June 2023


Alexandra, BelindaEmboldened
Jobson, RobertKing Charles III
Johnson, SusanAphrodite’s breath
Leon, DonnaMy Venice and other essays
Malcolm, JanetStill pictures
Omer, LouiseHoly Woman

My Venice and Other Essays by Donna Leon

Best known for her Venetian mystery series featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti (The Golden Egg, etc.), Leon turns to real life with this engaging yet overstuffed essay collection on everything from her adopted city to animals. Divided into six sections—On Venice, On Music, On Mankind and Animals, On Men, On America, and On Books—Leon muses, reminisces, and often complains about her Italian home of more than 30 years. While Venice isn’t associated with cleanliness, Leon makes it clear just how dirty the city is in the bluntly titled “Garbage” and “Shit” (the latter of the canine variety). But in the titular essay, it’s clear also that she loves the community feel and unforced camaraderie of her neighborhood, where the city’s lack of cars means citizens are “forced to walk [and] forced to meet.” A music aficionado, with a particular penchant for the underappreciated Handel, Leon makes the arias and orchestrations come alive in “On Beauty and Freedom in the Opera” and “Confessions of an American Handel Junkie.” Originally from New Jersey, though she’s lived and taught in locations as varied as Saudi Arabia and China, Leon takes her native country to task on issues of obesity (“Fatties”), the Manhattan male (“The New York Man”), and fear (“The United States of Paranoia”). With most of the essays running no longer than three or four pages, the volume leans a bit too much on the side of quantity (there are 55 essays), but Leon’s distinctive voice is reason enough to power through. Publisher’s Weekly, July 2013

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Brammer, MikkiThe collected regrets of Clover
Clements, RoryThe man in the bunker
Gott, RobertNaked ambition
Kennedy, LouiseTrespasses
Moon, JosephineThe wonderful thing about Phoenix Rose
Novak, GenevieveCrushing
Nugent, LizStrange Sally Diamond
O’Connor, JosephMy father’s house
Patterson, SueThings I wish I told my mother
Purman, VictoriaA woman’s work
Riley, LucindaAtlas
Roberts, NoraIdentity
Rogers, MeganThe heart is a star
Stone, AlexThe Good Patient
Trant, MichaelNo trace
Turner, KerriThe magpie’s sister
Wan, NinaThe albatross
Wangtechawat, PimThe moon represents my heart
Wharton, WizGhost girl, banana
Winslow, DonCity of dreams
Zusak, MarkusThe messenger

Things I Wish I Told My Mother by Susan Patterson

The Pattersons (coauthors of the Little Geniuses children’s series) join with humor columnist DiLallo for an appealing story of a divorced woman and her widowed mother’s trip to Europe. Laurie Margolis is about to land a big advertising account when she learns her famous ob-gyn mother, Elizabeth Ormson, has had a heart attack at 68. As Elizabeth recovers, Laurie suggests a reviving trip to Paris and to her mother’s Norwegian homeland. The usual mother-daughter frictions occur: Laurie thinks she’s not good enough in her mother’s eyes and is overly sensitive to judgment, while Elizabeth claims her criticism is in Laurie’s best interests. As well, Elizabeth is nonplussed to discover Laurie has set up a reunion in Norway with Elizabeth’s estranged sister, Jeannie Ormson, whom she hasn’t seen in nearly 50 years. More misadventures ensue during the visit to Paris—Laurie’s is amorous while Elizabeth’s is aortic—and their trials help patch up their fractious relationship. A startling and unnecessary late plot twist throws everything into an entirely different light, but fortunately the authors don’t lose grasp of their well-built characters. Despite the bumpy ride, this feel-good story makes a convincing case for the importance of familial love. Publisher’s Weekly, March 2023


Strange Sally Diamond by Liz Nugent

Nugent (Lying in Wait) outdoes herself in this chilling exploration of her title character’s pitch-black past. Ruthlessly bullied as a child in Ireland, Sally has lived a quiet life with her parents, rarely venturing outside. When her widower father dies just before her 44th birthday, Sally incinerates his body with the garbage, thinking she’s honoring his wishes to “put him out with the trash.” Instead, the act draws outrage from neighbors, authorities, and the media, suddenly thrusting the reclusive Sally into an unwelcome spotlight. She’s always known that she was adopted, but slowly—with the aid of letters her “father” left behind, plus a series of messages from a mysterious stranger who may hail from Sally’s blurry past—she comes to know the precise horrors of her backstory. Can she overcome them and learn to navigate a world she barely understands? Nugent fashions an unforgettable protagonist in Sally, and never loses sight of her characters’ fundamental humanity, even as she piles on twists and steers the narrative into exceptional darkness. Inventive, addictive, and bold, this deserves a wide audience. Publisher’s Weekly, April 2023


City of Dreams by Don Winslow

In 1988, Chris Calumbo, a lieutenant in the Providence, R.I., Italian mob, sets in motion a risky plan, in bestseller Winslow’s powerful sequel to 2022’s City on Fire. He brokers a deal with the Baja cartel for 40 kilos of heroin; gets his boss, Peter Moretti, and several other New England wiseguys to invest; and arranges for Danny Ryan, the Irish mob’s leader, to hijack the shipment. Calumbo tips the feds, who will bust Ryan and return the dope to the Italians (minus a cut, of course). What could go wrong? Ryan, a recent widower, winds up fleeing Providence and landing in San Diego with his 18-month-old son and elderly father. Ryan and his crew spread out and work anonymous jobs, keeping their heads down until they hear that their nemesis, Moretti, has been killed. In a surreal twist of fate, Ryan ends up in Hollywood, where he finds himself investing in a movie called Providence based on the war between Italian and Irish mobs, and he falls in love with the film’s beautiful, doomed starlet. This classically inspired mob story breaks no new ground, but fans of Dennis Lehane and Richard Price are sure to be well pleased. Publisher’s Weekly, February 2023

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Cadwallader, RobynThe fire and the rose
Casati, CostanzaClytemnestra
MacKenzie, VictoriaFor thy great pain have mercy on my little pain
Schuler, IsabelleLady MacBethad
Williams, SueThat Bligh girl

Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati

Casati’s impressive debut adds to the growing ranks of novels that reframe the Greek myths from a feminist perspective, with her portrayal of Helen of Troy’s twin sister, Clytemnestra. An ominous scene introduces the Spartan princess as she peers into a ravine rumored to be the repository of the remains of dead infants. Then, Agamemnon kills her husband, king Tantalus of Maeonia, and forces her to marry him. Clytemnestra’s infant by Tantalus is also murdered, presaging the more familiar loss of another child. When the Greek forces led by Agamemnon are stalled, he sacrifices their daughter, Iphigenia, believing that doing so will appease the gods, who will then unleash the winds needed for the army’s ships to sail to Troy so that the abducted Helen can be rescued. That filicide sets the stage for Clytemnestra’s ultimate revenge after the Trojan War ends. Simple metaphors illustrate how Clytemnestra differs from her more famous sibling (“Clytemnestra dances for herself; Helen dances for others”), and the author demonstrates her hero’s agency and strength with such scenes as Clytemnestra killing a wild lynx. Despite the essential plot beats being well-known, Casati makes this grim tale feel fresh through vivid imagery and nuanced characterizations. It’s sure to please fans of the revisionist genre. Publisher’s Weekly, October 2022

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Bamford, EmmaDeep water
Barclay, LinwoodThe lie maker
Black, CaraNight flight to Paris
Clark, Mary HigginsWhere are the children now?
Cosimano, ElleFinlay Donovan is killing it
Griffiths, EllyThe last remains
Harris, C. S.Who cries for the lost
Harris, JoanneBroken light
Hill, SusanA change of circumstance
Hillerman, AnneThe way of the bear
Hunter, CaraHope to die
Malladi, AmulyaA death in Denmark
McCall Smith, AlexanderThe private life of spies
Nesbo, JoKilling moon
Patterson, JamesCountdown
Raybourn, DeannaA sinister revenge
Robb, J. D.Imitation in death
Robb, J. D.Portrait in death
Robinson, PeterStanding in the shadows
Stabenow, DanaNot the ones dead
Swanson, PeterThe Kind Worth Killing
Yamashita, IrisCity under one roof
MiscellaneousThe Edinburgh mystery

Broken Light by Joanne Harris

This incendiary, brilliantly plotted thriller from Harris (Chocolat) centers on 48-year-old Bernie Ingram’s midlife crisis. As a child, when “magic was as easy as maths,” Bernie honed a supernatural ability to see into the minds of others. Now, facing menopause, she’s been reduced to a minor player in her own life: she’s estranged from her moody husband and her 30-year-old son, and she has no close friends. The brutal murder of a jogger and the public’s response to it (that the woman shouldn’t have been out at night and alone) unleashes Bernie’s long-simmering rage and rekindles the magic she’s lost in adulthood. Kicking the knotty plot into high gear, she embarks on a journey to “over-write Old Bernie and to make of myself something different,” with potentially deadly results. Excerpts from Bernie’s diary alternate with sections from The Class of ’92, a book written by her childhood friend, Kate Hemsworth, which shines gradual light on the scope of Bernie’s traumas and abilities. Bernie’s and Kate’s vibrant voices will keep readers mesmerized right through to the glorious, explosive finale. This is a one-of-a-kind triumph. Publisher’s Weekly, May 2023


Killing Moon by Jo Nesbo

Nesbø’s 13th Harry Hole novel (after 2019’s Knife) covers familiar terrain in a too familiar way. Norwegian sleuth Hole has left the Oslo police after a tragedy and relocated, broke and despondent, to sunny California. At the start, Hole saves Lucille, an aging actor, from a powerful family’s attempts to collect the almost $1 million she owes them. It’s a temporary fix, but fortunately, a contrivance gives him a chance to help her pay her debts: Hole’s former colleagues are probing the murder of Susanne Anderson, a 26-year-old found dead in an Oslo forest. Suspicion focuses on Markus Røed, a real estate mogul, who’d slept with Anderson. Røed decides to hire his own investigator for PR purposes and contacts Hole, who agrees to investigate if he pays Lucille’s $1 million debt. The killer’s unusually gruesome method is the book’s only novelty—otherwise, Nesbø hits all the typical beats of a serial killer thriller, including a lead who seeks redemption through his work, sections presented from the perspective of the murderer, and the imperiling of a significant character. This is a shadow of the author’s best work. Publisher’s Weekly, March 2023


Deep Water by Emma Bamford

At the start of Bamford’s outstanding debut, a Royal Malaysian Navy captain is alerted to a yacht in distress in the Indian Ocean, “one thousand nautical miles from land in any direction.” On board are a London couple—badly injured Jake Selkirk and his wife, Virginie Durand, who keeps repeating “I killed them” as she relates their nightmare journey. Newlyweds Jake and Virginie invested their life savings in a sailboat to visit exotic lands on an idyllic years-long honeymoon. They had planned to first visit Thailand until they heard about Amarante, a tiny, remote island with unspoiled beaches—“pure nothing, and yet everything.” Jake and Virginie aren’t alone when they reach Amarante—Pete and Stella, a nice Canadian couple, and Roly, an old salt from Australia, are already there in their respective boats. They’re soon joined by the mysterious Vitor and his standoffish girlfriend, Teresa. The near paradise’s isolation brings out people’s worst behavior, including betrayal, jealousy, and violence. This suspenseful high seas adventure moves briskly, delivering evocative, tense scenes on and under the water. Thriller fans will eagerly await Bamford’s next. Publisher’s Weekly, March 2022


Standing in the Shadows by Peter Robinson

Bestseller Robinson’s excellent 28th novel featuring Det. Supt. Alan Banks (after 2021’s Not Dark Yet) interweaves the 1980 murder of college student Alice Poole with the discovery in 2019 of a man’s body buried in an old farm about to be razed for a shopping center in Eastvale, Yorkshire. The earlier crime is related through the eyes of Poole’s ex-boyfriend, Nicholas Hartley, who’s haunted by the fact that no one was charged with Poole’s murder—and the obvious suspect, her then boyfriend, Mark Woodcroft, who disappeared without a trace. The narrative alternates between Hartley’s lifelong interest in the case while he becomes a successful journalist and Banks leading his team, including Det. Sgt. Winsome Jackman and other regulars, in the dogged, needle-in-a-haystack search for the identity of the man buried on the farm and, ultimately, his killer. The story enables Robinson to delve deeply into Banks’s backstory, including a stint undercover in London early in his career, along with policing and corruption from Thatcherite England to the present. As always in the Banks novels, readers will enjoy the details of pop culture and social history. This is an intelligent and satisfying procedural. Publisher’s Weekly, February 2023

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Attia, PeterOutlive
Blaxland, J. C.Revealing secrets
Gopel, MajaRethinking our world
Glendinning, VictoriaFamily business
Grann, DavidThe Wager
Grant, StanThe Queen is dead
Kenneally, ChristineGhosts of the orphanage
Langton, MarciaLaw
MacKellar, MaggieGraft
Malcolm, JanetThe journalist and the murderer
Sackville, KerriThe secret life of you
Tonti, LucianneSundressed

Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity by Peter Attia

This rigorous debut by physician Attia dispenses guidance on living longer while staying healthier. “The odds are overwhelming that you will die as a result of… heart disease, cancer, neurodegenerative disease, or type 2 diabetes,” he writes, outlining strategies to stave off these four “chronic diseases of aging.” The author’s medical philosophy emphasizes prevention over treatment, recognizes that what works for one person might not work for the next, evaluates “risk versus reward versus cost” on a case-by-case basis, and prioritizes maintaining one’s “healthspan.” He strikes the delicate balance between providing scientific background and keeping his explanations accessible, as when he relates that long-distance running and biking help fend off neurodegenerative disease because they cause the body to generate a molecule that bolsters the health of brain structures implicated in storing memories. Attia’s acknowledgement that diets aren’t one-size-fits-all is a welcome departure from the overgeneralizations of similar volumes, and he provides recommendations on modulating protein, fat, and carbohydrate intake depending on one’s age, sex, and activity levels. The familiar suggestions to reduce stress, eat healthier, and exercise are elevated by the depth of detail and lucid prose that Attia brings to the table. This stands a notch above other fare aimed at boosting health and longevity. Publisher’s Weekly, February 2023

Ghosts of the Orphanage by Christine Kenneally

Journalist Kenneally (The Invisible History of the Human Race) paints a beyond disturbing picture of human cruelty in this shocking exposé of decades of abuse of children housed in orphanages across multiple countries in much of the 20th century. In thousands of institutions in the U.S., Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, and other countries, as documented by official inquiries and corroborated by Kenneally’s research, children were routinely emotionally abused, beaten for falling asleep during punitive nighttime exercises, whipped, submerged in baths, raped, and even killed. Those crimes were routinely concealed by their perpetrators or their colleagues, “who sought to protect them or the reputation of their” institution, most of which were religious. Kenneally shares the stories of such individuals as Sally Dale, who, while at Vermont’s St. Joseph’s Orphanage as a child in 1944, “witnessed a nun throw a boy through an upper-floor window to his death,” and was herself “thrown into Lake Champlain and told to swim or drown” around the same time. Kenneally asserts that her exposé pertains “to acts that are happening right now,” and that the grim reality is a product of an insufficient reckoning, since “organizations that ran orphanages still deny the full reality of what happened inside them, still refuse to take true responsibility for the consequences, and still sit on the records.” This harrowing true crime story is essential, if deeply difficult, reading. Publisher’s Weekly, January 2023

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Henry, EmilyHappy place
Holton, IndiaThe secret service of tea and treason
Quinn, JuliaQueen Charlotte

Happy Place by Emily Henry

Exes must pretend they’re still together in this delightful Summery rom-com from bestseller Henry (Book Lovers). Burned out surgical resident Harriet Kilpatrick is eager for a relaxing weeklong getaway with her tight-knit friend group at the remote Maine beach cottage they’ve frequented. Then she arrives and discovers that Wyn Connor will also be there for the week. Wyn and Harriet were the perfect couple in college, and then the perfect fiancés, but they broke up six months ago and have yet to tell their friends. With the cottage up for sale, Harriet is determined not to ruin the gang’s last summer getaway, meaning she and Wyn must pretend to be happily in love. It’s awkward at first—compounded by the fact that, of course, there’s only one bed for the two of them—but soon they fall back into a familiar dynamic and old flames reignite. The chemistry between Wyn and Harriet is addictive, and both display some refreshing vulnerability. The lovable friend group, unusual but welcome in a Henry novel, help push the narrative forward and provide plenty of wit. This has the makings of a rom-com classic. Publisher’s Weekly, December 2022


The Secret Service of Tea and Treason by India Holton

Holton returns to a magic-infused Victorian London in her fiendishly clever third Dangerous Damsels romantic adventure (after The League of Gentlewoman Witches). When the Agency of Undercover Note Takers (A.U.N.T.) learns that a pirate is plotting to assassinate Queen Victoria, rival agents Alice Dearlove and Daniel Bixby must go undercover as a married couple to infiltrate the pirate’s house party and stop the scheme. As “professional heroes” who typically go it alone, they’re both wary about working with a partner—especially one they find so maddeningly attractive. The pair are surprised to find they have much in common, including their love of literary allusions and their levelheaded handling of curveballs lobbed at them by their salacious yet endearing pirate acquaintances. The longer they pretend to be in love, the more they actually fall for each other—but A.U.N.T. frowns on agents courting. As they descend further into the exciting and eccentric world of piratical hooliganism, Alice and Daniel must choose between their feelings and their duty. Holton’s signature tongue-in-cheek style shines, pairing dry wit with ludicrous situations to excellent effect. Alice and Daniel’s banter is a particular highlight, and their tender connection helps to ground all the action. This may be Holton’s best yet. Publisher’s Weekly, February 2023

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Cronin, JustinThe ferryman
Emelumadu, ChikodiliDazzling
Paolini, ChristopherFractal noise
Van Stry, JohnSummer’s end

The Ferryman by Justin Cronin

Bestseller Cronin’s first novel since his Passage trilogy is a fantastic extravaganza all its own, with a plot that hinges on unpredictable twists that run far ahead of reader expectations. Proctor Bennett, an elite resident of the socially regimented archipelago world of Prospera, works as a “ferryman,” assisting aging fellow Prosperans to transition peacefully to their next “iteration,” the reconstitution of their personalities in younger bodies. Proctor discharges his duties with great professionalism—until the ferrying of his own father goes dramatically awry, exposing cracks in Prospera’s edenic veneer. Now a dangerous fugitive on the run from his own forced iteration, Proctor enters an unlikely alliance with rebellious subversives inhabiting the Annex, the island that is home to Prospera’s disgruntled working class. Having established the foundations for what appears to be a classic dystopian tale, Cronin then pulls the rug out from under his story, audaciously expanding its scope far beyond the hermetic parameters that have shaped Proctor’s account up to that point and pushing it into the realm of provocative conceptual science fiction. Cronin’s firm command of the plot’s sinuous dynamics, and his creation of believable characters shaped by well-wrought strengths and flaws, make this bold gesture work. The result is a sensational speculative tale that is sure to get people talking. Publisher’s Weekly, February 2023

Summer’s End by John Van Stry

Family looms large even in the vastness of the cosmos in this retro space opera from Van Stry (Portals of Infinity), which would sit comfortably on a shelf of 1950s science fiction. Dave Walker, a recent engineering graduate with a checkered past, goes off-Earth to avoid being killed for political reasons by his ambitious stepfather and finds a surrogate family with the crew of a tramp space freighter. Dave sets out to earn their trust while also relying on his past as a gang member to dispose of the assassins who come after him. After the ship is besieged and Dave is captured by refugees who survive by piracy, Dave turns his technical skills to solving his sympathetic captors’ problems—and so earns himself a lucrative trading partner. Settling on the dwarf planet Ceres, he plans to salvage his old freighter and start up a business that will enable him to rescue his remaining blood family from the crumbling society of Earth. Van Stry deals in the middle class of a far-future, libertarian galaxy that nevertheless is still controlled by billionaires and planetary governments. The female characters go frustratingly underdeveloped, but the action keeps the pages turning. Readers with a fondness for old style coming-of-age sci-fi will appreciate the rapid rise of Dave Walker. Publisher’s Weekly, September 2023

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New additions to eBooks at SMSA

eBooks & Audiobooks help


GeneralDeStefano, RenHow I’ll Kill You 
GeneralGarmus, BonnieLessons in Chemistry
GeneralRiley, LucindaAtlas: The Story of Pa Salt
HistoricalWilliams, PipThe Bookbinder of Jericho 
MysteryBlack, CaraNight Flight to Paris 
MysteryHuber, Anna LeeA Pressing Engagement 
MysteryHunter, AliceThe Serial Killer’s Sister 
MysterySauers, JoanEcho Lake
MysteryTrinchieri, CamillaMurder on the Vine
MysteryWinters, MaryMurder in Postscript 

How I’ll Kill You by Ren DeStefano

Three murderers are better than one, especially when they’re psychopathic identical triplets, as shown in this outstanding serial killer thriller from DeStefano (Dreaming Dangerous and other YA titles as Lauren DeStefano). Abandoned in childhood and raised in foster homes, 25-year-old sisters Sissy, Moody, and Iris (not their legal names) have maintained a “clean streak” of messy crimes across several states before settling in Rainwood, Ariz., where “nothing ever happens,” until Sissy tells the story of targeting a grieving, church-going 29-year-old widower, Edison. The only rule the three have always had is that they seduce their marks, “live out every fantasy” they desire, and then finish them off. Garroting, skewering, bludgeoning, and burying their victims is like “assembling a new bookshelf.” The only problem is that this time Sissy’s dispassionate routine turns to passion when she takes a liking to Edison and has to decide where her loyalties or betrayals lie. Several bombshell revelations make that easier than it might seem in this dark scenario. DeStefano does a superior job delving into the disturbed minds of the twisted sisters. This devilishly clever textbook of malicious mayhem is a must for Dexter fans. Publisher’s Weekly, December 2022


Murder in Postscript by Mary Winters

In 1860 London, Amelia Amesbury secretly longs for adventure. The daughter of an innkeeper, she married a man with a degenerative disease, and was widowed after just two years. It was only after she accepted his marriage proposal that she learned he was an earl from one of the wealthiest families in London. To alleviate her boredom, the Countess Amesbury answers letters addressed to “Lady Agony,” her secret alter ego, providing advice about love and life. Then one of her readers asks to meet, saying she’s a maid who witnessed the murder of her mistress. Amelia sneaks out, but she’s followed by her late husband’s friend, Simon, the Marquis of Bainbridge. When she finds a woman’s body, she can’t reveal her identity, so Simon calls the police. Now, Amelia is stuck with a partner in her investigation. She’s convinced the woman was murdered because of her knowledge and letter to Lady Agony. Amelia won’t give up until she learns the identity of the maid and her mistress, and whether their deaths were murder. VERDICT The atmosphere of Victorian London with its class differences are essential elements in this delightful character-driven historical mystery for fans of Katharine Schellman or Dianne Freeman. Library Journal, December 2022


Night Flight to Paris by Cara Black

Set in 1942, bestseller Black’s stirring sequel to 2020’s Three Hours in Paris finds American markswoman Kate Rees in the Scottish Highlands, serving as a rifle/sniper instructor. Kate, who learned her sharpshooting skills growing up in Oregon, receives orders to travel to London, where British intelligence demands she undertake a dangerous mission to Paris. She must disguise herself as a Red Cross nurse, as her face is well known to the German occupiers who hunted her after her failed attempt to assassinate Hitler in Paris in the previous book. Kate knows only a fraction of the plans at first, but eventually learns that she must assassinate a high-ranking German official and rescue a British agent who once saved her life. Meanwhile, Kate still obsesses about killing Hitler and mourns her husband and daughter, who were killed during a German U-boat attack in the Orkneys early in the war. Black vividly evokes the sights, sounds, and smells of Paris under Nazi occupation. The gritty, determined Kate is a heroine for the ages. Publisher’s Weekly, January 2023



Murder on the Vine by Camilla Trinchieri

Trinchieri’s excellent third Tuscan mystery (after 2021’s The Bitter Taste of Murder) finds former NYPD detective Nico Doyle enjoying breakfast one Sunday morning at his rented farmhouse with his friends from the local carabineri station, maresciallo Salvatore Perillo and brigadiere Daniele Donato. A distress call brings the policemen back to the station, where hotel manager Laura Benati reports that her 80-year-old bartender, Cesare Rinaldi, has been missing for three days. The next morning, Nico goes to the assistance of Jimmy Lando, co-owner of the Bar All’Angolo in Gravigna, after Jimmy runs out of gas on the road from Florence. Nico, with the help of his dog OneWag, discovers Cesare’s body in the trunk of Jimmy’s car. Nico, Perillo, and Donato try to figure out the links between Cesare’s murder, the dead man’s missing 1972 Ducati 750GTs, and the sale of prime vineyard properties. Rabelaisian feasts (“Fried polenta with sautéed porcini mushrooms, garlic and parsley”) provide seasoning as the action builds to a festive, celebratory bar gala. Trinchieri makes crime solving adventuresome, fun, and flavorful. This is the best in the series so far. Bring on number four. Publisher’s Weekly, May 2022

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BiographyNeil, SamDid I ever tell you this
GeneralCullen, LynnThe woman with the cure
GeneralMedina, NickSisters of the Lost Nation
MysteryAmphlett, RachelCradle to Grave
MysteryEllis, JoyGraves on the Fens
MysteryGiarratano, Kimberly G.Death of a Dancing Queen
MysteryGlass, Seraphina NovaThe Vanishing Hour
MysteryKhavari, KateA Botanist’s Guide to Flowers and Fatality 
MysterySchellman, KatharineSilence in the Library
MysteryThompson, VictoriaMurder on Fifth Avenue 

A Botanist’s Guide to Flowers and Fatality by Kate Khavari

Floriography helps uncover a killer in Khavari’s appealing if uneven second Saffron Everleigh mystery (following 2022’s A Botanist’s Guide to Flowers and Poisons). In 1923 London, Saffron has rejected her suffocating aristocratic background to pursue her passion: botany. Shortly after she and her research partner, Michael Lee, return from treating a child poisoned by an innocent-looking white flower, a local detective inspector recruits the two to consult on a pair of murders; in each case, the dead woman received a strange bouquet. Saffron, using the Victorian-era practice of floriography, analyzes the flowers’ “meanings” to help decode the murderer’s intent, all while being pulled into a romantic triangle with the arrogant Michael and a moody biologist. The sexual tension between the three, though, feels as if it exists to create additional conflict rather than emerging naturally from the characters. The novel sings when Saffron is searching fields and gardens, scrutinizing plants, and studying archaic floral meanings, and Khavari also gets in some gleeful jabs at snobbish academics. Historical mystery fans will want to see where Saffron goes from here. Publisher’s Weekly, April 2023


Sisters of the Lost Nation by Nick Medina

Who’s responsible for the disappearance of members of Louisiana’s Takoda tribe? That question, inspired by the real-life epidemic of disappearances of Native Americans in both the U.S. and Canada, drives the plot of Medina’s pulse-pounding debut. Anna Horn, one of the few from the Takoda reservation to attend high school in the nearby town, is routinely subject to bullying and harassment. Anna is also troubled by the disappearance several months earlier of 19-year-old best friends Erica Landry and Amber Bloom, who also lived on the reservation. She’s skeptical that the teens just ran off, and fears their fate is linked to an older mystery: 10 years earlier, Shelby Mire, “the last of the Takoda tribe’s official singers and Legend Keepers,” was murdered, an unsolved crime that still haunts the surviving tribe members. Then, after someone else close to Anna vanishes, she searches frantically for answers, unsure whether the disappearances are linked to a new casino that the police suspected would attract riffraff or if something supernatural is at play. Medina resolves the plot well and gracefully weaves real-life concerns about disappearing Native people into the whodunit plot. This author is off to a strong start. Publisher’s Weekly, February 2023


The Woman with the Cure by Lynn Cullen

Cullen’s winning historical (after The Sisters of Summit Avenue) draws on the life of Dorothy Hortsmann, a doctor whose contribution to the development of the polio vaccine helped eradicate the disease. In 1940, Dorothy is rejected from Vanderbilt’s residency program because she’s a woman. Later, the chief of medicine offers the same spot to a “D.M. Hortsmann” and is surprised when Dorothy shows up. (“She won’t last,” is his verdict.) A clinical epidemiologist, and often the only female doctor among esteemed scientists such as Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin, Dorothy dedicates her life to confirming her hypothesis (rejected at the time by the scientific community) that polio travels through the blood to the nervous system, and along the way she becomes a Yale fellow and professor, and travels extensively to polio outbreaks. She falls madly in love with heroic Arne Holm, who saved 7,000 Danish Jews from the Nazis, but, as Cullen writes, “crushing a disease” would always be her first love. Dorothy is humble and underfunded, and her research and findings are often either overlooked or duplicated by men who take the credit—until her discovery opens the door for the vaccine. Cullen’s portrait of the steadfast, self-sacrificing Dorothy hits home and is made more stirring by the vivid depictions of young polio patients. This author is writing at the top of her game. Publisher’s Weekly, November 2022

Silence in the Library by Katharine Schellman

At the start of Schellman’s strong second Regency mystery (after 2020’s Body in the Garden), George Pierce, father of widow Lily Adler, comes to London, where Lily lives, to see a doctor. Mr. Pierce, who can be highly critical of his daughter, doesn’t have time to call on Sir Charles Wyatt, an old family friend who has recently remarried and could be leaving any day for the country, so Lily agrees to visit Sir Charles instead and convey her father’s respects. Sir Charles is not at home, but Lady Wyatt, his much younger wife, is, along with his son Frank, who’s Lily’s age and treats Lady Wyatt with disdain. The next day, Sir Charles is found dead in his library, and perceptive Lily, who has inserted herself into a Bow Street investigation before, immediately suspects foul play. In the end, Lily enlists her disapproving father’s aid to catch the culprit. Lively characters and an intricate plot keep the pages turning. Readers will look forward to Lily’s further adventures. Publisher’s Weekly, May 2021

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