This book opens with a bang and doesn’t let up. A young woman is found crucified on the door of the local Evangelical Church in Blackwater Falls, Colorado. The dead woman, Razan, is a Muslim, which brings in Denver’s Community Response Unit, or CRU, who are called in on cases of racial sensitivity. The squad is headed by Lt. Seif, but the book centers on one of his officers, Detective Inaya Rahman. The local sheriff is annoyed that his case is being preempted by the CRU and does his best to be unhelpful.
Donna Andrews’ Dashing Through the Snowbirds will have readers dashing to solve the crimes alongside Meg Langslow. Christmas cheer abounds in Caerphilly, only broken up by a few grumpy guest programmers, who work for the small AcerGen company. Ian Meredith, the head programmer, seems determined to make everyone around him as miserable and uncomfortable as possible. Meg does her best to manage her constantly active family and their house guests, but thanks to Mr. Meredith she and her Mother are finding hosting more of a chore than a pleasure.
The annual return of Lady Emily – wherever she may journey – is always something to celebrate. In this outing, Tasha Alexander’s 16th, Lady Emily and the dashing Colin have chosen to accompany Colin’s mother on a trip down the Nile. The host, Lord Deeley, is an admirer of Lady Hargreaves, Colin’s mother, as well as an old friend, and joining the expedition is Colin’s daughter Kat. Emily has a slightly prickly relationship with both women, one she tries very hard to set right.
Join us for our October book club – in person on Sunday, October 23 at 2 p.m., and on zoom on Wednesday, October 26 at 7 p.m. when we’ll discuss Elle Cosimano’s Finlay Donovan is Killing It. Message us at store (at) auntagathas.com for a zoom link or information on the in person gathering, or contact us via facebook or twitter.
Publisher’s description: Finlay Donovan is killing it…except, she’s really not. A stressed-out single mom of two and struggling novelist, Finlay’s life is in chaos: The new book she promised her literary agent isn’t written; her ex-husband fired the nanny without telling her; and this morning she had to send her four-year-old to school with hair duct-taped to her head after an incident with scissors.
I came late to the Vera Stanhope party, but I am a complete convert. Whenever she says “Not to worry, pet,” she reminds me so much of my beloved Columbo and his “Just one more thing.” In this outing, Ann Cleeves does something else she excels at: setting. This book is set on the remote British island of Lindisfarne, or “Holy Island,” a place not actually an island, but one that becomes an island thanks to rising and falling tides. That particular detail could not have a more beloved place in the mystery genre, and Ann Cleeves, the ace of setting, does it better than anyone else.
Paula Munier’s insanely readable Mercy Carr series has so far never disappointed, and The Wedding Plot is no exception. As the book opens, Mercy’s mother, Grace, has been meticulously planning her mother’s wedding to her long-time beau Claude at the swanky inn her aunt Prudence runs (with an iron fist). Between these two intimidating ladies, the wedding is proceeding on a path that looks to have Mercy in bridesmaid’s satin pumps and a blowout hairdo before she knows it.
It would not be a mystery novel, however, if all went as planned. Frist, the spa’s yoga instructor disappears, and Mercy is pressed into service, leading the wedding guests through the classes he was supposed to take on. And while all this sounds slightly like a cozy set up – wedding, yoga instructor (and wait, there are goats) – it’s far from it. Munier takes a normal domestic situation – a wedding, something everyone has experienced as guest or participant – and turns it into an action novel.
This series goes from strength to strength. Set in just post WWII London, Iris Sparks and Gwen Bainbridge run The Right Sort, a marriage bureau (apparently something that existed at the time). Iris worked in intelligence during the war, and Gwen, a daughter of privilege, is a bereaved widow who lives with her in-laws and young son as they have had her declared mentally incompetent. The two find solace and purpose in running a business together, and my only actual quibble with this book was that there was really none of the marriage bureau in the plot (or very little).
I am a huge fan of Nev March’s first book in this series, Murder in Old Bombay, but I am a little sad she moved her main characters and newlyweds Jim Agnihotri and Diana Framji from Bombay to Boston. They are wonderful, vivid characters with an interesting relationship, and in many ways this is Diana’s book, while the first book belonged to Jim. As the book opens Jim is letting Diana know that he’s heading to Chicago on a job – he works for the Dupree detective agency – and that he’ll be gone awhile. That’s really all she knows.
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).
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.