the officers, including and especially Lu Fei, who is an incredibly appealing character.  In Wild Prey Lu Fei remains appealing, but the topic Klingborg has chosen to spotlight is far more difficult.  The first novel was a serial killer story; this one focuses on the illegal (and immoral) killing of rare animals for food. read more

Rachel Kapelke-Dale: The Ballerinas

This is a delicious swoon of a book.  It’s not a mystery though there are some (very) low level crimes involved, but it’s mostly a story about ballet, female friendship, and the efforts women make to be heard and acknowledged in their lives, professional and personal.  The central character is Delphine Legere, and as the book opens, she’s a young student at the Paris Opera Ballet (POB), an elite dance training school.  Delphine and her best friend, the tempestuous Margaux, are challenged by the arrival of the beautiful American student, Lindsay. read more

Jane Harper: The Survivors

Jane Harper uses nature to deepen and further her stories more than almost any writer I can think of.  In her first novel, The Dry, the unrelenting heat and drought affecting Australia becomes a part of the story.  In this novel, set in Tasmania, an island off the coast of Australia, the story takes place in a tiny seaside resort town, and the ocean and the caves surrounding the town are as much a character as any of the humans populating the book.

This is a story of long held grief, secrets, and family dysfunction.  Ready to turn away? Not so fast.  Kieran Elliott has brought his partner Mia and his baby daughter Audrey home to help his mother pack.  His father has dementia and he’s moving to a home, while his mother is moving to an apartment near him.  The house is chaotic and full of boxes, and often all Kieran and Mia want to do it escape. read more

Kwei Quartey: Sleep Well, My Lady

This is the follow up to Quartey’s series debut, The Missing American, which, while excellent, was at times almost needlessly complicated.  The star of the book in every way was Emma Djan, who lives in Ghana and has left the police force to work for a private investigation firm.  She’s a fully realized, complex, nuanced and charming character, and as a reader you are with her at every plot turn.

This book felt much stronger to me, the plot was more streamlined (though still entertainingly tricky), and while Quartey always infused his stories with some real heartbreak he is also a wonderful pure mystery writer.  The clues are fair and well laid. read more

Camilla Trinchieri: Murder in Chianti

This novel will be published July 7, 2020.

This languorous, gently beautiful novel set in gorgeous Tuscany could not be more delectable.  Retired NYPD detective Nico Doyle has relocated to Tuscany after the death of his wife, Rita, a native Italian.  He has family ties in the form of his wife’s sister, Tilde, and her family.  Out for his morning run as the book opens, he discovers two things: a dog, and a dead body.  He more or less adopts the dog – whom he christens One Wag – and hastily attempts to hand the murder off to the local police. read more

Susan Allott: The Silence

This is a very melancholy novel about people who live near each other, yet in isolation, thanks to a profound lack of communication.   It’s set in Australia in the late 60’s, with a portion in the late 90’s.  Two couples live side by side in a new neighborhood, right on the ocean.  Louise and Joe, immigrants from England, live in one house with their daughter, Isla.  Next door are Steve and Mandy, who are childless.  Mandy often looks after Isla.

As the book opens, the adult Isla gets a call from her father, who says the police have been by to discuss Mandy, who had disappeared from the neighborhood many years ago.  The central nugget of suspense in the novel concerns the relationships between the neighbors and between the couples themselves.  What happened in the past that caused Mandy to disappear?  Why would Isla’s father, who seems devoted to his family, have had anything to do with her disappearance? read more

Serena Kent: Death in Avignon

This was a delicious slice of armchair travel – I have never personally been to Provence, but I think my new life goal might be to get there.  Serena Kent’s British heroine, Penelope Kite, has started over in Provence after a divorce and seeing her children out of the nest.  She’s rehabbed a gorgeous old stone farmhouse (I’m assuming it’s gorgeous, because, by the sound of the book, everything in Provence is gorgeous). She lives a pleasant life walking into the village for croissants, eating lots of incredible sounding meals, drinking wine that sounds just as luscious, practicing her cello, and oh yes – she has a flair for detection. read more

Jorge Zepeda Patterson: The Black Jersey

Review by Mike Simowski

In the colorful setting of the Tour de France (the world’s greatest bicycle race), murder and mayhem ensue in this unique and compelling thriller. Marc Moreau is a professional cyclist and one of the best in the world. But on his top-notch team, he is relegated to supporting his best friend who has won the Tour several times and is gunning for another against stiff competition. In this highly competitive atmosphere, accidents, crashes and other incidents occur at a rate that is both suspicious and alarming. Marc, a former military policeman, agrees to assist the French police in an undercover manner on the investigation, while still competing in the high-pressure 2,000-mile race. read more

Book Club: City of Ink

Our September book club will meet Thursday, September 19, 6 p.m at the Classic Cup Cafe.  We’ll be reading Elsa Hart’s City of Ink.  It’s available on our store page at a discount. The publisher’s description:

Following the 18th century Chinese mysteries Jade Dragon Mountain and White Mirror, comes the next Li Du adventure in City of Ink.

Li Du was prepared to travel anywhere in the world except for one place: home. But to unravel the mystery that surrounds his mentor’s execution, that’s exactly where he must go. read more