Ann Cleeves: The Rising Tide

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. read more

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

Sulari Gentill: The Woman in the Library

This odd, endearing and weirdly tricky book is a meta meditation on the traditional detective story.  Playing off of Agatha Christie’s The Body in the Library, author Sulari Gentill yanks this classic into the present.  In Christie’s Body the corpse of an apparently unknown young woman appears in the library of a private home.  In Gentill’s update, four young people are sitting near each other in the Boston Public library.  The main character, Freddie (or Winifred), a mystery writer, is working on a new book and she’s observed the others sitting near her, giving them nicknames as she slots them into a possible book.  Freud girl, Heroic Chin and Handsome Man have all invaded her imagination, when their real iterations hear a blood-curdling scream. 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

SJ Bennett: The Windsor Knot

This book is adorable in the best possible way.  I usually hate it when real people are used as the detective, and in the case of this novel “the detective” is one of the most famous people on the planet, Queen Elizabeth II.  But SJ Bennett has real affection and reverence – in the nicest way – for her majesty and the actual detecting is mostly done by the Queen’s Assistant Private Secretary, Rozie Oshodi, a British Nigerian who shares the Queen’s affection for horses and would do anything for the “boss.” read more

Anthony Horowitz: Moonflower Murders

This book will be published on November 10, 2020.

This is every bit as delicious a reading experience as Magpie Murders (2018).  I really wasn’t sure how Horowitz was going to manage a second book, as several of the main characters in the first one are dead or heading that way at the end of the novel.  But Anthony Horowitz is one of the smartest writers working right now, and this sequel to his (in my opinion) classic Magpie Murders is every bit as good as the first one.

The main character is editor Susan Ryeland, who has given up her successful career to head to Crete and help her partner run a small hotel there.  It’s not going well.  The hotel is having trouble and it’s a mountain of work, so when Pauline and Lawrence Treherne appear asking for Susan’s help in locating their missing daughter back in England, she readily agrees, especially when they sweeten the pot by offering her £10,000.  She’s tired of Crete, she needs the money, and she takes the offer. read more