Kirsty Manning: The Paris Mystery

Charlotte James #1

Following a massive upheaval in her life, Charlotte “Charlie” James moves to 1938 Paris to take a new job at The Times as a correspondent. Kirsty Manning’s debut novel, The Paris Mysteryfollows Charlie as she gets settled in the city of love. With help from her new glamorous friend, the paper’s receptionist Violet, Charlie puts on a glittering dress and sets out to make friends with Lady Eleanor Ashworth.

Lady Ashworth is a philanthropic, wealthy woman, whose main interest is in making things beautiful. She and her husband, Lord Ashworth, a British blueblood, run with a crowd of the French elite, including military men, designers, and financiers. Charlie’s first assignment is covering one of Lady Ashworth’s lavish parties, a circus themed affair for the cream of society. But things don’t go as planned, and a rich but unpleasant investor turns up dead. read more

Jessica Ellicott: Murder at a London Finishing School

Beryl & Edwina #7

Jessica Ellicott’s seventh book in her Beryl and Edwina post WWI series, Murder at a London Finishing School, takes the titular heroines on a tour of their past. Both attended Miss Dupont’s Finishing school – it’s where they met – but neither had the best time of their lives there. Daring Beryl was far from suited to the stuffy conventions of the place, and shy Edwina was often homesick. The two were pretty unlikely to ever attend a reunion, pay a nostalgic visit, or, as neither have children, send a daughter of their own to the school. read more

Alex Hay: The Housekeepers

Alex Hay’s debut novel, The Housekeepers, is a tale of an all female heist in 1905 London. After Mrs. King, respectable housekeeper of a fine house, is let go, she’s all ready for revenge. Suspected of visiting a boyfriend in the middle of the night, but actually searching for secrets above stairs, Mrs. King wastes no time recruiting a team. Soon the plan to rob the house of all its contents, on the night of the Madame’s costume ball, is in motion.

But Mrs. King is hiding things, even from the reader. A con artist hired on at the house mysteriously, she was never what she seemed. Her compatriots aren’t exactly upstanding either – former fellow employee Winnie, her half sister and seamstress Alice, crime lord Mrs. Bone, washed up actress Hepzibah – but they’re all brought in pretty easily. Alongside Mrs. Bone’s most trusted women, and her fleet of men, they’re a force to be reckoned with. read more

Claudia Gray: The Late Mrs. Willoughby

Mr. Darcy & Miss Tilney #2

Fans of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility will guess from the first the victim of Claudia Gray’s latest murder mystery, The Late Mrs. Willoughby.  As the second novel in Gray’s Mr. Darcy & Miss Tilney series, it’s pretty clear that Gray is working her way through Austen’s unrepentant rakes – or at the very least their families. It opens with Lizzie and Darcy’s son, Jonathan, being summoned to Willoughby’s newly inherited house for a visit. read more

Anastasia Hastings: Of Manners and Murder

Of Manners and Murder, the first in Anastasia Hastings’ new series starring an agony aunt heroine, is far from the author’s first book. Anastasia Hastings is one of many pseudonyms for Casey Daniels, a veteran author with dozens of works to her name. Of Manners and Murder reads like it was written by a practiced hand. It opens with Violet, our heroine, discovering that her aunt, Adelia, is the most famous agony aunt in London in 1885. Adelia writes as Miss Hermione and has managed, for years, to keep the truth from everyone, including the two girls living with her. Just as Violet is given this information, Adelia leaves on vacation – and puts Violet in charge of answering her mail. read more

Louise Penny: A World of Curiosities

It’s not easy to tell a good story in the past and present at the same time. Often, characters get lost along the way, or one plot is simply far better. Louise Penny manages it handily in A World of Curiosities. In many ways, though it’s the eighteenth book in the series, it’s an origin story, too. It helps that these characters we’ve come to love play such a strong part in both stories. And, though the backbone of Penny’s books is built on Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir’s relationship, we’ve never seen their first case together. We know how they met, of course, but Penny had never gone in depth. read more

Elly Griffiths: Bleeding Heart Yard

In DS (Detective Sergeant) Harbinder Kaur’s third jaunt, Bleeding Heart Yard, she’s been promoted to DI (Detective Inspector). Author Elly Griffiths never lets her characters stay stagnant, and this latest entry is no exception. Harbinder is looking toward the future in every way – she’s living in a new city, has new roommates, and has her own team of detectives to command in her new position. Being away from her family and friends is a big adjustment to her life, but it’s lovely to see her making positive changes. Of course, her first case is focused entirely on the rest of the character’s pasts. read more

Karin Slaughter: Girl, Forgotten

Despite the title of Karin Slaughter’s latest work, Girl, Forgotten, it’s pretty clear that Emily Vaughn’s idyllic little hometown has never truly forgotten her. Told half in the present, where the case has been reopened by newly minted US Marshal Andrea Oliver, and half in the past, where Emily lives out the days before her own murder, her voice isn’t silenced for long. That can make the horrific things she endured – rape by someone who knew she was drugged, ostracization by former friends, loss of her future, and unexpected pregnancy – difficult to bear. It is clear throughout that Emily was a sweet, good person who intended to make the most of her situation moving forward. Unfortunately, she never gets the chance to do so. read more

Faye Kellerman: The Hunt

The Hunt, Faye Kellerman’s latest Decker/Lazarus mystery, is barely their story at all. Instead, it revolves around the toxic, layered relationship of Chris and Terry, the biological parents of Peter and Rina’s adopted son, Gabe. Though Gabe is no longer close to either of his parents, when Terry calls him after she is seriously hurt, he turns to the powerful, mob-connected Chris for help. Terry’s younger son, Sanjay, has been kidnapped during the course of her messy second divorce. Chris seems the obvious choice to help get him back. read more

Elly Griffiths: The Stranger Diaries

This is a banner week for us as we add two new reviewers!  The second is our daughter Margaret. who unsurprisingly is a big mystery fan, and one of her favorites is Elly Griffiths.  Welcome, Margaret!

Elly Griffiths, author of two mystery series, takes a stab at stand alone fiction with The Stranger Diaries. This novel brings us a modern-day gothic horror story while keeping solidly grounded in tradition. Instead of a castle or drafty mansion, there is an old school with secrets. Instead of a threatening lord of the manor, characters are menaced by fellow teachers and students. There is a ghost story in the background of the novel, and a mystery concerning the true identity of someone long dead. Delightfully, the novel’s three heroines are not quite so traditional. read more